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Keyword Research for Youtube Ads: A Game of Growth (Chapter 12)

Vineet Karhail

Last Updated: January 25, 2022

In this chapter of A Game of Growth, we’re going to learn how to do keyword research for Youtube Ads, and how to find targets for your campaigns.

Considering running Youtube ads and don’t know where to start from? Do you have successful Facebook ad videos that you want to use for Youtube ads, but not sure if it’s a good idea? Which audience targeting is best for your company?

🛡️ You are reading “Keyword Research for Youtube Ads: A Game of Growth (Chapter 12)” – a series of articles on growth marketing. To read the first chapter of this series, go here 👉 Fundamentals of Growth Marketing: A Game of Growth (Chapter 1)

Why run Youtube Ads?

Youtube is the second largest search engine after Google, with over 5 billion video views per day. On average, a session on Youtube lasts for a solid 40 minutes - that’s more than a session on Facebook.

People go to Youtube not just for entertainment, but to learn new things, to get information, make purchase decisions, compare products, and many more. Youtube is the place where people watch all kinds of videos, and when they watch their video ads which are highly relevant to them, they take notice.

What do people do on Youtube?

People visit Youtube with four key intents:

i) To entertain: 53% of the people visit Youtube to get entertained and inspired. These people mostly discover videos recommended by Youtube, and they don’t use Youtube as a search engine. 

As advertisers, we are interested in keywords people use to find videos that solve a problem related to the problems our product solves for the audience. Most of the keywords or the people who use keywords on Youtube are looking to do one of the next three things.

ii) To Know: They want to learn something or understand things in depth. They want to explore certain topics and they are looking for knowledge. Examples of these keywords are: Camera hacks to save time or how does a camera work?

iii) To do: These are the keywords that are more purposeful. They want to do something and they want to know how to do them. Some of the examples could be: “How to play the guitar? How to tie a knot? Easy way to clean your lens?”

iv) To buy: These are the people who want to buy something and are looking to get informed about their purchase decisions. The keywords are usually: “the best gears to create a cinematic video?” So many people are looking for comparison videos and unboxing videos.

Targeting customers on Youtube

There are several ways to target your audience on Youtube. Let’s look at them:

Keyword Research for Youtube Ads Targeting options
  1. Affinity audience: Affinity audience is based on interests and affinities people have. This is a simple interest-based targeting which can be a good starting point to easily target people who have already shown interest in your product or the market.
  1. Similar audience: Just like Facebook's lookalike audience, Google has several data points for each of its users. As advertisers, you can use this to let Google or Youtube know that you’re looking for customers similar to people who are your customers or who took a certain action on your website like watched a webinar. 
  1. In-market audiences: If you want to buy a laptop, you might be looking for comparison videos on Youtube or searching for best deals on Google or comparing prices on different sites. 

Google knows the people who are looking to buy a specific product and have data from your searches, inbox, videos you watch on Youtube, etc. This is a great way for advertisers to showcase their Bottom-of-the-funnel videos in front of these users.

  1. Custom-intent: This is the audiences that you build yourself based on the keywords on Google or Youtube. This is a fairly recent audience and it's interesting because then you can target people on Youtube who started their journey from Google search.
  1. Topics: You can advertise on Youtube based on the topics of Youtube videos. There are thousands of topics and each video on Youtube is categorized into topics. You can run your ads before these videos.
  1. Keywords: Similar to topics, you can get more granular and get in front of people using keywords to search for videos. There's a caveat to this - the search on Youtube is more limited than on Google search engine. On Youtube, people don’t search for keywords as they do on Google. They move from one video to another rather than searching for new keywords.
  1. Video & Channel Placements: You can get in front of a selected video or channel (by their URLs) that are relevant to your audience. This is highly granular targeting and can be a very good option but I wouldn’t recommend starting your ad campaigns with this option unless you are very sure that a particular video is bringing you the best traffic.
  1. Website and Video Remarketing: One of the most powerful ways, you can leverage the Youtube ads platform is to remarket to people who have already engaged with your brand. You can build audiences based on your website visitors or people who visited specific pages or people who watched a certain video. 

Keyword Research on Youtube

While other targeting options on Youtube are similar to any other ad platform, Keyword targeting is the one that I have never figured out. Most people make the mistake of using keywords from their SERP tools or Google search keywords and add them to Youtube.

However, the search on Youtube is completely different from the search on Google. People search with their initial keywords, but then they continue watching related videos to find the information they are looking for. For that reason, you need to find keywords that work for Youtube. It’s actually much simpler than finding keywords on Google. 

We’ll take the example of a furniture brand and find keywords that they should target for running their Youtube ads. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Find 5 seed keywords

We discussed earlier that there are 3 reasons why people search for keywords on Youtube - to know something, to do something and to buy something. The first step is to brainstorm 5 seed keywords. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes since this is the starting point. 

i) To know:

  • Interior design tips
  • Home decoration ideas

ii) To do:

  • How to put furniture in a small living room

iii) To buy:

  • Best leather lounge chair
  • lounge chair reviews

Step 2: Type those keywords into the search bar and get 5 more ideas from each of the keywords.

When you type those seed keywords in the search bar, look for topics and keywords that are suggested by Youtube. 

In this case, I typed “How to put furniture in a small living room” in the search bar.

From this new search results, I found 5 keywords (or key phrases) that I were interesting:

  • Best living room layouts
  • Furniture arrangement ideas
  • Furniture ideas to maximize your living room layout
  • Best layouts for small bedrooms
  • How to make your small space look bigger

Add them to your list. Do the same for the rest of the seed keywords and by the end of this step, you will have 25 really useful keywords.

Step 3: Find 8-10 new keywords from Youtube suggested keywords

Type all the 25 keywords that you have in your list in the search bar and look for the suggested keywords by Youtube. For each keyword, find 8-10 new keywords. 

Take a look below where I found additional 4-5 keywords for “Best layouts for small bedrooms”. 

After this step, you should have a list of 200 keywords and that is a good number to start with. Add them all to your list.

Which keywords to bid on Youtube?

Once you have a list of 200 keywords, it’s a good starting point. However, not all keywords are going to give you enough views or traffic. Some of the keywords are not searched enough, or they might not have enough video views.

But in order to keep things simple and fast, go through the whole list again, search the keywords and look for the average number of views the top results have. If you find that the top videos have less than 100,000 views, you can ignore them. You want the top 4-5 videos to have at least 100K views to be sure that your ads will get impressions.

Remember, we’re doing quick keyword research for Youtube Ads. Once you have your initial set of keywords, you're going to then adjust the campaign by removing all the non-performing keywords and adding more keywords as we go along.

On Google search ads, keywords are a critical part of the process and the ad texts itself can be created quickly. On Youtube, it’s the creatives, the video quality, the message, the call to action that you have to pay more attention to than the actual keywords. Pay more attention to your video creation process. Make it more interesting and you will have a high conversion rate. If you wanna learn more about the video creation process, I highly recommend you to check out CXL Institute’s Youtube Ads course by Tom Breeze. It’s a highly knowledge-packed course which gives you a short-cut to becoming a master in Youtube ads.

🛡️ You just finished reading “Keyword Research for Youtube Ads: A Game of Growth (Chapter 12)” – a series of articles on growth marketing.

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