July 10, 2020

A data scientist analyzed 70k+ of YouTube’s trending videos. Here’s what he learned

Data shed insight on what it takes to get to the top of YouTube’s trending list.

The beautiful thing about the internet is that there’s both a lot of trash and a lot of treasure. But what does it take to truly trend?

To find out, we asked Ammar Alyousfi, a data scientist in the United Arab Emirates who analyzed all 70k+ of YouTube’s 2019 trending videos in the US.

What did he learn?

Here are a few findings that surprised him.

The single channel to produce the most trending videos was Linus Tech Tips, which has 11m+ subscribers. Alyousfi had expected music or entertainment-focused channels to take the top spots. In fact, cooking channels took the 2nd and 3rd spots.

Staying on the list is a feat. That’s because YouTube updates its list of trending videos every ~15 minutes. Alyousfi was surprised to find 6 videos — including this gem of a jam — that managed to stay on the trending list for 30 days.

Remember what we said about trash and treasure? “I found that BTS’ song ‘Boy With Luv’ was the most viewed, the most liked, and the most commented trending video in 2019,” Alyousfi told us. It was also the 5th most disliked trending video.

So… how do I make this work in my favor?

Alyousfi used a script to scrape YouTube data each day throughout 2019. Then he analyzed titles, descriptions, thumbnails, tags, views, likes/dislikes, and comments.

He said it would take a much broader analysis to make recommendations on improving your video performance. But the following tactics could help:

  • Include the current year and the words “video,” “vs,” “game,” “new,” “highlights,” and “first” in your title. 
  • Title length should hit between 36 and 64 characters.
  • Use tags in your video. Almost all trending videos have tags.
  • Show a person in the video thumbnail.

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