YouTube Thumbnail

A YouTube thumbnail is a viewer’s first impression of your video, your content, and ultimately your channel.

You can gain new viewers with an optimized thumbnail that acts as a sneak peek into your video, reinforces your channel’s branding, and helps set you apart from other content on the platform. 

In this article, you’ll learn must-know tips to optimize your YouTube thumbnails that can ultimately help boost viewership of your videos and improve your channel’s overall growth. 

YouTube Thumbnails Help Your Videos Perform Better

Thumbnails play an impactful role on the performance of YouTube videos because optimized visuals are proven to incentivize viewers to click through to your content.

According to YouTube, 90% of top-performing videos use custom thumbnails. Ultimately, a viewer could choose to watch your video or possibly opt for another creator’s video based solely on how your thumbnail is designed. 

Source: randomfrankp

YouTube thumbnails are directly connected to your click-through rate. This is important because YouTube is more likely to suggest your video to users if you have a high click-through rate alongside other key metrics such as Watch Time and Audience Retention. Together, these elements let YouTube know how much viewers are enjoying your content. 

What to Consider When Creating A YouTube Thumbnail

Branding: There are proven visual elements that help audiences make a connection to you and your brand. These elements include close-ups of faces, keeping a consistent color palette, and including your channel logo in every thumbnail. Making these small adjustments can increase your click-through rate and help you stand out from other creators with similar content. 

Text: Including a lot of text on a YouTube thumbnail may negatively affect its click-through rate. Most users will read one to three keywords, so optimize your thumbnail text with the top keywords that best summarize your video and make it enticing to users. Try using the text from your thumbnail in your video’s title for consistency and as an SEO boost.

Check your analytics: Not sure how to track which thumbnails are performing well and which ones aren’t? Keep a pulse on your analytics, specifically your videos’ click-through rates and try replicating the thumbnail formats that have performed well. BBTV partners can use the Video Comparison Tool in VISO to compare their videos’ performance across key metrics to help make content decisions including the performance of their thumbnails. 

YouTube Thumbnail Do’s

Source: Matt Stonie

BBTV’s Matt Stonie is a famous competitive eater known for his hot dog eating prowess and eating challenges on YouTube.

Matt’s content tends to be filmed in the same spot, reinforcing familiarity as part of his consistent branding strategy. His fans immediately know what to expect with the bold but brief text, and the placement of his food choice in the image.

When creating your next thumbnail, consider these helpful tips:

  • Ensure your thumbnail generates expectation without becoming clickbait.
  • Try using action-based images as they’re proven to increase click-through to the video.
  • Make sure your thumbnail easily conveys emotion through the image or other design elements.

YouTube Thumbnail Don’ts:

Source: YouTube Creator Academy

Avoid clickbait tactics that use extreme exaggeration or inappropriate content for shock value. These tactics are considered by YouTube as seemingly deceptive to your users and could have negative repercussions to your channel’s overall health. YouTube suggests creators design thumbnails that illustrate video content in a positive light and for all ages.

Some elements to avoid in your YouTube thumbnails include: 

  • Violence and weapons
  • Sexual content
  • Using ‘all caps’ or ‘!!!!’ to overemphasize titles

To maximize your potential reach, create thumbnails that are appropriate for a wider audience. One simple rule is to always deliver what you promise in your thumbnail, title and metadata, and avoid inserting words, symbols, or graphics that could deceive users from the actual content in your video.

Creating well-designed thumbnails is an acquired skill that is largely based on how you’re analyzing your analytics, being consistent with well-received design over time, and adhering to best practices on the YouTube platform. 

BBTV makes this process easy for our creator network with tools such as VISO Catalyst that helps create optimized custom thumbnails and suggests the best keywords for your videos. Are you a creator in need of tools like this? Learn how you can join the BBTV creator network.