How To: Make YouTube Keyword Research

If you have yet to incorporate videos as your main marketing strategy, you are missing out. These days, about 60% of all online users prefer videos as an advertisement, and thousands of new videos are uploaded each and every day. Join the people that are uploading up to 300 hours of video content every minute, and use this incredible power to market yourself via YouTube.


As easy as it seems, superficially, in order to do this successfully and leverage from the incredible platform that is YouTube,  you must learn how to use all of YouTube’s SEO tools properly and master them. One of the many SEO tools you should know and master is keywords.

What are YouTube Keywords?

Keywords play an essential part when it comes to making your videos and channel searchable and delivered to relevant and targeted viewers. These video and channel specific keywords are words and phrases that best describe your content and help YouTube’s algorithm rank your videos in the search engine.

Keywords can be included in the video or channel titles, video description, in the 'About' section, and in your video's metadata. Metadata is the 'index card' of your data, information that is used in order to label and organize your video in the right place. This information enables search engines to analyze, categorize and catalog your video, so it can be quickly delivered in a given search. Your video metadata (including the description, tags, and titles) in combination with the right keywords will help YouTube display your videos higher on the search list.

How do you choose the right keywords?

  • The Autocomplete Feature

When you want to choose the best keywords for your Google AdWords campaign, you can use the Google Keyword Planner tool. This tool is a free AdWords tool that helps you build strong keywords for your marketing campaign. Unfortunately, YouTube does not have this keyword tool, so each YouTuber needs to figure out the strong, laser targeted, most relevant keywords by themselves.

However, there is a way detect these keywords is - the Autocomplete feature, located as a part of the YouTube search bar. As you start typing a phrase into the search bar, you will get an automated autocomplete based on the most frequently searched phrases and keywords – just as it happens when you search on Google. This will give you a general idea of what the strong competitive keywords are and which are not really worth using on your channel and content.

For YouTubers, this feature is very useful and it will consequentially serve as a YouTube keyword tool for research. This is the first step in understanding how the YouTube keyword research feature works, and how you can use it when you are choosing your video's keywords.

  • YouTube Keyword Research

Keywords are a major YouTube SEO ranking factor that both Google and YouTube use when determining where to rank your content or videos in the search results - get the keywords right, and YouTube will 'understand' what your video is about. This means that by choosing the proper keywords, you are making it easy and efficient for YouTube to show your video on the search list as a response to a search query.

Since YouTube is basically a search engine for videos, as well as a popular social media platform, the most efficient way to search and choose the proper YouTube keyword ideas is to look manually for them on YouTube, and it’s best to do it even before your video is actually made. If your goal is to create a successful YouTube channel, you should learn from the best – and there are none better than other successful channels and videos.

Comparing the keywords your competitors are targeting can immensely help you improve your content strategy and keyword selection. It can direct you to highly watched videos and strong niches. You can even try and see for yourself! Try typing - 'how to create a...' or whatever it is you're interested in, and you can already tell what the most popular keywords on the autocomplete feature are. This can eventually help you choose your theme and keywords.

Obviously, the most competitive keywords will be ranked first, but they also generate the largest traffic flow. Ranking first on YouTube's search list using these keywords will be very hard since they are highly competitive. As you add more keywords or head lower on the list, the competition is decreasing thus your chances to appear on the search list are higher. But, these keywords usually generate less traffic.

So, to start, you should focus on finding a specific combination of keywords that will generate maximum traffic. As you grow, you can start competing for high competition keywords, but make sure your content is good enough, or else you’ll have very low chances of reaching number one on the search list.

There are some great tools that can help you with keyword research such as Semrush, Ahrefs, SEOProfiler, Moz or the more traditional Google Search Console. These are great since they can help you find YouTube's most competitive sought after keywords.

  • Generate an effective search

To generate an effective search on YouTube, a search that will generate YouTube views, utilize keywords that will lead traffic directly to your video or channel. Try to avoid long, elaborate or irrelevant keywords that are not likely to be searched.

For example - if you want to post a tutorial on how to create a woven bracelet (after you researched and found it to be a very popular niche, since it showed up first on the autocomplete feature), you should consider using a very simple and commonly searched phrase, such as 'How to create a woven bracelet', instead of 'how you can make this woven bracelet'. You don’t want to complicate things - you want to be spot on. Think like a viewer.

  • Write a video description

The description of your video is part of the video's metadata, which as we have previously stated, is a major player in your video's ranking SEO since you can incorporate your keywords in it. The video description is also one of the three things you see on the search list, along with the video's thumbnail and title. YouTube will only show a maximum of two lines of your video description so you should create a concise and very accurate description that explains exactly what your video is about.

  • Use Tags

Tags are just like hashtags, they help you to categorize your video and direct users to your videos. You should think carefully about each and every tag you plan on using, because YouTube has a limit per video for tags. Therefore, try to select between 10 and 20 single word tags to work with.

When tagging, check for multi-word tags that are closely related to your title - these will be your brand specific tags. Then, you can use tags that are closely related to the subject of your video to create broad search options (a video that shows a cat playing with a mouse, both 'cats' and 'mouse' and ‘animals’ are related to your video, whereas 'horse' has nothing to do with it). Make a habit of using both single-word and wide-term tags to achieve a wide relationship with your topic.

The idea is to get as many views as possible from the widest possible range of search results. This is a better strategy than striving for top rank with a single keyword phrase. The main goal is to increase the chances of your video title popping up in most of YouTube’s search results.

A great way to find compatible tags is to look at your competitors' tags. Although they are hidden by Google, there are some great tools that will help you achieve it. Tools like vidIQ and TubeBuddy are just some of them, but are best for the job.

Once you start tagging wisely and efficiently, you can start looking for the next steps to improve your ranking, things like user engagement and video retention.

  • YouTube Video Optimization

SEO video ranking is not just about picking out the best keywords and incorporating them into your metadata, you must also make sure your video is optimized in terms of content, length, and appearance.

YouTube's algorithm will recognize the topic your video is about, but it will reward you with a high spot on the search list if your video is engaging and people are interested in watching it.

  • Create Longer Videos

By creating longer videos you can substantially increase your watch time. Watch time is a major factor in YouTube's algorithm since it's an indication of the engagement level and interest degree of the video. The longer the watch time, the better your ranking will eventually be. When you post a long video, you can reach a relatively high duration of watch time as opposed to a shorter video.

  • Incorporate your keywords on your video

Use your strong keywords on your video and say them a few times. This way you will gain credibility among your viewers and YouTube's algorithm (which apparently is actually listening, at some extent, to your videos) will know that you are using the matching keywords and not just using them to draw viewers.

  • The first 15 seconds

The first 15 seconds of your video are most crucial. It’s most likely that if a certain viewer has watched the first 15 seconds and didn't move on to another video, he or she will continue watching. You’ll want to make it impossible for your viewer to leave your video. Talk about what your video is about and create an interest.

In summary, if you want success - explore and learn how to use the SEO tools, because whether you like it or not, it's an inevitable part of posting on YouTube. YouTube video optimization is the first and foremost step in understanding YouTube's algorithm and how it works. In other words - if you want your video to be at the top of the search list, you have to know how to do it right.

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