The best YouTube keyword research tools for creators & tips for killer keyword research

YouTube keywords for SEO

You’ve set up your YouTube channel, you’ve uploaded a few high-quality videos, but you’re not getting the kind of views or subscriptions you expected. Now what? You need to perform keyword research (using YouTube keyword tools) and plan how you’re going to get your content to rank in YouTube search.

Sometimes, YouTube Creators can get so caught up in content creation that they completely forget to optimize their channels with YouTube keyword tools or check their YouTube analytics. While these are easy mistakes to make on YouTube, not utilising these tools to hone in on the most highly searched for keywords can make it hard for people to find your content and even more difficult to grow your channel.

These YouTube keyword tools will help you discover the most popular and relevant keywords for your videos in record time, so you’ll be free to focus on other (probably more exciting) aspects of your job as a Creator.

We’ve put together some of the best YouTube keyword tools to boost your video views and get more subscribers. But first, let’s find out how exactly keywords help you grow your YouTube channel.

What are keywords and why is keyword research important for a YouTube channel?

Simply put, keywords are the words and phrases people use to search for things in search engines. For example, if you want to bake a chocolate cake you might search for “chocolate cake recipe”. Here, “chocolate cake recipe” is your keyword.

YouTube keywords for SEO

YouTube is, essentially, a search engine that specializes in video content. This means YouTube SEO is important.

Wait, what does SEO mean?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s usually referred to when people are optimizing their sites to rank more effectively for Google searches. YouTube SEO is a similar principle. It’s all about optimizing your content to rank better in both YouTube and Google searches.

Similarly, on YouTube, users enter certain words and phrases into the search field to look for videos or channels relevant to those search terms. So if you use the right keywords in your video title, channel description, and video descriptions, YouTube will understand what your content is about and display your content in relevant searches.

In fact, digital marketing experts at Briggsby conducted a study on YouTube ranking factors and found that using keywords in your channel and video descriptions have a small but significant impact on your ranking.

YouTube SEO keywords impact ranking

In other words, you need keywords to grow your channel because they help your videos appear at the top of the results in relevant searches. And ranking in relevant searches helps you gain more video views as you’ll attract significantly more viewers, which could in turn get you more subscribers.

All of these factors, video views and channel subscribers included, help YouTube decide who to position first on search results. So your YouTube keyword search and choice of YouTube channel keywords can really help you boost your channel.

Correlation of YouTube ranking factors

What is YouTube Keyword Research?

Keyword research, for YouTube or any other platform with a search engine, is the process of identifying the keywords you want to rank for, reviewing the competition and expanding your list of relevant keywords and phrases.

It’s that simple and, as you can see above, important for making your content visible. Essentially you’ll be starting with a few important related words or phrases to the content you’re planning to make, then using research processes and tools to expand the list of keywords.

Another element of this research is for you to assess what your existing content is ranking for, where the important gaps are in your current optimization and how your competitors are ranking for content in a similar space.

The 6 best tools to find YouTube keywords

While there are a bunch of manual processes to help you find keywords (more on that later), finding a good YouTube keyword tool can make a real difference.

There aren’t as many dedicated YouTube keyword tools as there are for search engine keyword research, but there are still some excellent, powerful and affordable tools out there. Here are our top picks for the best YouTube keyword tool:

1: TubeBuddy

TubeBuddy isn’t just a YouTube keyword generator; it’s an all-in-one platform for YouTube Creators to enhance their productivity, video SEO, and promotion efforts – woohoo! Not only is it a powerful tool with a bunch of features, it comes with a chrome plugin to help you find keywords on existing competitor videos too!

Tubebuddy keyword research

The Keyword Explorer lets you “explore” search terms to assess search volume, competition level, and keyword strength. This gives you all the insights you need to narrow down the best keywords for your channel.

It even comes with a ‘most searched’ keyword planner for YouTube, which shows you the most popular related searches that you might want to include in your optimization strategy.

Plus, TubeBuddy has its own Chrome plugin which will let you analyze your competitor’s videos to discover tags and other important information. Without this plugin installed you won’t be able to see video’s tags as they’ll be completely hidden!


  • Comprehensive keyword strength analysis
  • Easy-to-understand scoring system
  • Provides relevant keyword suggestions
  • Provides relevant suggestions for most used keyword tags
  • Inexpensive. Paid plans start from $9 per month
  • Has a plugin to save time for quick research.


