Content and SEO are equally as important… But which do you start with? We asked 60+ experts to share the strategy they prioritize—and why.
Content Marketing | Jun 25
Jessica Malnik on March 3, 2021 (last modified on March 1, 2021) • 19 minute read
Did you know there are more than 500 hours of videos uploaded to Youtube every minute?
With so much new content on the platform, getting your video to stand out is no easy feat.
If you want to grow your Youtube channel and get more video views, one of the best ways to do that is by optimizing your video titles.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of tactics that you can use. In this post, we’re sharing 18 tips to help you write video titles that drive more views, including:
Let’s be clear – the most important thing is creating videos that are worth watching.
It won’t matter how amazing your title is if the content is terrible.
However, assuming you are producing quality content, a compelling title is essential to getting more clicks and views.
Assuming you are producing quality content, the first step to creating a great Youtube title is to know what type of content you are creating.
Then, you can use a proven framework to match the video style and format. (We’ll share more on that a little later in this post).
For example, this video from Measure School is an educational, how-to style video designed to teach people how to use Google Analytics.
They do a great job of making sure both the video title and thumbnail are aligned and descriptive. You know exactly what to expect.
In addition, this video from Pleasant Green is both entertaining and educational. This title does a great job of evoking curiosity without resorting to outright clickbait.
Editor’s Note: Looking for additional tips to grow your Youtube channel and video views? Then, make sure you are keeping an eye on these 17 Youtube KPIs.
In addition, this Youtube Overview Dashboard allows you to keep tabs on your monthly performance.
Here are some additional tips to help you write more engaging video titles.
This sounds simple and obvious, but too many marketers try to get cutesy with their titles and bury the lead.
Charlie Worrall of Imaginaire Digital says, “I find that a simple, descriptive title is one of the best ways to get clicks on a YouTube video. Many people instantly flood towards clickbait and mystery and while this is a great way to get clicks, it doesn’t always fit the purpose of the video.”
In addition, you are going to drive a lot more clicks on your videos if you know the ins and outs of your target audience.
“To write an engaging Youtube title for your video, you should put yourself in your audience’s shoes,” says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers. “What kind of question are they asking themselves and is your video answering that question? Once you find the question your audience is facing, put that problem in the form of a question and use that as your Youtube video title.”
In addition, once you know your audience, you can create videos addressing their goals as well as helping them solve key pain points.
“In our experience, one of the best ways to write a Youtube title that gets engagement is to speak to the pain points of our audience specifically,” says Mark Wood of National Pool Fences. So for example, as we are in the home improvement/swimming pool niche, we may want a title that mentions the safety of young children around swimming pools.
We might also consider one that deals with problems that have arisen out of having improper pool fencing in the past. So in this case, we’d likely want to touch on government regulations or the importance of a high-quality fence around a pool.
As long as we are highly relevant to our audience and we have their concerns in our mind, we have a good chance of getting engagement.”
Just like you do keyword research when you are writing blog posts, the same approach works well for Youtube.
For example, Karan Bhatt of Best Web Hosting says, “I just do some keyword research to find the keywords people would be searching on YouTube, and I simply add them in the title, to tell YouTube’s algorithm, what my video is about.
Secondly, including the year in title and sometimes in the video’s thumbnail helps in getting more clicks, as people who are looking for videos, many times want up-to-date new videos, where year in title and thumbnail can help.
Thirdly, using click-enticing words in titles can help a lot. Like ’11 SEO tips for 2021 (that actually work)’, ‘7 SEO techniques for 2021 (to get faster results).”
Then, your focus keyword should be included in your title and description.
“The best approach when writing a YouTube title is to always put the exact keyword as close as you can at the beginning of your video title,” says Ted Liu of Just SEO. “This way, viewers won’t have to look for it anymore, what they’re looking for is right there, very obvious. The number 1 rule is not to bury the keyword.”
Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined agrees, “My best tip for writing a winning YouTube video title is dead simple. Include your target keyword in verbatim within your video title.
So many marketers fall into a trap of trying to be overly cute and clever with their titles, and they fail to realize that YouTube users don’t want cuteness and cleverness;
Instead, they seek relevance and will click on a result whose title promises it has what they need to solve their problems.
The main keyword in the YouTube video title accomplishes that wonderfully.”
Shannon Schutt of Clear Mind Jewellery adds, “For us, #1 is making it searchable. As a channel that does a lot of reviews, we want to be at the top of the list on Google. #2 is making sure the title includes what our video has that others do not. For us that could be a specific test or DIY.”
The one caveat of this approach is to make sure you are writing your titles for humans and not robots.
“It’s all about using your SEO in a way that is natural,” says Brian Turner of ConvertBinary. “When you have found your target keywords, put them in the title in a way that sounds natural and without odd or forced syntax. Spammy SEO riddled titles are a turnoff to users and may negatively impact your optimization. And remember to optimize your descriptions!”
Editor’s Note: Want a simple way to visualize which videos are performing the best? Then, use this Youtube Channel Performance Dashboard to track subscriber rate, likes, comments, shares, and more video engagement metrics.
Sometimes, it is the little things – like adding brackets to your titles – that can make a big difference.
