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YouTube Ads: Keyword Targeting Simplified

Let’s talk about how keyword targeting works on YouTube.

Youtube application

Keyword targeting trips up a lot of people, so we’ll be going over how it works and some best practices for how to use it.

Once you tell Google which keywords to target with your YouTube Ads, there are two main things that the system looks at:

  1. Google Looks at Relevant Videos -These are relevant videos that your ads will play on. If you are adding a keyword like ‘business’, theoretically, it will play on videos about business. 
  2. Google Shows Ads To Interested Audiences – Keywords also target audiences that are interested in those words. Google reaches much further than that though – if you have similar interests to other groups of people, Google may lump you in with those people’s other interests that you do not necessarily share. For this reason, keyword targeting can be very imperfect.

Alright, now let’s dive into some best practices to utilize when targeting with keywords in YouTube Ads campaigns:

*Note – Match types (exact match, phrase match, broad match) don’t exist in YouTube Ads campaigns.

1. Mix Things Up

Mix things up with a variety of shorter and longer keywords. For example, if you’re attempting to reach people interested in YouTube Ads, you could use ‘YouTube Ads’ or ‘How to set up a YouTube Ads campaign’. Aim for a wide variety of both longer and shorter keywords and add as many relevant keywords as you can.

2. Don’t Use Keywords That Are Too Short Or Too Basic. 

If you’re trying to reach people interested in YouTube Ads, you wouldn’t want to include just ‘YouTube’ or ‘Ads’ because short keywords like this will bring too much random traffic. 

3. Get Some Help From Google’s System

You can use the keyword planner to help you research keywords. You can also get new keyword ideas right inside your ad account while you’re setting up the campaign. (Once you’ve added a few keywords, Google will recommend some similar keywords to you.) Since these keywords are already in the system and recognized by Google, they can usually drive a good amount of traffic.

Don’t add every keyword to your campaign that Google suggests – make sure that they’re all relevant to what you’re selling.

4. Add A LOT Of Keywords

Take this to the extreme by adding as many relevant keywords as you can think of! Add a lot of words with a lot of variations. For example, you could include both ‘Build YouTube Ads Campaigns’ and ‘Build YouTube Ad Campaigns’. The only difference is ‘ad’ being either singular or plural, but these variations can really bring in more traffic. You should end up with hundreds of different keywords by the time you’re done researching and brainstorming.

5. Add Brand Names As Keywords

Use competitors’ names (whether it’s a personal name or a company name) and even your own name. This approach can work phenomenally well. 

Finally, run the campaign! Now, look at each of the keywords (remember, you should have hundreds to sort through – yay!) and see how they’re performing. If they’re not performing well, get rid of them. If they’re performing well, capitalize on what is working by researching even more variations and by looking for related placements and audiences to target in additional campaigns.

While keyword targeting for YouTube Ads is very imprecise, it can work really well and can help you scale a campaign! Because of how broad it is, it opens up many opportunities for traffic while allowing you to quickly grow your campaign.