Google has already confirmed its most popular searched-for terms of 2014, and now YouTube has released its own data regarding the content we search for on the site. We know that Google attracts over 12 Billion searches per month, and as the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube searches are also well into the billions, although the site still hasn't released the actual figure.

So, what keywords and key phrases are we searching for on the world's biggest video site? According to YouTube, the following 7 keyword terms were the most searched for in 2014. We've added the amount of results returned for each individual keyword (correct as of the date of this post):

  1. Music (236 Million)
  2. Minecraft (44.3 Million)
  3. Movies (17 Million)
  4. Drake (12.2 Million)
  5. Beyonce (13 Million)
  6. Frozen (11.7 Million)
  7. Happy (58.7 Million)

No great surprises there, although we'd have put money on 'Frozen' being a little higher up in the rankings. These are also probably the shortest-tail keywords available, and as such, are so generic that users are very likely to add specific keywords until they narrow the results down to what they need.

Most Popular Keywords on YouTube: Minecraft

Although 'Music' is the most subscribed to YouTube channel with 87 million subscribers, 'Minecraft' is far and away the most searched for keyword in the gaming vertical. It's also one of the most popular topics for creators to produce content for, whether that's a walkthrough, a review, a tutorial, or a parody. In 2014 alone, 10.6 Million videos pertaining to 'Minecraft' were uploaded to YouTube, generating 26.5 Billion views between them. That's around an average of 2,491 views per video.

In 2014, 10.6 Million Minecraft themed videos were uploaded to YouTube, generating 26.5 Billion views between them (Click to Tweet)

Why is Minecraft - and gaming - so incredibly popular with both YouTube creators and viewers? A recent report from Google itself states that gaming has broken beyond the teenage boy demographic, and is one of the view categories on YouTube because it delivers both engagement and reach - a winning combination for creators, marketers, brands, and advertisers.

Millennials have been raised with a games console by their side, and the Internet at their fingertips, which has resulted in 64% of U.S. playing video games on some kind of device, and also perhaps to why 15% of all uploads to YouTube related in some way to gaming.

The fact that people are watching gaming content on YouTube isn't going to be a surprise to anyone, but the fact that 37% of gaming-content viewers wouldn't class themselves as 'gamers' should be huge news to brands and marketers. People of all ages are watching gaming videos because they find them entertaining, amusing, and informative, and that kind of engagement is priceless for advertisers and brands.

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The undisputed king of Minecraft on YouTube is Brit Joseph Garrett aka Stampylonghead, who creates commentary videos as 'Stampy Cat'. He has one of the most viewed YouTube channels in the world, and such is his reach, he has been cited as an educational resource, and inspiration, for children and tweens. In early 2014, he confirmed a collaboration with Maker Studios on a 'purely education' channel aimed at kids. Garrett believes that:

Minecraft is an amazing platform. Everyone's playing it, and if you're not playing it, your kids are playing it. If you take their engagement and put it into a more productive space like education or the arts, they're going to be involved in that, they're going to be engaged.

Takeaways for YouTube Creators and Video Marketers

  • Unless you are Mojang, Stampylonghead, CaptainSparklez, or one of the other really well-established, well-subscribed-to gamers, the chances of ranking in the first few pages of YouTube (or Google) for the term 'Minecraft' is going to take a minor miracle. The more specific, and long-tial you can make you're title the better - it may lead to fewer searches, but that will mean that you rank higher in the results. Also, make sure that you fully optimize your video description so that YouTube gets as much information about the video content as possible.
  • Unless you offer a unique proposition, or you operate in a niche industry, optimizing for short-tail keywords isn't always the most effective strategy. It takes some work and dedicated resources, but solid keyword research will identify the terms that you could realistically appear for right now, while you build up your visibility by creating more focused video content. Take a look at some of the free keyword research tools available to video marketers to give you a start.
  • Brands looking to rank well for these popular key terms, or at least have some visibility on them, should consider collaborating with creators that already have a solid footing on the site for this type of content.
  • If you are lucky enough to rank on the first page of YouTube for say, 'movies' know that the churn rate of these kind of search results is incredible - with the average age of the video result returned being around 8 days old. That may be all it needs to take to drive enough views to your video to hit your KPI target (and bring in some revenue if you have monetized it). But, with the turn-over rate so fast, you are better off optimizing for the long-tail so you have more consistency in the rankings.
  • Advertisers should create compelling video content to run on both established, and up-and-coming gaming channels..

Stats courtesy of TubularLabs, YouTube & Google.