James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Digital video marketing is exploding in 2022, as expected, and YouTube is a major player in the revolution. According to recent research, 81 percent of Americans routinely visit the site, making it bigger than even Facebook, which is a distant second at 69 percent. Moreover, the same study found that more than 25 percent of Americans get their news from YouTube. Never has there been more volume and places to use those :15s and :30s, as well as social, CTV, midrolls, post-rolls, and in-banner ads. Businesses with any online presence at all are scrambling to figure out how to best use this to their advantage.

But YouTube has never provided an easy way to identify what people are searching for, which would help content providers create more relevant videos that match the audience and viewers’ interests. Until now, that is. Launched in May, the new YouTube search term analytics are powerful, if not a little unwieldy. It’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the data we’d like to see, but it’s a start.

Search Insights, accessible in the Analytics/Research section of the YouTube Studio, provides information on key topics of interest among viewers, along with the overall search volume and the amount of traffic that your channel has received from each query. A few caveats, though – creators can only see what’s been searched for in the last 20 days, and these insights are in aggregated form, so you can’t track individual searches for individual users. International companies can only see data from English-language search terms across five countries: The U.S., Canada, Australia, India, and the UK. But hey, it’s a good start.

The analytics are broken down in three primary areas: Viewer Searches, Searches Across the YouTube app, and Content Gaps.

  • Your Viewer Searches. Here’s where you can see what your audience and your channel viewers are looking for on YouTube. This in itself is very useful information, providing a list of the key topics of interest, which should help creators decide which videos will be most appealing to their prospects and how best to craft the titles and descriptions to increase overall traffic.
  • Searches Across YouTube. This allows you to look at viewer searches for any keyword, across thousands of topics on YouTube, providing insight into the most common search queries based on any keyword. The terms are ranked High, Medium, or Low based on the search volume of each keyword or phrase. This gives creators an edge in knowing how viewers search for information, particularly the “how to” or “how do I” questions.
  • Content Gaps. This one is interesting. A search becomes a content gap when viewers can’t find the information they want, or if the information provided is low quality or low resolution. By highlighting these searches, creators can identify new opportunities to reach an existing or new audience. YouTube is also adding a way to filter these listings based on search queries that don’t return a high volume of matches.

It’s not a perfect tool, by any stretch, and I’m hoping to see more advanced analytics rolled out in the near future. But for any company making a significant investment in YouTube – which, is to say, all companies – any metrics that help you better understand what the audience wants and how viewers are searching for this information are worth considering.

If you have any questions about the tool, or are interested in getting more return from your digital investments, I’d love to have a conversation.