17 Best Youtube SEO Tools for Keyword Research and Video Optimisation

Back when YouTube first launched, there wasn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to video content creation.

Very little thought went into the production of most videos on the platform, and the success of a video (going “viral”) largely came down to luck. 

Fast-forward nearly two decades, and things have changed a lot.

Gone are the days when a blurry 240p resolution video with terrible audio could get twenty million views.

In 2023, content creators need to invest a lot of time, money and effort into building their audience if they hope to become successful. 

youtube creator seo

How these resources should be invested varies, depending on the niche a creator is trying to establish themselves in.

Professional audio-video equipment, a high-powered editing PC and a recording studio might all be solid choices when it comes to investing your hard-earned money and valuable time.

There is one thing, however, that any and all creators can benefit from, regardless of niche: YouTube SEO

What is YouTube SEO? 

YouTube SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your channel and content to make it as easy as possible for people to find your content. 

YouTube SEO

Much like Google, Bing and virtually every other search engine, YouTube’s search feature uses a proprietary algorithm to determine which content is shown first when users search for a keyword. 

Let’s say you leave the house one morning to go to work, only to find that your tire has gone flat overnight.

If you’ve never been in this situation before, you might open the YouTube app on your phone, tap on the search bar and type in “how to change a tire”.

Once you hit enter, YouTube’s search engine will retrieve a list of every video that includes that keyword in its metadata. Then, it will rank them so that the videos it decides are most likely to be relevant show up first. 

Why is search engine optimization for video content important? 

If you’re trying to grow your audience on YouTube, knowing how to optimize your content and channel isn’t just beneficial; it’s detrimental to your channel’s success. 

Here’s the kicker: the vast majority of search users rarely venture past the first results page when trying to find content on a certain topic.

Understanding the viewer’s perspective

To go back to the flat tire example, you’re probably not going to stand in your driveway for half an hour scrolling through page after page of results if the first one does the trick. 

This isn’t the case exclusively for informational videos either.

Nine times out of ten, users will watch whichever content shows up first on the results page, even if it isn’t 100% relevant to what they initially wanted to watch.

The benefits of optimization don’t stop there, either. YouTube also uses video and channel metadata to recommend videos to users who might be interested in your content. With the right optimization strategy, you can even reach viewers who would have never searched for videos in your niche! 

Luckily, you don’t have to be an SEO professional to make substantial improvements to your channel and content that yield results.

If you’re willing to put some time and effort into learning how YouTube SEO works and then use that knowledge accordingly, you’ll reap the benefits in kind. 

What are the most important metrics to look at when optimizing videos? 

The backbone of any solid YouTube SEO strategy is metric tracking. If you don’t know how your videos are performing, you won’t be able to figure out what is working and what isn’t. 

There are an overwhelming number of YouTube SEO metrics that you can track using YouTube’s built in SEO tools, but here are the five most important ones to keep an eye on according to Yoast

Views from YouTube search are your bread and butter when you’re starting out, as your videos are unlikely to be widely recommended until you gain a sizable following.

When this number goes up, it means your YouTube SEO strategy is working! 

Google Search is another great way to reach viewers, as you might be able to find video topics that aren’t as competitive in Google’s search results as they are on YouTube. 

Average percentage viewed

This metric shows what percentage of your videos viewers watch before leaving, on average. If this number is low, your videos may not be very engaging, or viewers might find your titles misleading.

Views from non-subscribers 

Another fairly self-explanatory but also a very important metric. If you have a lot of views from non-subscribers compared to views from subscribers, you might want to include a call to action, such as “if you enjoy this content, please consider subscribing!”

Impressions click-through-rate 

Your impressions click-through rate measures how many users see your result in searches and then choose to watch your video. If this number is low, your thumbnails, titles, and descriptions might need improvement. 

These are just the basic metrics to keep an eye on, mind you. Once you start tracking your metrics, it’s always a good idea to increase the amount of data you monitor. 

Later on in this article, we’ll recommend some youtube marketing tools that make metric tracking a lot easier, but if you’re on a tight budget, you can also (somewhat painstakingly) record and monitor your SEO metrics in a spreadsheet. 

