I've complained plenty of times about how tough it can be to find a video on YouTube using the "search" or "browse" function. The filters have always been too basic and too restrictive for my tastes. But now I may have to shut my mouth about it, because YouTube has just completely overhauled the filtering system, adding in several new ways to get to the video you want.

What used to be called "Search Options" is now named "Filter & Explore," though I'm not sure the name change is anywhere near as important as the functionality changes. I discovered these new Filter & Explore options this morning, while searching for golf-related clips (what can I say, it's Masters week and I'm in the mood for golf).

What's New With YouTube Filter & Explore

Here's a look at the new functions:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore youtubefilterexplore 600x482

And just in case you're not sure what to look at first, YouTube has provided a guided tour. The first thing they want you to notice is the new "specific category" filters:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore filters1 Most of the same filters are there... they've just been reorganized and, in some cases, renamed. You can filter by HD quality, the presence of captions, upload dates, video length, and more.

Next they show off the Explore function, which I believe is the real meat of what they're releasing--these options did not exist at all in the old filtering system. Now, alongside the filter options, you can choose to augment or modify your search using the suggested related topics in the Explore section:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore filters2 600x531

This is very similar to the "Wonder Wheel" or "Related Searches" on standard Google queries, and should be highly useful to people who know what they want but aren't sure how to search for it properly.

There's also a row of Explore options above:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore filters3 600x155

Another new wrinkle is the ability to go straight to videos from a particular user, website, or YouTube Partner. So if you do a search, and your favorite video creator had uploaded a video in your topic, you could jump straight to that trusted user instead of wading through the raw results:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore filters4

You can also delete topics from your overall search:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore filters5 600x269

Finally, if you're pretty set in your ways, you can still sort results by Relevance, Upload Count, View Count, and Rating... they've just moved its location a bit:

YouTube Overhauls Search Options System, Now Called Filter & Explore filters6

Other Changes Of Note

YouTube has a support page for the new Filter & Explore, which lists some other nifty-sounding new features and a brief FAQ. Some things you might want to make note of:

  • If you put a comma after your search term, followed by a category name like "music," you'll receive only results from that genre... which is kind of awesome.
  • This new Filter & Explore is currently U.S.-only, so international users are going to continue seeing the old "Search Options" system for the near future. They say they're going to expand it, though.
  • A variety of sources are used by YouTube to determine "related topics," including Wikiipedia entries. Interesting.
  • Also, not all searches will have "related topics." My guess is that the more obscure your original search, the less likely you are to see related topics.
ALSO ►  Top YouTube Video Ads: 10 Strategies Video Marketers Can Learn From Them

Video SEO Implications?

There are some serious SEO implications here, most notably the related topics function. That'll keep some users from augmenting a search query, instead allowing them to jump straight to a pre-selected set of results. One would probably be wise to use these related topics as research, for help discovering keywords and phrases to include in your video's title, captions, or tags.

Searchers can also go straight to a user they already know and like, rather than combing through videos by unknown creators.

All in all, YouTube is making it easier for users to make one starting search, and then use Filter & Explore the rest of the way to find the video they want to see. Good for users... not necessarily good for video marketers, as it likely means fewer overall searches. But a lot of the data that we include for video SEO purposes is still important for how Filter & Explore works---it's still a topic-driven and keyword-driven feature.


I'm looking forward to playing around with this today, and seeing if it helps me find the videos I'm after more easily---or at least more rapidly. Since YouTube is the second-most-searched website after Google, I think we can expect to hear a lot of feedback about this new interface in the coming days as users get adjusted to the new look and new options. My initial impulse is to think that this is an overall improvement, but I won't really know until I dig in and spend a few weeks using Filter & Explore.

  • Omar Pina Pena

    Pretty and nice. Now here is where they dropped the ball.
    A filter that eliminates content the uploader denied to your country. VEVO is notorious for this. They make certain videos not viewable outside the US so they shouldn't come up if I do a search in Japan, but they do.
    A filter that lets me exclude a video with certain words in the title. I hate when I do a search for a video and crap like Loiter squad comes up.

  • Nexter

    I like the new "filter & explore", because it wasn't always easy to find the right videos in youtube. But know it is a lot easier. What I also use know, is click.to (http://www.clicktoapp.com). It has nothing to do with the accuracy of the search results, but you can search for videos in youtube faster, without to copy and paste it and open the windows explorer or firefox. If you have a keyword on your desktop and you wanna search for it in youtube, just mark it, press strg c and it is in youtube. Really a nice addition to make your work flow a little bit easier and it is free.

  • http://www.VideoLeadsOnline.com/ Ronnie Bincer

    Nice overview... I happened upon the new filter options and was not sure who gets to see it. If your search phrase is popular enough you get to "Filter & Explore" if not, then only "Filter" is an option. It may be helpful to (as you say) look at the "related topics" when posting a videos' meta data but so far it looks pretty random to me.