Tips and tricks for an insightful YouTube competitive analysis.
Marketing Intelligence

7 Little-Known Tips for YouTube Competitive Analysis

by Ruth Trucks , Senior Marketing Writer 10 Min.
April 18, 2022 | Updated October 11, 2022

Are you worried about competitors stealing your YouTube traffic? You’re right, there’s a fair chance that’s happening. Video marketing is a competitive game, and to win it, you need to know the competition.

It’s probably why you landed on this page, so we’ll jump right into the subject: How do you do a far-seeing YouTube competitor analysis, and what can you learn from it?

We’ll give you seven tactics to perform a competitive analysis for your YouTube channel and its videos. And we’ll also share some Competitive monitoring practical ways to use competitive analysis to improve your paid video marketing ads. Lights, camera, analyze!

Why do a competitive analysis for a YouTube channel?

Some general facts to let you grasp the significance of YouTube:

  1. YouTube is the world’s second most visited website.
  2. 62% of users watch something on YouTube every day at least once.
  3. The platform counts 1.7 billion unique monthly visitors.
  4. 99% of YouTube users also enjoy other social media platforms.

These are just a few statistics from a Hootsuite report, but clearly, YouTube is the place to be. That said, the competition is thick. So, you better start training your video muscle if you want to get your share of views and engagement.

What can you gain from a competitor analysis on YouTube?

Be honest, you always scout the competition, right? Competitive monitoring is an easy way to collect ideas and inspiration, plus get a sense of what the audience likes.

That’s really what a YouTube channel competitor analysis is all about. The only difference: Instead of sneak-peeking at your competitors, you use data that allows for accurate results and real-time monitoring.

Here’s what you can do with a data-driven competitive analysis of your YouTube competitors:

  • Get insights for your own video marketing strategy.
  • Find keywords to target.
  • Discover audience interests and preferences.
  • Measure the level of quality you need to reach and beat.
  • Evaluate your video marketing performance in a competitive context.
  • Set ambitious, yet realistic goals for your video marketing.
  • Identify trends for the use of video in your industry.

7 tips for conducting a competitive analysis on YouTube

1. Identify top competitors using the relevant data

We assume you already know your top competitors in the market. Are they also your top competitors on YouTube?

To answer this question, let’s look at the channel differently. In addition to being the largest video-hosting platform, YouTube is also the third-largest search engine. This means, when you think “video marketing”, you also need to think “SEO”.

Look at it this way: A video’s purpose is to drive quality traffic to your site. The clips function as a touchpoint in your acquisition funnel. To evaluate the performance of a video channel, look at it from two angles:

1. How much traffic does it receive?
2. How much traffic does it send to your site?

The YouTube leaders in your industry are the ones that generate the most traffic in both directions. They’re your benchmarks.

YouTube home page.

2. Use keyword research to recognize strong traffic competitors

A keyword-research-based video SEO strategy is essential to promoting your YouTube videos and channel.

Start by identifying the trending organic search terms for your industry or niche. Find out which keywords drive the most traffic to your competition or industry leaders.

Google ranks video content on a separate SERP (Search Engine Results Page); however, the keywords are identical. The same terms that generate high volume traffic to the industry leader are relevant in video SEO for YouTube channels and videos. High-ranking video content is displayed on a unique page when you choose “video search”. Google adds video snippets and, in some cases, a timeline that highlights significant sections of the video.

This is where the best-performing YouTube videos appear, and you can learn a thing or two about them without having to watch each one.

Video search results for “smoothie”.

With Similarweb Digital Marketing Intelligence, you can identify the top keywords driving YouTube traffic. Then see the SERPs for video search on these terms and investigate how the high-ranking videos implement keywords in title, description, and hashtags.

3. Understand how video fits into the overall digital marketing strategy

YouTube is one marketing channel among many, and you want to assess its role in the competitor’s digital marketing strategy. Is it a primary marketing channel or a secondary tool to supplement other acquisition channels and drive awareness? Understand how much effort competitors invest into video marketing.

