Is YouTube keyword research really that important?
Since the first day, we created a keyword-targeted video, our YouTube search traffic has grown tremendously and super consistently. And in this article, you and I, we are going to unpack the exact keyword tools and process.
we use, step-by-step. So Stay tuned.
What’s up creators?
Sunita Choudhary Here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche.
Now, over the past 10 months, we’ve grown our YouTube search for traffic by 400%. And the fundamental reason for our success has been our YouTube keyword research process.
Now, I’m sure you’ve seen other videos that talk about looking at the number of views of top-ranking videos and copying their titles. But this isn’t the way to get more views for your videos. Looking at these numbers alone will likely lead to a lot of wasted time because you’ve no idea where these views came from. For all you know, they could have been from ads. More on this later.
So let’s cut the chitter-chatter and get to the exact process you can use to get free, consistent, and passive views from YouTube and Google search.
Quick side note: I won’t be covering optimization for suggested views, but if you want to see a video on that, be sure to leave a comment and let me know. Alright,
so step one is to map out a hierarchy of your topics. The structure is important.
Create videos on topics that are too broad, and you start reaching irrelevant audiences for your business. But create videos on topics too small and
you reach diminishes. Grab a pen and paper and let’s start drawing. Let’s say I’m creating a new channel where I’ll unbox videos on popular tech-related products. So let’s add unboxing to the top of the hierarchy.
Now, what am I going to unbox? Let’s add cell phones, game consoles, and
camera equipment. Now, which brands do I buy?
Let’s add Apple and Samsung under cell phones. Nintendo and Xbox under game systems. And Canon and Nikon under camera brands. And we can even add models under each of these categories.
You get the point. This exercise will help you build a framework of topics you can use to quickly qualify or disqualify whether it’s a good fit for your
Step 2 is to generate keyword ideas and analyze keyword trends.
There are quite a few keyword tools out there, but from my experience, most of them are just way off and some try and pass Google search volumes
as YouTube search volumes. The thing is that people often search for
completely different things on Google vs. YouTube.
For example, if you look at the trend for the phrase, “html tutorial,” with Google set as the search engine, you’ll see that searches have been declining over time. Whereas YouTube searches had an upward trend during the same time period. So bottom line?
You can’t rely on Google search volumes when it comes to choosing keywords for YouTube. But what about looking at the number of views
a video has?
If a video has a lot of views, then it must be a good topic to target, right? Wrong. Take a look at the search results for the keyword, “SEO audit”.
You’ll see that we created a video 3 years ago and gained 640,000 views, which averages out to around 200,000 views per year. But let me show you our analytics. You’ll see that 550,000 views came from YouTube
ads in 2016 and less than 20,000 views from YouTube search.
The good thing is that you can avoid wasting time and get good representations of true search volume using one of two tools.
The first is YouTube ads.
After you choose your keyword, let the ad run for a month or so to collect a good amount of data. Then, go to the search terms report, where
you can see the impressions and views data for various keywords. The number of impressions a keyword gets should be an underestimation of search volume since your ad won’t show for every search query.
YouTube ads are quite cheap and a great way to find new keyword ideas and see search volume. The second tool is Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Just select YouTube as your search engine, and enter a keyword you want to research. So I’ll search for “unboxing.” Cool! So this topic has 108,000 monthly searches in the US and around 645,000 worldwide.
But ranking for this keyword would kind of be useless. Think about it.
If someone searches for the phrase, “unboxing,” what do you think they want to see you unbox?
I have no idea and you probably don’t either. I’ll expand on this in the next step, which is absolutely critical to your video’s success. So instead of looking at this, let’s go and generate some solid keyword ideas. Just go to the Phrase match report, which shows you all of the keywords that contain your target query. Right away, you can see nearly 100,000 keyword
ideas. But not all of these keywords are going to be relevant to you. So let’s take a look at our hierarchy again. If we wanted to narrow our search down to relevant phrases, we can use the Include box and add our own comma-separated list.
So I might search for Nintendo, Xbox, iPhone, MacBook, canon, and Nikon.
Then I’ll select the “Any keyword” tab. And just like that, we have over 6,600 relevant keywords we can create videos around. And let’s narrow down the results even more by adding a minimum volume of 500 searches per Month.
Now, this is a much more manageable list of videos we can create content around. But not all of these topics are going to be worth your attention. For example, if we click on iPhone 8 unboxing, you’ll see that this topic shows 23,000 monthly searches, which seems awesome!
But if you look at the trend graph, you’ll see that search volumes are diminishing, which skews this number a little bit. Most keyword tools, regardless of a search engine, use rounded annual averages.
