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Top 3 Ways to Optimize Your YouTube Thumbnails

Every day, hundreds of millions of hours of content are watched on YouTube. The question is now how to make your video stand out from the noise and convert the viewer to watch and engage with your video.

We’ve created this blog post to outline three things that you can do with your thumbnails to make sure that your videos cut through the noise and engage your target viewers.


Make It Clear: Think of your video’s thumbnail as its book cover. Despite the old adage, people are much more likely to view your video if you have an interesting, dynamic “cover” that grabs their attention and makes them curious about your content.

When you first upload a video, YouTube gives you a choice of three thumbnail images that are pulled randomly from your video. Because they are pulled randomly, this can often result in blurry or less than appealing images that don’t communicate the content of your video to the viewer. Fortunately, YouTube provides you with the ability to upload your own image as a thumbnail or to choose a specific frame from your video. Choosing an image that is easy to see and clearly displays what your video is about leads to a much greater chance that your content will be viewed. Simply click on the “Custom Thumbnail” button to upload your chosen image, as pictured below.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 11.14.52 AM

Make It Pop: Now that you’ve chosen a clear, easily digestible image to use as your video’s thumbnail, it’s time to play with it to make it as visually appealing as possible. One thing that we recommend doing is adding text to your image. Studies show that viewers tend to look at a video’s thumbnail before reading the actual text of the title. Adding text to your thumbnail gives you the opportunity to engage your viewers at the very first step of their engagement with your video.

Many of YouTube’s most popular content creators change the backgrounds of their thumbnails to solid colors. This catches the viewer’s eye and draws attention to the primary subject of your thumbnail. For example, here’s the thumbnail from a video with nearly 8 million views by the popular Smosh channel.



Make It Fit: If you are creating custom thumbnails for your videos and not simply selecting a frame from your upload, it is important that you pay attention to the size of your image. You should take care to craft your images with standard video sizes in mind. Creators most commonly use 1280×720 and 1920×1080, so use those as your templates when making your thumbnails. Anything smaller and you run the risk of a blurry thumbnail when your image is resized on the platform.


Your YouTube thumbnail can have a huge impact on the viewability of your videos. Think of it as your book cover and keep these rules of thumb in mind when you upload new content. We’re sure that you’ll see more engagement with your videos and a greater chance of lead and sales generation. Good luck!