How to Name Your YouTube Videos
by Jayed Miah
- What is a YouTube channel name versus a video name?
- Why YouTube video names are so important
- YouTube video naming best practices
- What NOT to do when naming your YouTube video
- After you’ve named your YouTube video and hit publish
What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to YouTube, it turns out a name is vital to your bid for stardom. Both your channel name and your video names significantly contribute to your discoverability which is the backbone of YouTube success.
Yes, quality content is how you keep your viewers coming back and sharing your channel with the world but naming is how you get viewers in the first place.
Let’s take a closer look at how to name your videos to optimize visibility via the YouTube search engine and to attract viewers when they’re deciding on which video to watch, yours or your competitors’ title.
What is a YouTube channel name versus a video name?
Your channel name is the official name you use on YouTube to identify yourself and your topic. It’s a crucial part of branding, which has a role in your overall success.
Your video names are the specific titles of each of the videos on your channel. It’s how viewers and search engines discover your content.
Because your channel name appears on your videos, your channel homepage, and is used to get you into search results, it needs to be original and memorable.
Many people use their names if they are pursuing a personal brand. Others will use something more descriptive to help viewers and search engines understand more quickly what our channel is about and whether it’s relevant to their interests.
For example, suppose you are not pursuing a personal brand. In this case, you might name your channel after the topic by using descriptive titles: “Epic Travel Tips”, “Sewing for Savvy Savants”, or “Actionable Finance School”, for example, tell you what the channel is about right in the name! If you were to come across these channel names, you would already know what to expect from their video content.
Videos, on the other hand, need to not only be descriptive, but interesting to draw the attention, clicks, and views of your audience as well.
Why YouTube video names are so important
YouTube video names can make or break your channel. Choosing the right video titles are crucial to your ability to be seen and gain viewers.
When your video shows up in search results, the thumbnail and the video title are all potential viewers have to go on when deciding whether to click on your video or someone else’s.
Your YouTube video title should summarize exactly what viewers can expect to get out of watching your video. Keywords in the titles are a heavily weighted priority when it comes to getting seen on search results. Since YouTube is rated as a search engine, content creators want to optimize their content, and that means keywords have to take center stage.
YouTube video naming best practices
When your video's name is such an important element to your YouTube success, it becomes all about implementing best practices every single time. Here are a few of the tips you’ll need to keep close as you develop your video naming muscle memory.
Keyword-rich titles are strongly correlated to the video’s ranking in search results. Including your primary keyword in your title is crucial.
Pro tip: Whenever it makes sense, put your keyword at the beginning of your title.
Example: if your keyword is “antique glass buttons,” and your video is about how to find them, choose something like, “Antique glass buttons: five best places to find them” instead of “Top 5 places to find antique glass buttons.”
Click-through rates (CTR)
A significant reason to name your video well is to get people to click on your video over the others that show up in search results. The click-through rate tells YouTube and Google that your video is relevant and something people want to watch.
Pro tip: Use a number in your YouTube video title to help people quickly understand what they can expect.
Even though numbers aren’t recommended for YouTube channel names, they are a great way to communicate your video's value and deliverables.
Example: “10 best mascara brands to try this year” is much more specific than “mascara brands list.”
Pro tip: Be emotive whenever possible. One of the best ways to quickly connect with people is to be an expressive, relatable human.
If it makes sense for your video, try including emotive exclamations. Words and phrases that let people know they’ll love it, hate it, or be a part of an experience, not just get information, is often a significant contributor to click-through rates.
Just a few examples of emotive words and phrases include: wow, the surprise is on me, I cried, belly laughs galore, and try not to smile.
Keep YouTube video titles short
Pro tip: It may not always be possible to keep a title short, but by doing a quick brevity edit on every title before hitting publish, you’ll help ensure the effectiveness of your title.
A short video title carries a few benefits. It’ll grab attention more quickly. It won’t get cut-off, leading people to click on the videos that are more concise in their content promises. It will read better when you share the video URL to social. And it will just plain look and read better for potential viewers and SEO-bots.
