Why Your YouTube Video Thumbnail Is Crucial And How To Perfect It

Why Your Youtube Video Thumbnail Is Crucial And How To Perfect It

YouTube’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and homepage are the two most commonly viewed pages on the platform. For the latter, it’s the first thing you see when you log in. As for the former, it’s where you land after looking up something in the search bar. The one thing they both have in common is video thumbnails.

When it comes to catching people’s eyes, a great video thumbnail is critical. In social media platforms – YouTube among the rest – the proverbial “book” is always judged by its’ cover. If you want to lure people in – that cover (which, in our case, is your video’s thumbnail image), ought to be spectacular.

What Is A Thumbnail?

Technically speaking, thumbnails are image “previews” of your video. This tool gives you a chance to make a great first impression on potential viewers. Well-made thumbnails drive people to choose your content over someone else’s. YouTube themselves stated that approximately 90% of the best performing videos on the platform have their unique custom thumbnail!

The recommended dimension for YouTube thumbnails is 1280×720 pixels. These dimensions will allow you to upload a great quality image (up to 2MB). This is the perfect size for a thumbnail on all devices: smart TVs, mobile devices and PCs/Laptops.

Why Do Thumbnails Matter So Much? 

They Help YouTube Decide How To Rank Your Video 

Alone, your YouTube thumbnails don’t have anything to do with what YouTube does with your video, ranking-wise. However, thumbnails impact the CTR (Click-Through-Rate) of your videos – and that’s extremely important when it comes to ranking on the SERP and making your video more recommended across Youtube. The more attractive your thumbnail is, the more enticing they’ll be for people to click. Then, they can watch your video, interact with it, subscribe to your channel, and look for more of your content. All of these are ranking factors when it comes to promotion on the SERP. 

They Can Help Your Videos Get More Traffic From Google.com 

It’s no secret that you can find YouTube videos through a simple Google search. Google’s SERP has a feature known as the “Video Carousel”. This carousel is where your thumbnails can really shine and lure in viewers.

They Help Raise Brand Awareness

Turning your YouTube channel into a brand is hard work and a constant struggle, but it’s definitely worth it. Having cohesive, consistently aesthetic thumbnails can help people recognize your content at a simple glance – without having to read the title or channel name.

the thumbnail snowball effect - how a good thumbnail design can skyrocket your channel growth

*Click to enlarge the infographic

How Do You Create A Video Thumbnail? 

Creating a thumbnail can be done by two means.

YouTube’s Autopicker

This is the easiest and worst method possible. While YouTube sometimes catches nice frames from your video, it’s highly unpredictable and random. We strongly advise against using this tool unless you really don’t have any other option.

Making Your Own Custom Thumbnail

Making a thumbnail might sound a bit complicated to some, but it’s actually straightforward and foolproof. All you have to do is take one good screenshot (using your PC’s snipping tool) from your video – preferably one with the subject matter in it – and edit it. For editing, you can use Canva.com or Photoshop, if you’re graphically savvy. 

Uploading your thumbnail is super easy as well. All you have to do is:

  1. Go to your YouTube Creator Studio 

  1. Hover with your mouse over the video you want to upload a new thumbnail for and click on the little pencil icon. 

  1. Click on “Upload Thumbnail” and then pick the thumbnail you want to upload and click “Open”!


Creating A Great Thumbnail – Best Practices: 

Make Sure The Video Subject Is Part Of It

Your thumbnail needs to make sense to the viewers. If you want them to want to watch your video, you’ll need to keep them “in the loop” about the subject matter – and the thumbnail is a great way to do that.

The video’s subject is in the thumbnail itself

In this example, you can see that the video is about ADHD in girls. Therefore, a girl is in the thumbnail.

Include Text: Use Video Title Or A Few Keywords 

Try to avoid using words that have nothing to do with your video (also known as “clickbait” words). Also, use bold, strong fonts and colors that users can read easily on all devices. Don’t over-use text, try to keep it minimal. Finally, make sure you avoid using texts in the bottom right corner of the frame – that’s where video length will show up.

The keyword ‘motivation’ is in the thumbnail text

In this example, you can see that the keyword ‘motivation’ appears in the thumbnail as well as in the title.

It’s All About Aesthetics

Make a great first impression on potential viewers. Make them fall in love with your content at first sight – without even actually watching it. Create your thumbnails using complementary color palettes and edit your photos to make them more pleasing for the eyes. The best part about this is that you don’t have to spend a single dime on high-end editing software and graphic design tools. You can use tools like Canva.com to edit your thumbnails for free.

The aesthetics are the same in all of these thumbnails

In this example, you can clearly see that there’s a specific aesthetic to this thumbnail – and the other thumbnails – we’re presenting. 

Make It Uniquely Your Own With Personal Branding

As previously mentioned, custom thumbnails are a great tool for raising brand awareness around your channel and content. Consider using a consistent set of fonts, color schemes, `and overlays and create something that users will immediately recognize as your content, even at a fraction of a glance.

The little brain cartoon is synonomous with the YouTube channel How To ADHD

When you spot the little cartoon brain on YouTube, you know that How To ADHD made that video. They make all of their thumbnails uniquely their own by having a consistent set of fonts, color schemes and overlays.

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