  • Limited access with free version

2: is one of the few keyword research tools that comes with a dedicated keyword planner for YouTube. Enter your search term and the tool will show you some of the most popular unique keywords related to that term. For each keyword in your search result, you also get to see the search volume, search trend, cost-per-click (CPC), and competition level.

Keywordtool io research

If you want to dig ever deeper, the tool also recommends questions, hashtags, and prepositions related to the original search term. This makes perfect for long-tail keyword searches to help with your ‘take over YouTube’ efforts. 

Long-tail keywords are those search terms with 3-4 phrases that are highly specific to your content. This makes them a powerful tool for attracting relevant viewers and dominating the YouTube landscape.


  • Comprehensive keyword metrics analysis
  • Great for long-tail keyword research
  • ‘Negative keywords’ feature to filter out unwanted keywords
  • Option to search for keywords in another language


  • Limited access with free version
  • Slightly pricey. Paid plans start from $69 per month

3: VidIQ

Much like TubeBuddy, VidIQ‘s keyword planner for YouTube scores your keyword based on search volume and competition. It even shows you how people’s interest in the keyword changes over time so you can assess it for longevity. It’s another one that’s got a chrome extension so it can integrate with YouTube as you browse.

VidIQ keyword research tool


What stands out is the related trending videos feature, which gives you an idea of what the most successful Creators are doing to rank for those keywords.


  • Comprehensive keyword analysis
  • Easy-to-understand scoring system
  • Provides relevant suggestions for related keywords and queries
  • Helps you identify related trending videos
  • Inexpensive. Paid plans start at $7.50 per month


  • No keyword research functionality with the free version

4: Kparser

Kparser is among the best YouTube keyword tools as it gives you access to a long list of related keyword suggestions with every search. This list makes it much easier to come up with lots of relevant keyword ideas for your videos and channel description in one simple search.

Kparser YouTube keyword research

While you can use this YouTube keyword tool free of cost, you won’t get to see the search volume or CPC unless you upgrade to a paid version.


  • Long list of keyword suggestions
  • Option to search for keywords in another language
  • Option to run country-specific keyword research
  • Moderate pricing. The paid version starts from $26 per month


  • No keyword analysis data with the free version

5: Hypersuggest

Hypersuggest is another simple keyword research tool with a YouTube function. Like others on this list it doesn’t give you access to all of its features in the free version. You’re limited to the top 10 results for any search, but you get some information on them, like potential search volume, and you can focus your searches by country.

Hypersuggest YouTube keyword research tool

It’s an easy-to-use system, and fairly self-explanatory. Each result is categorised around whether it’s a suffix, modifier or prefixes. You’ll be able to download the data or filter it, and there are keyword tools for other platforms available.


  • Easy to use
  • Long lists of keywords
  • Search by country or language


  • You have to get an addon to access YouTube search results which makes it €15,80 a month for a number of other features you may not use

6: Wordtracker

Wordtracker is another of the ‘freemium keyword research tools. You can search keywords on YouTube, Google and a number of other search engines. The basic free version gives you access to keyword volume, showing historical searches and competition. In this free version, you’ll only have a limited number of results, but it’s more than some of its competitors.

Wordtracker YouTube keyword tool


There’s a free trial available too, and you can make lists of your keywords in the tool as well as opt to exclude particular terms from your searches. The free version limits the number of searches you can make too, so be careful if you’re just trying it out.


  • Lets you search by platform
  • Provides you with keyword volume and historical data
  • Allows you to exclude lists
  • Lets you have a number of free searches and offers a free trial


  • Limits results on free version
  • Cheapest subscription is $27/month and requires at least 3 months

Our Pick for the Best YouTube Keyword Tool

So which is the best? Check out our comparison table below and we’ll run you through which tool is your best bet for YouTube keyword research.

  TubeBuddy vidIQ Kparser Hypersuggest Wordtracker
YouTube Certified x   x      
Search on other platforms (Google, Bing etc)   x   x x x
Chrome plugin x   x x    
Search by country x x x x x x
Search by language x x x x x x
Free features x x x x x  
Subscription under $15/month for YouTube x   x      
Exclude keywords x x x x x x
Check YouTube Tags x   x      
Additional YouTube functionality x   x      

Our pick from this list is an easy one. It’s got to be TubeBuddy. Not only is the research it provides comprehensive, but the Chrome extension offers powerful insights specific to YouTube that some of its more generalised competitors don’t. The plugin offers you other features outside of the keyword and tag analysis that can help improve your YouTube game.

