There are two ways to look at the topic dislikes and whether they matter. The first way is from your audience’s perspective; the second way is from the perspective of the YouTube algorithm.
Both of these perspectives are important, as they will ultimately determine how successful your videos are, though the impact of dislikes on each is markedly different.
So, do dislikes matter on YouTube? Everyone is in a rush these days, of course, so if you’re looking for a quick answer, it is yes. Dislikes do matter on YouTube, and for a variety of reasons. But they do not have a negative affect on ranking or views.
Is this why people beg for likes? Now that is a completely different blog posts, I deep dive into why people ask for likes here.
If you would like to learn more about what those reasons are, and how they affect your channel, read on.
Dislikes and the YouTube Algorithm
Dislikes do have a negative effect on your channel when it comes to the almighty algorithm, but it is an indirect negative effect.
YouTube places a great deal of significance on interaction and engagement, and dislikes fall under that umbrella. So, counter-intuitive as it may seem, dislikes can actually be seen as a positive thing by the YouTube algorithm if there are no other negative factors in play. But what might those other negative factors look like?
Well, if someone watches your video for twenty seconds, hits dislike, and closes the browser, that’s a bad thing. As far as YouTube is concerned, they didn’t like your content, and they left.
In terms of YouTube goals, that’s about as close to a cardinal sin as it gets.
If, on the other hand, they disliked your video but they watched the whole thing, and then went on to watch more videos on YouTube, well, from YouTube’s point of view, you held their attention, got some engagement out of them, and kept them on the site. That’s all good news as far as YouTube is concerned.
Now, even in that last example, there are adverse effects to your channel. YouTube may not penalise your channel’s exposure for dislikes if you are still getting plenty of watch time and engagement, but they do use those dislikes to gauge personal interest. That means there’s a higher chance that the user who disliked your videos will not get your content recommended to them in future.
Furthermore, YouTube may also decide not to recommend your content to other users with similar interests.
So as you can see, YouTube will not directly punish your channel for getting a lot of dislikes, but the indirect results of those dislikes could hamper your growth nonetheless.
But you may want to look into how to boost your retention and keep them watching for longer.
Dislikes and Your Viewers
Much as there are two ways to view the negative impact of dislikes on your channel, there are two significant ways to consider dislikes in relation to your viewers. The first of which is how they react to dislikes on your videos.
The impact that a high number of dislikes has on a viewers desire to watch a video is a little hard to quantify. From a purely anecdotal perspective, it doesn’t seem to make a great deal of difference.
Many people seem to start watching the content based on the thumbnails and titles and don’t even notice dislikes until it occurs to them to leave a dislike of their own. That being said, it is hard to think of a way in which dislikes would not have a negative effect on a viewers willingness to check your content out. At best, they might be indifferent.
The more important thing here is – what those dislikes are telling you about your content?
Remember, disliking a channel takes effort. Granted, it is not much effort, but more effort than not doing anything. YouTubers regularly ask their viewers to like their videos because it works, and it works because viewers just don’t think to hit like button a lot of the time.
What that tells you about your dislikes is that if someone was negatively affected enough to the effort of hitting dislike on your video. In other words; they meant it.
Of course, not every dislike is created equally—especially on the Internet. You certainly should not obsess over every dislike you get, but if you are consistently getting a high number of dislikes on your videos, it might be a sign that you need to rethink your content.
As for what constitutes a concerning number of dislikes, only you can accurately judge that. It is not a simple matter of more dislikes equals worse content for some channels, as there are channels that deal in controversial content, such as political commentary. For channels like this, dislikes should be judged proportionally, rather than as pure numbers.
If your like to dislike ratio is roughly half and half on average, you should take it as a warning sign.
And, just for a moment, even though it is not the target audience of this blog, it’s worth addressing people who are purely YouTube viewers, rather than creators.
It is important to remember that dislikes can happen for a wide range of reasons. It may be that the video quality was poor, or that the title was clickbaity. It could be a purely ideological thing as we mentioned above, or merely a divisive issue—or a divisive YouTuber. Dislikes are not a worthless metric to judge a video’s worth by any means, but let them be your only metric.
Dislikes and Monetisation
A question that will undoubtedly come up around this topic is what impact dislikes have on the earning power of your YouTube channel. Much like the impact on your exposure in the YouTube recommendation algorithm, dislikes do have a negative impact on your earnings, but only in an indirect sense.
Indeed, it is the very same mechanism that can lower your exposure that would also lower your earnings. In short, if fewer people are seeing your video due to fewer recommendations from YouTube, your earnings will obviously suffer.