Your competitive YouTube analysis should examine how video fits into the competitor’s marketing mix. Discover how much traffic the channel generates to the company’s website compared to other marketing channels.

For example, Noom makes extensive use of its YouTube channel, as the graph below depicts. The social overview displays the traffic volume each social network generates for the competitor website you’re investigating.

Screenshot of social overview for social networks overview on Similarweb.

4. Examine the channel and individual video performance

Hop over to your competitor’s YouTube channel and take a look around. Imagine you’re a consumer. Ask yourself what you like and don’t like about the channel. Note the features your competitor uses. Keep your eyes open for user-generated videos (like reviews), and if there are external contributors.

The videos that get the most views are the ones that should make you curious. Watch them and take notes. Understand what makes these clips more popular than others. It could be the quality, the topic addressed, or a touching story, for example.

What is it that resonates with the viewer? How does the creator capture the audience? Analyze the design elements, the colors, sounds, and how the creator incorporated their brand style and language.

Study the level of viewer engagement. How many subscribers does the channel have? What’s the number of likes and shares? In the About tab, you can see when the YouTube channel was established and how many total views it’s received since.

In the Channels tab, find related channels and check them out as well – you may uncover competitors you didn’t even know you had.

Ryan’s World About Us page.

5. Consider the competitors’ activity levels on the platform

Another aspect to investigate and compare is the activity level of popular channels. How frequently do they post new video content? Do they post on specific weekdays or dates? Use the insights to fill your own content calendar and social media calendar and determine posting frequency and schedule.

Investigate typical length of the videos, the structure and style. Try to focus on measurable parameters, that you can easily compare on your analysis sheet.

You can learn a lot about the different companies’ video strategies. Some may stick to a standard type of video, while others offer a mix of promotional and informational video content.

Some brands use exclusively animated videos because it’s their brand style. Find out if there’s a standard for the video style in your industry. Also, analyze which elements are typically used, such as intros with music or outros with CTA, subtitles, and so on.

6. Pay attention to the kind of reactions competitors get on their content

Viewer reactions are a source of insightful information about what the audience finds valuable. See the topics users address and pick up on their questions. Viewer comments can be an inspiration and provide material for your own videos.

You may find recurring issues mentioned by users on different competitor channels. Jot them down and address them in your video content.

7. Take note of what your YouTube competitors aren’t doing

Successful video marketers have already learned a thing or two from their mistakes. You can learn from them. Start with basic video concepts until you get the hang of it. You’ll quickly understand why experienced video makers avoid certain tricks that may seem fancy at first, but often aren’t worth the effort.

It’s better to keep it simple at first and spare yourself the hard work – and possibly the disappointment.

2 tools to apply these competitive YouTube analysis tips

To build a competitive keyword strategy, Similarweb offers a variety of tools. We’ll introduce the two features that are most helpful for YouTube and how to use them.

1. YouTube keyword generator

In the keyword research tool, you’ll choose the YouTube option. Type in any topic to receive relevant keywords. The tool displays all related keywords that generate high traffic volume in your industry sector. And yes, it really is that simple.

YouTube keyword generator on Similarweb.

A variety of filters let you take a deep dive into keyword research. Gauge branded vs. non-branded terms or find long-tail keywords you may not consider right away.

For example, let’s imagine you’re competing with Ninja Kitchen and as such, type “air fryer” into the YouTube keyword generator. You’ll notice that keywords pointing at cooking recipes drive the most traffic. Indeed, the Ninja brand posts videos of prominent chefs sharing their recipes.

YouTube keyword generator results.

You’ve discovered an important aspect of Ninja’s video marketing strategy. Plus, you now know what your audience is looking for and what kind of video content you need to promote to attract viewers.

2. Keyword gap tool

The second tool we want to highlight is the keyword gap tool because the tool includes a video search filter. Here you can find keywords that drive traffic to competitor sites, but not your website. With this feature, it becomes easy to discover what you’re missing.

Select the industry leader and set it against your brand. You’ll receive a clear visualization of traffic volume from the best performing keywords to your and the competitor’s sites and how they overlap.

Next, by clicking on opportunities, you can generate a list of terms you aren’t getting any traffic for, but your competitor is. Use the “video search” filter to view which keywords searchers use to find video content.

Screenshot of keyword gap results.

You can do the same for a selection of competitors that you want to compare. Discover additional keywords that specific brands in your niche are successfully targeting and learn which keywords others use to address relevant topics.

The tool also lets you identify upward and downward trends, and which site is losing or winning traffic for selected keywords. Use additional filters for more granularity.

How to do a competitive analysis for paid video ads on YouTube

What’s one thing that comes to mind when you think of video marketing? If you’re thinking interruptions, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there – one minute you’re vibing out to a Paris cafe playlist and the next an ad for insurance jumps at you.

The truth is, these ads have made some brands unbelievably famous. Think about typing assistant Grammarly or dieting app Noom as examples. Even if you’ve never watched any of their video ads until the end, you recognize the brands and know their industry sectors.

Noom, for example, lives in a highly crowded market. Every other week a new type of diet promises its target audience to fulfill their dreams. Many use video ads on YouTube. The only way to stand out is to understand what the competition does and then do it better.

What can you learn from the competition?

  • What gets your target audience excited.
  • What competitor weak spots you can improve on.
  • What works for your competitors.
  • What keywords to use to improve your targeting and generate more high-quality traffic.
  • What trends to tap for video marketing in your industry.
  • What not to do.

This lets you:

  • Optimize your paid video ads strategy.
  • Set goals more realistically and effectively.
  • Improve your position in the market.
  • Increase ROI.

All this just from comparing traffic and engagement stats? Yes!

How to use Similarweb to compare paid ads performance on YouTube

In an industry as saturated as nutrition with a broad target audience, you’ll measure yourself against the best, not the average or closest competitor. Why? If you want to stand out in the market, the market leader’s success is what you aim for. Let them teach you.

In markets with a more specific target audience, you need to narrow down your competition and identify the most successful brands with your audience.

Let’s look at some ways to learn from your relevant competitors.

You’re looking to learn how significant a role YouTube ads play in their marketing mix as a traffic driver.

Screenshot of social traffic graph on Similarweb.

In this example, it’s apparent where ketocycle focuses its efforts: Facebook is by far the biggest traffic driver. The same is true for Nutrisystem. Both rely on the social platform rather than video marketing. Noom’s strategy is different. The site receives most of its social traffic from YouTube, but is closely followed by Facebook, and Reddit also sends some visitors over.

You can easily find the competitor’s videos through Similarweb, including information on the campaign period. Watch and analyze the videos to learn what makes them successful.

video ads sending traffic to

Pump up your keyword strategy

Use the Similarweb keyword generator for YouTube keywords to identify which terms drive the most traffic. View search volume and trends for relevant keywords, including actual clicks. Compare how your rivals are performing for the various terms.

Based on others’ successful keyword use, create your own custom audiences. For example, you can base your custom audience on non-branded keywords that drive traffic to the competition or even the competitor’s competition. Read here in detail how a Noom competitor did it.

The idea behind getting to know your competition is to leverage their experience and methodology to improve your performance.

You can’t beat your YouTube competition without data

We’ve shown you some tricks for collecting and analyzing digital marketing data. Now it’s up to you to hop on the treadmill and tone those video marketing muscles. Use the data wisely to grow your marketing strategy.

If you aren’t on YouTube yet, you should be, because that’s where the competition is. And if you have a YouTube channel, make sure it’s optimized for your audience’s expectations.

Do you know what your audience expects? Do you know who your top competitors are and what makes them successful? Similarweb competitive marketing intelligence gets you the data that provides the answers. Start a free demo to see it firsthand.

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