How to Create YouTube Thumbnails that Attract Viewers [Creator's Tip #77]

How to Create YouTube Thumbnails that Attract Viewers [Creators Tip #77]

Much has been written and discussed on creating a proper thumbnail for your videos.  We've discussed optimizing custom thumbnails before, but only recently did it become something everyone could do.  Thumbnails are your "magazine covers," your initial impulse as to whether a viewer will be interested.  They not only need to be enticing, though, they need to accurately describe what a viewer will see in the video, or at least not outright lie about it.  Thumbnails are like content itself, where certain triggers: sexy, funny, outrageous, etc., will sell the video and get people clicking.

5 Tips for More Engaging YouTube Video Thumbnails

To review:

1. Make the Thumbnail Enticing. Be sure you create custom thumbnails that are interesting enough that you would want to click on it.  This is you being objective about your work: would you want to watch this?

2. Select an Image with Action. You just standing there with a dull expression on your face won't do: you need something that expresses fun, and doing that involves capturing an image that shows action.

3. Choose an Image that Explains Your Video. Nothing gets people clicking "dislike" more, and causing your search results to go down, than showing say, a scantily-clad woman on your thumbnail and there's nothing about scantily-clad women in the video.  Those are the kinds of videos you run across that have a long red line underneath the likes/dislikes.

4. Include Text on Your Image. Yes, action is important.  But sometimes it doesn't quite sell someone on what the video is.  Try to come up with a short phrase, hopefully three words or less, that describe the contents in an exciting way that you can plaster onto the image without obscuring the image.  Here's a good one:

5. Choose an Image that Stands on It's Own. Similar to number three, you want an image that can give viewers a good idea what your video might be about even if you don't include text. This is important because when related videos come up at the end of a video, they won't include titles, so your image really needs to convey your topic.

QUESTION: What tips do you have for video thumbnails that drive more views?

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View The Full Video Transcript:

For this week’s creators tip I am going to give you guys 5 things that I take into consideration when selecting a video thumbnail and we are going to highlight some of the things that you guys take into consideration as well. That’s coming up.

Hi guys, my name is Tim Schmoyer and welcome to another week of creators tip where every week we here at ReelSEO do our best to help you guys make content that will perform the best on the web. Today we want to talk about video thumbnails. We all know how important they are for enticing click throughs and we all know that a great thumbnail versus a lame thumbnail can sometimes make all the difference in how many people are going to click and view your video. There has already been a lot written and said about this on the internet and I think that most of the things that people are saying out there is completely true but I want to give you guys a couple of things that I personally look for and emphasize when I am selecting and creating a video thumbnail.

First of all the thumbnail needs to be enticing for click throughs. Basically the way I measure that is I just do a gut check myself and say would I rather click on this image or would I rather click on this image. Which one makes the most sense to kind of attract people to my video?

Kind of a long with that, number two is try to select an image that has some action to it not just something that is static. Like for these videos I will try and pick an image where I am doing something with my hands or expressing something rather than just smiling. That was an awkward scenario.

Number three, it has to accurately reflect the content of the video. I know that kind of sound like a give me, but there are some things as many of you guys know that you can do to attract click throughs but if someone gets to your video and say this video don’t have anything to do with that thumbnail then they just abandon your video and your rankings start to go way down.

Number four, I try to keep in mind that a lot people who subscribe to a lot of channels, they just quickly skim their subscription feed on YouTube and so they may not always be reading the titles carefully and so I try to maybe sometime put text on the thumbnail that will kind of represent what the video is about. Maybe just kind of give the image some context if nothing else. I ask myself if I am just skimming my subscriptions on YouTube is this something that would catch my eye, draw my attention, make we want to stop the scrolling and click on it to watch?

Number five, this probably the most tricky one is try to select the thumbnail that can stand sufficiently on its own with no text around it, no titles like for example when you get to the end of a video and the related videos pop up, you noticed there are no titles there, there are only thumbnail images. I want to select an image that I think can just stand fine on its own but I also want an image that if someone is looking at it where the title is present too like if it is a related video or a subscription feed that the image actually doesn’t just repeat what the title says but actually enhances it in some way so that the title and image actually works well together.

Those are some ideas that I personally look for when I am creating a thumbnail image. I would love to hear from you guys in the comments below. What kinds of things you look for and how you craft your thumbnail images to perform the best that they can here on YouTube. I actually already asked that question on the ReelSEO Facebook page, Twitter account, and Google+ page and here are some of the inputs that you guys had.

I like to use engaging images of people whenever possible like 2 or 3 people doing something in the act in a funny way. Epic graphic battles of history usually does this and is almost always engaging. I try to model after that when possible.

Images which are close up and which are clear. Most important close ups of human faces that is the number one thing that draws the eye.

Bill Meyer says fill the frame.

Hi Tim, I always here that people’s faces are good places to start especially if they are performing an action of some sort.

That is all really good advice and the rest of you guys make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear what you guys look for and if this is your first time hanging out with us, we would love to have you subscribe. We do these videos for you guys every single week just to try to help you with your video content. Also make sure you check out my new channel videocreatorstv, over on that channel we talk about the latest news in the online video world and what that means for us that are video creators. We do Q&A and other stuff like that as well and honestly some of the best video news that I talk about there is actually here on our very own website so go check that out as well and I will see you guys next week for another Creator’s Tip video. Bye.

About the Author -
Tim Schmoyer is the host of ReelSEO's Creator's Tip and the author of "30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel". You can see some of his personal videos on his Family Vlog Channel. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Grant Crowell

    A couple of comments on this video post...

    in regards to your tip #2) "Selecting an Image with Action,"you don't need something that expresses "fun." What you need is something that reflects the audience you're trying to reach with the content you're trying to communicate, plus an understanding of the tone of the content itself. That's part of the attraction and interest factors. If you do a thumbnail image that has action and appears "fun," while that might be enticing to glance at, it doesn't necessarily mean that's what's going to engage your target audience, especially if you have a niche audience.

    In regard to tip #4, text graphics in the image (whether it's a small thumbnail image or a larger still image) isn't necessary if the existing image already conveys the content well. That's what the existing title and description are for, the former of which will show up on or next to the video window itself.