Examples of YouTube SEO done right. 

By now, you should have a solid grasp on the basics of YouTube SEO. You know why it’s important, and you know which metrics you should prioritize when tracking performance. But what does a well-optimized YouTube video look like? Here are some examples. 

YouTube SEO: 3 Steps To Rank Number 1 On YouTube – H-Educate

Here’s an example of a YouTube video that ranks even more highly from the educational channel H-Educate.

Unsurprisingly given its subject matter, this video ranks as the first result for 6 different keywords, pulling in a total of 732k views. 

The keywords that this video ranks best for are high-traffic and high competition. As a newer channel, targeting these keywords is generally not the best idea.

However, if your channel has enough subscribers and views, you may be able to rank for searches such as these. 

Aside from its impressive on-page optimization, this video is also promoted comprehensively on social media and the creators website. By finding other sources of traffic such as these, you can organically increase your views and improve rankings, all without investing a single penny. 

YouTube search ranking factors – what we know about how YouTube ranks videos

By this point, you might have noticed something about content covering SEO-related topics: they tend to be kind of… vague. Words and phrases like “probably”, “seem to” and “we believe” are often used in ways that seem a bit odd for something as strategic as Search Engine Marketing. 

This vagueness can be attributed almost entirely to one inconvenient reality: Google (YouTube’s parent company) doesn’t share the specifics about how their search algorithm works. The only official information we have about YouTube’s search algorithm is a set of very general guidelines that detail which YouTube SEO tactics are allowed and which aren’t.  

Luckily, marketing experts have been able to deduce a lot about how YouTube’s search engine works and which tactics are most effective when it comes to ranking in search results. Here’s what we know:

1. Title

The title of your video should be relevant to the contents of the video, accurately describe the core focus of your video and contain the primary keyword you’re targeting. Keep it under 70 characters; any more and it will be truncated on the results page.

2. Description

Your video’s description should contain other keywords you’d like to target and provide as much information about your video as possible. The longer your description is, the better.

3. Thumbnail

The thumbnail of your video should have a resolution of 1280×720 and should be as visually engaging as possible. Bright colors, bold fonts and direct imagery are your best friends!

4. Closed captions

If you can, add closed captions to your video. YouTube’s search engine also crawls these transcripts (helpful if you mention your video’s keywords verbally), and often ranks videos more favorably if they have one.


You’ll never have direct control over this one, but by optimizing other aspects of your videos you can improve overall views substantially. Once you do, it will be a huge factor for your rankings.

6. Watch time 

This is another important metric that you can improve by optimizing in other areas. The longer users spend watching your video on average, the higher it’s likely to rank in searches.

7. Accessibility

Another way you can optimize your videos is by adding chapters. This will help users navigate to the section of the video that they want to watch, increasing watch time.

8. Pinned & hearted comment

You should always pin your favorite comment and heart as many as you can. This will make your audience feel seen and encourage them to engage more! 

How we picked the best YouTube SEO tools

As is the case in every other industry, a worker is only as good as their tools. If you’re going to optimize your YouTube videos, you’re going to need the best youtube seo software to do it. 

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to invest any money, at least not at the beginning.

While the improved functionality provided by more expensive subscriptions can be well worth the investment in the right hands, you can still do a lot with the free version of many of these programs. 

When considering youtube marketing tools for this list, we took into account: 

  • How easy is the tool to use
  • How expensive is the tool to purchase
  • Whether or not the tool offers a free version 
  • How many features the tool offers
  • How useful the offered features prove 

Now that we know what we’re looking for, we’re off to the virtual hardware store!   

Youtube Keyword research tools

Keyword research is an essential part of any solid YouTube SEO strategy. Knowing which search queries have a lot of traffic but should be relatively easy to rank for is key (pun 100% intended) when you’re just starting out. Here are some tools to help with that! 

1. KeywordTool


KeywordTool Pricing: free version, paid plans starting from $69/month

What we liked:  

Easy to use 

Beautiful interface

What we didn’t like: 

Relatively expensive 

Limited functionality  

If you’re looking for a simple, easy to use tool to help you manage keyword research, then KeywordTool might be just the thing. 

In spite of its simple, unassuming interface, KeywordTool is exceptionally useful. It’s not the most versatile tool (it’s exclusively for keyword research, as the name suggests) but it’s one of the best tools on the market for this job. 

The downside of this tool is its limited free functionality; if you want to gain access to more features, you’ll need to shell out $69/month. 

2. Keyword Keg

Keyword Keg

Keyword Keg Pricing: starting from $38/month

What we liked: 

Paid version is inexpensive

Relatively feature-rich

Nice interface

What we didn’t like:

No free version 

Want a less expensive (but still capable) tool to do keyword research? You might find what you’re looking for in Keyword Keg. 

The interface isn’t quite as intuitive as KeywordTool, but it offers more features and functionality. There’s even a set of youtube marketing tools that can help you easily narrow down your keyword research based on search intent, which is incredibly useful. 

Although the $38/month price tag is a lot more palatable than that of the previous entry on this list, there’s no freemium version. They do offer a 48 hour money back guarantee but that may not give you enough time to try out all the features on offer. 

3. Google AdWords

Google AdWords

Google AdWords Pricing: free

What we like: 

Excellent value 

Highly accurate data

What we don’t like: 

Difficult to use at first 

When it comes to collecting data for YouTube SEO research, one of the most effective tools available is Google AdWords. This tool was developed to help advertisers find and bid on the most lucrative keywords, but there’s something else it does extremely well: keyword research! 

It’s a bit more complicated to use than most of the other tools on this list, but learning how to use it isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can start finding keywords that have the ideal volume, intent and level of competition for your channel. 

Aside from the steep learning curve, there’s not much we can say about Google AdWords that isn’t positive. It’s simply a great tool! 

4. YouTube Auto Suggest

youtube autosugest

YouTube Autosugest Pricing: free

What we like: 

Free is good, right?  

What we don’t like: 

Incredibly tedious

For those who have absolutely no money to invest in YouTube, there is a way to do keyword research completely free (unless you count short-circuited brain cells): YouTube Auto Suggest. 

Ok, maybe it isn’t as bad as all that. If you’re just looking to get the lay of the land, this is a decent way to, say, come up with an idea for a new video. 

And yes, if you wanted to, you could break out your spreadsheet program of choice and manually enter every suggestion along with the results that rank highest for those queries. Honestly, we’d recommend just using one of the other tools on this list! 

Content Optimization Tools 

Whether you’re a small channel looking to get your first few thousand subscribers or a big channel looking to add a hundred thousand, chances are you’ll benefit from a solid content optimization strategy. 

These tools will help you monitor how your content performs, helping you pinpoint what’s working and what’s not. 

5. YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytics

YouTube Analytis Pricing: free

What we like: 

Unbeatable value 

Incredibly useful 

What we don’t like: 

Can be tough to navigate at first

Here’s one that everyone can access, regardless of budget: YouTube Analytics! While it lacks some of the features that purpose-made SEO tools can offer, YouTube analytics is inarguably one of, if not the single best tool for content optimization. 

With tons of data that measures every aspect of how your audience interacts with your content, there really is no good excuse not to use YouTube analytics. If you take the time to figure out what each metric means, you can adjust your content accordingly and grow exponentially faster. 

As far as downsides are concerned, there aren’t many here! Sure, it isn’t the most intuitive tool, but it’s free! 

6. Tubics 


Tubics Pricing: 7-day trial for $7, paid plans starting at $105/month

What we like: 

Best solution for businesses

Tremendous feature set

What we don’t like:

Can be pricey for some content creators

For businesses approaching YouTube as a way to grow their brand online, there aren’t many tools that rival Tubics. A purpose-built, full-featured YouTube SEO tool that covers all the bases might sound too good to be true, Tubics is proof it isn’t! 

Tubics goes above and beyond in what it offers content creators. Aside from its powerful suite of analytics, it also provides users with assistance in ideating, conceptualizing and researching videos before filming has even begun! 

