There are several data points that YouTube creators use to generate traffic towards a video, and hopefully, their channel. One such data point that many users and creators overlook is catchy video titles. Why are titles so critical to a video's success? The best titles for YouTube videos inform the viewer about what they will see, help the various algorithms to understand the content, and increase video views. Learning how to name YouTube videos to get more views will improve your enjoyment of the video-making hobby, keep you in good standing with YouTube, and encourage users to hit the like button and maybe even subscribe!
It All Starts With Data
At its basic level, your video is a digital recording of moving images. It is data. When you upload your video to YouTube, the platform doesn't know what to do with it. You need to include metadata to assist the algorithms along. Metadata describes or defines other data, and on YouTube, that metadata helps to describe and distinguish each video uploaded on the site. If you are uploading a video of last year's family vacation to the Grand Canyon and a video of your cat hissing at a cucumber, you need a way to organize them. Titles allow you to do that. Those uploading videos for a hobby or job will want to use YouTube titles that get views to help get the content in front of subscribers or potential customers.
There is a lot to compete against
Recent estimates suggest that approximately 720,000 hours of video are uploaded to the platform daily. That draws in over two billion active users each month. Those statistics drive YouTube to be the second largest search engine globally, only behind its parent company, Google. Video content creators need to use their metadata, including the title, to stand out here.
How important is the title compared to other metadata?
While all metadata helps to build a profile for your content, the video title is the most critical piece of metadata at your disposal. Data points like channel name and the community tab can act as general points, but these offer only generic clues about what a video on the channel will provide watchers. Playlists and similar metadata are more specific, but they fall short of the data points included on each video upload. The best metadata includes the video description, tags, thumbnail, and title. Your thumbnail will help entice clicks, but the other three contain the SEO that YouTube and other search engines use. Because the video title summarizes its content, YouTube and other search engines prioritize the keywords used here. That makes the title your most important piece of metadata.
Things to Avoid When Making a YouTube Video Title
If the title is the top piece of metadata, should it contain lots of information? Not necessarily. Think more of quality than quantity here. Before discussing what makes the best titles for YouTube videos, you should consider what to avoid. That includes:
- Do not make a clickbait title unless you can deliver on that clickbait (a la Mr. Beast)
- Avoid non-keywords up front
- Do not use the maximum number of characters
Avoid using clickbait video titles
Clickbait is content used to attract people's attention and encourage them to click a link. In the YouTube context, clickbait titles drive viewers to a video but have little to do with the video's content. Clickbait is misleading, can damage your channel, and cause YouTube to penalize your video. The algorithm detects when viewers click on a video and quickly leave. That often happens when a clickbait title advertises content that the video does not deliver upon watching. If this happens often, the platform will not promote the video. Regular viewers might unsubscribe, and new viewers will avoid your channel altogether.
Frontload your title
Your thumbnail can get a person's attention, but the title is what will get most of them to click on the video link. Most people that stumble across your video will scan your video title, so putting keywords upfront can help them decide to watch. Today's YouTube viewers are more likely to be viewing from a smartphone than a desktop. Frontloading keywords grabs their attention and instantly answers, "What is this video about?"
Keep your titles short
YouTube allows creators to use up to 100 characters (including spaces) for a video title. That said, titles over 70 characters will become truncated in many search results. A rule of thumb for many content coaches is to use 60 or fewer characters. Reducing words can make titles catch the viewer's attention without losing meaning. For example, take the heading "Things to Avoid When Making a YouTube Video Title," used above. Shorter video titles examples like "Things to Avoid When Making YouTube Titles" say the same thing and are easier to read.
Best Titles for YouTube Videos
Understanding that titles are the number one metadata for YouTube videos begs the question, "How do you make a good title?" There are things that you can do to help, such as:
- Perform keyword research
- Pay attention to others
- Put keywords at the front
- Trim it down
- Make sure it matches your audience
Many successful creators and content coaches stress the need to start with keyword research. These words or phrases are what people tend to type when they are looking for something. Video titles that contain keywords or phrases that people are searching for will get more clicks. Using a keyword finder allows you to enter something and get feedback on the word or group of words. You get to see how the word is trending, what similar words are doing, and what suggested words could work for you. People often search by typing in questions, and a keyword finder that works in a question format is another option. What you need to look for are keywords or phrases that get a high number of inquiries monthly. If possible, use a finder that indicates how competitive the words are and select ones with lower rankings.
