How To
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YouTube Keyword Research: How To Do It Right in 2022

Soniya Khubchandani

July 28, 2022

YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world.

Increasingly, people are using YouTube's search box to find videos they want to watch.

If you run a business that uses YouTube as part of its marketing strategy, it is advantageous to know the keywords people use to conduct these searches.

In this in-depth guide on how to do YouTube keyword research, you will learn:

  • What is YouTube keyword research?
  • Why is YouTube keyword research important?
  • How does a standard YouTube keyword research process work?
  • 6 techniques to find the best keywords for your YouTube videos

What is YouTube keyword research?

A YouTube search example

YouTube keyword research covers the activities performed to find the search terms people use to find video content on YouTube.

Using keyword research tools, you'll get valuable data like estimated monthly search volumes, keyword competitiveness, and search trends. You'll also discover keywords to create videos and optimize by using these tools to find what keywords people in your niche are looking to find.

You can use a combination of free tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, and YouTube autocomplete search feature to brainstorm keywords and get an idea of search volume, competition, and trends for keywords to target. 

On the other hand, paid keyword research tools like Ahrefs will give you search data specifically for YouTube and everything you need for keyword research in one place.

Why is YouTube keyword research so important?

Finding the right keywords for your videos is pivotal to achieving success with YouTube marketing for your business. Here are a few reasons why:

Create a robust video content strategy

By knowing the type of queries your audience uses on YouTube, you can build a list of topics or topical clusters to create and execute a healthy video content calendar for your YouTube channel.

Get more views on your videos

Ideally, you should optimize every YouTube video you upload for a keyword or group of keywords. The concept of YouTube SEO (search engine optimization) is very similar to optimizing website content for Google search.

Proper keyword optimization makes your video much more likely to be discovered by its target audience. This results in more views, subscribers, and conversions, and Youtube can be a cash cow if used correctly.

Attract the right audience

Creating videos that gain views from a random audience unlikely to buy from you is not a good use of time and resources.

Keyword research allows you to find keywords that align with your target audience's content needs and drive desired actions.

How to do keyword research for a new YouTube channel

If you are starting a new YouTube channel, you can follow this keyword research process to build a strong foundation for growth via organic search.

Here are the key steps involved:

Generate keyword ideas

Coming up with a list of potential keyword targets is the crux of any keyword research process. The more ideas you generate, the more content you can plan for your channel.

This step can be simplified and accelerated through various techniques and tools. We have covered these in a dedicated section later.

Analyze and select keywords for YouTube

Once you have a healthy list of keyword ideas to create videos around, it is time to analyze them carefully against various metrics and parameters. 

This step ensures you pick the most suitable keywords that align with your YouTube content strategy.

Here are some key parameters to refer to when analyzing your YouTube keyword ideas list.

Keyword search volume


Keyword volume is a strong indicator of the popularity of a topic on YouTube. The higher the keyword search volume, the more people want to watch a video around that topic.

Ideally, you should pick keywords with high volume. ​​However, keep in mind that the higher the volume, the more competition there is likely to be.

While Google does not disclose the exact keyword volume, many YouTube keyword research tools provide keyword volume estimates that can be used to inform your decision.

Keyword difficulty 

Keyword difficulty represents the competition to rank your video for a keyword. The lower the difficulty score, the easier it is to rank your video.

You should pick low-difficulty keywords, especially when starting a new YouTube channel.

One clever hack to assess a keyword's difficulty is to monitor the search results and observe if any low subscriber count channels are showing up. If they do, it means smaller channels can rank for the term.

Keyword search intent 

Keyword search intent represents the purpose behind a user's query. Therefore, search intent is an important parameter to consider when picking your keywords.

A keyword's intent can be transactional, informational, or navigational in nature.

For example, "what is SEO" is an informational keyword. Similarly, "best SEO tools for e-commerce" is a transactional one.

You should pick a mix of different keyword intents to comprehensively cover your buyer's journey.

Keyword relevance 

Keyword relevance indicates the alignment of the user's search to what your ideal customer profile (ICP) would search during their purchase journey.

For example, if you sell sunscreen lotion, "how to protect your body from UV" is a more relevant keyword than something like "how to look fair."

You should have a solid understanding of your target customer's search behavior to analyze based on relevance.

The above parameters offer a solid framework for analyzing and selecting keywords. Still, you are free to incorporate more parameters into this process.

Group keywords into clusters or topics

Gone are the days of optimizing search-focused content around a single keyword, whether a webpage for Google search or a video for YouTube search.

Keyword groups or topic clusters are the best way to optimize content around.

For example, the keywords "what is SEO," "what is search engine optimization," and "what is the full form of SEO" can be targetted with a single video rather than creating separate videos for each term.

Typically, you will make one keyword in the group primary, and the others would be related or secondary keywords.

