How to Get a YouTube API Key [Tutorial + Examples]

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Anna Fitzgerald
Anna Fitzgerald

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Good news: There's an easy way to use YouTube to grow your business without creating videos. You can embed existing YouTube content on your site using the YouTube API.

Developer using the YouTube API to connect their website to YouTube

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No scripting, no story boarding, and no filming required. Just use the content that has already been created. Let’s take a look at what the YouTube Data API is, how you can get an API key, and how you can use it for your brand.

Like other APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces), the YouTube API makes a programmer’s work easier by skipping the drudgery of writing every single line of code every time users need to access data. Instead, programmers can use predefined functions and protocols to curate YouTube videos on a website.

Additionally, the YouTube API has a wide selection of features and functionalities that make it accessible to developers and valuable to businesses. It allows you to retrieve data at a mass scale without needing to access individual videos and channels.

With that in mind, what kind of data can you feature using the YouTube API? Let’s take a look.

YouTube API Data

The YouTube API gives you access to YouTube’s data in a more comprehensive, scalable way than standalone YouTube embed codes would. You can retrieve entire playlists, users’ uploads, and even search results using the YouTube API. You can also add YouTube functionalities to your website so that users can upload videos and manage channel subscriptions straight from your website or app.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular functionalities of the API. This is not an exhaustive list; we recommend perusing Google’s official documentation.

YouTube Resource Example HTTP Request Description
i.e what you’d like to use the API for i.e one possible request you could make with this resource i.e what the action would look like on your website or app

YouTube Search

GET / search

Retrieves a range of search results based on the query you’ve set.

YouTube Playlists

DELETE / playlists

Deletes a playlist.

YouTube Videos

POST / videos

Uploads a video to YouTube from your website or app.

YouTube Comments

POST / comments / markAsSpam

Allows you to flag one or more comments as spam.

YouTube Channels

GET / channels

Retrieves a channel’s videos or playlists (or any other resource, such as comments).

YouTube Subscriptions

POST / subscriptions

Adds a subscriber to an authenticated user’s channel.

YouTube Channel Members

GET / members

Retrieves a list of members for a channel that has given you authorization.

YouTube Captions

PUT / captions

Updates a caption track (you can upload a new file or change it to a draft).

YouTube ChannelSections

POST / channelSections

Allows you to add a section of featured videos, for example, to an authenticated user’s channel.

YouTube Watermarks

POST / watermarks / unset

Allows you to remove a watermark image associated with a channel.

Benefits of Using the YouTube API

Many marketers and business owners are missing out on the benefits of incorporating YouTube into their digital marketing strategy. Usually, it's a question of how much time it takes to create high-quality video content.

In a typical YouTube marketing strategy, you would consistently publish video content every week with the hopes of generating likes and subscribers — a portion of which you’d hope would convert into customers. Luckily, this is no longer the only way to use YouTube for your business. YouTube has created an API that allows you to integrate your website with the social platform.

Here are some of the greatest benefits of using the YouTube API:

  • You can take advantage of existing content. With the YouTube API, you don’t have to spend valuable time and resources creating content. Instead, you can take advantage of the content that has already been published to increase user engagement on your site.
  • YouTube is one of the top social media platforms. With more than two billion active users in more than 100 countries, YouTube is the top video streaming app. It's also the second-largest search engine, the second most popular social platform, and the second most visited site on the internet.
  • Featuring YouTube’s content can increase your dwell time. Because the YouTube API can help you add YouTube content to your website, it will help users stay on the page for longer as they watch the content that you’ve specifically curated for them. This increase in dwell time signals to search engines that your content is valuable, boosting your rankings for target keywords.
  • Using the API can help you convert more website visitors. Using the API is also valuable from a conversion rate and revenue standpoint. Prospects who engage with your content and stay on your website are more likely than not to make a purchase.

Using the YouTube API is a no-brainer for many marketers, but YouTube doesn't allow just anyone to access this valuable tool or its data. To prevent potential abuse, YouTube grants each user a unique API key that allows them to connect their website or app to the platform.

Each API key is designated for an individual project. If you’re using the API on two different websites, you should create two different API keys.

Now, let’s go over how to get a YouTube API key step-by-step.

If you'd prefer to watch a video, check out this walkthrough by DAIMTO Developer tips:

1. Log in to Google Developers Console.

You can log in to Google Developers Console using your Google account. If you don’t yet have one, you’ll need to create one.

2. Create a new project.

Once you log in, you’ll automatically be taken to an empty dashboard. On the upper right-hand corner, click Create Project.

Google Developers Console dashboard

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You’ll be taken to a screen where you can add a project name, select your organization, and select a location (URL).

You can create a project without an organization. If you don’t have an organization, you won’t be prompted to select a location.

New project form in Google Developer Console

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Once you create a project, everything you do from here onwards, including creating the API key, will apply to that specific project. If you have multiple projects going at the same time, ensure that the correct one is selected by double-checking that the project is listed on the top navigation bar.

