Writing an effective YouTube title is a surprisingly easy way to get more views for your video. There are some guidelines, however, you'll need to follow to ensure your title is both user and search engine friendly.
First, let's discuss why you should put some thought into writing your title.
Search engines need to be able to categorize your content accurately so they can show it in their search engine results when someone types in an inquiry. For example, if someone is looking for a video on how to make an apple pie, they would probably type in the YouTube search field "make an apple pie."
And here are the results YouTube comes back with:
Notice all the titles in blue have some variation of the search phrase "make an apple pie." The video at the top of the list has over 100,000 views. This is an example of how a well-worded title makes it easier for YouTube to categorize your video and then deliver it to those viewers who want to see your content.
So, the easier you make it for YouTube to correctly categorize your content, the more likely you'll get viewers who are eager to take a look at your videos.
Now let's discuss the "must haves" you'll need to follow to write a great video title...
Your title needs to include your video's primary keyword early in the title. Your keyword is a word or phrase that sums up what your video is about. In our example, the keyword was "apple pie."
If there are several keywords you could use to describe your video, use the term that more people are searching for. You can use Google Keyword Planner to help with this or look online for another keyword search tool.
Don't "keyword stuff" your title. This means putting lots of keywords in your title in an attempt to rank higher in the search engine results. Not only will you end up with an awkwardly worded title (which will turn off potential viewers), but Google will ding you for this. The search engines have algorithms that detect keyword stuffing and will prevent your video from appearing in their results.
Be accurate and honest in your title. Don't write a "bait and switch" type of title that indicates your video is about one thing when it's really about something entirely different.
Also, don't use swear words or profanity in your title. Google (which owns YouTube) focuses on being a tool for finding family-friendly content for their users. They have to answer to their advertisers, who are paying to have their ads run in conjunction with YouTube videos.
If your title contains these words or your video contains what they deem inappropriate content, YouTube will ban your video and might even shut down your channel.
A title should ideally have 50 characters or less. Google allows about 60 to 65 characters for titles on its search engine results page. For YouTube videos, they append the word "YouTube" after your title, so that cuts into the number of characters available for your title.
For longer titles, you'll see an ellipsis replacing the last words of the title. Here's an example where the search was for "corvette video":
If you feel there's no way to revise your title to a shorter length, then at the very least put your keyword at the beginning so potential viewers will have a good idea what your video is about.
You'll want to write a title that engages people's curiosity enough so they'll select play. An easy way to do this is to highlight the benefit they'll receive by watching your video.
Will they learn something new by watching your video? If so, use phrases like how to, tutorial, review, tips, ways, secrets, keys, DIY or expert. Add numbers to quantify how many tips or ideas you'll be discussing in your video.
Here are some examples:
Use natural, simple language to convey what's in it for the viewer to spend time watching your video. Try writing titles that are useful, specific and even unique.
For example, successful humor channels are known for their video titles that are provocative, intriguing and pique the curiosity of their viewers enough to get them to watch.
Your video thumbnail is the picture that appears above your video title. Each video has its own thumbnail.
After you upload your video, YouTube will give you three options of static shots taken from your video to select as your thumbnail. Because these photos are randomly generated, be aware they might not represent what you would consider the best image your video has to offer.
Rather than accepting the thumbnail that YouTube offers, customize your thumbnail so that it reinforces the title or message of your video.
Select an image from your video (preferably a person or the "star" of your video) that you feel best reflects your video's message. Add text to the image -- it can be the title of your video or something else about your video that would help encourage the viewer to watch.
Many video creators believe that customizing their video thumbnail increases viewership. The thumbnail acts as a mini advertisement for the video and entices potential viewers to go ahead and watch.
Here's the thumbnail we created for one of our videos:
YouTube allows you to change the title of your video, so don't feel you're stuck with a title that just isn't getting the views. Try some of the tips we mention above and see if a fresh title increases your views.
To recap, optimize your YouTube title so that it's search and user friendly. Make sure it clearly presents what your video is about, has one main keyword near the front of the title, is short and focuses on benefits for the viewer. Create a customized thumbnail that showcases your video. Optionally, add text to the thumbnail that reinforces your video's content.
Also, check out the Groovy Videos' blog for info on how to use video marketing to help your business gain more customers and greater profits.
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