Our only gripe with this tool is its price, and the harsh limitations imposed on users with lower-level plans. There’s still a lot that small businesses can gain from a basic account, but larger companies may want to consider higher membership tiers. 

Google Trends

What we like: 

Another free tool, huzzah! 

Great for getting views from Google searches

What we don’t like: 

Limited functionality 

If you want to start gaining traffic from sources besides YouTube’s search engine, you might want to try using Google trends. 

Google trends is extremely easy to use, and is the perfect tool for gauging what people are searching for at any given time. You can choose to show trends from Google Search or YouTube, then use the data to come up with video topics. 

While the data offered by Google trends doesn’t tell you much besides the relative frequency with which searches are made on the topics you track, it’s extremely useful nonetheless. 

8. TubeBuddy


TubeBuddy Pricing: free version, paid plans starting at $3 a month

What we like: 


Easy to use

What we don’t like: 

Many features limited to higher-level accounts

With a feature set that’s noticeably more robust than many of its competitors TubeBuddy is another excellent option when it comes to purpose-built YouTube SEO tools. 

With advanced analytics features, surprisingly intuitive A/B testing solutions and a wide range of other useful features like comment moderation and an incredibly user friendly keyword research tool, this might be the most comprehensive YouTube SEO solution on the market. 

There is a catch though; many of these amazing features are locked behind more expensive paid plans, with less expensive plans featuring far fewer features. If you can afford a more expensive plan, we’d recommend taking that route. 

9. VidIQ

VidIQ YouTube SEO

VidIQ Pricing: free version, paid plans starting at $7.50/month 

What we like:

Robust feature set

Excellent value 

What we don’t like: 

Slow browser add-on

While many of the Youtube marketing tools on this list offer YouTube analytics as part of a comprehensive SEO toolset for a variety of search engines, this one is exclusively for YouTube! 

With a full suite of tools that cover just about everything you might need when getting your YouTube channel up and running, VidIQ is a great choice for an all-in-one content optimization tool.  While not quite as robust or feature rich as TubeBuddy, it’s still a great option. 

The only complaints we have are in regards to the technical performance of the included browser extension. Even on current generation systems, installing the extension can lead to noticeable stuttering and performance issues. 

10. Ahrefs

Ahrefs Video SEO

Ahrefs Pricing: free version, paid plans starting at $99/month

What we like: 

Intuitive interface 

Powerful, versatile feature set

What we don’t like: 


Created for website SEO with just some features tailored for YouTube SEO

When it comes to popular SEO tools, one of the most widely used is Ahrefs. With a vast feature set that encompass everything you need to optimize for a number of different search engines, this one isn’t just for YouTube. 

While it can certainly be useful for YouTube SEO, Ahrefs really comes into its own when you use it as part of a comprehensive cross-platform SEO strategy. 

Of course, its multifaceted approach comes at a price, and a rather steep one at that. If you want to incorporate Ahrefs into your YouTube SEO efforts, you’ll need to shell out $99 for the bare minimum in what it has to offer. 

YouTube SEO Chrome Extensions

When searching for YouTube channel SEO tools, one great place to search is the Chrome web store. It’s got dozens of handy tools that range from slightly useful to indispensable. Here are our picks! 

11. Rebrandly


Rebrandly Pricing: free

This extension leans heavily towards the “indispensable” side of the usefulness spectrum, especially if you’re promoting your videos on social media to garner improved engagement. 

Rebrandly is essentially a link shortener. It lets you create and track short, memorable URLs for your videos, and comes with a variety of super useful features such as a built-in custom QR code generator and handy branding options. 

The best part? It’s completely free, without any strings attached. This is something we can get behind! 

12. PocketTube


PocketTube Pricing: free

With competitors’ channels with vanilla YouTube can be a headache. With PocketTube, you can make the process a lot easier! 

PocketTube is an excellent free extension that allows you to organize your subscriptions into custom groups and lists. SImply create a group named “competitors”, populate it with channels you’d like to overtake, and you’re off to the races! 

With a price tag of exactly $0 we can’t complain too much, but we’re hoping that the interface is improved in the future. 