3. On the new project dashboard, click Explore & Enable APIs.

After creating a project, you’ll be taken to a brand new dashboard with different cards: Project Info, Resources, and so on.

Navigate to the Getting Started card and click on Explore & Enable APIs.

New project dashboard in Google Developers Console

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Alternatively, on the sidebar, navigate to APIs & Services > Library.

4. In the library, navigate to YouTube Data API v3 under YouTube APIs.

Once you’ve reached the library, you’ll see a page divided into sections. Navigate to the section titled YouTube APIs and select YouTube Data API v3.

Google's API library, where the YouTube API is located

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Alternatively, you can search for the YouTube Data API on the search bar.

5. Enable the API.

After you arrive at the YouTube Data API page, click a blue button with the word Enable.

YouTube API page on the Google Developers Console's API library

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6. Create a credential.

After clicking Enable, you’ll be taken to an overview page.

Dashboard for the YouTube Data API, where you can then create a credential

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On the top right corner, click Create Credentials.

On the Credentials window, select YouTube Data API v3 for the first blank space, Web server (e.g. node js. Tomcat) for the second, and check the Public data box on the third prompt.

Credential configurations for creating a YouTube API key

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Right below that, click on the blue button titled What credentials do I need?

After that, your API key will automatically load.

YouTube API created after clicking "What credentials do I need?"

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Click Done.

7. A screen will appear with the API key.

Finished! You’ve got your API key. It’s saved in your credentials for easy retrieval.

YouTube API key created and listed on the API & Services dashboard in Google Developers Console

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YouTube API Key Troubleshooting

Where is My YouTube API Key?

Have you created an API key but don’t know how to find it? We’ll walk you through the process of finding it step-by-step.

    • Step 1: Log in to Google Developers Console.
    • Step 2: You’ll automatically be taken to your project dashboard, where you’ll see a series of cards. Under the APIs card, click Go to APIs overview.
APIs card on Google Developers Console dashboard

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  • Step 3: You’ll be taken to a dashboard with a sidebar. On this sidebar, click Credentials.

Credentials sidebar that allows you to find your YouTube API key

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    • Step 4: All done! You’ll find the YouTube API key you created.
YouTube API key dashboard

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My YouTube API Key is Not Working

Glitches happen all the time, especially when it comes to APIs.

Your API key may not be working because you’re using it for the wrong project. Be sure you’re using the key for the project that you created it for, especially if you created multiple projects at the same time.

If it’s still not working, consider creating a new API key entirely.

Once you’ve retrieved your YouTube API key, you can use it to call YouTube’s data. One other highly beneficial use is live-streaming events for your business. This will require you to access the YouTube Live Streaming API.

How to Access YouTube Live API

1. Follow steps 1-7 above to get a YouTube API key.

First, set up your project, website, or app and then get a YouTube API key. This key will let you access YouTube’s Live Streaming API.

Don’t forget to register your app with Google so that your API requests are successfully authenticated.

2. Learn the resources associated with the YouTube Live API.

youtube live streaming api: livestreams resource

The YouTube Live Streaming API has a distinct set of resources you can make API calls for. These include:

  • liveBroadcast refers to the metadata of your live YouTube video.
  • liveStream refers to the actual content you’ll be transmitting during your live event.
  • liveCuepoint refers to an ad break in your live video.

The YouTube Live API also shares some resources with the YouTube Data API, including:

  • video refers to a single YouTube video.
  • videoAdvertisingOptions refers to the ad settings for your broadcast.
  • asset refers to a piece of intellectual property (such as a scene from a movie or show) that’s not owned by you.
  • policy refers to any rules or policies that your live broadcast or YouTube video is under.

3. Learn what you can do with certain resources.

For each of these resources, you can complete a certain set of actions, which are called “methods.” The methods you can use will vary depending on the resource you’re trying to create an API call for.

For instance, you can do the following with a liveBroadcast resource:

  • list: Allows you to retrieve a range of broadcasts that match your request parameters.
  • insert: Allows you to create a live broadcast.
  • update: Allows you to change a live broadcasts’ metadata or settings.
  • delete: Allows you to delete a broadcast.

And much, much more. It all depends on what exactly you’re trying to do. If you’re feeling at a loss and don’t know how to use the YouTube Live Streaming API for, say, your WordPress website, you might consider using a plugin such as WP YouTube Live.

4. Try it out using Google’s API explorer tool.

youtube live streaming api: google api explorer testing tool

Before you touch a single line of your code on your actual app or website, try out the Live Streaming API using Google’s built-in API explorer tool. In it, you can specify parameters such as broadcastStatus, broadcastType, pageToken, and more (but the fields will vary depending on the resource and method you’re testing). This allows you to draft up the code in a sandbox environment without manipulating the code you’ve already written for your website or app.

If you’re looking for more general examples of the YouTube Data API, you’re in luck. Below, we share some code samples for common things you might want to do using the API.

