How to Craft Compelling YouTube Titles

Here\'s what I learned about titles for my fellow creators at Standard and some early Clubhouse rooms:

  • Like YouTube videos, YouTube titles should be as short as they can possibly be but no shorter. Try to keep them from truncating whenever you can.
  • Keep titles glanceable and incredibly easy to ‘read’ even if someone is scrolling or just scanning across the page.
  • Test your titles with
  • Look away, look back, see how long it takes you to parse your title.
  • Always think about the audience when it comes to titles — what about your title would make a casual viewer care about your video? What's the selling point? Make sure that's in the title. "iPhone Review" is generic "iPhone Review — Should you Upgrade?" gives a value proposition.
  • Make titles shareable. How would someone tell a friend about your video? How would a core audience memeber recommend it to a casual viewer? That phrasing could be the best title. “Did you see MrBeast gave away 100 Elon Musk posters?” -> “I gave away 100 Elon Musk Posters”
  • Your videos compete with other videos on YouTube and other videos on your channel. Pick a title that makes your video competitive with both!
  • Go into YouTube search, type in the topic of your video. Go into Google search, type in the topic of your video. See what’s ranking. Use that to make your title better.
  • Front-load the keywords (put them first/early) not for SEO (YouTube SEO isn\'t really a thing...) but so that people’s eyes latch on to them immediately. It’s like having a crisp, distinct images in a thumbnail. “Minecraft, but with only one heart.”
  • If the keywords themselves aren’t attention-getting, you can preface them with an exclamation. “Gross! Don’t make this pie!”
  • Thumbnails should stop people from scrolling or scanning in their tracks but titles need to compel them to click — live in their head until they click.
  • Questions work if the answer isn’t simple, obvious, or conventional. “Are you getting too much sleep?”
  • So does hinting at information most people might not know. “Why everyone is wrong about donuts”, “The truth about economy class tickets”
  • You can also introduce doubt, but it can stress people so be careful. “Ford vs. Toyota — Don’t make a mistake!”
  • Plus out your title to stand out. “Canon C70 review” -> “Canon C70 review — 3 weeks on-location!”
  • “— Real XYZ reacts” or just “— XYZ reacts” can entice people to see how someone with presumed expertise views something they care about. “My Cousin Vinny — Real lawyer reacts!”
  • Classics are classics for a reason, especially if you’re targeting YouTube and Google search, and you niche down and over-deliver: “Best iPhone accessories for photographers” “Top 5 Mac accessories for podcasters”
  • Consistency can work. (You always know what you're getting at McDonald's.) If a certain title pattern gets results, repeat and iterate on it until it stops getting results. "PS5 vs. a Zamboni" "Xbox Series X vs. a Zamboni"
  • But, avoid "Part 2","Part 3", etc. in titles. It reduces the chance people who haven't seen previous parts will click, and that group gets larger with every part. Use title patterns (and thumbnail branding) to create "series" instead.
  • Great artists steal. In other words, take inspiration from other titles you see working, but always adapt them to the specifics of your own content and iterate to improve them further. Don't just copy — copy forward!
  • If a title isn’t working (you can see real time views and click-through rates in Analytics) don’t be afraid to change it. You can come up with 3-5 solid variants before you post the video and have them ready to test after the first hour, first 3-6 hours, 6-12 hours. (In combination with cycling thumbnails as well.) Even if it’s just to tweak from initial core audience service to more broad browse/suggested appeal.
  • Like with everything -> Test, iterate, learn, improve, repeat.