Sep 17, 2021 7 min read

How to title YouTube videos to get clicks and grow your audience

How to title YouTube videos to get clicks and grow your audience

If you’re uploading content on YouTube, you’re competing with a lot of videos. In May 2019, YouTube users uploaded more than 500 hours of video content to YouTube every minute. Creators today are likely publishing even more YouTube content as COVID-19 caused a rise in video consumption.

In such a competitive space, you’ll need to find a way to make your video stand out. A great place to start? Learning how to title your YouTube videos in compelling ways.

Your video’s title—along with its thumbnail image—shapes users’ first impression of your content as they browse through YouTube search results. To gain clicks, you’ll need to craft a title that is clear and relevant to your target viewers’ interests while still being engaging. These five key tips will give you a leg up on writing click-worthy titles.

1. Use tried and tested formats

Don’t worry if you’ve never learned how to title YouTube videos. You don’t have to come up with your title from scratch: Use one of the top-performing title formats as a starting place. These templates are based on popular, top-ranking YouTube that regularly catches viewers’ attention.

THIS vs. THAT

The classic “vs.” title is used for videos that compare two elements, like a review of two similar products. This video format is especially engaging if the two elements being compared are well-known by your audience but often confused for one another.

Consider the video below, “Customer Service Vs. Customer Experience

The two concepts are often mistaken for each other, but the video’s speaker makes the distinction clear—customer service is reactive, while customer experience is proactive.

Lists

A YouTube list video provides viewers with a ranking of elements, like a list of the best cameras or the worst makeup subscriptions. These product roundups are especially helpful for consumers who know they want to make a certain type of purchase, but they need guidance about which item to pick.

Alexandria Ryan’s channel has a huge fan following, thanks to her extensive collection of list videos about makeup subscriptions. This video about the worst subscription services got approximately 69,000 views.


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A list video provides viewers with a ranking of elements, like a list of the best cameras or the worst makeup subscriptions. These product roundups are especially helpful for consumers who know they want to make a certain type of purchase, but they need guidance about which item to pick.

Alexandria Ryan’s channel has a huge fan following, thanks to her extensive collection of list videos about makeup subscriptions. This video about the worst subscription services got approximately 69,000 views.

She explains the concept of value when it’s applied to subscription services, like how the sizes of the samples come into play and if you’re getting a real value for the cost of the subscription.

ASQ

ASQ stands for asking specific questions in your title. These YouTube videos work best if they’re about a burning question your customers have. Turn an FAQ from your target audience into your video title, and you’ll likely see tons of clicks.

TedX, one of the most popular YouTube channels, frequently uses ASQ titles.

Their videos often focus on questions about how to live a better life, like “How not to take things personally?.” The lectures are generally engaging and informative, so people will come to TED’s channel even if they don’t have a question. They know if they browse, they’ll find a video that will teach them something new.

How-to

Videos with how-to titles are usually set up like step-by-step guides. But unlike an educational blog post, these videos can show the steps in action as they’re being explained. Viewers can watch the video fully or pause as they complete each step.

When it comes to figuring out what kinds of keywords you should be using in order to rank higher, there are tons of videos out there on how to do that on YouTube, like in the video below. Cathrine Manning has a big fan following, so she is considered quite the expert. In this particular video, she takes her viewers through the process she takes in coming up with titles for her videos.

We threw in a video to help you get a bit more knowledge on building strong YouTube video titles. As a coinkidink, it also happens to be a how-to video, and it managed to rack up approximately 300,000 views!

To know how to title YouTube videos, you need to understand some basics of search. YouTube, like Google, is a search engine that uses an algorithm to determine which videos to show users when they enter search terms.

YouTube Search prioritizes three main elements: relevance, engagement, and quality. There’s plenty to say about doing well in each of these areas, but we’ll focus on the element that your video title can impact: relevance.

Show YouTube’s algorithm your video fits your target audience’s needs by including keywords they’re searching for in the title. Place keywords as close to the front of the title as possible, and make your titles fewer than 70 characters so they can fully appear in search.

