A YouTube video title is an important part of your video’s performance on YouTube for two main reasons:
1. Click-Through-Rate: When someone sees your video in the search results, they use your thumbnail and title to decide whether or not to watch.
In fact, YouTube states that:
“Well-written titles can be the difference between someone watching and sharing your video, or scrolling right past it…”
2. Video SEO: Your title summarizes what your entire video is about. That’s why YouTube and other search engines put so much weight on the keywords that you use in your title.
Include Your Keyword In Your Title
Your title is (by far) your video’s most important piece of metadata.
In fact, one industry study found a clear correlation between keyword-rich titles and rankings for that keyword in YouTube search:
That’s why, when it comes to video SEO, including your keyword in your video title is an absolute must. Also, make sure not to change the keyword. It’s best to use the exact, word-for-word term.
For example, the target keyword for this video is: “SEO tips”. As you can see, that exact term is in the video title:
Also, YouTube puts more weight on terms that appear early on in a title.
So whenever it makes sense, place your keyword in the beginning of your title.
For example, let’s say your target keyword is “paleo snacks”. Do your best to include that term early on in your video title.
So instead of a title like: “9 Examples of Tasty Paleo Snacks”
Go with: “Paleo Snacks: 9 Tasty Examples”
Optimize Your Title for CTR
Click-through-rate (CTR) is an important YouTube ranking factor. When lots of users click on your result, it tells YouTube: “This is a video that people want to watch”.
Here are some tips to help you boost your title CTR:
- Add a Number: Using a number in your title can boost CTR significantly. For example, if your video includes 5 tips, include the number “5” in your title. If your video is about how you spent $127 for a first class flight, include “$127” in your title.
- Use Attention-Grabbing Words and Phrases: If it makes sense for your video, include an eye-catching word of phrase. For example: “WOW” or “I cried”.
- Get Emotional: Studies shows that emotionally-charged headlines get more clicks and shares.
That said, while you do want to maximize your title’s CTR, it’s important to avoid clickbait. That’s because…
Clickbait Does More Harm Than Good
Over the last few years, YouTube has clamped down on clickbait.
In fact, they state that clickbait titles can “…hurt your chances of being recommended to new viewers”.
In other words, if you use clickbait titles, YouTube will bury your video.
How do they know if something is clickbait?
Well, YouTube pays close attention to how users interact with a video after they click on it. If people drop off within the first few seconds, it tells YouTube that the video probably has a misleading title that tricks people into clicking:
On the other hand, if people stick around and watch your video, YouTube knows that your title accurately represents your video’s content:
Use a Headline Analyzer
If you want an objective way to size up your video title, consider using a headline analyzer.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is one of the best on the internet (and it’s free):
To use it, enter your video title into the tool. After a few seconds, you’ll get detailed feedback on your title (along with specific recommendations)
Even though this tool is designed for blog post headlines, the same rules apply to crafting attractive YouTube video titles.
Reoptimize Old Videos
If one of your videos falls flat, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to change the video itself.
Fortunately, you’re always free to tinker with your video title, description and tags. In fact, many YouTubers go back and reoptimize their old videos. Specifically, they change the title to one that’s more compelling and SEO friendly.
Here’s the exact process:
1. First, head over to your YouTube Analytics and go to your views report.
2. Next, see which videos from your channel get the least amount of views.
3. Finally, test out a new title for that video. You can rewrite your current title to make it more compelling. Or try a completely new title (and keyword).
That’s all there is to it.
Use Titles and Thumbnails That Work Together
Most people decide to watch a video based on the combination of the thumbnail and title.
So it’s important that your title and thumbnail work together to tell a story.
For example, the Daily Bumps vlog does a great job of pairing their thumbnails and titles:
Their thumbnails grab your attention. And the closely-related title seals the deal.
Change Video Information: How to change your video title (from YouTube).
Video SEO: The Definitive Guide (Chapter 3): Shows you how to optimize your videos for SEO (with specific tips for video title optimization).