YouTube might not be the first name that enters your mind when you try and guess who is the world’s second-biggest search engine.
But, when you learn that Youtube is owned by Google – the world’s biggest search engine – you won’t be surprised that keywords play a role in how videos rank on YouTube.
YouTube is so popular that 300 hours of video is uploaded the site every minute; way too much content for humans to watch and categorise. So, instead, YouTube uses the keywords in the video title and associated tags to help understand a video’s topic and rank it accordingly.
For SEO purposes then, you should choose the keywords you put in your title and tags carefully. Keywords could be the difference between success and failure for your video. It makes even more sense to perform keyword research first, before you plan and shoot your videos.
Understanding the content YouTube’s audience is searching for prevents you from wasting time making videos that no one wants to see.
But how do you find the hot keywords users are hunting for on YouTube?
There is no official keyword tool for YouTube like there is for Google Adwords with its Google Keyword Planner. But there are several third-party tools you can use to determine what is popular, and what topics should be left alone.
This post gives you five of the best YouTube keyword tools you can use to analyse the most searched youtube keywords. Some are free, and for some, you have to buy a subscription to access full functionality. Let’s jump into the list.
vidIQ is a free chrome extension which adds additional keyword analysis information directly on the page on the YouTube site. Search for any term, and the plugin displays keyword data on the right of the results, as shown below.
You can also toggle the plugin to display the tags used by the top ranking videos underneath each result.
You can use the data to determine if a keyword has potential for using in a video title and if it’s worthy of a topic to add to your content planner.
vidIQ provides an ‘overall score’ for each keyword, rating them out of 100 and declaring how hard it will be to rank for them.
But you’ll have to take them on their word for this metric, as we don’t know the scoring system they use. It’s best if you use the score as an indication, then make your final keyword choice after further research.
Ideally, you will want to find keywords with high-volume and low-competition. But in reality, most of the high-volume keywords will already have lots of videos competing for the traffic, and should only be attempted by well-established channels.
Newer channels will have to seek out medium to low competition keywords, with correspondingly low search volume.
vidIQ also shows you the top-performing channels for the keyword, so you can dig into their content to see what’s working for them. Also displayed, is a selection of related keywords, which may contain ones that may be more suitable for you to target.
Only three ‘related opportunities’ display with the free version of the plugin; if you take out a subscription, you get to access hundreds more.
Underneath each video, you can toggle the display of the tags used by a video. You can use them for inspiration for other keywords, or steal them outright to use in your video with a one-click copy to clipboard.
Once you select a video from the results, vidIQ provides further information about the video and channel; daily views, country of origin and even displays the channel’s tags. So you can reverse-engineer a whole channel if you wish.
viqIQ provides plenty of helpful keyword suggestions for free, but so much more with a paid subscription. A monthly subscription of $7.50 gets you access to their full keyword research tool.
Google Trends is a free Google tool that shows the popularity of a topic over time. While it doesn’t show keyword volume, it is nevertheless helpful in narrowing down subjects for your video ideas.
Enter in any keyword, and the tool displays a graph showing the popularity of the keyword over the last 12 months. Here is an example using the keyword ‘selfie stick’.
A scale between 0 and 100 is used to rate the search term, so you can see at which times of the year a topic peaks in popularity. Knowing when a subject is most searched for can help you time the release of your content.
You can see in the result above that interest in selfie sticks peaks just before Christmas. So if you were to review the top selfie sticks, it might be a good idea to plan your video for release in late September.
Before you commit to any topic, look at more than 12 months of data. From the drop-down menu, select ‘Past 5 years’.
Oh no! It looks like the selfie stick craze peaked in 2016 – perhaps this is not such a good content idea for a video.
Google Trends also allows you to compare keywords to see which one is more popular. If you have two keywords that you are considering making a video for but can’t decide which one to go with, enter both terms.
The resulting graph shows you which is the most popular, and the peaks can help you time the video release.
You can also change the filter to show data from YouTube.
Google Trends also provides other related topics and keyword ideas for your seed keyword at the foot of the page.
Avoid using Google Trends as the only tool you use for keyword research – there is no indication of the number of people searching for the keyword. So it’s best used to compare topic ideas and time you release of content.
An excellent way to analyse keywords and identify content topics is by using the autocomplete results from YouTube itself. Start typing any words in the YouTube search bar, and a pop-down menu appears containing helpful suggestions.
It’s a typical search engine feature, designed to speed up the browsing process by ‘guessing’ what the viewer is searching for. It’s not a bad way to harvest keyword suggestions for video creators either!
