I analyzed 764 `clickbait` youtube thumbnails to reveal THIS

I analyzed 764 `clickbait` youtube thumbnails to reveal THIS play video
Written by: Dexxter Clark
I’ve studied 764 YouTube titles and thumbnails because I want you to make the best title and thumbnail ever to explode your youtube channels
All viral YouTube titles and thumbnails have 3 things on common:

1A course
In this lession I’m going to talk about how to make clickable titles thumbnails and the psychology behind them.
All viral titles and thumbnails have 3 things on common:

1) tells a story about what is going to happen in the video and therefore sets an expectation for the viewer.
Setting the right expectation makes the viewer watch longer, which is good for your audience retention and thus ranking thus views.
2) a title includes keywords, so YouTube knows what your video is about.
This doesn’t really apply to large channels, but it does for small ones.
A) This way the YouTube algorithm can better determine topically related videos for YouTube Suggested and YouTube Home
B) It can find you in YouTube Search

3) gives viewers a reason to click and stand out against the competition.
Which is good for your click-through-rate and thus ranking, thus views.

Most creators understand the first 2, but forget the third.

Starts with idea / YouTube thumbnail Mindset shift / Do this to make viewers watch longer
This is because most beginner creators see their title and thumbnail as an afterthought.
But good title and thumbnail starts together with the idea of the video.
Because if viewers don’t click, you’ll never get the view.

When you make title and thumbnail in the scripting-stage or your video, you can fit the content around your title and thumbnail instead of the other way around.
This way your video can deliver 100% on promise of the title and thumbnail, which makes viewers watch longer.
On top of that, when you don’t proceed with making a video until you have a good title and thumbnail.
You will never lose out on views ever again, because you don’t have bad titles and thumbnails.

[broll: video written around title - real audience retention graph.png]
The video is written around the title and literally 2 parts: my views are down and the second: I’m happy about these stats.

YouTube title + thumbnail tips and tricks
Some Ninja tips for clickable titles and thumbnails.

Keep it simple:
According to a Netflix study in 2016:
A viewer looks first at artwork, before it looks at anything else and a viewer decides within 2 second to watch a video or not.
Also interesting is that scientists have found that humans can understand images 13 milliseconds.
. [broll: we found that our members look at the artwork first and then decide whether to look at additional details. ]

So use a maximum of 2 or 3 objects in the thumbnail, and, which brings me to the next tip:
Keep titles short and to the point
Because it is easier to understand for the viewer in 2 seconds, so they can click.
But we also have a character limit of roughly 45 characters to play with, otherwise it is cut off.

if you want, You can test your title length in the title-length-checker on my website.
It gives a report on where titles are most likely to be cut off on Home, Search, Suggested on desktop and mobile.

Titles and thumbnails work together to communicate one message
Repeating texts in thumbnails is a waste of space that we could have used for other things.
If you can do without text in a thumbnail, do without text.

Try to raise a question/ tension you want resolved
I call this: people can’t sleep tonight without having watched the video
For example:
-”i was wrong about video titles”

You can use FOMO: the fear of missing out
for example: “the only video on XYZ“, “this works only today”

Idea on hyperdrive
lego rollercoaster is fun, what if you bought 10 sets and made one from floor to ceiling.

That is a huge a reason to click on your thumbnail for 4 million viewers.

Optimize titles for watch time (open question)
If you set the expectation in your title and thumbnail that information is spread out across the video, viewers will watch longer.
If you want to raise a question, raise an open question.

For a title like “Only one product that can do X”, viewers click away after you revealed the product.
“Why you should buy product X” would be better, because viewers expect multiple reasons.

Don’t settle for the first title / multiple
Finding a good title and thumbnail is a puzzle.
Don’t settle for your first idea, try out different combinations of titles and thumbnails. [broll: screenshot script: YouTube SEO won’t rank you in search]
I’ve noticed that if you force yourself to make multiple thumbnails, your latest ones are often better.
You also have the luxury to pick the best one or you can even ask your audience in the community tab.
[broll screenshot community tab keyword tool video]

Faces work.
In the earlier mentioned Netflix study they clearly found that 1–3 faces in a thumbnail work better then more or none.

And faces with a complex emotion worked best.
The smile-and-pointing is not the best route to take click-wise.

[todo record]
21A. But make sure that the emotion of the face fits the emotion.
I see far too many thumbnails that have the-youtube-face for the sake of having a YouTube face, veiwers pick up on that, which totally cancels out the whole effect that you want to achieve.

22 [record broll:smile and point]

Questions to ask for good YouTube titles and thumbnails
To help you I’ve asked you for a thumbnail to improve upon.
Thanks to DocDooLit for letting me pimp his thumbnail.

[screenrec: thumbnail]
The first thing that I notice is:
• you show your face, that is a pro. However it is the basic emotion of smiling and pointing. I would prefer a more complex emotion because Netflix says so
• keep it simple. There is a bit too much going on.
There are 4 blocks of text and the creator, those are 5 elements
• A lot of those texts are really hard to read, because thumbnails become very small. And I would advice to use 5 -6 words max because it’s easier to understand what is going on.
• There is not much color going on to stand out (or to support the emotion)

Questions to ask yourself for better titles and thumbnails
Some questions to ask yourself for better titles and thumbnails

What is the goal of the video? What do you want to achive
What does the viewer get out of the video?
And yes, Information is the most important one for informational videos, but besides that.
What is the emotion?

