So, you’ve just created an educational, inspiring, or entertaining video that YouTube viewers are actively searching for? Great, now it’s time to create the perfect YouTube title for your video.
What you need to know about YouTube titles
Titles matter. Dale Carnegie’s bestseller “How to win friends and influence people” would hardly have sold as many copies if he had titled it “On the importance of human relations.” The same is true for YouTube videos as well. Just like your thumbnail image, your video title can influence whether your video will be a hit or a flop.
Visual cues such as your video thumbnail attract the viewer’s gaze, but the title usually seals the deal. Well-written, carefully crafted titles record a higher click-through rate. Today we’ll examine what makes a great YouTube title and I’ll provide you with a recipe for successful YouTube titles.
What makes a great YouTube title?
Include your focus keyword in your title. Learn more about YouTube keyword research. There is a very strong correlation between the title containing the focus keyword and ranking for that keyword when a viewer searches terms related to the focus keyword.
For example, your keyword research identifies that the term “zero waste” is more commonly searched for by your audience as opposed to “waste reduction”, this will likely be the term to optimize your video title for.
Position the focus keyword as early in the title as possible. (See my previous post for more YouTube SEO tips). “Change your life with these 5 Zero Waste Tips” becomes “Zero Waste: 5 Tips that will change your life”.
Keep your titles within 60 characters (including spaces) to avoid truncation on desktop and mobile devices. YouTube allows a title that consists of up to 100 characters, however truncated titles have lower click-through rates. Check that your titles don’t get cut-off in suggested videos and search results.
Optimize for Click-Through-Rate (CTR). When you optimize for CTR, YouTube recognizes that people are interested in watching this video. Because click through rate is an important youtube ranking factor, it’s important to optimize for it.
- include a number, e.g. 5 tips for …
- attention-grabbing words/phrases, e.g. “How I almost died”…
- Avoid clickbait. YouTube has been cracking down on clickbait videos and will limit the chances of your video being recommended to viewers. If YouTube notices a drop in audience retention, that is if viewers click on your video and shortly after drop off, it sends a signal that the thumbnail and/or title likely tricked people into clicking.
- Use a title creation or title analysis tool, such as the following.
- If you are uploading sequences to previously posted content, place episode numbers and branding terms at the end of the title.
- When uploading a video to a monetized channel, pick titles that include keywords that are appealing to advertisers. Advertisers can choose to target videos that contain particular terms and keywords in their titles, descriptions, or tags.
- YouTube titles with 5-7 words typically get the best results. Of these, the first 3 and last 3 are most important.
- Share the value your readers will get from clicking YOUR video.
Now that we’ve covered our bases, let’s drill down into the specifics in more detail.
Well performing types of YouTube titles?
Obviously, what title works best for your video depends on the content of the video itself. But what types of YouTube titles work best? Let’s see…
List type YouTube titles, such as “the top 5”, etc. work well on YouTube because people are drawn to find out what the list includes. They’re ambiguous enough to instill curiosity.
- [#] Things to do with ______
- The [#]-Minute Solution for the Best ______
- My [#] Best ______ Tips
- [#] Quick and Easy Ways to ___!
- The Top [#] ___ Mistakes you need to avoid!
- The [#] Funniest ______ of all time
Educational content is one among 3 content creation subcategories YouTube has identified as well-performing content (the other two are inspirational and entertaining content). Make sure to include “how to” in your video title.
- How to make ___ without ___
- How to in [#] Easy Steps
- How to ___ in [#] Minutes
Increase the appeal of your YouTube titles
Charge Your Video Title with Emotional Words
Emotional words in your headlines entice your audience to click through to watch, like, and share your video. The Advanced Marketing Institute has a tool that allows you to test the emotional appeal of your YouTube titles. It is primarily designed for testing blog titles however it works for YouTube titles as well.
Here’s a list of emotional words that have shown to work with YouTube videos:
Use Power Words in Your Video Title
Words that symbolize power are rarely used in YouTube Titles, however, on other channels and in those videos that are using them, they have shown to favour click-throughs. Research suggests that positive headlines that convey stronger emotions tend to perform better than negative sentiment, so refrain from shocking and disgusting keywords and apply a positive spin to your YouTube titles instead. There is a fine line between appropriate and spammy, so use these words wisely:
Tools to test your YouTube titles
The Advanced Marketing Institute has a tool that allows you to test the emotional appeal of your YouTube titles. It is primarily designed for testing blog titles however it works for YouTube titles as well.
Impact is a great tool to get you started. Simply enter the topic you’re creating a video about and it will provide you with a template for creating strong titles. It is originally used for blog post titles but works just as well for YouTube titles.
Need to know the emotional appeal of your potential YouTube titles to pick out the best? Try Co-Schedule’s headline analyzer. Apologies, this one, too, was designed for bloggers, but it’s an awesome tool that greatly helps mold your titles into shape.
Sharethrough is a great tool to assess the sharability of your video based purely on its title.
How to re-optimize your YouTube titles
So your video titled “OMG, you won’t believe this!” didn’t get the expected traction? That’s probably because viewers don’t know what to expect from your video and this title might have little appeal to anyone outside your circle of friends. What’s worse than a bad title? Not optimizing it once you know it’s not performing.
Here’s how YouTube Title Optimization is done right:
- In your YouTube Analytics, head to the overview report. It will show you a list of your channel’s videos that are receiving the low number of views.
- Make a note of the overall theme of your video and perform some keyword research.
- Jolt down around 10 titles that are optimized as discussed above.
- Test these titles out one at a time for a few weeks or month (depending on the subject matter) and monitor its performance.
One note of caution: If you opt for catchy YouTube titles, make sure that your video’s content is just as powerful as your promise.
YouTube Titles – Best Practices
- Before you set out to drafting your title, research your focus keyword
- Learn from the successes and failures that others make on YouTube. Look at popular videos and assess what makes these titles stand out.
- Draft around 10 titles and include your focus keyword as early in the title as possible.
- Keep your YouTube titles under 60 characters.
- Place branding and episode numbers at the end of the title.
- Avoid clickbait titles or misleading titles. They have a negative impact on watch time and subsequently affect your rankings negatively.
- Review your YouTube titles from time to time and decide which ones require optimization.