In the example below, you can see the autocomplete keywords displayed in a pop-down menu for the broad term ‘pancakes’. Because YouTube wants to be a useful site, it only shows keywords that are relevant and will answer the searcher’s query.
YouTube is giving you keyword ideas that users are actively searching for.
I’ve underlined some long-tail keywords in the example below, which could easily be the topic of a video.
While a free method of performing keyword analysis for YouTube, it can be a lengthy process to harvest a bunch of ideas. Also, once you have your keyword list, you then need to check them individually using another tool like vidIQ.
Keyword.io is a tool that automates the process of harvesting keyword ideas from autocomplete search boxes. It covers more than just YouTube and Google, and scrapes autocomplete keyword data from other major search engines, as shown below.
Typing the same seed keyword of ‘pancakes’ into keyword.io and selecting the YouTube option returns 939 keyword ideas to analyse further.
The free version of keyword.io only gives you keyword suggestions. To find out more information on the keywords, like average monthly search, you need to take out a subscription to their pro account. Alternatively, you can run them through another keyword tool that you have access to.
Understanding the average monthly search volumes can help you pick popular keywords and topics for your YouTube video content plan. Here is the sort of information the pro account grants access to.
Current pricing is $29 per month for a personal account. You could signup and do a mammoth keyword research session for your channel, so you’d only need to pay for a single month.
Morning Fame is a Youtubers tool that links directly with your YouTube account. It provides enhanced analytics of your existing videos and suggests keywords it thinks you have a chance to rank for.
As we’re talking about keywords here today, I’ll skip the analytics part of Morning Fame and focus only on the keyword research capabilities.
Like most keyword tools, you can start by entering a seed keyword to work from. But Morning Fame has an alternative possibility as well. You can paste in any video URL from YouTube, and it will suggest keywords based on the topic of that video.
On the next screen Morning Fame presents it’s keyword suggestions in a unique and helpful way. It divides them into two lists based on the competitiveness of the keywords; one list it considers suitable for larger established channels; the other more appropriate for smaller channels.
If you are just getting started with your YouTube channel, then trying to rank for ultra-competitive keywords is likely to end in frustration. It’s unusual for a new channel to rank for popular keywords quickly, because of the way the YouTube ranking algorithm works. Your channel simply won’t have the sufficient authority that YouTube demands.
So a list for small channels, where you can compete for initial views and start to grow your channel, is a great feature.
When you select a keyword from the list, it goes to the next screen and displays a further analysis of the term. You can see in the screen below, that while the keyword scores an ‘A’ for relevance, it rates an ‘E’ for views, which means its a low-traffic keyword – probably best to try another suggestion.
At the time of writing, Morning Fame is still in the early days post-launch. Access to the tool is by invite-only, but if you hunt around on Google, you should be able to find an invite. Look for reviews of Morning Fame on blogs and on YouTube itself.
If you want to really get under the hood of YouTube and perform detailed keyword analysis for your channel, then you need to pay for one of the professional-grade keyword tools like Ahrefs. Used by many content creators, it is frequently rated in the top 5 of all SEO tools.
Ahrefs has a database of 841 million YouTube keywords. So whatever your channel niche, you are likely to find many keywords you can target.
To get started, enter your seed keyword, select ‘YouTube’, and choose target country.
The tool returns the total search volume for the keyword, indicates how often people click a video after using the keyword, and provides suggestions for alternative keywords.
So far, so good. But Ahrefs true capabilities are shown in the variety of additional keywords it provides using the phrase match option. This feature returns all the keywords from their database, which include your seed word.
The phrase-match results page for the seed word ‘pancakes’ has nearly 13,000 results. Along with the search volume for each keyword, you also get the number of resulting clicks after entering that keyword.
This helps you to target keywords which attract a higher percentage of clicks. Click-thru rate is a crucial metric in YouTube analytics, and also plays a part in how YouTube ranks videos. So it makes sense for you to target keywords which have the best chance of getting a click.
You can also use filters to narrow down large lists quickly.
Ahrefs is one of the best keyword tools on the market, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Plans start at $99 per month. However, you can stop your subscription at any time and restart it when you need it. Additionally, there is a one-off trial where you have access to the software for seven days for $7. Use it wisely.
Well, that wraps up this overview of tools you can use to analyse keywords for your YouTube channel. It’s worth reminding yourself when you plan your videos that YouTube is a search engine, just like Google.
The keywords you choose for your video title and tags can be easy or extremely difficult to rank for, and all the stops in-between.
Give your channel the best chance you can, by performing keyword analysis first with some of the above tools. If you want a helping hand, then contact me to arrange a consultancy call to help find the best keywords for your YouTube channel.