Selecting a primary keyword for your YouTube content can be the make or break moment of your upload. If you are a big name streamer like Ninja people are going to watch whatever you upload regardless of the keywords, but if you’re reading this you’re probably like me and you don’t have tens of thousands of subscribers – so how can you expose your content to the masses?
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Targeting keywords in your YouTube uploads, called SEO or Search Engine Optimization can be a great tool that allows you to access millions of users that have otherwise never heard of you. As I write this Ninja has 22.9 Million Subscribers on YouTube, and his most recent upload about controllers in Fortnite was added only 46 minutes ago but already has 57,000 views.
That’s the goal right? Maybe we’re not aiming for twenty million subscribers, but we’d like to eventually be gaming vloggers and just talk about the games that we love without needing to do extra steps for our content to gain exposure. In my not-so-humble opinion after eleven years doing SEO for hundreds of websites, search engines are your greatest shortcut.
Which keywords should you target? In November of 2019 Pokemon Sword & Shield arrived on the Nintendo Switch. I had experimented on YouTube in 2016 for Pokemon GO but my best upload peaked around 13,000 views. I was lucky if most uploads hit a thousand.
For my Sword & Shield content however, I approached my uploads differently. I focused on question based keywords such as “How do I reset EVs in Pokemon Sword?” or “How To Change Rotom’s Form in Pokemon Shield?”. As of this writing the video about changing Rotom’s forms sits at 4,600 views but the video about resetting EVs topped them all with 58,000 views.
How did I decide which keywords to target? How did I decide which questions would make good keywords? One of my favorite business books: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson has a chapter titled “Scratch Your Own Itch”.
The authors had a problem, they needed a way to keep track of their customers, who they talked to, what they talked about and when they needed to follow up next. So they scratched their own itch by creating the Highrise CRM, which is now fully integrated into Basecamp.
They created a product to scratch their own itch, in my case, I created YouTube content. I had these questions myself, so I researched the answers. When Temtem came out one early quest sends you to find a Barnshe, but I couldn’t find a Barnshe anywhere. Once I Googled around and found the answer on Reddit, I created a YouTube video called “Barnshe Location? Where to find Barnshe in Temtem” and that upload currently sits at 9.3k views a month later – even though the video itself is less than two minutes long.
I scratched my own itch by writing down the questions I had while playing these games, and maybe that upload will only get a few hundred views, but you’re just as likely to have a runaway hit like my video “How To Transfer Pokemon From Pokemon GO to Pokemon Home”. It was the third video I’d made that day, and I almost didn’t keep recording, but thankfully I did because that video currently sits at 120,000 views – my best video ever.
Every video that I’ve uploaded since November has been focused on questions I personally encountered while playing these games – just twenty five uploads – but now over 370,000 views and 18.3K watch hours on YouTube. Targeting these question based keywords allowed me to reach YouTube partner in only two weeks and has since generated hundreds of dollars in advertising revenue on top of the conversion of YouTube viewer into Twitch regular.
How could I have gone further? These were my own questions, I could have gone on Reddit and found questions that other people were asking. I could have looked into hundreds of YouTube comments for additional questions to answer. I could have hit this a lot harder, but even with a medium amount of effort this method helped me grow my audience.
As you play a new game, right when it comes out, before a dozen videos pop up answering all the hot trending questions for that game – consider writing down the headaches you have while playing the game and turn those headaches into content. Answer those questions and start a new relationship with your audience by being of service, you can’t ask for a better first impression to carry that viewer over onto your stream.