In our previous newsletter we talked about how title, descriptions and proper tags/keywords help with SEO because of the algorithm that YouTube uses.
Thumbnails on the other hand are more of a black art where you must guide(manipulate) the viewer to click on your video out of all of the other choices out there.
Your titles, descriptions and tags will help your video display but if your thumbnails suck, no one will click on your videos and you will have lost all of that effort you put into SEO in the first place.
As you may have noticed, thumbnails show up in different sizes and formats all across the YouTube platform. For example, the same thumbnail can be cropped on a cell phone but come up intact on your PC. So it is very important to make sure you have a vibrant and strong image that pops up no matter what size it is.
These are some of the general guidelines of creating thumbnails.
- When shooting your video, take still shots that will make great thumbnails.
- ALWAYS upload a custom thumbnail. The YouTube auto generated thumbnail usually is not your best choice.
- Make sure your thumbnail is not racy. You will get negative points or flagged.
- Consider legibility. Look at the thumbnail above. It's big, clear and even if the sides are cropped, the word "WALKMANS" will still remain.
Look at the thumbnail above. It's awesome. This is a thumbnail from VSauce. They have great thumbnails. Although there is no text, he used an optical illusion to catch your attention. Wouldn't you want to click on this video?
- Use visual cues (colors, images, shapes and personalities) that are consistent with your channel.
- A Clear and compelling image, in-focus, high resolution (640px x 360px minimum., 16:9 aspect ratio)
- Close ups of faces always do well because of the impact factor.
- Foreground stands out from the background.
Lastly the most important thing is that the
thumbnail accurately represents your content. Don't just upload any image you think people will click. Go shoot something people will want to click then you can include it in your video!
Now go do it!