Another link between dislikes and monetisation comes from the fact that controversial content—which is more likely to attract dislikes—may also turn advertisers off of your content. In this case, both the dislikes and the lack of advertising revenue are a symptom of the same thing, rather than one being caused by the other.
Common Causes of Dislikes
Understanding when dislikes are an indicator that your channel needs attention is only part of the battle. You also need to be able to work out what your channel needs in order to be set back on the right path. To that end, let’s look at some of the more common causes of an increased number of dislikes.
And, just to be clear, we are talking about objective problems here. The things we mentioned earlier, such as divisive issues, cannot be “fixed”. But if you run that kind of channel, you will know all about that.
Fix Poor Video or Audio Quality
If you’ve ever tried to watch a video where the visual quality is poor or perhaps the audio quality is not great in a video where listening to the audio is essential to the content, you will understand the frustration that it can cause.
Of course, improving the quality of your videos can be easier said than done. Recording equipment costs money, and not everyone can afford the latest and greatest cameras and microphones. But if the quality of your videos is causing your channel problems, it should at least be made a priority.
And you should certainly look into any methods of improving your video quality that do not involve spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on new gear.
The good news is that if you are getting dislikes on your video because of the quality, you are doing something right. It means people have found their way to your video in the first place, meaning you must have done a good job at titling your video and creating a thumbnail for it, and you must be providing content that people want to see. Compared to figuring that side of YouTube out, improving the quality of your videos is a relatively easy task.
One of the most surefire ways to generate a lot of dislikes is to use clickbait titles and thumbnails. Understand, when we say “clickbait” we mean the traditional sense of the word—as much as any Internet slang can be traditional—where the title and thumbnail are designed to bring viewers while not necessarily being representative of the content in the video.
There has been a shift in the use of the word recently to refer to any title that is tailored towards catching a viewers interest, regardless of whether it is an accurate representation of the video. In our opinion, a title that accurately portrays what the video is about and makes people want to watch it is a resounding success.
The problem comes when those titles and thumbnails bring viewers in but do not deliver on the promise that got them there. Short cuts rarely work when it comes to YouTube growth, and this is no different. You may see high numbers to begin with, but the annoyance and frustration at your video’s lack of delivery on its promises will generate dislikes. And, whether through a bad reputation or YouTube’s lack of recommendations—or both—any success you gain will start to dwindle.
Stick to the Script
The script, in this case, does not have to be a literal script—we’re not saying that the only path to YouTube success is through carefully scripting your videos and never improvising. What we mean here is that your videos should have a clear purpose, be coherent in the delivery of that point, and not waste the viewers time.
Again, there is a lot of wiggle room in this point. It would be a boring platform indeed if every video put across only the critical aspects of the topic and nothing else. But there is a balance to be struck between a bit of colour and personality, and rambling and waffling on.
Make your videos distinct. Give your viewers a reason to watch your content over someone else’s who covers similar things. But anything that isn’t serving that purpose or delivering the stated content of the video; consider cutting it from your gameplan.
Okay, it’s not exactly the most actionable advice, but a failure to grow as a YouTube channel can also cause you to start picking up dislikes. Even the most diehard of fans will eventually start to tire of your content if it feels stale and overdone.
Being engaged with your community is an excellent way to gauge what might work for your channel, saving you some of the trial and error of making videos and seeing what works.
Of course, we don’t recommend pivoting your whole channel overnight, but introducing new elements and trying new things is rarely a bad idea.
And in those cases, the dislikes can help you determine what works and what doesn’t.
Dislikes can undoubtedly point to problems with your content, though a dislike in and of itself is not necessarily a cause for concern. It is unlikely that the dislikes themselves will hurt your channel, however.
Instead, the damage to your channel will come from the cause of those dislikes, which makes it no less important to address a disproportionate amount of negative feedback on your channel, even if that feedback isn’t actively harming it.
Dislikes can be a great indicator that there are things that need fixing about your content, so it pays to keep a close eye on them. Remember to judge your channel on its own merit, though.
If you are making unobjectionable content—such as software tutorials—you can probably take dislikes as a pure metric on how good your content is. But if you are making something a little less wholesome, such as political commentary or videos about controversial topics, you should probably expect a certain amount of dislikes as a matter of course.
Try to gauge what is normal for your channel, and judge any changes based on that starting point.
And, remember, you can’t please everyone. Don’t ignore dislikes entirely, but don’t let them dictate your channel either. As always, you should strive to find a healthy balance.