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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

You can also delete topics from your overall search:

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:

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.

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.