And often a thumbnail represents that emotion or the opposite of that.

For example: for this video I want to reassure you that, although it is hard, you can learn how to make good titles and thumbnails.
This is why I give you some tangible questions to ask yourself to force yourself to think about your thumbnail like a pro.

Communicate with your title and thumbnail the emotion and the fact that you have the solution to their problem, preferably with a measurable result.

[screenrec: thumbnail]
The goal of this video is to help people to achieve their goal.
What is the emotion?
• motivation
• feel like a million bucks after watching this video, feel like you are on top of the world. YES!!!
Personally, I would like to have the title and thumbnail with a more measurable result: this is what you are going to get out of the video, something like earn 100 dollars in 2 hours.

Who is your competition?
A quick youtube search determines:
1) are people actually searching for this, if not, don’t make the video
2) what does the competition do? So you know how better how to stand out

[screenrec: thumbnail]
I think your keyword you go after is: “goal execution”.
But suspect that you didn’t search for that, because then you would have seen that you have to compete with Ted X and Gary V and other channels with 100K subscribers or even 1 million subscribers.
Although TubeBuddy and VidIQ claim something totally different here.

The goal of doing research is to find these obstacles before you make the video, so you can save yourself some time recording, editing and frustration that you don’t get views because you can’t rank.
Personally I would not have made the video, unless you can make it ridiculously cliable.
But let’s ignore the competition for now for the sake of.. so I can make this video.

Another keyword that fits this video is “achieving goals”, but it’s also very competitive.

What makes your video unique?
A lot of viewers are often lost for choice and often don’t know what to watch next.
You as a creators can help them to make a choice.

So, what is the most exiting thing about your video for the viewer?
what can you offer that the rest doesn’t?
A very simple litmus test for this is the following question: “If I see 10 videos on the same topic, would I click on my own video?”
IF you don’t know that, you can’t communicate that, so viewers don’t know.

Reshoot 34A
The best way to do this, is with a so called: content moat.
Use your unique capabilities to offer something to viewers that others can’t.
[broll: I asked 2000 producers]

You can ALSO do this by niching down to something very specific.
If the rest talks about camping gear, talk about camping gear to pack light or the cheapest camping gear.

I’ve asked DocDooLit, but you didn’t gave it much thought before you made the video.
That makes my life a little bit more difficult because my hands are tied to the content.
I also don’t have a direction to go on, so I have to make something up.

We can go the Step-by-step route or the 5 steps to … , but it’s not very strong.
“Everybody can do it?” Still not very strong.
Let me come back to that, we need to have something stronger.

How can you make the title and thumbnail stand out against the competition?
This is often in colors.
If the rest uses blue, use red.

A black background can be very strong in the motivational speaker niche, but it’s hard to stand out when everybody does it and if the rest would use colors, you would fall completely of the wagon attentionwise.
But in this case: the competition is very mute in their colors, so it might be fine.
Normally black would be my last choice as background color, because blue, purple or red simply would stand out more.
But fancy colors doesn’t always exude power.
And the Oh, I, oh, ah faces would hurt your credibility as creator.

how can you tell the story of the video?
How can you make clear what is going to happen in the video without giving too much away that the viewer doesn’t feel the need to click anymore?

A simple trick for this is to or another stock site to see what comes up with search.
Just to see how photographers tell their story, that can give use ideas for the thumbnail.

38 [vo]
For this example, I see a lot of inspirational quotes, that’s not what I’m looking for.
I look for people, like this girl over here.
The sticky notes are also funny we might use that as elements in the thumbnail.

How can you create an intrigue? Curiosity?
You could ask yourself: how can you make it weird/unusual/contradictory to what is standard?
Never lie, that will come around bite you in the ass in terms of watch time and thus ranking.
If need be, explain the title later in the video so the tension is resolved.

For example:
-”Keyword Research is dead.” -weird
-”My views are down … I’m happy” -contradict
-”youtube SEO won’t rank you in Search” -weird / contradict
-”walking away from money”-weird [broll contradiction walking away from money.jpg]
-”you don’t need a macbook ” -weird [broll how to make it weird contradictory - you dont need new macbook.jpg]

What do you know that people like to know and how can you make them beg for this info?
If you struggle with coming up with good titles, you can find a title generator on my website, in which you can find those 764 titles.

For DocDooLit: I think I have it
• FOMO: “10 things you can only achieve in 2022”, good title, but doesn’t represent the content.
• “Goal execution – How to go from zero to hero in 10 weeks” That is quantifyable and achievable we could do this in the form of a before and after
• “life coach reveal his secret to achieving goals”
• Why you never achieve your goals
• I think I have it: Not achieving your goals? you’ve never tried THIS!

Let’s make a thumbnail
Let’s make the thumbnail

I pull out my camera and make multiple shots, this way I can take the best one.
It helps me to have the main storyline-sentence in my head and try to tell the story with my face.