YouTube API Examples

YouTube API examples: Code samplesWhat are some other ways you can use the YouTube API on your website or app? Below, you’ll find useful code samples for common YouTube API use cases.

1. Retrieving Your Uploads

The following code samples allow you to retrieve your own or another user’s uploads. Choose the one that aligns with the coding language or platform you’re using.

AppsScript

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Retrieving Uploads by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

Go

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Retrieving Uploads (Go) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

.NET

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Retrieving Uploads (.NET) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

Ruby

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Retrieving Uploads (Ruby) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

2. Retrieving Search Results for a Certain Keyword

You can use the YouTube API to retrieve search results for a certain keyword. Use the code samples below to do so.

AppsScript

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Search (AppsScript) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

Go

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Search (Go) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

.NET

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Search (.NET) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

Ruby

See the Pen YouTube API Example: Search (Ruby) by Christina Perricone (@hubspot) on CodePen.

For more AppsScript, Go, .NET, and Ruby code samples, click here.

Custom YouTube API Code Samples

YouTube API examples: Use cases and code snippets

If you’re using Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, or curl to connect your website or app to the YouTube API, click here to access code samples you can customize.

To create a code sample for your specific use case, take the following steps.

  1. Choose a resource. This refers to the data you want to retrieve using the API. For example, you can choose “channels,” “videos,” “playlists,” and “search.”
  2. Choose a method that aligns with what you’re generally looking to do. For “videos,” for example, you can choose “list,” “getRating,” or “insert.”
  3. Find the use case that aligns with what you specifically want to do. For instance, after choosing “videos” as your resource and “list” as your method, you can either get a code sample for listing YouTube’s most popular videos or listing your liked videos.
  4. Click the </> next to the use case. This will open up a “Try this API” window where you can customize the request parameters, such as the videoCategoryId and regionCode.
  5. After you’re finished customizing, click Execute. You’ll be prompted to log in and provide access to the API Explorer. You’ll then be taken back to the previous window, where your code snippet has been generated.

How to Use the YouTube API on Your WordPress Website

If you’re new to APIs and don’t know how to use it on your website, you’re in luck. It’s relatively simple to do even if you don’t have any advanced technical knowledge.

One of the most effective ways to promote your business through video marketing, without creating the videos yourself, is to curate YouTube content. With so much content already being created on YouTube (300 hours of video per minute), browsing on the platform can get overwhelming for the user.

Youtube videos embedded in blog post

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Using a plugin and a YouTube API key, you can step in and develop standalone content or lists of videos about specific subjects within your industry. This will make it easier for your audience to discover quality YouTube content while promoting the content creator for free. Your payment comes about in the form of growing website traffic.

Video is also a great way to illustrate your points when writing blog posts. It delivers the message faster, can cover more depth, and is the preferred content consumption method for many.

Here are some WordPress YouTube plugins you can use to engage your visitors on your WordPress website. For each of these plugins, you’ll need a YouTube API key.

1. WonderPlugin

WonderPlugin lets you embed a playlist gallery on your website using a YouTube API key. You can also embed YouTube carousels.

2. VideographyWP

VideographyWP is a handy plugin that allows you to replace featured images with featured videos. After you input a YouTube API key into the plugin’s settings, the plugin retrieves the video for you without you needing to code it into the theme or page.

3. Automatic YouTube Gallery

Automatic YouTube Gallery is as automatic as it sounds. To create a video gallery on your WP website, simply input the name of the channel, user, search term, or playlist into the plugin’s settings. You’ll need a YouTube API key for this plugin to automatically retrieve the data.

4. WP YouTube Lite

WP YouTube Lite allows you to embed videos on your site without slowing down your page speed. Using the YouTube API, it loads YouTube videos into a much lighter video player that will keep your page’s loading time fast.

5. Feed Them Social

The Feed Them Social plugin allows you to create and embed social media feeds on your website. It interfaces with the YouTube API to retrieve all of YouTube’s data and create a custom feed. To activate a YouTube feed, you’ll navigate to the YouTube Options page on your plugin settings and enter your API key.

YouTube API FAQs

Still have questions about using the YouTube API? We have answers below.

Is the YouTube API Free?

The YouTube API is free if you don’t exceed your daily API request quota. Each request costs a predetermined amount of points. You get 10,000 points per day.

How Much Does the YouTube API Cost?

The charge for accessing the YouTube Data API is based on quota usage. For each project, you're given 10,000 free points per day and all requests cost at least one point.

YouTube Data API quota calculator

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You can estimate your quota costs using the Quota Calculator, and if you need more queries, you can apply for higher quotas. The pricing may not remain the same.

Use the YouTube API to Grow Better

YouTube can help you reach a larger audience and grow your customer base. It has an established user base, providing the perfect environment for businesses, marketers, creatives, and virtually anyone who wants to reach the public to do so easily.

Consistently creating high quality, original content can be difficult to incorporate into most marketing strategies. But with access to the YouTube Data API, you can take the second-best route to use YouTube for marketing: sharing video on your website.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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