Scott Nelson of MoneyNerd says, “Using brackets in the title boosts my click-through rate, I couldn’t believe the results when I first used it.
It’s absolutely essential that my title ties in with my thumbnail for the click-through rate to be high. I tend to put a few key buzzwords from the title in the thumbnail.
Weirdly, having odd numbers in the YouTube title makes my click-through rate skyrocket. Numbers, in general, yield a higher click-through rate, but odd numbers are more effective than even numbers.
I like to address my audience in my title, I’ve seen this yield impressive click-through rates in the past. Using imperative commands, or addressing people as ‘you’ works wonders.”
Other times, it is sticking to tried and true copywriting techniques, such as adding a sense of urgency.
Matthew Paxton of Hypernia says, “Use words with urgency or make it sound like it’s urgent so that your audience will think or feel that they will miss valuable content if they skip your video.”
Elizabeth Hicks of Ryan Houghton adds, “Through my several years of experience within digital marketing and the YouTube platform, creating a title that delivers both clicks and engagement is down to a couple of key factors. These factors being Urgency, topical keywords, and wow factor.
Urgency would be something such as, “You don’t want to miss XXX.” Along with topic keywords for example a gaming video would be “Fortnite Update.” This again is a trending topic and something that people want to click on anyway.
Finally, the WOW factor being an additional word to attract attention. Such as amazing, incredible, fantastic, new, etc. All things that will attract some additional attention.
Once you have added the three factors together, you get a title such as “”You DO NOT want to miss this Incredible Fortnite Update!”
However, you want to make sure you are not creating faux urgency or downright clickbait.
“Avoid using clickbait,” says John Stevenson of My Gre Exam Preparation. “While it may work at first in getting you those views, it’ll end up being damaging in the long run. As your viewers get used to your clickbait tendencies, they’ll end up not trusting any of your video titles.”
Deepak Shukla of Pearl Lemon adds, “When viewers find out they have been misled, they will immediately click off the video, resulting in decreased watch time statistics.
The YouTube algorithm then detects you are releasing videos with the view to solely generate views, not provide a solution.
With this in mind, if you have any clickbait titles, you should definitely consider changing it.”
Kyle Steffish of Web Talent Marketing agrees, “A sensational video title might drive CTR, but ultimately it will hurt important engagement metrics, like watch time and retention, if the video does not meet your viewer’s expectations. Both of these metrics are significant factors in YouTube’s algorithm.”
A better approach is to stick to titles that describe what the video is actually about.
John Frigo of Best Price Nutrition says, “Here’s the thing with Youtube titles. A good title in my opinion describes what the video is about, it doesn’t mislead and it’s not clickbait.”
Puja Kotecha of Contrast adds, “The tile needs to tread the fine line between factual and clickbait. You want to grab the audience’s interest, whilst not misselling them on your content. Clickbait might get you views now but can damage the number of views you’ll get in the long run.
A good way to increase clicks is by using lists, such as ‘10 easy ways to increase your YouTube engagement’. The viewer then expects the content to be easy to understand, and easy to consume with it being split into sections.”
How do you make sure that your video stands out from all of the rest on Youtube?
Daniel Carter of Zippy Electrics recommends, “Besides the technicalities such as the use of SEO keywords and the right usage of capitalization, the power of curiosity is also one of the main things you need to consider in writing your YouTube video titles. This will make your title catchy. Furthermore, it will stir their interest which will push them to start an engagement with your content.”
Kylie Moore of The Loop Marketing says, “Create an effective title by providing information at the beginning and a hook in the middle, which should pique curiosity with adjectives, lists, or questions.”
Michael Rounds of PlayPlay adds, “An effective Youtube title grabs the audience’s attention, summarizes the content, and draws the click.
Your title has to stand out from all the millions of other videos that you’re competing against, without falling into the ‘click-bait trap’.
Here are some quick tips to get more views and engagement.
“Some best practices for building good headlines for Youtube videos to get more views is to include all of the information in your video, but the best titles are short and to the point,” says Alex Thompson of Festoon House. “Google omits page titles longer than 60 characters, so anything else is cut off in search results.
I use tools like Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find one or two relevant keywords to include in my title. This helps my videos to rank higher in search results. As a headline in a blog post, I make sure that the title of my Youtube videos looks promising to the viewer because titles are telling them how they will benefit by taking the time to view the content.”
Another approach is to create videos that are tied to trending or rising topics.
Dave Nilsson of ConvertedClick recommends, “Use trending keywords at the beginning of your title. The reason I’m stressing on trending is that’s what people are searching for. Plus, placing your keyword at the beginning helps YouTube crawl for relevancy and contributes to better ranking.”
However, don’t just create a video because a topic is trending. You want to make sure the video passes, the “Who Cares Test?”
Jenna Carson of Music Grotto says, “YouTube users have small attention spans, for every search someone makes there will be lots of videos available. So to ensure you grab someone’s attention, make sure your YouTube title offers value, in just a few words – you need to answer why a user should click on your video and what the benefits will be. For example, if you creating a video about a CMS don’t call it ‘Here’s the top guide to managing CMS,’ show value with something along the lines of, ‘Transform your business and save time, become a CMS expert in 10 minutes.’”
