YouTube Ranking: Advanced YouTube Thumbnail Tips for MORE Views

If you want to learn how to boost your YouTube thumbnail performance (and in turn your YouTube ranking!), you’ve come to the right place. 

YouTube thumbnails are a critical element of YouTube ranking and video optimization. By following these simple tips you’ll be able to optimize your thumbnails and massively increase your thumbnail click through rates.

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This guide will teach you exactly how to increase click through rate on YouTube!

We’ll show you how to access advanced click-through rate data for all your videos and translate that into getting more views on YouTube.

Let’s get started with explaining a bit about YouTube click through rates. 

What are YouTube thumbnail click-through rates? 

Every time your video is shown in search results or in a viewer’s suggested feed, YouTube tracks that as an impression. Every time a video gets clicked, that’s tracked as a click. 

The ratio of total clicks that your video gets versus the total number of impressions is called your click-through rate.

Your click-through rate  (also known as thumbnail CTR) is a great indicator to YouTube about whether viewers are attracted to your content. It uses this data to compare your videos to all the other ones that are displaying alongside it.

If you’re wondering how to rank YouTube videos, try these Youtube tips to increase your click-through rate

If you’re wondering how to rank YouTube videos, try these Youtube tips to increase your click-through rate

if your video has a lower click-through rate than videos that are shown alongside it, YouTube is likely to rank it lower in the feed or search results. This is so it can better highlight the content that viewers are more attracted to.

As you can see, thumbnails are a big factor in grabbing that attention and determining whether your video gets clicked.

Now let’s run through how to access this advanced click-through rate data for all your videos. This way you’ll be able to see what’s working, what’s not and how to improve it fast.

YouTube Analytics Explained 

To access your click-through rate data, start by opening YouTube. Click on your profile image and go to YouTube Studio. Select Analytics and then Reach. Scroll down to Impressions and how they led to watch time

To understand your thumbnail performance, check the YouTube thumbnail click through rate in Reach

To understand your thumbnail performance, check the YouTube thumbnail click through rate in Reach

In this box, you’ll see your Impressions, Views from Impressions and based on those stats is your Click-through rate. This data is from the past 28 days but you can adjust the length of time. 

Now, we really want to stress this point: Don’t compare your click-through rate to other channels! This will be different for everyone – there are so many variables that come into play. 

Your only goal should be to improve your current click-through rate. 

Select See More to to get the thumbnail CTR data on more of your YouTube videos 

Select See More to to get the thumbnail CTR data on more of your YouTube videos 

Now, go to Overview in the top menu. Scroll down to Your top videos in this period. Then select See More at the bottom of this box. 

This will bring up all the analytics for your top videos over the past 28 days. 

Scroll down to the table and press the + button in the top row. Then select Impressions click-through rate under the Reach category. Your videos will then be sorted by the highest click-through rate. 

Press the + button to sort videos by their YouTube click through rates

Press the + button to sort videos by their YouTube click through rates

This will only show the data for your top 50 videos. If you’d like data on all of your videos, follow these steps: 

  • Go to the Download button in the top right corner 
  • Select Comma-separated values (.csv) and save to your desktop OR select Google Sheets and open in new tab
  • If you chose CSV, open the file in Excel

Here you will be able to view the video title, watch time, views, average view duration, video thumbnail impressions and video thumbnail impressions click-through rate for all of your videos. 

How To Analyze Thumbnail Data

The next step is to look at your videos with the highest click-through rates. Look for any similarities between these top converting thumbnails. 

Ask yourself these questions about those high performing thumbnails:

  • What do they look like?
  • Do they have a lot of text or no text?
  • Are there images of you included?
  • What colors are used on them?
  • Are they bright or dull? 

Whatever is common about those thumbnails is what you should start implementing on your new thumbnails going forward. So, the next time you go to create thumbnails for YouTube, you’ll know exactly what elements to include. 

Analyze your thumbnail CTR data to find what similarities your top performing thumbnails have

Analyze your thumbnail CTR data to find what similarities your top performing thumbnails have

You can also re-make thumbnails for your older videos that have low click-through rates. 

PRO TIP: If you do re-make a thumbnail, we recommend waiting at least a month after applying the new thumbnail to see if it’s been an improvement or not. Any less than this and you won’t know if it’s been successful .

You could even try something totally different – a brand new design or theme for your thumbnails. This is all data-driven, so you’ll be able to tell what’s working with the data provided by YouTube. 

Another way to figure out what works and what doesn’t is by AB testing (also called split testing). 

AB Testing Thumbnails

This is where you put up two different thumbnail versions and see which one gets more clicks. 

TubeBuddy has an awesome feature that lets you do this. 

All you need to do is assign two thumbnail images to the one video and TubeBuddy automates the rest. 

TubeBuddy is an awesome tool to help you increase your YouTube thumbnail click through rate

TubeBuddy is an awesome tool to help you increase your YouTube thumbnail click through rate

After the set period of time, it will tell you which thumbnail had the highest amount of clicks per impression. 

This is such an awesome feature. You will have to be on their Legend plan if you want to access it but it is an incredible tool to have. 

Now You Know How To Increase Click Through Rate On YouTube

By now you should have a solid understanding of how important your thumbnail images are and how to interpret your click-through rate data. 

If you’re ready to take the next step forward, we’ve put together a free resource to help you with keyword research.

This is a fast-track checklist that will step you through the key YouTube ranking factors. You can grab a copy of the FREE Primal Video Youtube Ranking Guide here! 


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