Example: the title, “5 meditations for a blissful slumber,” is much more concise than “5 relaxing new meditations for better REM sleep.” They say the same thing and offer the same content promise. The second may be attractive because it is more specific, but the first doesn’t risk being cut off in search results and is a bit clearer.
Use tools to optimize video titles
It’s okay to get a little help once in a while. There is a plethora of online tools that are built for the sole purpose of helping you find keywords, optimize headlines and titles, and other nifty tactics.
Pro tip: using tools are a great way to double-check that you have all the best practices in place and are ready to hit the publish button.
Example: CoSchedule has a free headline analyzer that will rate your title ideas and help you focus on what typically gets the best results.
Example: UberSuggest is also a free tool that offers keyword suggestions as well as content ideas and more.
Be sure your video title and thumbnail work together
Neither the name nor the thumbnail should be afterthoughts. Both should make sense together.
Pro tip: If you can get your thumbnail to say the same thing as the video title visually, you’ll be much more successful, faster.
Videos that showcase interviews with experts should show a thumbnail image of that expert, or the most recognizable expert. Videos about the best places to see rare birds should have a thumbnail that shows a rare and highly sought after bird that you discuss in the video. If you show the wrong thing, people will assume the title is click-bait.
Also, some people are just more visual than others, and they rely heavily on the image, avoiding reading the title altogether.
Don’t forget that an unattractive thumbnail, even if it’s relevant, can be just as likely to turn people off as a long or tedious video title.
Example: Not putting a thumbnail at all will get you nowhere fast.
Don’t let this happen to you!
What NOT to do when naming your YouTube video
We’ve just covered what to do, and now you need to be aware of just a few tactics to avoid when naming your videos.
Say no to click-bait.
Click-bait amounts to a broken promise and is so early 2000’s. It not only hurts the trust of the viewer who believed your title, but it will also bury your video when YouTube discovers what you’ve done. When users stop watching after they realize they’ve been tricked, YouTube will quickly downrank your content.
Pro tip: click-bait hurts you, your viewers, and your channel. Don’t do it. Using best practices is the most effective strategy. Don’t fall prey to what looks like a short-cut.
How does YouTube know when you’ve used click-bait? Easy. When viewers click on your video and then quickly drop off because they realize you don’t have the answer that was promised in your video, YouTube can see there’s a problem with your video and won’t give you credit for the initial click-through.
Example: video titles like, “you CAN make a million dollars overnight and here’s how” seem obviously misleading to most people these days, but there are those who will fall prey to something like this. When YouTube sees a swift drop off of viewers at the beginning of the video, detects negative comments, or doesn’t see an increase of subscribers compared to their platform averages, they’ll know something is up.
After you’ve named your YouTube video and hit publish
Don’t forget that your work isn’t done once you’ve hit publish on your video. Always check in with your dashboard analytics to get more info about your video performance.
Look at the viewer drop-off rate in the first 15-seconds of the video. A sudden dip could mean people aren’t happy with the intro or feel the title was misleading.
Check out the search report under Traffic sources to better understand the keywords that are driving people to your video and make sure your title and keywords are well-aligned.
If your video isn’t getting the click-throughs you were hoping for, try re-evaluating the title. When in doubt, fall back on best practices:
- Check on the keywords you’ve selected.
- Did you front-load the keywords in your title?
- Is your title specific enough?
- Double-check that the title is short so it doesn’t get cut-off in search results.
- Evaluate whether the thumbnail best represents the title.
- Run the title through a few free online tools to be extra sure that it’s optimized.
- Could your title be misconstrued as click-bait?
- What are your analytics really telling you?
YouTube video titles are essential to your video’s discoverability. You need a strategy and sound tactics when it comes to success on YouTube, and video naming is just one of many important features you can take advantage of, ongoing.
By following these best practices and pro tips, you’ll be a YouTube star in no time!