A User's Guide to the YouTube Keyword Tool


What is the YouTube Keyword Tool?

The YouTube keyword research tool, also known as the YouTube keyword suggestion tool, is a barebones tool used to generate and discover new keywords for YouTube videos. It looks like this:

YouTube Keyword Tool Search

How to Use the YouTube Keyword Tool

The YouTube keyword tool is pretty straightforward – simply choose your language and tailored countries, insert a keyword or phrase, and click “Get keyword ideas.”

Some of those keyword suggestions (heck, maybe a lot of them) will make no sense whatsoever. But, buried in that strange, bizarre rubble of YouTube culture, you may find some gold nuggets than can really help you out when it comes to content strategy.

youtube keyword tool

youtube keyword tool 2014

While these keyword results aren’t very long-tail in the literal since of having lots of words, they can certainly be considered long-tail in intent – deep, narrow intent. This means that most of these keywords aren’t the big-bucks keyword phrases that everyone is searching for, but that’s a good thing, as they will have considerably less competition.

You can imagine keyword strategy as something similar to buying tickets for raffle prizes. At a raffle, there are usually a few big prizes that everyone wants to win, and many tickets go into that raffle box as a result. If you put your tickets in the raffle box for the all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii, chances are your odds of winning won’t be so good. However, if you instead disperse your tickets into less popular or exciting raffle prizes – a free haircut and blow-dry at Slinky Salon, a tea kettle from Teavana – you’ll find that with less competition, your odds of winning go up dramatically.

YouTube Keyword Search Tool

Image by Alyson Hurt

Less competition means more opportunity, and somewhere around the intersection of the two is that area which is ripe for creating content. This is especially true when applied to video content, as video content has less competition AND is more likely to appear in search results. With that recipe, you’ve got a great shot at grabbing a top spot in the SERPs.

Data obtained from the YouTube Keyword Tool can be used to generate new content topics or brainstorm new keywords to add to existing content. Consider using the YouTube keyword tool to generate content ideas for:

  • Instructional "how to" videos
  • Promo videos aka explainer videos
  • In-depth tutorial blog posts
  • Supplemental pieces to compliment existing content

Video content is immensely valuable, and in 2014 you’re likely to see the stock in video skyrocket.

How to Optimize Your Videos with YouTube Keywords

Once you’ve decided which keywords you want associated with your YouTube video content, you’ll want to add your related keywords to the video:

  • Title: Integrate your top keywords into the title.
  • Description: The description field is another opportunity for discrete keyword insertion, along with a call to action. It’s also smart to add a link to your website or other related content at the beginning and end of your description, giving viewers ample opportunity to visit your site or other content pieces you’ve created.
  • Tags: The tags section is where you can paste in your primary keywords and appropriate synonyms.
  • Captions and Subtitles: Uploading captions and subtitles lets you add crawlable SEO text to your YouTube videos.

For more information about crafting top-notch YouTube videos, check out our guide for creating and optimizing YouTube videos.

YouTube Keyword Tool: Not Enough Data & Other Issues

While the YouTube keyword tool can be handy for brainstorming new keyword ideas (albeit some are VERY far out), many have noted that the overwhelming majority of keywords generated by the tool show “not enough data” for the monthly search volume.  While some may be tempted to steer away from these keywords with low search volume, it is these keywords that have a ton of potential and opportunity as they will have less competition.

YouTube Keyword Tool Not Enough Data

You also may find that some of your keyword searches will return some very bizarre results – you certainly won’t want to use every keyword suggestion offered. However, even the wackier keywords may help inspire some not-so-obvious keyword topics and angles that you didn’t think of before.

Taking Full Advantage of the YouTube Keyword Tool Search

There are a few additional steps you can take to get even more out of the data that the YouTube Keyword Tool provides.

Julie Joyce of Search Engine Land suggests taking favorable words from the YouTube Keyword Tool and then inserting them with “exact match” into YouTube’s search tool (and/or Google to be extra thorough).

youtube keyword research

The goal is to find a keyword query that generates:

  • Few results (which means low competition)
  • Videos with many views (the topic is popular and worth pursuing)
  • Old videos (if the video is over a year old, it’s likely become outdated. Now is your chance to swoop in and do it better!)

If you like the looks of the keyword query, you might even consider creating additional content to supplement the video – perhaps a how-to blog post elaborating on what’s discussed in the video with crisp photos, a buying guide, an infographic, etc.

Remember that the majority of users are not going to YouTube to purchase something – they are searching for information, help, and entertainment. Catering to these needs will help your video content succeed.

You can also use the YouTube keyword tool to optimize your existing YouTube videos – adding in high-traffic keywords that relate to your video can help give existing videos a search boost. Whether you’re creating new content with a specific keyword in mind, or hoping to optimize existing content, the YouTube Keyword Tool can be a powerful aid when used correctly.

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Victor Pan
Jan 23, 2014

How to queries are actually kind of popular on YouTube. While the completeness of the data really sucks, the keyword ideas aren't bad - so throw them onto the Google Keyword Planner and see how they do - you might just rank for universal search with your video.Oh, and your how-to video? In-video annotations are a great idea to guage actual user intent. Plug in a CTA and external link and you're golden. If anything, people underestimate YouTube!

Megan Marrs
Feb 05, 2014

Very true Victor, great idea about the in-video CTAs.

Rick Noel
Jan 23, 2014

Awesome post Megan. YouTube can be a great channel and I agree with Victor that YouTube and its value to digital marketers, is seariously underestimated. That just means that there is still an opportunity to adopt YouTube as a channel prior to saturation. Mobile growth wiill add another dimension and accessibility to video.Like with any other content, video quality matters for brand and ranking as avergage % viewed is a ranking factor. How to style videos are great for making it into the blended search results even for somewhat competitive phrases.We have had success in using a link back our website for generating referral traffic from YouTube. Thanks for sharing..

Megan Marrs
Feb 10, 2014

Absolutely Rick - mobile devices and YouTube go hand in hand, and I expect we'll see that trend grow even more over time. Glad you enjoyed the post!

May 09, 2014

I never knew that YouTube had a keyword tool.  Will use it now as I would like to monetize my videos.  Thanks for the info.

Jun 25, 2014

I was thrilled to hear about YouTube's Keyword Search/Suggestion tool. But when I went to it and replicated your search, it returned no resutls.I tried a few other sameples and still noting. Any ideas?

tom martin
Sep 01, 2014

Hey Megan great article but i've noticed that the tool is being shut down...Today Can you do a follow up article on alternatives to get the same data. the site points me to the adwords display planner but it's not clear how to get the same data from there Tom

ujjwal kumar sen
Sep 18, 2014

Hello, this is just an amazing article, but I would like to know the URL for checking keywords on Youtube, I think you should mention this on this blog post, it would be helpful for beginners like me.Thanks

Making Money on Fiverr
Oct 08, 2015

Nice replies in eturn of this difficulty with solid ardguments
and explaining everything regarding that.

Jan 16, 2015

After YouTube shut down their keyword tool. I have only found VideoCents. They have built a YouTube Keyword Tool that shows search volume and other information. Anyone, find others?

Oct 21, 2016

I have a question, how do you access this tool, i try to open it but it redirect me to a campaign page.

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