21 YouTube SEO Tools to Boost Your Video Rankings
Updated Jan. 31, 2022
When you think of search engines, it’s usually Google, Microsoft Bing, and Yahoo. Yet YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world, with more than 2 billion monthly active users.
Most people consider YouTube a social media platform. And it is, but it also behaves a lot like a traditional search engine. Visitors enter a query and get a list of videos ranked by relevance.
Optimizing your video content is critical for ranking in search so the audience can find you on YouTube. Fortunately, many of the traditional SEO rules apply to YouTube, too: Find the right keywords to communicate relevance, design a good user experience to drive engagement, and use analytics to find and fix whatever is not working.Optimizing #video content is critical to rank well #YouTube, one of the world's largest search engines, says @ab80 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
With that said, here’s a rundown of tools to help you manage your YouTube SEO. Some are your general, run-of-the-mill SEO tools. Others are designed specifically for YouTube. But each one is useful for growing your YouTube presence.
Tools for researching trends and keywords
Use relevant keywords in your title, description, and tags to make sure your video content gets found. These tools will help you identify search trends and find the best keywords.
You may be familiar with Google Trends for tracking whether interest in your chosen topic is up or down. But you might not realize it also shows YouTube-specific trends. Click on “YouTube Search” to explore video-related trends and opportunities. Given that the data is coming from Google (which owns YouTube), it’s as trustworthy as it gets:
The first place to look for the right keywords is YouTube’s autocomplete feature – start typing your seed keyword into the search bar and see how YouTube interprets it by showing autocomplete suggestions:
If you have a bunch of keywords, you can automate the process with the help of a specialized keyword research tool. The free version of Rank Tracker (disclosure, I am the creator) allows you to use nine keyword research methods, which are likely to result in thousands of prospective keywords. Don’t worry – you can narrow the selection using custom filters (aim for the highest search volume and the lowest competition).
For something lighter and more convenient, look into Keywords Everywhere. The browser extension allows research of keywords on the go. It augments the autocomplete features of YouTube and Google with valuable metrics.
AnswerThePublic is another handy solution for keyword research. This beautifully designed online tool allows you to research the most common questions associated with your keywords.
Keywordtool.io, Kparser, and Keyword Keg
These paid solutions for keyword research provide cost per click (CPC) and search volume information. Keyword Keg offers a limited version free, but you’ll need the paid version for larger-volume campaigns.
You can also turn to the Keyword Planner section of your Google Ads account and enter your seed keywords to get a bunch of closely related keywords. One downside with a free account is that you don’t get the exact search volumes for your keywords, just approximations.
Here’s a handy video guide my team put together that covers these and other YouTube keyword research and optimization tools:
Tools for finding the most profitable YouTube tags
The tags people add to videos help YouTube place the videos into proper categories. But tags aren’t displayed on a video’s page, so researching them is a hassle.
You can open the page’s source code and look for tags there or install a browser extension that will do the job for you.
This tool analyzes videos on the go and provides a summary on the page, complete with tags and other information:
Another browser extension option, YouTube Tags, shows the tags for each opened YouTube video. It provides an excellent overview of any video ranking for your topic.
RapidTags generates multiple tags related to your topic. Put in the URL or topic of your video and see what tags come up. One downside, though, the free version is limited.Add #video's URL or topic to @RapidTagsPromo to see multiple tags related to your topic, says @ab80 via @CMIContent. #tools Click To Tweet
Tools for managing and auditing your channel
Keep an eye on your video successes and failures. Knowing which videos work for your brand – and which ones don’t – can help you understand the effectiveness of your keywords and inform future opportunities.
YouTube’s native tool provides an overview of your channel, accessible through your channel dashboard. It tells you who your audience is and what other kinds of videos they enjoy watching. You can see the timeline of views/engagement with your audience as well. It’s made for people who already have several videos and want to survey their success.
TubeBuddy is one of the most feature-rich apps for running and optimizing your YouTube channel. You can use it to analyze your channel’s stats and perform competitive research. You can also use it to edit your video data (thumbnails, annotations, and descriptions).@TubeBuddy is the most feature-rich app for running & optimizing your @YouTube channel, says @ab80 via @CMIContent. #tools Click To Tweet
Try tubics for keyword research, channel audit, and more. A similar tool, quintly, provides a convenient reporting feature in addition to data on subscribers, engagement, watch time, and so on. Though quintly wasn’t specifically created for YouTube, it’s easy to integrate.
Research your competitors
Several tools can give you a rich profile of your competitors’ YouTube presence. Use this information to create more effective videos and text-based content.
With Rival IQ, you can see a general outline of a competitor’s growth, what works, what doesn’t, what tags they are using, and so on.
This tool helps you evaluate your channel and shows you the best-performing videos in a category or location. That makes it indispensable in SEO research.
Socialinsider’s YouTube competitor analysis tool provides an in-depth look at the history of ranking and performance of your and your competitors’ content.
Tools for moderating your comment section
Though you may not think of it as an SEO factor, the comments section can have an indirect effect on your rankings. Comments can make or break your YouTube channel. The comments under the most innocuous, helpful videos can become a vile pit of rot that harms your brand.Comments can make or break your @YouTube channel, says @ab80 via @CMIContent. #SEO Click To Tweet
YouTube’s comment moderation feature is probably the best tool for this task. It lets you add filters to automatically deal with inappropriate commenters and create a list of forbidden words to quarantine comments incorporating them.
Smart Moderation does the same thing YouTube’s moderation tool does but across several platforms at once. And it doesn’t just quarantine comments with forbidden words – it deletes them.
Watch your YouTube SEO
YouTube is the definitive content platform for billions of people around the world. To make the most of it, brand marketers need to think about SEO before the content gets created – and follow through long after the videos are posted. Not doing so means you’re investing in videos that will never realize their potential on YouTube.
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All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute