Let’s be honest: a career as a YouTube influencer seems pretty great. You get to express yourself creatively and produce content you’re passionate about, you make your own work hours, and you grow a sense of community and camaraderie with your followers. That said, becoming an influencer is a lot of hard work. Growing your YouTube channel requires a great deal of strategic promotion and analysis on the current trends of your content niche. When it comes to increasing your views and gaining followers, you’ve likely heard of search engine optimization (SEO); however, you may still be wondering why it’s so important and what exactly it does. Similarly, you may be missing out on a specialized tool that can greatly facilitate the process of growing your channel.

Let’s first examine the role that SEO plays in growing your channel and your followership. In order for your channel to reach more people and attract more followers, online users need to be able to find your channel in the first place. After all, a search is the gatekeeper between the user and your content. So, when users search for content related to your niche, you want your content to be in the top results that appear (i.e. you want to boost your content’s search ranking). To have your content rank at the top, you need to implement SEO practices, such as integrating keywords, writing detailed video descriptions, and categorizing your videos.

That said, even if you’re using these strategies on your YouTube channel, you may be left wondering if they’re actually working, particularly if you’re not seeing a major spike in your subscriber count. It doesn’t help that YouTube’s analytics currently offer minimal insight into SEO performance. The platform shows your number of published videos and views over the last 30 days and over the course of your channel’s lifetime, but fails to show popular keywords for similar videos or how your videos are ranking in comparison to competitors.

Fortunately, there’s one tool that can provide this insight and help you kickstart your channel’s growth. VidIQ is a free online browser extension that offers powerful SEO analytics and insights that you can use to create more effective content. The tool makes recommendations on keywords to use based on content that is trending within your niche, which is especially helpful since finding the right keywords can often require intensive research. It also tells you the best times of day to upload to garner more views and allows you to see what strategies are working for your competitors, so you can leverage that information and put it to use on your own channel. While the basic version of the tool is free to download, you also have the option to pay for the premium version to reap even more of its benefits.

No matter your niche, implementing effective SEO strategies when creating and promoting your YouTube videos is a vital step in growing your channel. SEO tools are especially helpful in achieving this goal because of the powerful insight and analytics they provide, which ultimately enable you to make decisions that will boost your views and attract more followers. Before you know it, your dream of becoming a YouTube influencer will be a reality.