YouTube’s keyword tool was introduced in November 2008 and disabled in September 2014.
Fast forward today, and YouTube has over 2 billion monthly logged-in users worldwide who watch over a billion hours of video every day.
They’re definitely watching, and yet more than 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. So, no one – and I mean no one – can possibly watch every new YouTube video that’s published.
This means that creating great content is only half the battle to being successful on the platform.
With so much content for viewers to choose from, video SEO pros and content marketers want to know which keywords and search terms to target on YouTube. Fortunately, you have a lot of options.
Here are the 10 best YouTube keyword tool alternatives – ranked in the order in which I’d use them myself.
Actually, I often use more than one of these tools in order to deliver strategic insights, critical data, tactical advice, and trends in the digital video marketing business to English-speaking clients and students.
Feel free to use several of them, especially when you’re brainstorming.
1. YouTube Analytics
Begin your keyword research by reviewing YouTube Analytics.
The Reach tab gives you a summary of how your audience is discovering the videos on your channel. Pay particular attention to the YouTube Search report, which shows the search terms that viewers use to discover your content.
Like Google’s search engine, YouTube search endeavors to show users the most relevant results according to their keyword searches. Videos are ranked based on the following factors:
- How well the video’s title and description match the viewer’s search.
- Likelihood to drive the most engagement for a user’s query.
As I mentioned in the post entitled How YouTube Generates & Ranks Suggested Videos, these are a force multiplier for YouTube’s search algorithm that you’ll want to understand.
Also check out the Suggested Videos report, which shows you traffic from suggestions that appear next to or after other videos and from links in video descriptions.
These videos could be your own videos or someone else’s.
Suggested Videos are recommended alongside the video your audience is watching under “Up Next.” These suggestions are ranked to offer your audience the videos that they’re most likely to watch next.
These videos are often related to the video your audience is watching, but they can also be personalized based on a viewer’s watch history.
In other words, even if your channel is narrowly focused on nerf herders, you should know whether content about stuck-up, half-witted, or scruffy-looking nerf herders generates more traffic.
2. Google Trends’ YouTube Search Tab
Google Trends lets you explore what the world has been searching for on Google since 2004 and on YouTube since 2008.
When you enter a term or topic in the Explore box, Google Trends will show you “web search” interest over the past 12 months by default.
Click on the Web Search tab and a drop-down menu will show you other options, include YouTube Search.
Because the tool shows the trends visually, I often use Google Trends to illustrate, for example, that there is 3.75 times more interest in [Jedi] than [Sith].
This helps me persuade even members of the Council of Neutral Systems to feature the Jedi in their next YouTube video.
I can also scroll down and look at Related Queries. Over the weekend as I wrote this post, the three top related queries were:
- [Jedi order]
- [Fallen Jedi]
- [Jedi fallen order]
Although, when I looked at the three rising related queries, I saw:
- [Star Wars squadrons]
- [Jedi temple challenge]
- [What is the most comfy Jedi council seat?]
So, even after persuading the client to feature the Jedi in their next YouTube video, I still have lots of room to maneuver when it comes to creating relevant content, writing a compelling title, and accurately describing the video in the description.
Hey, no one wants to turn the fun stuff over to droids.
3. YouTube’s Search Predictions
Occasionally, I need to optimize a video on the fly. That’s when I use YouTube’s search predictions, which have been around since May 2008.
To use them, all you have to do is go to YouTube and start typing a term like [Star Wars] in the search box. And a drop-down menu will provide you with a series of search predictions, like:
- [Star Wars theory]
- [Star Wars theme]
- [Star Wars music]
As with Google’s search predictions, YouTube’s search predictions are possible search terms related to what you’ve already typed in and what other people are searching for, including trending searches.
The more popular ones are at the top and the less popular ones are at the bottom of the list.
Now, I realize that traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops. Without precise calculations, you could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?
But, if I was being chased by Imperial cruisers and I couldn’t wait a few moments to get the coordinates from the navicomputer, then I’d use YouTube’s search predictions for video SEO.