13. YouTube SEO Checklist

YouTube SEO Checklista

YouTube SEO Checklista Price: free

Keeping track of everything you need to pay attention to when optimizing your YouTube videos can be a major pain. With this handy chrome extension, you can make sure that you’re checking all the boxes. 

The YouTube SEO Checklist Chrome extension is updated regularly, ensuring that you’ll never miss an update or addition to the YouTube’s SEO guidelines. 

While there are other tools that offer similar functionality, the best thing about this extension is that it’s completely free! 

14. YouTube Tag Extractor

YouTube Tag Extractor

YouTube Tag Extractor Price: free

One of the most effective ways to optimize your videos is competitive research. By identifying which tactics are working for your competitors, you can revise those tactics and implement them on your own channel. 

There’s a tool that makes this a whole lot easier, and it’s called YouTube Tag Extractor! This Chrome extension lets you easily view and download tags high performing videos, helping you identify the keywords they’re targeting. 

Once you have this data, you can use other tools to figure out which of these keywords you might be able to rank for. Considering its price, this tool offers a lot of value. 

YouTube Comment Moderation Tools 

Another essential part of YouTube SEO is fostering engagement in the comments section. Interacting with viewers, neutralizing insensitive comments and starting discussions will benefit your metrics substantially over time. 

These Youtube marketing tools will help you monitor your comments section and make sure that it’s as positive and productive as possible. 

15. Smart Moderation

Smart Moderation

Smart Moderation Pricing: free trial, paid subscriptions starting at $99/month 

What we like:

Comprehensive moderation solution 

Tons of features

What we don’t like: 

Not viable for small creators

Smart Moderation is exactly what it sounds like: a social media moderation tool that incorporates AI into its functionality. While it isn’t for everyone, larger commercial content creators are likely to find it extremely useful. 

Few of Smart Moderation’s competitors can hold a candle to the platform’s feature set. With comprehensive moderation tools such as automated comment monitoring, extensive personalization options and more, it’s pretty much the Cadillac of moderation software.

Small creators, however, probably won’t be able to justify the hefty price tag. There’s little need for such advanced features when you’re starting out, so you may want to choose a more affordable option with less functionality. 

16. StatusBrew


StatusBrew Pricing: free trial, paid plans starting at $69/month 

What we like: 

Super easy to use 

Offers lot of functionality

What we don’t like:

Reduced value for smaller creators

While comment moderation is a big part of what makes StatusBrew so great, it’s far more than just that. This platform is aimed squarely at helping large creators foster a cohesive personal brand with comprehensive social media management tools. 

Beyond using it to moderate comments, creators can also use it to schedule uploads, automate interactions with viewers, coordinate posts and events across platforms and more. 

If you haven’t reached the point where social media marketing is likely to yield favorable results, this one might not offer enough value to warrant a purchase, unfortunately. 

On a final note… 

Starting a YouTube channel is easy; growing one, on the other hand, is hard. Nevertheless, these YouTube channel seo tools should make your journey towards success just a little bit easier and a little bit faster! 

This is far from an all-encompassing list of every tool you can use to boost the performance of your content on YouTube, of course. There are many other YouTube SEO tools available online; it’s up to you to decide what you need, what you can afford and how to strike a balance between the two. We wish you the best of luck! 

YouTube SEO Tools FAQ

Which tool is best for YouTube SEO?

There’s no easy way to answer this question as different YouTube seo software tools accomplish different tasks. We highly recommend using Tubics, VidIQ, and Ahrefs.

How to do SEO for YouTube?

To do SEO for YouTube, first, research and use relevant keywords in your video title, description, and tags. Second, create high-quality and engaging content that keeps viewers watching and sharing. Third, distribute your videos on social media, and embed videos in your written content and other platforms to increase views and engagement.

Can SEO be done on YouTube?

Yes, SEO can be done on YouTube to improve the visibility and ranking of your videos in YouTube search results and other search engines like Google. By using relevant keywords, creating high-quality content, and distributing your videos, you can improve your video’s chances of being discovered by viewers.

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