You should never delete YouTube videos – Why I still did!

You should never delete YouTube videos – Why I still did! play video
Written by: Dexxter Clark
In this article I’m gonna take a look at why you should and shouldn’t delete YouTube videos from your YouTube channel.

Why you shouldn’t delete YouTube videos

You might think that gain advantage in algorithm by deleting bad videos.
If there are only good videos on a channel, than the algorithm thinks this is a good channel, right?
Not how YouTube works.

The algorithm doesn’t look at the amount of duds you had on your channel, it concentrates on the videos that viewers respond well to.

But it is true that momentum of your past videos (which is determined by your audience) determines a big part of the promotion of a newly uploaded video.
Meaning that if you release a couple of good videos in a row, the algorithm calculates more expected watch time for the next video and promotes it more.
But it doesn’t work that way for videos already uploaded.

There are almost no downsides in leaving a video up, they don’t hurt you when a video doesn’t perform and every view is still 1 view.
Every video on a channel is an opportunity to get subscribers and viewers.

Also, videos that are not doing well now, can sometimes pop out of nowhere and sometimes become one of your best videos.

I’ve had this happen a couple of times.


When you have a copyright claim or copyright strike on a video, deleting a video doesn’t make the copyright claim or strike go away.
In that case: make the video private or unlisted, so you can resolve the claim (or strike) when it is not valid.

When it’s valid strike, it is wise to delete it before you land in court.

Do you lose money if you delete a YouTube video?

I tested this. No you won’t.
The advertisers already paid, the ads are already shown to viewers, viewers already clicked on it.
But deleting videos can hurt you in other ways as a will explain later in this article.

So, YouTube won’t subtract your already earned ads.

But logically, when you delete (or unlist or private) videos viewers won’t be able to see new ads and therefore you won’t be able to make money anymore on those videos.

Does deleting YouTube videos affect your channel?

Yes it will.
Especially when you don’t have a lot of videos on your channel and the video that you want to delete gets a lot of views.
Besides your daily views go down (because of the video missing), also other videos might get less views.

This has to do with a YouTube phenomenon called: one tide floats all boats.
Meaning that if a videos does well, viewers click over to other videos.

What happens when you delete a YouTube video?
When you pull a video from your channel, it can hurt other videos’ performance and can even spiral into your channel going a path of getting less and less views, since the algorithm calculates less watch time next time and therefore you get less promotion.

My advice: always pull the video at a moment that your channel does well, not when it has a dip.

You can initialize a spike by releasing a new video for example at the same moment you delete the other video.

Will the watch hours decrease if i delete a video in YouTube?

Deleting videos is straight up deleting watch time.
And since watch time on a channel is ranking juice, you delete the ranking power you gained with that video.
If the video performed well, it is a lot of ranking juice.

Also, watch time is one of the monetization thresholds.
When you are up for monetization, it takes you longer to get monetized.

Delete, privatize or unlist?
If you are doubting about deleting your video, put your videos to private or unlisted, instead of deleting them.
This way, you can always put them back up again, and the reputation of the video is completely in tact (including all the views and watch time).

When you have links to the deleted videos (via a website for example) or end screens with that video, set the videos to unlisted.
This way viewers won’t find a dead link when they click it.
Unlisted means that it isn’t discoverable via YouTube itself, like in search, home or suggested.

When you don’t have anything pointing to the video, set it to private.

When should you delete YouTube videos?

You should consider deleting if the video hurts you, like: it attracts the wrong audience.

In my case a lot of my views come from India.
(I’m talking about an Indian audience, but the same applies to any other type of audience, like a young audience of 18-25 years old)
The YouTube algorithm starts to think that India is my main target audience and will promote my videos to other Indian audiences.

This gives me 4 problems:

Core content

You want viewers to subscribe for the right content.
But when that content is not your current content (anymore), viewers won’t return because they are interested in the content they subscribed to.
This will hurt your promotion in the algorithm, because the algorithm thinks that your content is bad.

Let’s say you make videos about plants, but now you are only making videos about bees.
You only want people to subscribe to your channel, because of bees, not because of plants.
Viewers that subscribe to your plant content, will not watch your bee content and vice versa.

A couple of videos that attracted a big Indian audience, were not my core content.

There was no benefit for me (besides the ad money) to leave it up.

Average View Duration

The average view duration of my Indian audience is terrible, among the lowest of in the entire world (this is the same to a young audience by the way).
The YouTube algorithm thinks that the viewers that watch my videos doesn’t want to watch my videos.
In other words, this will hurt me big time in the algorithm.

Average View Duration by demographic is a metric you can find in YouTube Analytics.


One of my problems with my target audience is an economic one (again, same applies to a young audience).

Marketing 101 dictates that you should create a product that your target audience can afford.
I’ve looked at ad revenue on 2 channels and sales of my digital products.

The ad revenue from India was amongst the lowest in the world.

And I sold a grand total of 0.00 euro (rounded up) in digital products to India.


Another problem I face with my audience is legality.
When I run into people stealing my website, my videos or my trademark it is 9 out of 10 times an Indian creator.

Rented land

With YouTube On YouTube we are on rented land.
YouTube provides the platform and the eyeballs for free, but you don’t own anything besides your content.
There are no options on the platform to exclude visitors from a certain country or age.
The only option you’ve got, is to delete videos that attract the wrong audience.

And that is exactly what I did
I deleted the videos here and my views went down.
In the bigger picture this doesn’t matter.

But in the short term it hurts my ego just a tiny little bit.


So, What should you do?
The answer is: depends on your audience.
Do the videos-you-want-to-delete, attract the audience that will watch your future videos?
  • No → Delete
  • Yes → keep it up.

When you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my video training program: Viral Strategy.
The program takes you step-by-step through the process of getting views, subscribers and going viral.

For new creators I included a module that guides you step-by-step through the process of starting, creating and setting up a YouTube channel.

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