Marketing

10 Tips for Improving Your YouTube Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Looking to break through the noise on Youtube? Nearly 25 marketers weigh in with their top tips for increasing video views and CTR.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on January 4, 2021 (last modified on April 1, 2021) • 9 minute read

Did you know there are more than 30,000 hours of content uploaded to Youtube every hour?

With so much content being uploaded every single day, it is no wonder that a majority of videos will never amass more than 1,000 views.

Breaking through the noise on Youtube is hard work. But it’s far from impossible.

If you want to stack the odds in your favor, focusing on these two metrics can increase the chance of getting more views – average watch time and Youtube click-through rate (CTR).

In this post, we’re sharing some strategies you can use to improve your Youtube CTR, including: 

How to See the CTR of Your YouTube Videos?

If you are not familiar with Youtube CTRs, here is the formula for how to calculate it.

CTR = # of clicks / total impressions x 100 

On Youtube, there are two different CTR metrics you can measure. 

  • Average CTR for all videos 
  • The CTR for each individual video 

To see your average CTR for all videos, go to Creator Studio and click on Analytics. 

Youtube Creator Studio Analytics


Then, you can see your overall reach alongside your CTR for a specified time period. 

Youtube Channel Analytics

What is a Good CTR for YouTube Videos?

According to the marketers we surveyed, the average CTR on Youtube is 4-5%.

What is the average CTR on Youtube

However, this is simply an average CTR. Your CTR can vary wildly depending on the number of subscribers you have, your niche, number of views, and how long the video has been on Youtube.

For example, it is very common to see higher CTRs when a video is first uploaded. This is because the majority of the views at this time are from subscribers.

Now, if the video eventually gets picked up by “What’s next” in YouTube, your number of total impressions will go up and likely your CTR will go down.  

How to Increase YouTube CTR

Here are 10 strategies you can use to improve your CTR on YouTube.  

  1. Create engaging video thumbnail images
  2. Write compelling video titles
  3. Test different thumbnail and title combos
  4. Build a loyal following
  5. Conduct keyword research
  6. Focus on video engagement
  7. Test different CTAs in each video
  8. Increase average watch time
  9. Add cards to your Youtube videos
  10. Use Google Cloud Vision

1. Create engaging video thumbnail images 

“Use eye-catching thumbnails that are relevant to your videos,” says Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale. “Use your brand colors and pictures related to the video.”

Itamar Blauer says, “Click-through-rates on YouTube are largely impacted by the thumbnail of a video. To this day, having eye-catching thumbnails with the right color schemes and fonts go a long way in getting more clicks than other videos on the results page.” 

Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza- SEO for the Poor and Determined adds, “Video thumbnails are crucial to optimize simply because they’re the largest element of your result in YouTube search and related videos sidebar.

And also because we humans are visual-oriented creatures (as opposed to animals who’re scent-oriented), and our eyes are drawn to pretty imagery.

So, spend the bulk of your time making a thumbnail that will stand out and you won’t go wrong and your time will be well spent.” 

Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles agrees, “Take the time to create an eye-catching thumbnail. Don’t just go with the default frame YouTube selects. Instead, work with your graphics team to come up with a template that allows you to insert an attention-grabbing image and/or text.” 

For example, Blake Bobit of Solution Scout says, “Make a surprised face and point at something on the thumbnail. It’s true that ‘YouTube face’ works.” 

Olga Bedrina of Wave.video adds, “We discovered that out of the many tasks one needs to do to ensure her videos get the clicks and views on YouTube, creating click-worthy thumbnails seems to be the most essential. We always include a human face in our thumbnails. It helps us to build an emotional connection and it does help us to increase CTR on YouTube, big time.” 

And, Daniel Cheung of Make SEO Simple Again shares some additional tips to make your thumbnail stand out. 

“First, the visual that you use MUST capture IMMEDIATE attention,” says Cheung. “If you think about it, the thumbnail is tiny on desktop and on the mobile app, therefore, it needs to be catchy and visible.

At the same time, you want to include text as a layer on the thumbnail visual media. And there are nuances to this – that is, there is usually a sweet spot of 3-7 words that you can fit before it becomes (a) too long, or (b) too small to read.

And when it comes to the copywriting of the overlay text, again, it must be catchy. Don’t repeat the same video title, instead, word it so that it invites curiosity. Questions usually work well as do calling out things that most people think are true (but you’re suggesting that they’re wrong).” 

