How to Use YouTube SEO to Generate Content Ideas for Your Channel - A Simple 5-Step Guide

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YouTube SEO

At first glance, YouTube SEO can seem miles away from finding content ideas for your channel. After all, Search Engine Optimization on YouTube is about getting your video title right and putting keywords in tags, right? 

Not anymore. 

Over the years, YouTube’s algorithm has evolved. Today, it considers a huge number of aspects to decide what to show in response to a user’s search – from video captions to hashtags. 

However, at the algorithm’s core is the quality of your content, and how closely it matches the intent behind a user’s search. 

That’s why proper content research is essential for SEO. And why SEO resources are invaluable on your hunt for content ideas that will resonate with your audience. 

If you’re just getting started out with YouTube SEO – or if you need a quick refresher – this guide will take you through the process step by step. 

YouTube SEO

Keyword Volume and Difficulty: The Central Metrics

The central premise of SEO is to identify keywords. These are words, phrases or even complete sentences and questions that people use to search for content. 

The more closely your videos match these, the more likely it is that they’ll rank highly in search results

In general, there are a few different ways to evaluate keywords. The most important of those metrics are keyword difficulty and search volume. 

A keyword’s search volume describes how often people use it to search for content in a given time. Usually, that’ll be for a month.

Keyword difficulty, in contrast, tells you how hard it would be for a new piece of content to rank for that keyword. The higher the score, the more high-quality competition is already out there.  

If you’re looking for content ideas for your channel, digging up good keywords can be a great source of inspiration. Plus, it’s much more likely that the awesome content you create will rank high up in search results, garnering lots of views. 

YouTube SEO

Step 1 - Evaluate What Content and Searches Are Popular In Your Niche

First, start by checking what keywords are doing well in your niche, whether that is fashion, cooking, or tech reviews. 

A great place to start is by checking YouTube’s autosuggest feature with some generic keywords. This will give you some insights into popular searches the algorithm associates with them. 

Another excellent way to find common searches associated with a certain topic is to use tools like AnswerThePublic.

Then, move on to using specific tools that can help you analyze what keywords your competitors are using successfully. 

All-in-one SEO suites like SEMrush and Ahrefs can analyze competitor domains for keywords that generate a lot of engagement. Video-specific tools, like YTCockpit, will do the same more narrowly for video platforms. 

Plus, there are dedicated tools like Rival IQ that can track keywords across social media platforms. 

YouTube SEO

Step 2 - Find Your Own Keywords

Next, set out to find your own keywords to target. 

This is where SEO keyword research tools become invaluable, especially when it comes to looking at keyword difficulty and search volume. 

Some of the most popular keyword research tools are Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. There’s also BuzzSumo and 

Most of these tools offer a limited free version, which should be enough to generate some initial ideas. 

If you want to grow your channel further, though, consider investing in a subscription. You could also outsource this part of the video creation process to an expert who has access to advanced tools. 

Generally, you begin your search with generic starter keywords, and then look for related keywords and phrases. What you’ll want are keywords with decent search volume and low keyword difficulty.

If you see a topic that intrigues you, note it down along with its metrics. The easiest way to collect all possible ideas is in a spreadsheet. 

In addition to going on the hunt for new keyword ideas, check which ones you already rank for. You can do this in YouTube Studio’s analytics window. 

Additionally, external tools like TubeBuddy can also show you which keywords videos rank for, and in which spots – both your own and those of competitors. 

YouTube SEO

Step 3 - Decide Which Keywords to Target

Once you’ve collected enough ideas, compare the search volumes and keyword difficulties and try to find a good balance between the two. 

Ideally, you want to identify keywords and -phrases with a high volume and a low to medium difficulty. 

As a rule of thumb, longer keywords (often called long-tail keywords) are usually easier to rank for. For example, ‘how to make knotless box braids’ is going to be much easier to target than ‘how to braid’. 

That’s because the people who search for them tend to have more specific needs. Consequently, search volumes are usually lower. 

However, targeting long-tail keywords can still benefit you. If people have specific questions that your content can answer well, your engagement scores will be higher. This means people are more likely to watch your video to the end, like, share, subscribe, and leave comments. 

Overall, these high engagement scores are hugely important for YouTube’s algorithm – especially its recommendations. Since a lot of viewers find your content through recommendations, this is important to keep in mind when picking your keywords. 

YouTube SEO

Step 4 - Form Your Ideas Into a Coherent Strategy

As a next step, arrange your selection of keyword-based content ideas into a coherent content strategy. 

If you’ve got several larger topics in your content ideas, tackle them one after another, rather than jumping between them. 

For one thing, it’s easier to rank for a particular search – or get recommended – when you have several related pieces of content. 

For another, it’s easier to build an audience that’s interested in a particular aspect of your niche. That because you’ll have less competition from large, established channels. 

At the end of the day, you’ll be left with a content strategy – and ideas to keep your creative process going for a few weeks, if not months, at a time. 

YouTube SEO

Step 5 - Incorporate Your Keywords into Your Content

Finally, you have to actually incorporate your keywords into the content you create on their basis. 

This means adding them to your script and saying them at several points throughout the video. Make sure that they feature in your title, description, tags, and possibly hashtags. 

You’ll also be able to upload your own video captions – in several languages. If you do, make sure that your keywords are mentioned explicitly. 

Plus, you can use key moments to target very specific long-tail keywords and structure your video into subsections all at the same time.

The Bottom Line

YouTube SEO research can seem daunting at first, but it’s a great way to generate actionable and engaging content ideas. 

Investing some time and effort in the research process – or outsourcing it to an expert – will pay off in the long run. You’ll be able to find amazing ideas for captivating content to pave your way to YouTube success.

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