The other huge bonus is that TubeBuddy has plans starting at just $9 a month, which many of it’s competitors just can’t beat. Sure, some of those have basic free functionality, but TubeBuddy offers an excellent entry into paid tools without breaking the bank.

How to perform YouTube keyword research: find keywords and check search volume

Now that you understand how important keywords are for YouTube growth, you must be itching to find out how to actually research keywords for your YouTube videos. Researching keywords is a process, one that can feel manual. Some of the best methods do require a little time and effort, but there are also a number of powerful tools that have been designed to make your task that much easier.

To perform the best keyword research possible will want to use a combination of the following:

  1. YouTube keyword research tools and plugins
  2. Autocomplete for longtail keyword research

Each of these methods has its own benefits, but when one is used in isolation it may not give you the whole picture. Autocomplete, for instance, is an excellent free way to manually find long tail keywords, but it’s only going to give you a small snapshot that could be limited by the seed keyword you’re using. Combine it with a keyword research tool or a plugin though and you’re onto a winner.

What’s a longtail keyword?

Long-tail keywords are those search terms with 3-4 phrases that are highly specific to your content. This makes them a powerful tool for attracting relevant viewers and dominating the YouTube landscape

What’s a seed keyword?

A seed keyword is one word or short phrase that’s used as a starting point for keyword research. It’s the keyword or selection of keywords that you want to find additional information for or related keywords or phrases.

We’re going to cover off each of these, so you can discover the research methods available to you.

Using AutoComplete for Longtail Keyword Research

Autocomplete is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to do some basic keyword research. A longtail keyword generally has a lower volume than other, more generalised searches, but it has a much stronger user intent. Generally, the competition for these terms is a little weaker and if you can successfully target them then you’re onto a winner.

Research actually shows that the majority of searches use 3 or more words, and that just highlights the importance of targeting them. For YouTube you’ve got a powerful tool for discovering these terms right at your fingertips that comes as part of the platform’s built-in functionality; autocomplete.

Autocomplete does what it says on the tin. Enter your seed term into the search bar on YouTube and autocomplete will show you phrases that people have searched for based on what you typed. An example below:

YouTube keywords for SEO

You’ll see from the example that when people are searching for ‘music’ they’re often adding other terms, related to the year or the need they have from the video. Try entering individual words or phrases and seeing what it throws out. This can help you work out specific tags for your video, but can also affect your description or video name too.

Competitor’s top videos & tags

One of the best places to look when you’re in the early stages of YouTube keyword research is your competitors’ channels. We’re not talking about the ones with millions of subscribers more than you though, you want to focus on creators who have a similar audience to your own. You can view the keywords they use to optimize their videos but also the tags they are using.

To check the keywords they’re using, you want to look at their ‘most popular’ videos. To do this, simply browse to their channel, click on their ‘videos’ tab and order by ‘most popular’.

Chart music for YouTube


You’ll be shown your competitor’s videos with the most views, and you’ll be able to check the titles and descriptions to see what keywords they’ve been using to get that content seen.

Once you’ve checked their titles and descriptions, you’ll also want to check out their tags. This is something that YouTube actually hides, but there are a couple of ways to make them visible. Either use a tool, like TubeBuddy (more on that later) or view them directly in the page source.

To look at competitor’s YouTube tags simply view the page source. This may sound daunting, and if you’re unfamiliar with a page of HTML that’s understandable, but in reality, you aren’t going to have to do anything complicated. We’ll break it down for you:

  1. Browse to the video you want to check and right-click. Select ‘View page source’.

Storror page source tags

Which will show you the HTML for that page.

2. Perform a ‘find’ search ( ctrl+f on Windows or ⌘ + f on Mac) and search “keywords”. If it displays the meta keywords you’ll want to browse to the second option. It’ll look something like this:

find other creators' Keywords on YouTube HTML

The individual words after this are the tags for that video!

Now that you’ve tried to autocomplete and looked at your competitor’s videos, what’s next? This is where tools and plugins come into play.

