5 Best YouTube SEO Tools (Free & Paid)

Article last updated on:
April 16, 2024

Key Takeways

vidIQExtensive featuresLimited free planStarts at $24.50/mo
YouTube AnalyticsBuilt-in, detailed metricsNo advanced keyword researchFree
Google TrendsGreat for current trendsLimited competition dataFree
TubeBuddyBroad SEO featuresLimited free planStarts at $2.50/mo
YouTube Auto-CompleteFinds popular queriesMay lack relevanceFree
Thumbnail TestA/B TestingNot 100% SEO-focusedStarts at $24/mo

This is your go-to list of Pros, Cons, Services, and Pricing for 5 of the best YouTube SEO tools.

Essential reads: SEO Basics (by Google), YouTube SEO Basics (by HubSpot).

TOP 5: YouTube SEO Tools

Currently, these are the 5 best tools for YouTube SEO: vidIQ, YouTube Analytics, Google Trends, TubeBuddy, YouTube Auto-Complete.

1. vidIQ

Website: vidiq.com

vidiq.com - website homepage
  • Pros: Free plan and paid tiers, provides keyword research, competitor tracking, video optimization tools, and social media promotion features.
  • Cons: Free plan has limited features.
  • Services: Keyword research, video title and description optimization, competitor tracking, social media promotion tools (paid plans).
  • Pricing: Starts at $24.50/month.

2. YouTube Analytics

Website: studio.youtube.com → Go to “Analytics” on the left.

Zoomed-in screenshot of YouTube Analayicts within YouTube Studio
  • Pros: Free, built-in tool from YouTube, provides valuable insights on video performance and audience demographics.
  • Cons: Lacks advanced keyword research features.
  • Services: Analyzes video views, watch time, audience engagement, and traffic sources.
  • Pricing: Free for all YouTubers.

Useful read: YouTube Analytics basics, by Google.

3. Google Trends

Website: trends.google.com/trends

Safari mock-up screenshot of Google Trends, with an arrow pointing towards the trends.google.com URL
  • Pros: Free, easy to use, identifies search trends and audience interest over time.
  • Cons: Limited data on search volume and competition. Not YouTube specific.
  • Services: Tracks search popularity for your chosen topic.
  • Pricing: Free, 100%.

4. TubeBuddy

Website: tubebuddy.com

Screenshot from tubebuddy.com's home page
  • Pros: Chrome extension with a free plan and paid tiers, offers features like keyword research, competitor analysis, tag suggestions, card templates.
  • Cons: Free plan has limited features.
  • Services: Keyword research, title and description optimization, card templates, competitor analysis, rank tracking (paid plans).
  • Pricing: $2.50 per month → $15.75 per month

5. YouTube Auto-Complete

Website: youtube.com (works on any page)

Screenshot on YouTube highlighting where Auto-Complete is in the search bar. Looking up "how to..." with an arrow pointing out at the suggestions
  • Pros: Free, simple way to discover popular search queries related to your video topic.
  • Cons: Limited data, suggestions may not always be the most relevant keywords.
  • Services: Provides suggestions based on what people are typing in YouTube search.
  • Pricing: Free entirely.

If you’re not familiar with this, read what autocomplete means (Wikipedia). That page will definitely clear things out!

6. The Bonus!

Thumbnail Test is another great analytics tool for YouTube — while there aren’t specific SEO tools, the tool is connected to the same style of reaching more people.

Thumbnail Test Homepage

ThumbnailTest focuses on A/B testing specifically for YouTube thumbnails and titles, aiming to improve click-through rates (CTR) and ultimately views on your videos.


  1. A/B Testing Thumbnails and Titles: Upload multiple variations of your thumbnail and title, and ThumbnailTest will automatically display them to different segments of your audience. It tracks clicks on each version to determine which one performs better in attracting viewers.
  2. Hourly or Daily Tests: You can choose how frequently ThumbnailTest rotates your thumbnail and title variations, allowing for faster data collection and optimization.
  3. Analytics and Reporting: The tool tracks clicks for each variation, providing insights into which thumbnail and title combination leads to the most clicks.
  4. Revive Old Videos: You can use ThumbnailTest to test new thumbnails and titles for older videos, potentially increasing their click-through rate and viewership.
  5. Collaboration Features: Invite team members to collaborate on A/B testing your thumbnails and titles.


1. Does SEO really work for YouTube?

Yes, SEO does work for YouTube and can boost a video’s visibility and reach, if done right.

Effective SEO helps your content reach the right audience on YouTube by ensuring it appears in relevant searches and on suggested video feeds, which can lead to more views, higher engagement, and increased channel growth.

2. Which is the best tool for YouTube SEO?

TubeBuddy and VidIQ are two of the most highly recommended tools. Both offer keyword research, optimization tips, tag suggestions, and performance analytics — all for video SEO.

Each has its unique strengths, so the best choice can depend on personal preferences and specific needs.

3. Is Google SEO better than YouTube SEO?

Google SEO[1] and YouTube SEO[2] operate differently, so it’s not quite about one being better than the other, but rather which is more suitable for your specific needs.

  1. Google SEO focuses on optimizing content for ranking in Google search results, covering a vast range of content types including web pages, news, images, and videos. It involves factors like keywords, backlinks, mobile-friendliness, and user engagement metrics.
  2. YouTube SEO is specialized for ranking videos on the YouTube platform. It involves optimizing video titles, descriptions, tags, and providing quality content that engages viewers and encourages longer watch times.

If your goal is to boost visibility in video content, YouTube SEO is essential. For broader digital presence across various content types, Google SEO is the way.

They can complement each other, as optimizing for YouTube can also improve visibility in Google’s video search results.

Thank you for reading this,

About the author

David is the head of the editing team at ThumbnailTest. With his help, the editorial team is able to provide you with the best free guides related to YouTube thumbnails and A/B testing.