For the thumbnail we can go a couple of routes, depending on the title:
1) we display the positive emotion of having achieved the goal, which is the goal of the video.
This has my preference.
With blue it stands out against the competition, but the result didn’t turn out as great as I had in my head. A typical first try in my book.
The title: “Goal execution – How to go from zero to hero in 10 weeks”.
In my mind it doesn’t suit the seriousness and the helpfullness of the content.
Let’s try another approach.
2) I could display one of the goals with the emotion of being proud.
Title: “Life coach reveals his secret to achieving goals”
The idea is good, execution is … meh… I think I can make this idea work but with different elements like a better photo of money. Normally I would expand on this idea, but for the sake of this video, let’s go for a totally different approach.
3) what if we display despair of not achieving goals, the idea is that viewers recognize themselves in it and you have the solution.
Okay … this is much better, the emotion is dripping off this thing and gives a huge reason to click.

Now write the script in a way that you deliver on the promise of the title and thumbnail so you can make viewers watch longer and therefore rank.
And more that 90% creators don’t know how ranking works training video models and internals search labels.
But I’ll help you with that in this video here.
Huge thanks to everybody who submitted a thumbnail.

46 course
Thanks for watching, I’d love to see you in the next lesson


Know what makes your video better than the competition.
What can I offer that the competition doesn’t? What makes my video different?
And make sure you communicate that in your title and thumbnail.

Unique angle
I’ve made a video about YouTube auto chapters, instead of naming it: “how to use YouTube auto chapters”, I named it: “How YouTube recognizes auto chapters”.
I made the title before the video, so I could make a video that fulfilled the promise of the title.

“how to use YouTube auto chapters” was used by 20 other videos on the topic.
My video was unique and therefore worth watching for viewers.

Unique topic
Let’s say you have a channel about vintage computers, and there are no videos on a certain obscure computer, it is a huge reason to click.
But be aware, that this makes sense for a channel with a huge audience, because they;ll watch it anyway, but only for a small channel when the search volume is high.
In both cases make sure to add to your title /thumbnail that it is rare, the only tutorial

not worth making
If you can’t make it more clickable than the competition, it is time wasted when you make the video.
This applies especially to competitive niches like gaming, cooking, fitness and uuhh the YouTube advice niche.
Since I’ve started making titles and thumbnails with this phylosiphy I’ve started hitting those number 1,2,3 spots in my YouTube Studio Dashboard consistently.
[broll: 123spots studio dashboard]
Which means that my momentum is growing, which means I gain more and more authority over the competition.

(Search) intent
set the right expectation that makes viewers watch all the way till the end.
If your title is: “1 way to find out if your husband is cheating” as soon you reveal that 1 thing viewers will click away.

When it comes to youtube search: know what the search intent is.
I have a video on my channel: how to upload a 4k video.
The search intent for a lot of viewers is: how to I get that 4k badge on youtube.
One video is about uploading, the other about recording and editing a video.

Keywords in your title
Keywords in your title, description and the speech of a video help the algorithm to determine the topic of a video.
Especially for small channels, because the algorithm has trouble to figure out who your audience is.

Because of truncation I often like to put the reason to click first in a title and the keywords later for the algorithm.
[broll: keyword research is dead]

Clickable titles are not only to get more views NOW, but also to get views in the future, after your 3 month drought after video release.

Keep it simple
A thumbnail is the first thing that people see.
They need to understand within a second what the channel is about

2, 3 objects not more

Video title and thumbnail collaborate together.
Repeating video title in your thumbnail is a waste of opportunity to tell a more complete story about the contents of the video, or give viewers an extra reason to click.

Creators think that you NEED to have text in your thumbnail.
Preferably no text at all, if you can make it clear and clickable, don’t use text
[broll: thumbnail triple audience retention]

Time to process
first see thumbnail, then read title
thumbnail milliseconds to recognize, a title 2 seconds.
In other words, your thumbnail should stand out to begin with, otherwise you’ve lost already to the competition.
It can be useful to pick other colors in your thumbnails compared to the competition.

Stand out
You want to stand out compared to the competition
try to hit all primary colors in your thumbnail, without looking spammy.
A lot of thumbnails of indian channels with yellow and red look incredibly spammy.

A possible format
[human element: reason to click] – [computer element: keywords]

Faces work.

A Thumbnail tells a little story, in that story I have an opinion about something.
People tend to connect well with emotions.

The “ohh” face only means something when there is something to be “ohh” about.
Besides that a total disconnect comes across as very strange, it will lose it’s power to your audience very soon when you do it in multiple thumbnails.

changing titles and thumbnails
There is no shame in changing the title and thumbnail after you’ve released the video when you see the first Average View Duration numbers trickle in.
This is another advantage of having multiple thumbnails, you can test multiple.

you might be dying to get your hands on my list, so I made I published it on my website in a handy tool called the video title generator.
I will put a link here in the end-screen.

77% of viewers use their mobile phones to watch YouTube.
Make sure you test your thumbnail on a small size.
Make sure that objects and text are visible and readable on a tiny mobile phone screen.
[broll: 77% use mobile]

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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