What do competing video titles look like?
Another trick you can use is to see how similar videos are performing. Once you have a keyword or phrase, you can type that into YouTube and see what videos come up. Examine the results on the first page and see if you can identify words or patterns that you can reference (don't copy, the first-page video is already ahead of your in views). Let's say you were looking for the best title for funny videos with pets. The stand-out keyword phrase you are thinking of using is "funny pet videos." Typing that in the YouTube search bar, you could see entries that include additional information like "that will make your day," "2018," or "try not to laugh." Clicking on one of those will bring up a page of videos. You can see what video titles are hitting the front page and model your video's heading with these results in mind.
Location, location, location
Once you have a keyword or keyword phrase, you need to figure out how to add it to a title. The best practice is to place the keyword as close to the front as possible. As mentioned previously, potential viewers will scan your video's title (and likely view it from a small screen), so words at the front will pop. You want the title to make sense and to sound correct, however. An odd-looking format or sound might turn viewers away. Adding a date to a title can help it stand out in some types of videos. Also, vloggers and others like to number videos to keep them in order. Try to keep that information near the end so that keywords can sit in front of them.
Shorter is better
YouTube allows titles with up to 100 characters, including spaces between words. Most search engines, including YouTube, will truncate a video title that is over 70 characters. Trimming your video title down to 60 characters or less will force you to eliminate unnecessary words, create easy-to-remember headings, and convey your entire message to potential viewers.
Make a title that matches your target audience
The heading you come up with might seem perfect to you, but will your viewers feel the same way? Catchy video titles need to relate to the audience's interests or needs that your video conveys. Take a moment to look at it from the viewer's perspective. What question will they have about the content? What can the video give them? A how-to video will be served better by a title that includes "X Steps to Build Y" than "Building Y Will Make You Feel X."
Tips for YouTube Titles That Get Views
Learning how to name YouTube video to get more views increases all of the analytics that will place your video on the front page of searches. If the content is good enough, the video header might even help push it to the top of the front page. Whether you are working for a company or establishing a personal brand, there are extras that you can add to get as much traffic as possible.
Tips for YouTube titles that get views
- Evoke feelings
- Include numbers
- Offer value
Besides keywords or phrases that trigger the algorithms, creators often include words that express emotions or feelings. In some cases, emotions and feelings will serve the video (and audience) better.
Example: Best title for funny videos
Humor is a powerful state of mind. You might think that keywords like "funny" or "humorous" would suffice, and it might with the search engines. The best title for funny videos should better define the mood, though. "Funny cat video" is okay, but "This funny cat had me crying" evokes more emotion. If two videos used the titles above, which header perked your interest? Using phrases like "Wow!" or "Shocking!" before your keywords can set the tone the audience should experience and can stimulate interest.
Add steps or numbers
Many successful creators and online coaches use numbers to increase the Click-Through-Rate (CTR). The CTR metric measures how many times a potential viewer clicks on your video after seeing the title and thumbnail. Video titles examples include "10 Best Running Shoes" or "5 Weight Loss Tips." Learning how to name YouTube video to get more views with numbers should be more than steps or lists. Many top YouTube creator contest houses use numbers like "Last to Leave Wins $10,000" or "No Sleep for 24 Hours."
Catchy video titles let viewers in on something
A successful formula to increase traffic on videos is to offer the audience something of value. "The Secret To X" indicates that watching the video will provide insights that are not common knowledge. "Expert Advice on Y" appeals to a sense of authority on the content presented in the video. Clever creators can also include wording that develops urgency in the mind of the watcher. "You Miss Out on X" and "Update: X" are video titles examples.
Another trick used since YouTube's infancy in the mid-2000s is capitalizing the entire word. Doing this will allow you to highlight the critical wording in the title, and the clever amongst you concluded that keywords are the best choice here. You do NOT, however, want to capitalize the whole video title.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Finally, keep in mind that you are not stuck with a title. YouTube allows creators to manipulate the title after the video is published. You can change out for a better keyword or swap the entire title for something more SEO-friendly. Changing this metadata can rejuvenate a video that has fallen flat.
Youtube titles can make a break a channel. Titles are important for click through rate and how much the algorithm promotes your content. At GlideSEM we have a template for generating YouTube video titles. Our video title generation tool can help save you time and come up with news ideas for video titles when you are stuck.