Did you know that YouTube is the second-largest search engine? The video-sharing site attracts more than 3 billion monthly searches. The site reaches more U.S. searchers ages 18-34 than any cable network, and 25 percent of them watch on a mobile device.

That’s a massive number of people, some of whom are definitely in your target market.

So how can your brand pop up in those 3 billion searches? We’re glad you asked. We’ve got a YouTube hack for you: Improve Your Video Thumbnails and Titles.

Why Does This Matter?

How much time do you devote to thumbnails and titles? Do you know what they are and how they work? As explained in YouTube Creators Academy, “Thumbnails and titles act like billboards to help viewers decide to watch your videos.”

Use thumbnails and titles together to attract more video viewers who’ll know what to expect. If you don’t know the kind of titles and thumbnails that attract your viewers, ask them for feedback about different examples of your thumbnail/title combinations.

Use canva to create thumbnails

This YouTube thumbnail was created using a canva.com template.

Algorithm Hack: Satisfying the algorithm takes more than getting viewers to click on your videos. You need them to watch the entire video. This lets YouTube know that people like your content. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9-Igm5of5Y

Your Thumbnails Should Stand Out

Ninety percent of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. If you decide to customize one for your brand’s video, make it a strong and captivating image that aligns with your brand. If you don’t create or choose a custom thumbnail, YouTube will randomly select one for you. But that could have tragic results, especially if it’s an unflattering screen grab of you with your mouth open or your eyes halfway closed.

Your Thumbnails Should Stand Out

To compose an eye-pleasing photo, follow basic photography rules such as the “rule of thirds.” Incorporate your title in the photo by overlaying your logo or descriptive text in the video. If you add text, be sure to use a font easily read on-screen.

When creating your thumbnail, make sure that:

  • It’s high resolution.
  • Its specs are 1,280 by 720 pixels and .jpg, .gif, .Bmp or .png.
  • It looks good on a desktop and a mobile device.
  • It stands out from other thumbnails in your category.
  • It matches your brand.
  • Use an online thumbnail builder such as canva.com. It’s free!

Algorithm Hack: Google owns YouTube and uses a system that classifies images and video. When a user searches Google for a particular type of video, the search engine will examine the most popular or most viewed video in that classification.

Think About Your Titles

Create concise, catchy titles that effectively describe your video. YouTube won’t recommend your video if viewers click away because it’s not providing what they want. Don’t mislead potential viewers for the sake of clicks. According to YouTube’s  Community Guidelines, clickbait could result in your video being removed from the site.

Other Titling Tips

  • Make sure they’re appropriate for a wide audience.
  • Limit them to about 60 characters. Longer ones may be cut off.
  • Front-load them with keywords.

Algorithm Hack: Use consistent titles, and your videos can rank more highly when viewers seek your content.

Don’t Forget About Data

Tracks results of anything you do online. Google and YouTube Analytics are free and enable you to determine whether your thumbnails and titles attract viewers you want. You can see how long someone watched your video, keywords used to find the video, who watches and more. If you notice a significant change in your data, you can decide whether to revise it.

Most important, remember to create for your audience, not yourself. Determine what your viewers like, what they click on and what they watch to the end. This will help you refine and refresh your YouTube strategy.

Twice Media Extra

Seeking advice on creating a YouTube thumbnail? We recommend these YouTube videos that walk you through how to do it: