Friendly Advice
May 7, 2021

3 Keyword Research Tips for Youtube Videos

Madeline Ury

One of the keys to driving traffic to your blog or website is keyword research, a.k.a knowing and understanding search terms that your audience will likely use when searching. If you use those same keywords, or variations of them, your content is more likely to come out at the top of search results. That goes for YouTube videos, too!

Just like there are blogs and writers out there that cover just about every topic, the same goes for YouTube videos. There are YouTube creators dedicating their videos to everything from makeup tutorials to video games, and literally everything in between.

Keyword research is an excellent way to improve your content and gain more views on your YouTube videos, as well as more subscribers to your channel. YouTube video keyword research is relatively the same as keyword research for any written content, with a few key differences. If you want to build your YouTube presence, then read on for three tips to help you drive traffic to your videos!

Identify the main topics you want to cover

a man sets up his YouTube supplies and writes down a list of topics for his channel
Make a general list of topics you cover on your YouTube channel, then go more specific from there! It’s a great starting point.

First, identify very general topics that you cover in your YouTube videos. Start super broad and work your way down, getting more specific in terms of popular brands related to your channel and specific product names by that brand -- details of that nature.

Even if you aren’t selling something or working with physical products -- say you’re trying to drive traffic to a lifestyle vlog channel -- this still applies! Make it specific to you and your content, but with this “hierarchy” of keywords, you get the general idea.

Generate specific keywords

a man maps out keywords related to the topic of SEO practices
If you were creating content about SEO practices, these are some examples of keywords you would want to use.

The next thing you should do is generate more specific keyword ideas related to your original list of broad topics. The easiest way to do this is through keyword research tools -- though it’s not quite as easy as typical keyword research because a lot of platforms do not show YouTube search volumes. They mostly just show Google search volumes. And what you’ll notice is that YouTube and Google searches are very different. People have different needs from the two platforms, therefore they’re searching differently.

You also can’t identify search volumes just by the number of YouTube views. If you have a lot of views, people are still consuming your content which is great news, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that someone searched some keywords related to your content and clicked on your link.

A lot of people don’t conduct searches on YouTube, but rather click on things from ads or suggested content. Don’t worry, though -- there are plenty of helpful tools for researching keywords people are using to search, like keyword explorers, YouTube Autosuggest, and Google Trends.

Use keyword explorers

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is one tool that makes research very easy. You can select YouTube as the search engine you are researching, and search some of the general keywords you’ve brainstormed to see the search volume. The best way to do it is to use the “phrase match” setting, which will give you ideas of keywords that contain the one(s) you searched.

To get even more specific results, you can include some more details about what you are searching. Remember earlier when we talked about getting a little more specific with brand and product names? That comes into play here! You’ll end up with a smaller, highly relevant list of keywords. Plus, you can refine it even further by filtering only for words searched a certain number of times monthly -- monthly search volume.


an example of YouTube autosuggest when you type in "marketing"
Autosuggest is keyword research made easy. Image courtesy of WordStream.

Autosuggest is a great tool for many reasons. First and foremost, it makes us feel less alone when we search for questions we think might be silly -- when that autosuggest pops up (and it almost always does) we know that someone else has asked the same question before, too!

Autosuggest can also give you a lot of keyword ideas, though. If you start typing one of your broader terms into the YouTube search bar, more specific variations of things people have searched using that keyword will come up. From there, you can develop even more specific and relevant keywords, based on related things that people have searched before.

Google Trends

an example of Google Trends comparing two keywords over time
Google Trends provides a clear visual of popularity over time. You can search and compare any topics you are curious about. Image courtesy of Ahrefs.

Let’s take it a step further with Google Trends. Google Trends allows you to enter multiple topics or keywords and compare their popularity. You can look at trends in search volume of these terms over time, but also trends that are current. This will help you identify what people are interested in right now.

You can combine this method with autosuggest, too. If any terms stand out to you in YouTube autosuggest, plug a few into Google Trends and see how they rank. Both are very useful tools, on their own and together!

Don’t forget searcher intent

YouTube search analytics
Searcher intent is essential information to have when conducting keyword research for YouTube videos.

Searcher intent is extremely important in keyword research, whether for YouTube videos or for any other content. Searcher intent is just that -- the intentions behind a search, the reasons why someone is searching on Youtube. It’s all about the why.

But why is “the why” important? Because, if you want people to see the content you are working so hard to create, it needs to align with searcher intent and come up first when someone is looking for the information that you can give them!  

There are four types of searcher intent you should be familiar with:

  • Informational: The searcher needs information, or they have a question. They may not phrase it as a question, though -- that’s where you come in.
  • Navigational: The searcher is trying to navigate to a website. They might not know that website’s exact name or URL, but they know what they need to find, so they search keywords.
  • Transactional: They want to buy something! Where from? Who knows -- but once again they know what they need to find.
  • Commercial: The searcher needs a solution to a problem and they’re looking for answers in the form of service reviews or product comparisons.

You can generally tell the intent from the wording of the search. These examples of searcher intent are mainly related to Google, but you can (and should) apply them to your YouTube keyword research as well. Searcher intent is key!

Play around with some of these keyword tips, tricks, and tools to build your presence on YouTube! There are even some platforms that do a lot of the work for you, so you can put in as much or as little work as you need to for your specific channel. Regardless of what works for you, you are now well on your way to increased traffic to your YouTube videos, thanks to keyword research!