Skip to Main Content

News and Events

Give YouTube Topics on Search a whirl

By Palash Nandy and Elizabeth Windram

Software Engineer and UX Designer

We know that sometimes people come to YouTube looking for a specific video, but at other times, they have only a rough idea of the kind of videos they want. We’ve been there too, and have been thinking for a while about this challenge of searching when you don’t yet know exactly what you’re looking for.

Here’s a glimpse inside how we are approaching this challenge:

In coming up with a solution, we wanted to help you specify your search even if you started with something as vague as “funny”. We also wanted to surface varied sets of videos and make it easy for you to explore them further.

To that end, we have a prototype we’d like you to try out. It’s called “YouTube Topics on Search” and you can get to it from TestTube. Here’s a video showing you how it works:

Put simply, we try to identify topics on YouTube and associate videos with them. We use many different sources to find these topics, including frequently used uploader keywords, common search queries, playlist names, and even sources outside of YouTube such as Wikipedia articles.

When you search -- for example, let’s say for “obama” -- we suggest other related topics tied to videos that you might want to explore, such as “michelle obama” or “john mccain.” You can click to get to videos on these topics or you can find videos that contain both topics by clicking on the (+) next to the topic. This is handy for refining. For instance, try searching for “turkey” and you’ll see “thanksgiving” as a refinement option further down the page. We hope topics become a fun way to explore new and interesting corners of YouTube’s video universe.

To start you exploring, we’ve planted topic “Easter eggs,” which we challenge you to find. Here are a couple of hints relating to just some of the topics out there:

For more clues to other topic Easter eggs and for other questions you have, read this article in the Help Center.

Give Topics on Search a test drive and let us know what you think in the YouTube forum.