So while people are still searching for this query, it doesn’t mean that 23,000 people in the US are searching for it this month. So this extra layer of data can help you make smarter decisions on whether a topic is worth targeting or not.
Let’s take a step back and look at the trend for “Nintendo switch unboxing.”
While search volumes have decreased from its release date, it still holds a relatively strong search demand. So in my opinion, this one seems like a good one to target. But why stop here?
If you create a video on a Nintendo Switch unboxing, you could probably create numerous videos around the console too. So let’s change our keyword from “unboxing” to “Nintendo switch.” And then I’ll go back to the Phrase match report for our new target keyword. And you’ll see a whole bunch of new topics. You can create a dedicated review, another
video on games, accessories, and more. And that, my friend, is how you take the guesswork out of choosing good keywords to target for your YouTube channel.
But hang on a second. There’s one more thing that you have to see. And that’s the “Newly discovered” keywords report. This report shows you a list of keywords that contain your seed, which were recently added to our database. Now, why am I creating a fuss about this? Using this report, you can gain insights on new topics or products that people are searching for.
So if you’re one of the first to release content on it, then there’s going to be less competition. And if the topic ends up trending, you can ride
the wave from start to finish.
For example, you’ll see that we discovered
“super smash bros ultimate unboxing” in November 2018, which has a decent search volume. And since this was a recent release, there’s
a good chance that search demand is only going to build as searchers start to look for this.
Let’s check the YouTube search results. These two videos have gained over 600,000 views in the last month or two and their high engagement stats tell me that these views aren’t from ads. and sure. You could argue that they have millions of subscribers. But look at this video, which got over 3,500
views in one month. They only have around 40 subscribers, which
is huge for a new channel. So if you want to get more views fast, then
keep an eye on the newly discovered report for trending topics.
If you’re following along, then you should have a ton of great keyword ideas for your channel that have search demand. But a critical component to rank on YouTube is all in step 3. Which is to analyze search intent. Matching search or keyword intent should always be your number one goal. And it’s a huge, yet simple part of the keyword research process. First, start by asking yourself: What would someone want to find when searching
for your target keyword? For something like “Nintendo switch unboxing,”
it’s pretty clear. They want you to take that thing out of the
box and show them everything that’s inside.
But something like “Nintendo switch games” is more open to interpretation To figure this out, go to YouTube in private or incognito mode, and search for the keyword you want to rank for. And it’s pretty clear. People want to watch a video about a bunch of games. Also, take note of the length of the videos. In this case, they’re all around the 9 – 14-minute mark. So I’d probably create something of similar length, but pack it with helpful information, rather than just trying to fill in a time quota.
step 4 is to optimize your videos to be found in Google search.
I’m sure you’ve seen video pop-ups in the Google search results. Some show up in video carousels, others as dedicated results, some as featured videos, and some have multiple formats. If you’re not optimizing for these video SERP results, then you could potentially be missing out on huge traffic potential. For example, according to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer,
this video on deleting your Facebook account gets nearly 50,000 visitors from Google each month.
Now, there are two ways to find topics that have the potential to “double-dip” from YouTube and Google searchers. First is obviously to Google one of your keywords that you want to rank for. And if you see videos being dominant in search results, then there’s a good chance you can rank there if you’re able to create a high engagement video. The second way is to use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer, where you can search through over a billion pages and get useful SEO and social metrics. And the best part about this is you can use advanced search operators.
To find YouTube videos that are getting search traffic in Google right now, you can type site:youtube.com inurl:watch, which will narrow
our results down to YouTube videos only.
Then type title: and a phrase you want to search for. Next, I’ll sort the results by pages that get the most Google search traffic. And this one looks super promising. It was published only a few months ago and
gets around 18,000 views per month from Google search alone, which I’m sure contributes to their over 2 million views. You can see the exact keywords this video ranks for in Google by clicking on the Details button, and then the organic keywords tab.
Last but certainly not least, I recommend searching for one of the keywords in Google to get a better understanding of the video SERP type and on-page factors like video titles and lengths. So in this case, the results show a video
carousel, which gives you a better chance of ranking since there are three visible results. Also, you’ll notice that these were all published
somewhat recently, and they all use the keywords “Nintendo switch” and “review” in their titles. Keyword research is a huge component of ranking on YouTube, Google, and getting views to your videos consistently.
But there’s obviously more to YouTube SEO than this. So if you’d like to see more on ranking videos on YouTube or anything video marketing related, leave a comment below and let me know what you’d like to see. Also, make sure to like, share, and subscribe because we have new videos that we publish each week jam-packed with value. So until then, keep grinding away.