Related: Use These 11 YouTube SEO Tips to Improve Your Search Rankings

2. Write compelling video titles 

“Keep in mind that CTRs are the highest immediately after you upload your video, because your fans and subscribers will be notified about the new content,” says Bernadett Dioszegi of Bannersnack. “After your video will be watched by more people, beyond your core audience, CTRs will decline, but if you choose a subject line and title that is specific and it represents the content of the video you will notice an increase in overall views and watch time and you will have a high average percentage viewed.“ 

Allison Chaney of Boot Camp Digital says, ”A compelling title can greatly improve CTR. Give the audience a reason to click. A tool that I find effective for creating great titles is answerthepublic.com. You can search for a keyword and get suggestions of questions that people ask related to that keyword. When a title reflects how a user would search, it is more likely to get the click.” 

Editor’s Note: If you are looking to 80/20 your Youtube CTR optimizations, then focus on improving your thumbnails and titles.

Which of the following can increase the CTR of your Youtube videos?

3. Test different thumbnail and title combos 

“If you are worried about the Click-Through Rate (CTR) just remember that the more people that click on your video title or thumbnail, the higher you are likely to rank for a given search result and it will eventually improve your Youtube CTR,” says Jackson Gartner CEO of White Peak Digital.

“You improve this by testing different combinations of video thumbnails and titles to see what works best for you basically by performing A/B testing.”

Editor’s Note: Want to track the performance of all of your Youtube videos? Use this Youtube Overview Dashboard to see views, referral sources, watch time, and more.

Youtube Overview Dashboard

4. Build a loyal following 

“Build a loyal brand following,” says Brack Nelson of Incrementors Web Solutions. “A large subscriber base indicates you will be able to increase YouTube views. Videos become famous among others as well, and more comments and views will follow. Including a call to action to visit your site and to contribute to your channel can keep leads involved when they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase. This results in a long-term higher CTR.” 

Related: 25 Marketers Share How to Grow Your YouTube Channel, Subscribers, and Views

5. Conduct keyword research 

“Just like with ranking in Google, you’ve got to do keyword research for YouTube,” says Stewart Dunlop of PPCGenius. “If you’re just starting out, then the best free option is to use the auto-complete feature in the YouTube search box. For more advanced keyword research, TubeBuddy is hands down the tool for the job.

In addition, you need to make sure that your target keywords are in the right places. This means the title of your video, the description, tags, and transcript.” 

6. Focus on video engagement 

“Improving CTR on Youtube depends on how the video engages the user,” says Aylon Steinhart of Eclipse Foods. “Engaging with users can be done through the amount of shares, tweets, posts, and subscriptions you receive.

The more engagement your video gets, the higher it scores according to Youtube’s rating factors. To maximize interaction, encourage fans to like, comment, and subscribe to your videos. To truly optimize Youtube video interaction, upload your videos to other sites, including social media and blog posts.

With further interaction, you’ll see that the video is highly engaging to the viewer, and the video will be rated higher. The easiest way to bring videos to the top of the results pages on Youtube is to make a video that viewers want to watch and share.” 

7. Test different CTAs in each video  

“Test different CTAs (call to actions),” says Nick Yee of Portent. “Although you are limited to 10 characters for a call-to-action, you should always try out a different call to actions like Buy Now, Shop Now, or Learn More.” 

Editor’s note: Track the performance of your CTAs and more anywhere you go. Monitor your current performance with the Databox mobile app and access any dashboard you’ve built from your mobile device too!

8. Increase average watch time

“Increasing watch time increases the odds of getting featured in the recommendation section which has the potential to increase click-through-rate,” says Samuel David of Attrat. “Therefore consider creating compelling thumbnails, titles, and descriptions (experiment with competitors’).

Additionally, get better at keyword research, recommend your other videos only towards the end, and be mindful of how you make reference to things that could cause viewers to pause or take other actions.

It further helps if the video contains relevant entertaining/inspiring stories or in-depth analysis. A script helps to be more concise and detailed. Audio and visual quality should be looked into as well.”

Editor’s Note: Looking for a quick way to visualize average watch time across all of your videos? Use this Youtube Watch Time Performance Dashboard to see how long viewers spend watching your videos.

Youtube Watch Time Performance Dashboard

9. Add cards to your Youtube videos

“Adding cards to your YouTube videos will help improve click-through-rate and allow you to drive traffic to another YouTube video, your YouTube playlist, your YouTube channel, or your website,” says Jack Landess of Truck Driver Institute. “It is easy to set up and completely free, so there’s no reason not to do it!” 

10. Use Google Cloud Vision 

“Run it through Google Cloud Vision,” says Bram Jensen of vpnAlert. “YouTube uses a version of this algorithm to determine the contents of the video. You want to reduce the spamminess to increase the likelihood of success.”


As the barrier for creating great videos continues to drop, the number of videos uploaded to Youtube continues to rise. Breaking through the noise requires consistency and a focus on improving your Youtube CTR. The best place to niche down if you have a general channel. Then, focus on optimizing your video thumbnails and titles. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.

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