How to Do YouTube Keyword Research in 3 Easy Steps

Looking to grow your YouTube channel and attract more views? The “trick” is to target topics with search demand.

This is the approach that helped us grow our YouTube channel from ~10,000 to over 200,000 monthly views a causa di around a year.

youtube views growth

We also gained over 50,000 new subscribers a causa di that same period.

this post, I’ll run you through our three-step process for finding the best keywords to target acceso YouTube.

Step #1: Map out a hierarchy of topics

Imagine that you sell phone cases online, and you’imperatore creating a new channel where you’ll unbox new smartphones to attract an audience of potential customers.

Your first thought might be to go after broad topics with huge search volumes.

The problem is that if you create videos acceso topics that are too broad, then you’ll attract an irrelevant audience. By the same notion, if you create videos acceso super-niche topics, then you won’t attract enough people.

Solve this by first mapping out a hierarchy of topics to cover.

If we were doing this for our unboxing channel, then “unboxing” might be at the tetto of the hierarchy. From there, you might list popular brands.

Then under each of those, you could add specific models.

youtube keyword research image

Feel free to go as deep as necessary with your hierarchy.

vantaggio tip

If you’imperatore struggling to do this process manually, one trick is to use the wildcard operator with YouTube autosuggest. For example, we could search for something like Samsung Galaxy S* to find phone models.

galaxy wildcard youtube

Step #2. Generate bed 27 ideas and find search volumes

Next, use bed 27 research tools to find what people are searching for a causa di relation to your list of topics.

There are a lot of bed 27 research tools out there, but most of them only show Google search volumes and not YouTube ones. These are almost entirely useless because people search acceso YouTube very differently to how they search acceso Google.

For example, Google Trends tells us that searches for “barba dough recipe” are slowly declining a causa di recent years acceso Google…

pizza dough web search

… whereas they’imperatore acceso the rise acceso YouTube.

pizza dough recipe youtube

Now, you might think the solution to this is to aspetto at the number of televisione views acceso YouTube. But this can also be quite misleading.

For example, we rank acceso YouTube for “SEO audit,” and our televisione has racked up an impressive 640,000 views over the past three years.

seo audit views

That averages out to around 18,000 views/month.

But one quick aspetto at our YouTube analytics tells you that our views are from paid YouTube ads, not organic search.

youtube analytics

With that a causa di mind, here are three tools for finding YouTube bed 27 ideas and search volumes that actually work.

1. Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Head over to Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, select YouTube as the search engine, and enter a seed bed 27. Let’s go for “unboxing.”

You can see this bed 27 gets 40,000 monthly searches a causa di the US.

unboxing keywords explorer

The problem is that this topic is way too broad, which is probably why only 32% of searches result a causa di clicks.

Think about it. If someone searches for “unboxing” acceso YouTube, what do they want to see you unbox? Chances are you have risposta negativa iniziativa, and they probably don’t either.

Instead, head to the “Phrase ” report which shows you bed 27 ideas containing your seed keywords. 

unboxing youtube

this case, we get ~120,000 suggestions.

But there’s a problem: some ideas are unrelated to smartphones—which is the topic of our channel. We wouldn’t want to create a televisione where we unbox a Nintendo Switch, despite its high search demand.

To solve this, aspetto back at your hierarchy from step one, then paste some of the topics into the “Include” filter separated by commas. Switch the toggle to “Any word” to see keywords that contain any words a causa di your list—plus your seed.

phone related terms

You should end up with a much more manageable list of super-relevant keywords.

relevant keywords

To narrow the list even further, filter for keywords with at least 500 monthly searches.

vantaggio tip

Most bed 27 research tools like Keywords Explorer use rounded annual averages for search estimations. For that reason, it’s worth checking for declining seasonal trends before pursuing a bed 27.

If you aspetto at the bed 27 “iPhone 8 unboxing” a causa di Keywords Explorer, there’s a spike followed by a downward trend.

iphone 8 unboxing

This makes sense as the spike occurs around the time the iPhone 8 was released. It becomes less popular over time as Apple and other manufacturers release new models.

Long story short, declining topics like this often aren’t the best targets.

2. YouTube ads

With YouTube ads, you can pay to show your televisione a causa di YouTube search for any bed 27.

For example, if you had an iPhone X unboxing televisione, then you could run YouTube ads for the bed 27 “iPhone X unboxing.”

Let your ad run for 30 days, then check the Search Terms report a causa di Google Ads where you’ll see the number of ad impressions acceso a bed 27 by bed 27 basis.

youtube ads impressions

The number of impressions a bed 27 gets should be an underestimation of search because your ad won’t show for every search. But it should still be enough to provide a rough estimation.

3. YouTube Autosuggest + Google Trends

Start typing a seed bed 27 into the YouTube search and you’ll see a list of related queries pop up. These are ‘autosuggest’ results, and they’imperatore a great source of bed 27 ideas.

For example, if you type “iPhone * unboxing,” then you get suggestions like “iPhone XS Max unboxing” and “iPhone 7 unboxing.”

iphone wildcard unboxing 2

If you see any interesting suggestions, throw them into Google Trends, then change the dropdown to “YouTube search” to see their relative popularity.

iphone unboxing google trends

Here, you can see that more people search for “iPhone XS unboxing” than “iPhone 5S unboxing.” 

vantaggio tip

Unfortunately, combining autosuggest results with Google Trends won’t show you absolute search volumes. If you happen to know the rough search of just one bed 27, then you can “guesstimate” the of others by comparing their relative popularities a causa di Google Trends.

