If you’ve been around here longer than about 5 seconds, you’ve heard us say that YouTube doesn’t rank videos because of keywords. Cramming the right words into the right places will never convince YouTube that your video is worth surfacing to more people. YouTube looks at viewer signals for this. So instead of doing keyword research, we recommend you do topic research.

What’s topic research? How do you research your video ideas before hitting record so that you can make a fundamentally better video? Good questions! That’s what we discuss today.

Creator Spotlight

But first, I want to introduce you to . Before Keren came to us, she felt like a hamster on a hamster wheel, spinning and spinning but getting nowhere. After 6 years on YouTube and uploading 3 videos a week, Keren was still not seeing much growth. But after going through our courses and , she was able to work smarter and not harder by honing into her audience and making genuine connections. Now she is publishing only 1 video a week and growing leaps and bounds.

Topic Research

First of all, we have to remember that the goal of YouTube is to create connection and not just give information. We want to create content that connects to our viewers and not simply discusses the right topics. So before we start, we all need to change the idea of “keywords” to “topic” or “audience” in our brain.

Now that we have that settled, I am going to suggest doing some topic research before you create your video that will help you come up with the perfect idea. Doing this will help you make informed decisions and craft a better video that is going to reach more people and hold their attention longer. There are several ways to do this.

Detective Mode

If you’re using the Chrome browser, open an incognito window and go to YouTube.com. Search for your topic idea and look at the top videos. You are going to put on your detective hat and look for patterns.

1. Focus in on videos that have high views but low subs. These videos are reaching far beyond their subscribed viewers, which is our goal.

2. Pay attention to their titles, thumbnails and opening seconds. Look for patterns of what they are doing well that are attracting these viewers.

3. Use the VidIQ Chrome Extension. This is such a cool tool because it allows you to see the historical data. Is this video still gaining momentum or is it now flat? If the video is now flat, then I don’t want to do the same thing?

4. Now look at the titles, thumbnails & hooks of the suggested videos. YouTube is putting together a viewing session for their viewers. What are the questions that they think are left unanswered? What does YouTube think the viewer really wants next? Click into one of those videos and repeat this process.

5. Make a decision. Do I want to compete with the #1 ranking video on this topic or am I trying to be the top suggested video? Either option is fine, but deciding this will help you bring clarity to what video you want to make.

Google Trends

Go to Google.com/trends and search for the topic you are looking at doing a video on. Change the dropdown menu at the top from web search to YouTube search. Doing this will tell you if there’s still momentum in this area or not. If people aren’t really interested in this topic anymore, maybe you should go a different direction.

Analytic Analysis

Go to your YouTube analytics and click on your audience tab. There will be two things that you want to look at: Other channels your audience watches and other videos your audience watched. This will give you an idea of what your audience is watching. Do you see any patterns amongst topics, titles or thumbnails? Sometimes you can get some great ideas from this. You can also look at comments on bigger videos. The comment sections can be full of great ideas.

Intriguing your Target Audience

But maybe you have more of an entertainment or vlog style and you don’t usually do research looking for topics ideas. For this person, they would find better success in really honing into their target audience. Who is the person that would want to watch this? What do they want and how do they feel? Find other people who have a similar target audience and look through their channel for patterns. What video ideas are hitting above their subscriber count? What titles and thumbnails seem to be getting the most clicks? To be clear: We are not telling you to just copy their videos. We are looking to find out what is intriguing to your target audience.

Also, surveying your audience with some open ended questions would help as well. Ask them specifically what they care about. We do this yearly and it is so valuable to us. We don’t ask what kind of videos our audience want us to make. We ask what their struggles are. What is holding them back? This helps us to use the words that they use in our titles & videos. If we can hear about their emotions and the struggles that they actually feel, we will know how much more we can help them.

So try it! Do an hour of research and I promise you’ll make a better video.

Power Tip

YouTube is rolling out improved analytics. The Engagement and Reach tabs are being combined into a new . On the content tab you can easily filter the stats by content type: videos, shorts, livestreams and posts. This will really help you see how your content types are performing compared to each other and not just overall, which can be very misleading.

Have comments, reactions, questions about all of this or just want to say hi? for us and we may use it in an upcoming podcast episode. Until then…

Keep Changing Lives!

Tim Schmoyer

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