Conversion copywriters have headline frameworks that they use for all of their sales pages and sales letters. Many of these frameworks can also be applied to Youtube videos.
“There are different approaches for writing a youtube title and it all depends on the type of content you’re creating,” says Jack Gallagher of JGDigital. Gallagher explains what is the best way to write your video title depending on the purpose of your content.
For educational content:
“For example, if you’re educating people on something, it’s very important to start the title of the video with ‘How’, ‘Why’ or ‘What’ as this will help push your video to a whole heap of google search related queries of people wanting to find out the answer to a particular question or topic, therefore, increasing the clicks and general quality of engagement you’ll get due to it being less of a ‘click bait’ angle and more direct. ”
When you want to tell a story:
“If you’re telling a story, whether that be a personal experience or reporting on something that has happened, it’s a good idea to build the title as a cliffhanger so the audience gets a brief insight into what is being discussed but are prepared for the story to unravel and potentially something important/crazy to happen.
Using keywords around the event, a controversial question that engages both sides of supporters and even a time/location stamp can help increase clicks and quality of engagement. ”
For video promotions:
“If you’re promoting other creators or music, for example, you want to ensure that the creators/influencers/artists’ names are in the title of the video as that is primarily the biggest indicator of what will be in the video. With YouTube being a very personal platform, you want to use people’s alias’/names in the title to draw attention straight away as those names may be recognizable and impactful.
Try experimenting with full CAPS titles as these can bring a sense of urgency and generally provoke a quicker, more intense emotional response from the viewer which can lead to quicker and more clicks.”
In addition, Jerome Williams of JWorks Studios recommends, “The mystery headline – We did a thing and you won’t believe what happened
2. The list headline – Top 10 blankity blank
3. FOMO headline– Blank blank You May Have Missed!
4. Authoritative headline – Blank Explained”
For education videos, how-to titles can work well.
Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging says, “You need to start your video title with “How To”. By doing so, you are letting people know you are solving a problem for them.
YouTube is a major search engine.
YouTubers use videos to see how to solve problems. For example, I titled a video, ‘How to Escape from Facebook Jail,’ and I received 200 more views than my next popular video. Important note: Make sure you keep the promise mentioned in your title.”
Mo Mulla of Parentalquestions adds, “From my experience, the best approach for writing a YouTube title that gets clicks/engagements is by using How to titles. They instantly catch a user’s attention, mainly for the reason that the consumer mostly wants to be guided.
If the information is obvious in the title, they wouldn’t bother going elsewhere; rather would stop and click your video for sure to find out if the content entails what they want. However, to further make the title effective, I’d suggest avoiding clickbait which makes the content seem impossible.
For example, a video title How to make money from Facebook? seems realistic, but the same title when written as How to make money from Facebook in one day? seems quite unrealistic and is clickbait.”
This strategy admittedly will only work for some Youtube channels.
Daisy Jing of Banish says, “Check the most trending topic related to your vlog. Use that EXACT trending topic with a good hashtag and thumbnail to back it up. Give a few disclaimers or add a new edit on the topic once in a while and you’re good to go.”
Buzzfeed originally made this style of headline famous, and it can still work well today.
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles says, “Top 3, 5, and 10 lists are a classic technique that always gets results. Likewise, keyword research-led titles do very well.
So, for example, research what keywords people are searching for in the topic you want to address, provide a video that solves the problem, and keyword optimize the title to explicitly state that.
For example, “How to use [insert keyword] to get [insert desired outcome]”. This has the added bonus of often getting your videos into the top 10 results on Google for the topic as well as in YouTube search results. Which in turn drives high clicks and engagement rates.”
The two most prominent aspects of your Youtube video are the title and the thumbnail. These two elements should work together.
“The video title and thumbnail image are critical factors to the success of your YouTube video, says Sandra Craft of Think Impact. “These are the first elements that a viewer sees. If the title is not good enough, the viewer won’t click the video.
The best approach for writing a YouTube title is to check what kind of titles popular YouTubers use. Youtubers with more than 1 million subscribers, usually know which titles convert the best. They’ve already tested all variations, and they already found the winning formula.”
Creating videos in a silo is silly. There is a good chance that someone has created a video similar to the one you are about to create. So, why not learn from it?
For example, Rohan Kadam of Vital Feedz says, “I would like to share my approach. This has worked wonders for me so far.
While creating a YouTube title for my video, I start out by browsing YouTube and checking out what titles my competitors have used for videos that are similar to the one that I am about to publish.
Once I find the relevant video titles on YouTube, I narrow them down to the top 5 videos and mainly look at how many video-views they have and also what’s the lifetime of the video (When was the video published).
Once I do this exercise, I just choose the best video title from the narrowed list and I create a slight variation of the title.
For example, if I want to rank on YouTube for a keyword How to Cook Ribs in a Crock-Pot, I would generally frame my title in two ways:
In sum, the best Youtubers know that your video title and thumbnail is your hook. It is how you can stand out and get people to watch your video. Spending the time to draft several different titles is worth doing.
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