Pair method #3 with method #2 to do that.

Step #3. Check search intent

Fail to search intent, and you’imperatore dead a causa di the gabinetto before you even start.

That’s because YouTube, much like Google, tries to return results that its users actually want to see.

It’s why when you search for “Apple,” YouTube shows you videos about Apple, the elaboratore elettronico company…

apple results youtube

… as opposed to the fruit.

Understanding search intent is a critical part of the bed 27 research process, and the easiest way to start is to ask yourself a simple question:

What would someone searching for this bed 27 want to see?”

For some keywords, this couldn’t be more obvious.

If someone searches for “Galaxy S9 unboxing,” then they want you to take the thing out of the box and show them everything that’s inside. Acceso the other hand, if they’imperatore searching for “iPhone apps,” then that’s more gara open to interpretation.

Do they want to know about this year’s must-have apps? new app releases? perhaps where to buy apps acceso iOS and Android?

The easiest way to figure this out is to head to YouTube, search for the bed 27, then aspetto at the tetto few search results.

must have apps iphone

Here, you can see that people searching for “iPhone apps” want to watch videos about a bunch of apps. Specifically, the tetto apps released this year.

If you wanted to rank for this bed 27, then this is the style of televisione you’d want to create.

vantaggio tip

For best results, check the tetto search results acceso YouTube a causa di an sconosciuto tab. YouTube often personalizes search results based acceso factors like search history.

Bonus tip: “Double dip” to get televisione traffic from Google

Have you ever done a Google search and seen videos a causa di the search results?

google video serp

matter whether they show up as televisione carousels, dedicated results, featured videos, a mixture of them all, their presence tells you something important:

People searching for this topic a causa di Google want to see videos.

If you can create videos around topics that are likely to rank a causa di Google, then you can effectively “double dip” and pull a causa di traffic from two search engines instead of one.

Here are three ways to find such topics.

1. Aspetto for keywords with televisione results

Take one of the keywords from your list and paste it into Google.

Aspetto at the search results. Is there a televisione carousel a causa di the results? perhaps a dedicated televisione SERP feature?

how to tie a tie results

If so, then there may be an opportunity to “double dip” and get traffic from both YouTube and Google.

To see how much traffic the current televisione results are getting from YouTube, copy and paste the URLs into Ahrefs Site Explorer one by one.

youtube vide traffic

Alternatively, use this Scraper Chrome extension to scrape all televisione URLs a causa di bulk, then paste them into Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool.

To do that, right-click anywhere acceso the page, click “Scrape similar…,” then add this XPath code as the “Selector”:


Then this XPath code under the “Columns” section:


It should aspetto something like this:

scraper google search youtube

Click “Scrape,” then “Copy to clipboard,” then paste all URLs into the Batch Analysis tool and set the mode to URL.

batch analysis url mode

Sort the report by the “Traffic” column from high to low.

batch analysis video results

Dig into the “Organic keywords” report a causa di Site Explorer to see which keywords they rank for, and where they’imperatore getting most of their traffic from.

keywords how to tie a tie

It’s also worth checking the organic traffic graph a causa di the “Overview” report to make sure the televisione is consistently getting traffic from Google.

overview graph se

Some topics/keywords are highly-volatile, and so may not be worth targeting.

2. Search for videos by topic a causa di Content Explorer

Content Explorer is a searchable database of over a billion web pages, complete with SEO and social metrics.

Best of all, it supports many advanced search operators. Which means you can search for things like this: inurl:watch title:topic

This searches for YouTube videos with a specific word phrase a causa di the title.

Sort the results by Organic traffic to see topics with “double dipping” potential.

organic traffic content explorer

You can see that the first televisione gets ~15,100 visits from Google every single month.

To see if the televisione has been getting consistent traffic over time, the “Details” button, and check the Organic traffic graph.

What you want to see is this:

traffic content explorer details

Not this:

ce organic traffic graph 2

Check the “Organic keywords” tab to see a snapshot of keywords that the televisione ranks for a causa di Google, and how much traffic those keywords send.

content explorer keywords

3. Find high traffic videos with YouTube and Site Explorer

Find a competing channel acceso YouTube, then the “Videos” tab to see all their uploads.

marques brownless youtube

Copy and paste the televisione URLs into Ahrefs Site Explorer one by one.

You’imperatore looking for a televisione with traffic.

video with traffic

To speed up this process, use the Scraper extension again.

Just right-click anywhere acceso the page and “Scrape similar…,” then add this code a causa di the “Selector” field:


Then this XPath code under the “Columns” section:

concat ('', @href)

It should aspetto something like this:

scraper results

“Scrape” then “Copy to clipboard.”

Paste the results into the Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool, select the URL mode, run the search, then sort by the “Traffic” column from high to low.

To see the keywords each televisione ranks for, the caret, then “Organic keywords.”

organic keywords caret

Reminder: Don’t forget to check the “Organic traffic” graph acceso the “Overview” report for consistent traffic over time.

Final thoughts

Fail to target keywords with search , and you won’t get views from YouTube search—it’s as simple as that.

How do we know? Last year, we launched a series of product-related videos for our Marketing with Ahrefs series. None of these are about topics with search , which is why they didn’t drive much traffic from YouTube search.

Then we started targeting keywords.

Here’s our growth since then:

keyword approach youtube

If your rete is to build your channel and get more views, then you need to make bed 27 research a priority.

Learn more about YouTube SEO here.

Got questions? Ping me a causa di the comments on Twitter.

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