How to optimisze your videos using YouTube keywords

Now you’ve used all of these tools and tricks to perform keyword research and get a list of keywords, how do you actually go about optimizing your content to rank? A few simple tips for optimizing for YouTube search include:

  • Use keywords in your video file name – YouTube can read the file name and that’s a good place to start.
  • Use keywords in your video title, as naturally as possible – While exact match keywords don’t always directly lead to rankings, they’re incredibly helpful. Just make sure they look natural, no garbage sentences!
  • Use keywords in the description, but don’t overdo it – You can write descriptions of up to 1,000 characters, but there’s no evidence that a super long description is going to make your content rank. Just mention the important terms in a short descriptive paragraph.
  • Optimise your video tags with related keywords – These tags are what YouTube uses these tags to understand the context of your content and videos.
  • Add closed captions and subtitles to your video – adding subtitles or a transcript not only makes your content more accessible, but it can aid people searching keywords that relate to your content.

There are other ways you can use the keywords from your research but these tips are a great place to start.

Other ways to grow your channel

Keywords play an important role in channel visibility and growth. But you can’t rely on keywords alone to grow your YouTube channel. Check out these extra steps to take your channel to the next level:

1: Scroll-stopping Thumbnails

 Your thumbnail is one of the first things people will notice about your video. Make sure it stops scrollers in their tracks and encourages people to click on and watch your videos. More video views equal more visibility, which leads to faster channel growth. Use attractive images, text overlay, and colorful graphical elements to add some zest to an otherwise boring thumbnail.

2: Knockout Keyword Tags 

Besides using relevant keywords in your video title, video description, and channel description, you should also use them to tag your videos. YouTube lets you add video tags so it can understand what your content is about. Pay close attention to your first few tags and use the most popular and relevant keywords.

3: Mood-Setting Music

In the eternal words of Madonna, “music makes the people come together” and adding the right soundtrack is a sure fire way to make your videos more engaging and view-worthy. Adding well-known background music that sets the perfect mood for your videos can give you the edge over other Creators who often use samey stock music.

“But what about the copyright claims?” you might ask. Lucky for you, the Lickd platform allows you access to thousands of popular tracks which are available to use without getting slapped with copyright claims. You no longer have to choose between losing your ad revenue or using your favorite songs. With Lickd you get to use the music you love and keep your ad revenue. 

4: Handy (Not Pesky) YouTube Cards

Get more video views by promoting your videos using YouTube cards. Insert a card in a relevant section of the video to direct your viewers to other videos they might be interested in.

5: End It with a Bang…ing Screen 

Make the most of the final screen of your video to suggest videos your viewers should watch next, this can encourage people to watch more of your content and gains you more views.

YouTube end screen gets more subscribers

You can also use the opportunity to prompt viewers to subscribe to your channel and grow your subscriber rate.

6: Give Your Viewers Some Love 

While it’s important to attract new viewers, it’s even more important to keep your existing viewers coming back for more. Gaining a loyal following is a vital part of growing your channel, so make sure you respond to comments and interact with your viewers to let them know that you’re listening. To hear more about the importance of engaging with your following, check out this video of YouTuber, Matt Vandeputte

7: Join a Lit Playlist

Improve your chances of getting discovered by adding your videos to relevant and popular playlists. That way, people viewing other related videos can easily find your videos even if they’ve never heard of your channel before.

There you have it – everything you need to know about YouTube keyword search and growing your channel. You even have a list of the best YouTube keyword tools to try out. Most of these tools have a free trial option so make sure you give each of them a go before you decide on the best option for you.

Now you know everything there is to know about YouTube keyword tools! It’s time to get great music to grow your content…

Lickd popular music for video

As mentioned, Lickd is a platform that lets you now license popular music you know and love for your YouTube videos! We’re here to change the game and make better music available for creators. Will you be part of the music revolution on YouTube? It’s been proven that popular music increases views, subscribes, comments and more.

Sign up today to get 25% off your first track and see for yourself what popular music can do.

Further reading on YouTube

Did you know Lickd are the experts when it comes to commercial stock music for YouTube videos? We’ve plenty of further reading to get your teeth into!

How we integrate with YouTube & Content ID

How to use commercial music for your YouTube videos

The best songs for YouTube videos

Content and SEO Marketing Manager

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