Even better? Put these targeted keywords not just in your title but in your tags and description as well. This “Tripled Keywords” tactic will help you increase your video’s chances of ranking too!

3. Tap into psychological principles

Take the guesswork out of coming up with original YouTube titles by relying on a few psychological phenomena. Learn how idea framing impacts viewers’ perception of your video, and you’ll be set to create enticing titles.

See how psychological principles drive a number of popular YouTube video titles in the examples below.

Cognitive disequilibrium

Cognitive disequilibrium occurs when someone’s preconceived notions are challenged, knocking them mentally off-balance. A surprising, counterintuitive title that creates this feeling will likely encourage clicks because it challenges people to reevaluate preconceived notions. It makes the viewer think, “What?! That can’t be true!”

Consider the video, “Is PANG meant to be played in REVERSE?” Most people would play the album PANG forward, but this video encourages listeners to have a more immersive experience when they play it in reverse.

Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

FOMO is the feeling of regret that drives people to take action. Video titles that tap into FOMO create a sense of urgency and typically are centered around selling a product.

Promotional videos, like Amex Platinum Card Benefits, usually have this kind of video format, and people generally know exactly what they’re getting themselves into when they click on them.

The information-gap theory

The information-gap theory states that people will become curious when they want to fill a gap in their knowledge basis. Take advantage of this principle by writing video titles that let viewers know the content will provide valuable, relevant knowledge.

Coding can be quite an intimidating subject. Therefore, the best person to ask is someone who’s gone through the process and learning how they did it, like in this video titled, How I would learn to code (If I could start over).

Be sure the title matches the video’s actual content, or people will be unlikely to watch your video all the way through. If the video’s watch time is low, YouTube’s search algorithm will lower your video’s relevance score and, in turn, lower its search ranking.

4. Use a video title generator tool

When your brain won’t think of a YouTube video title, there are a number of writing tools you can use to get those creative juices flowing and focus on what it is you’re trying to say or get across.

Shameless plug, but we have to recommend Copy.ai here. Our platform offers a Video Title generator feature where you plug in what your video is about. Based on this information, Copy.ai will generate numerous title possibilities.

Say you’re creating a video about how to sell makeup. Enter the topic, and the generator comes up with a number of how-to title variations, including ones that focus on Instagram and YouTube. You initially thought your title would be more general, but you decide to go with the Instagram headline since most of your advice is tied to that tool.

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Once you have a title thanks to Copy.ai, use a tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to evaluate it. This free tool will score your title based on key engagement factors—like word count and clarity—and it will suggest compelling words you can add to the title. In addition, the headline analyzer makes suggestions on adding emotionally charged words or uncommon words to make your title a bit more engaging.

5. Track the performance of your YouTube video

You can get a rough sense of whether your YouTube video title engaged viewers by looking at the number of views, but that’s just a surface-level metric. Get a deeper sense of whether your video resonated with viewers by tracking multiple metrics so you know how to improve future titles.

With YouTube Analytics, you can track a number of key performance indicators to gauge whether your title is engaging viewers.

  • Top videos: The videos on your channel that have the most views. Look for a pattern in these videos’ titles to see what factors may have driven clicks.
  • Traffic source type: Check whether a significant portion of views are coming from YouTube search to assess whether you’re including popular keywords in your title.
  • YouTube search: Identify the search terms that led people to your videos. Consider whether these phrases drove traffic because of the way the title was written or because the term is about a popular topic.

Along with using YouTube Analytics, consider creating your own spreadsheet to track each video’s title and the number of views. See if there are any title-writing trends in your most popular videos—like asking a question or using all caps—you can emulate in future content.


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You’ve learned how to title YouTube videos, but don’t stop there!

Take your YouTube video one step further by thinking about the video as a whole, not just the title. Every element of your YouTube video—from the description to the first few seconds of dialogue—impacts whether your audience will click on the video and watch it fully.

If you need help with the written portions of your videos, Copy.ai is here to help. We offer tools for generating video descriptions, hooks, and even cliffhangers. The best way to learn how to apply Copy.ai to your video creation process is to use it and try it out. Get started today for free!

Blake Emal
Blake Emal
CMO @ Copy.ai
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