Besides, I know a few maneuvers. After you upload a video, you can always change its title and description in YouTube Studio.
4. Trending on YouTube
YouTube introduced a “Trending” tab in December 2015. It aims to surface videos that a wide range of viewers would find interesting.
Some of these trends are predictable, like a new song from a popular artist or a new movie trailer. But others are surprising, like a viral video.
Today, Trending on YouTube is located under the Explore tab. And it now comes in four flavors: Now, Music, Gaming, and Movies.
Trending isn’t personalized. It displays the same list of trending videos in each country to all users, which is why you may see videos in Trending that aren’t in the same language as your browser.
The list of trending videos is updated roughly every 15 minutes. So, with each update, videos may move up, down, or stay in the same position in the list.
Why would a video SEO pro or content marketer want to know what’s trending now?
Well, if a video featuring Baby Yoda goes viral, it might inspire you to create a video that shows:
- [Baby Yoda toys]
- [Baby Yoda eating eggs]
- [Baby Yoda drive thru prank]
5. Google Ads Keyword Planner
The Google Ads Keyword Planner is fifth on my list of the 10 best YouTube keyword tool alternatives, even though it isn’t designed for video SEO, she’ll make point five past lightspeed.
She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. And I’ve added some special modifications myself.
For example, the default results tell you that there are 100,000 to 1 million average monthly searches for [Han Solo] and 100,000 to 1 million average monthly searches for [Princess Leia].
What can you do with that information?
Well, I’ve used the tool to show clients that advertising for the term [Han Solo] would cost nothing because the competition is low. But, buying ads for the term, [Princess Leia] would cost from $0.55 to $1.69 because the competition is medium.
That also enables me to estimate the value of organic clicks on a YouTube video that was optimized for [Princess Leia].
If the average YouTube video gets over 16,000 views – and my client had to buy all of those organic clicks using Google Ads, then that would have cost them more than $8,800 to $27,040.
And, if money is all you love, then that’s what you’ll receive.
Now, the first five YouTube keyword tool alternatives in this list are free because they helped the platform generated a whopping $6 billion in advertising revenue in Q1 of 2021.
But, there are five more YouTube keyword tool alternatives that video SEO pros and content marketers should consider using – because they can help you make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!
I’ve used a couple of them over the years to outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk-cruisers, mind you. I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.
6. Keyword Tool for YouTube
One of these alternatives has the generic name Keyword Tool for YouTube.
Provided by Key Tools Limited, which is based in Hong Kong, Keyword Tool pulls its search term suggestions from YouTube’s search predictions.
Keyword Tool for YouTube helps you get more than 750 long-tail keywords from search predictions by appending and prepending the keyword that you specify with various letters and numbers.
To make its keyword suggestions more relevant, Keyword Tool allows you to localize results to the 100+ countries around the word and across the 80 languages supported by YouTube.
The Keyword Tool Pro version of the tool uses clickstream data to estimate the search volume of YouTube keywords.
Now, why would you want to pay $69 a month for Pro Basic, $79 a month for Pro Plus, or $150 a month for a Pro Business subscription?
Well, with “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” now available on Disney Plus, you might want to use Keyword Tool Pro to get search volume estimates for YouTube keywords like:
- [The Bad Batch Order 66]
- [The Bad Batch Episode 1]
- [The Bad Batch Episode 2]
You might also want to get cost-per-click and Google Ads competition data. And you might want to filter, sort, and export the list of generated keyword results.
Why? Well, maybe you’re not interested in competing with Disney’s animated series about members of a unique squad of clones who find their way in a changing galaxy in the aftermath of the Clone War.
So, you want to find keywords like [The Bad Batch reaction], [The Bad Batch Episode 2 reaction], and [The Bad Batch review], which are less likely to face direct competition from the official Star Wars YouTube channel.
