We have gained over 28,000 subscribers in the last year…
…and a large percentage of the way people find our channel and videos is through YouTube search.
This means when they type in a keyword such as “how to increase Facebook engagement”…
…our video is the first to appear organically in the search results, and that is how they discover our videos and channel.
So today, we’ll show you the steps we take with every video we make to optimize and rank them through YouTube keyword research.
This is so that you can start seeing the same results with your videos.
We’ve got a 6-step process prepared for you that will help take you from zero to having fully optimized and ranking YouTube videos.
We’ll cover each step thoroughly, but a common theme you’ll see throughout the process is YouTube keyword research.
Let’s start by defining what YouTube keyword research means really quickly.
What Is YouTube Keyword Research?
YouTube keyword research is the process of determining which keywords are being searched for the most by your target audience…
…as they relate to your products or services.
So for example, if you sell knitting supplies, you might want to know how often “how to knit a sweater” is searched on YouTube.
That is because if it’s a lot, that may be worth making a video around to attract qualified eyeballs to your channel and brand.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s just go ahead and get into our 6 steps.
6 Steps In YouTube Keyword Research
Step 1: List down keywords or search terms that are being searched for on YouTube.
There are a couple of ways you can do this.
One tool we use is the keywordtool.io.
It’s one of the few tools out there that allows you to do keyword research for both Google and YouTube.
Continuing with our example from before, let’s say we want to see how many people are typing in “how to knit” on YouTube.
You’d make sure YouTube is the search engine selected, and type that keyword into the search bar.
It will show you how many times that keyword is searched in a month as well as some variations of it to consider.
For instance, you could make several videos out of this topic. You could make a video on:
- how to knit for beginners,
- how to knit cast on vs cast off,
- how to knit a scarf, and
- how to knit a blanket.
You could make another video on how to knit a blanket for beginners and the list goes on.
Our general rule of thumb is we aim to make videos for topics that have a search volume of 1,000 or more.
But if you find a topic that has a search volume of, let’s say, 800 or so and it’s trending upwards?
Now may be a good time to jump in and be the first to make a great video on that topic…
…and take advantage of the traffic starting to come in on that search term.
The other thing that’s important to look at within the Keyword Tool is the competition.
It will tell you if it’s high, medium, or low. This means it will tell you if there are a ton of other accounts making videos about this topic, a few, or very little.
The jackpot would be to find a topic that’s relevant to your niche that’s got a high search volume with low competition.
But that’s not usually the case.
Usually, if the search volume is pretty high, the competition for it is going to be medium or high.
This is okay, you’ll just need to compensate for that with what you include in your video, which we’ll get into more a little later.
Now, the Keyword Tool is not free. It is a paid software that we use.
You can check out the pricing on their website to see which plan would work best for you, and no, this post is not sponsored.
We just genuinely like and use this tool.
Another tool we have to mention that we use a lot in this process is VID IQ.
They have free and paid plans that you can choose between based on what you need.
And we use them for several things which you will see throughout the remainder of this post.
But what we like about them is that they have an extension for Google Chrome and Firefox.
This makes their tools really accessible, quick, and easy to use to grab the info we need whenever we need it.
Looking at our screen, we’ve got the extension installed so when we search “how to knit for beginners” on YouTube…
…there’s a lot of information that automatically populates from Vid IQ.
So this tool will also show you the competition level for the search term…
…and give you some stats about the video that got the highest views for this search term.
Then if you click into one of the top-ranking videos, it will automatically populate some more information for you to look into.
But before we get too ahead of ourselves again, let’s move on to the next step of this YouTube keyword research guide.
Step 2: Scope out the existing, top-ranking videos.
To do this, you’ll want to open an incognito browser and make sure that you’re not signed in to Google or YouTube.
You don’t want your personal algorithm bias playing a role in the search results.
You’ll want to type in the keyword you want to research and take note of the top-ranking videos there.
You’ll notice that it’s not always the videos with the most views that take the top spots.
And that’s because YouTube SEO and how you optimize your video is a big deal.
You’ll want to watch their videos for these 3 things:
- To see what all they talk about in the video. Are they including any important tips in addition to the main topic? Jot down their main talking points.
- To see what additional, smaller yet still related keywords they’re using in the video.
- To see how long the video is.
You’ll then want to use what’s called the Skyscraper technique.
We’ve mentioned this before on our blog, but if you’re new here, the Skyscraper technique is essentially where you take existing content.
And you make yours bigger and better to outperform the original content.
So in the case of YouTube, that means you need to cover everything they cover in their video, in your video, and more.
Additionally, make your video longer in length.
The goal here is to make your video more appealing to both users and YouTube.
You can accomplish the first by making your video more valuable to your audience with extra tips and content in the video.
And you can get on YouTube’s good side by making your video longer.
YouTube is always wanting to increase watch times and keep people on their platform for as long as possible.
So if your video helps them do that better than the other, shorter video on the same topic, they’re more likely to put your video in the top spot.
Step 3: Write your script or prep however you normally prep to film.
We know that not everybody writes a script, some people just sit down in front of their computer and go for it.
But either way, you’ll want to make sure you cover all the content topics you made a note to cover in the previous step.
As well as include any of the additional keywords your competitors did.
Some things you can do to make your video a little longer or extra valuable is to include:
…and other examples of you doing exactly what you’re describing.
Also, check out our post on how to increase YouTube engagement after this…
…because there are some tips in that post that you’ll want to implement in this step here when you’re writing your script.
So once you’ve got your script nailed down and your video filmed, you’re ready to start uploading.
But before we get into those next steps, just a reminder to also check out our new social media ads training course to master social advertising.
Step 4: Optimize your video for your keyword.
When you upload your video into YouTube, you’ll want to include the main keywords and variations of it in the:
- description, and
- chapter timestamps.
We’re including chapter timestamps in this because sometimes, your timestamp can also rank on Google’s search results…
…not just YouTube’s, if it’s helping answer a search query for someone on Google.
And that’s great in helping you promote YouTube videos on your channel.
Google owns YouTube…
…so if you can take advantage of the traffic from both search engines in one go because you optimized your video well, that’s awesome.
But keep in mind that you still want everything to make sense.
You don’t want to just stick keywords everywhere for the sake of putting them in there.
We talked about this in our digital marketing case studies post and that’s called keyword stuffing.
It’s an unethical practice that YouTube and Google will punish you if they catch you doing it.
You instead want to write your description to accurately describe your video.
And in doing so, you should be able to naturally insert your target keywords throughout since that’s what your video is about.
And then before you leave your description page, do the next step.
YouTube says “Tags are descriptive keywords you can add to your video to help viewers find your content.”
You can utilize up to 500 characters when adding tags, so you’ll want to be intentional in choosing them.
If you have VID IQ installed, you can add a tag and then click the VID IQ icon to:
- inspect it,
- see the stats on that keyword, and
- get other tag ideas that you can quick-add
…by clicking the plus sign.
Now YouTube has stated that tags are not as important for SEO as your title and description, but every little bit helps, right?
So, why not use them all together for one big SEO power punch?
And then the last thing we look at before hitting the Publish button is the thumbnail.
Step 6: Create a great thumbnail.
Do not just choose one of the pre-populated options YouTube gives you from your video.
You want to make one that:
- is attention-grabbing, and
- has your keyword in the thumbnail because YouTube reads the text on your thumbnails.
Did you know that? Because of that, your thumbnail can carry SEO value too.
Another thing we do with our thumbnails is we actually run all of our thumbnails through Google’s Cloud Vision AI tool.
This is to ensure that we get all the green marks on the Safe Search component from YouTube’s parent company.
If there’s anything adult, racist, violent, etc. that Google picks up on from your thumbnail, it’s likely to reduce your reach and ability to rank higher on YouTube.
And it’s always good to double-check this because in some industries, like photography for example…
…Google might flag your thumbnail for having the word “Shoot” in it, when what you’re actually referring to is shooting photos.
It’s a quick step you can take to make sure all of your hard work isn’t foiled right at the end because of a misunderstanding or something that can be a quick fix.
But if you want to know how to make a thumbnail using Canva, then be sure to read our tutorial for that next.
So those are the 6 steps we take with every single video we make including all of the YouTube keyword tools we use to help us optimize our videos and rank.
We know trying to rank higher in the YouTube search results and conducting YouTube keyword research can seem a little intimidating at first.
But, if you just follow these 6 steps, and take them one at a time, you’ll be on the right track to start getting more views, subscribers, and traffic.
Now if you need more help with optimizing your videos, get our YouTube SEO services now.
Contact us today to get started!