Titles are one of the cornerstones of a successful YouTube channel.
They are advertisements for your video and channel, and also have enormous SEO value.
A good video title can be a hook, a promise or a tease and in this article, I’ll show you the fundamentals of creating YouTube titles to outrank and outshine your competition.
Along with the thumbnail your video’s title may be the only part of your video that ever gets seen by the public. That will depend how good they are.
You will only have a few seconds to attract a viewer and the title and thumbnail should work together to sell them a video that is impossible not to click on.
They should let the viewer know exactly what to expect when they click, allowing you to get straight into the meat and potatoes of your video, for an optimized start.
There is no perfect formula for optimal titles but there are best practices and a few extra tweaks that I have picked up in my day job as YouTube channel manager and I want to share them with you.
The Fundamentals of YouTube Titles
How long a title is, isn’t really important and you won’t be penalised for using your character allowance.
What will hurt is if you don’t frontload the title with the most interesting aspect of the video, or the “Hook.”
When YouTube was more of a visually static platform it was widely known that the hook had to be given in the first 40 characters or it would be cut off in search results and Suggested Videos. Luckily the platform is more responsive and forgiving now, but the importance of hooking your viewer with the start of the title remains.
Keeping it succinct is essential.One tip that I use is to try and remove “stop” words where possible – words like the, and and, “a”. These words are useless to search engines and you can get your message across without them.
If your title doesn’t flow after removing them, try using shortened versions like “&” instead of “and“, or “w/” instead of “with“.
You can use any separators that you like between sections of a title as search engines will ignore them. If you’re in a more fun niche, why not use some of the more eye-catching buttons on the keyboard instead of hyphens to help draw the eye?
Here’s the YouTube title structure I’d advise you too use, whatever your content:
Hook – Explainer – Show Information – Channel Information
Here’s a hypothetical example of a clip taken from Seinfeld, my favourite TV show ever.
No Soup for you! – Elaine Vs. Soup Nazi – Seinfeld – Seinfeld On Demand
As mentioned above the Hook is what will be of interest to most people and allow you the most creative flair. Keep it short and punchy and most importantly keep it at the front.
It’s the part of the title that is most likely to get it clicked and should also include the keywords you are aiming to rank for.
The Explainer is like a tagline, or what comes after the colon in the title of a crappy movie. It allows you to give a little more detail and slip in a few more keywords that are still of interest to the viewer.
The Show and Channel information are more for the search engines than the human eye but still work to give viewers a point of reference, especially if you have an episodic structure (Part 1, Part 2 etc.).
These are also useful keywords and consistent use of them in your titles (also in your tags and descriptions) will create a stronger association between your videos. This means you are more likely to turn up in your own Suggested Videos section and this is where you will really start to see an uplift in views.
Don’t get too bogged down in the terminology I’ve used, stick to it as closely or as loosely as fits your channel but do implement the fundamentals.
Here’s another example I’ve created for a imaginary retro gaming channel:
Epic Finish Him | Let’s Play Mortal Kombat Pt. 5 | CoinOp Palace
Like anything on YouTube, you’ll get out of it what you put in.
Give as much thought to the title as you do filming or editing. Promotion is just as important (if not more so) than your content.
You may have a great video but who will click on it if it doesn’t have an appealing title?
Go back through your older videos too and optimize the titles by the standards above and you should notice an uplift. This is a quick win and results can be dramatic.
Now you know the fundamentals its time to get creative.
For inspiration on the types of Hook that consistently generate views, click here for the 7 types of YouTube title that convert.
Let me know in the comments if you have any titling tips that work for you and if you found this useful subscribe to my weekly newsletter for more insights and updates.