Comparing the search results for two queries is a simple way to decide whether the terms should be grouped or targeted with different videos.

Following this tactic will minimize the creation of duplicate content and enable each video to rank for multiple keywords.

Map keyword groups to buyer's journey

Your YouTube content plan should cover all the stages of your customer's purchase journey, from awareness to consideration to decision and beyond.

You should map your identified keyword groups to the most suitable buying stage in this step.

For example, the "what is SEO" keyword group would fall under the awareness stage.

Assign a video to each keyword group

Every keyword group should be targeted with a dedicated video. 

Create a YouTube content calendar with all your planned videos. Each video should have a status and planned date at a minimum.

Create and optimize video for the keyword group

With a clear keyword plan for every video, it is time to start creating and publishing videos.

Optimize your video title, description, file name, and YouTube tags for the target keyword group for the best SEO results.

Track video rankings for your target keywords

Keep track of the search rankings of your videos against their target keywords using a spreadsheet or preferably a YouTube video rank tracking tool.

Re-optimize video to improve search performance

Have a plan to continuously re-optimize your published videos every few months to improve search performance.

Including content update tasks in your content calendar is an efficient way to cover this step.

6 techniques to come up with keyword ideas for your YouTube channel

As mentioned above, coming up with good keyword ideas is the core of a well-executed keyword research process.

We cover below 6 keyword idea generation techniques to help you fill your YouTube content pipeline with top-performing video topics. 

Let us check them out one-by-one.

1. Make a list of some seed keywords

The seed keywords are obvious terms you believe your audience will search.

Such keywords act as a starting input to generate keyword ideas through other methods like YouTube autocomplete.

Tips to come up with seed keyword ideas for YouTube

  • Identify terms that explain what your product or service does
  • Use trending terms
  • Identify terms that define your audience jobs-to-be-done in a few words

2. Scrape YouTube autocomplete suggestions

YouTube autocomplete suggestions example

The best place to look for keyword ideas is YouTube's search autocomplete suggestions.

These suggestions are primarily actual queries that YouTube users have used in the past, so they are accurate goldmines of keyword ideas.

Helpful tips for using YouTube's autocomplete features to build a keyword list

  • Enter short seed keywords to trigger autocomplete suggestions
  • Change last characters or words to view variations and long-tail keywords
  • Use question terms like what, why, how, etc., followed by the seed keyword
  • Click on “report search suggestions” to generate a report issue screen to drag and select to copy keyword suggestions faster.

3. Use a keyword research tool for YouTube

vidIQ keyword research tool sample results

Like keyword research tools for the Google search engine, you can leverage similar tools to find keyword ideas and pull data from tools dedicated to YouTube search.

Such tools help you find keyword volume, difficulty, related terms, questions, and more to help you in keyword analysis and selection.

List of the best YouTube keyword research tools

4. Get actual queries from YouTube analytics

YouTube search traffic source report in YouTube analytics

YouTube analytics in the YouTube studio will collect useful data if you already have videos gaining views and impressions on your channel.

The traffic source report under YouTube analytics reveals the top queries on which your videos gain impressions and clicks. You can access these keywords when you click on "YouTube search."

The keywords that are gaining impressions but no clicks can be re-assigned to create and rank a new video. You can copy those down and add them to your master keyword ideas list.

5. Analyze competitor video titles and YouTube tags

YouTube video tags example

Surprisingly, your competitor's YouTube channel can simplify the job for you.

Identify the ones that have a fast-growing YouTube channel with significant video views.

Then monitor the titles and tags used in their top-performing videos to generate new keyword ideas.

You can easily view the tags in any video using a YouTube extension like vidIQ.

6. Find Google search keywords that trigger video results

Example of a Google search result with video results

This method is an indirect way to come up with video keyword ideas. Technically, this is part of the Google search keyword research process and focuses on search queries with video results.

The basic idea is that keywords that trigger video results in Google searches can also be utilized to optimize YouTube searches. 

This results in dual benefits, with the video gaining clicks from both the search engines if it can successfully rank for the term.

For example, the keyword "how to build backlinks" when run on Google search also displays YouTube video results. This makes it a great keyword to create a video.

Closing remarks

Keyword research is a skill set that every content creator on YouTube should learn and master to unlock the massive reach and engagement offered by the platform.

While you may know what your video is about, your job is also to convey this information to the YouTube algorithm to boost its discovery via its powerful search functionality.

We hope that this in-depth guide on how to do keyword research for YouTube provided you with an easy-to-understand process to grow your YouTube channel with organic search.

By the way, if you are struggling to scale YouTube content creation, try out CopyAI's suite of AI-powered copywriting tools for free.

Experience how it can supercharge your writing workflows for video titles, descriptions, scripts, and more.

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