Another YouTube keyword tool alternative worth using is vidIQ. The basic version is free, the Pro version starts at $7.50 a month, the Boost version starts at $39.00 a month, and the Boost+ version starts at $415.00 a month.
Now, their website says:
“We’ll help you increase your library of tags by 10x in less than 10 minutes, and discover content opportunities you’re missing out on.”
However, YouTube Help says:
“Tags can be useful if the content of your video is commonly misspelled. Otherwise, tags play a minimal role in your video’s discovery.”
So, when you look at the tool’s video optimization checklist for a video like, “The Book of Boba Fett Official Teaser | Coming Dec 2021 | Disney+,” pay more attention to the ratings of your title and description and less attention to the rating for your tags.
The video currently ranks #1 for [The Book of Boba Fett], #1 for [Boba Fett Disney Plus], and #2 for [Boba Fett series teaser].
So, the fact that it doesn’t rank as well for over a dozen other terms in the tags doesn’t mean you should dump this data along with the garbage prior to a hyperspace jump.
Another tool you should use is TubeBuddy, a free browser extension and mobile app that integrates directly into YouTube.
There is also a Pro version for $7.20 a month, a Star version for $15.20 a month, and a Legend version for $39.20 a month.
Among TubeBuddy’s video SEO tools are:
- A Keyword Explorer, which can help you find long-tail search terms to better target what people are looking for on YouTube.
- A Best Practice Audit, which does automated checks to ensure you’re following YouTube’s recommendations.
- An Auto Translator, which translates your video’s title and description into other languages to increase global viewership.
This comes in handy when you’re optimizing a series of videos for the search terms:
- [Ahsoka vs Darth Vader]
- [Ahsoka vs Maul]
- [Ahsoka vs Magistrate]
9. Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer
Another alternative you should consider using is Keyword Explorer by Ahrefs, which is part of an all-in-one SEO toolset.
Pricing ranges from $99 a month for Lite, $179 a month for Standard, $399 a month for Advanced, and $999 a month for Agency.
Keyword Explorer runs on one of the world’s largest third-party databases of more than 7 billion search queries, updated with fresh data every month, for 171 countries.
And it estimates keyword volumes for 10 different search engines: Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu, Daum, Naver, and Seznam.
Keyword Explorer also provides:
- Accurate Search Volumes, which use clickstream data to refine our search volumes on a monthly basis, ensuring they’re always up to date.
- Keyword Difficulty Score, which calculates how hard it will be to rank for your keyword based on the current top-ranking pages.
- A “Clicks” Metric, which shows the estimated number of clicks for your keywords.
If you’re planning a campaign around the upcoming Mandalorian spin-off, “Rangers of the New Republic,” then you may need to find out everything you can – especially now that the character Cara Dune will be replaced.
10. Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool
The tenth alternative to check out is the Keyword Magic Tool from Semrush.
It’s also part of an all-in-one SEO toolset.
Pricing ranges from $119 a month for Pro, $229 a month for Guru, and $449 a month for Business.
Here, you can get keyword suggestions from the biggest keyword database on the market, which includes over 20 billion keywords.
Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool also provides data on:
- Search Volume, which shows the average number of monthly searches of a particular keyword over 12 months.
- Keyword Difficulty, which shows the difficulty level (percentage) to outperform your competitors in top 20 organic search results.
- SERP Features, which shows the number of specialized search results that appear for a particular query.
So, when Ewan McGregor reprises his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in his own limited series, you will be ready to optimize videos about the legendary Jedi Master.
Why do video SEO pros and content marketers need powerful tools to prepare for “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which began shooting in April?
Because all that we know about the special event series at this point is the story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Kenobi faced his greatest defeat, the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned into the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.
Many Bothans died to bring us this information.
Finding the best search terms in the galaxy based on such incomplete data, you need a Keyword Magic Tool or you should be gifted in the ways of the Force.
There you have it – the 10 best YouTube keyword tool alternatives.
Are there others out there?
Yes. But master these before you follow old Obi-Wan on some damnfool idealistic crusade.