I started my YouTube channel without a strategy in August 2022.
My videos got around 250–300 views.
Then I started posting on YouTube with a strategy and the intent to grow in January 2023.
It has been about two months, and now my videos generally garner more than 13–14k views within a week of posting.
And we are 16k+ subscribers strong, all organic, and growing. Not only this, but YouTube is also pushing my content to the ideal audience on their homepage.
Not only that, but my videos also rank on the Google search first page, which leads to more views (And this screenshot is in incognito mode, so no, there is no foul play).
It boils down to understanding the algorithms. And I love to crack algorithms.
I have learned a great deal about the YouTube algorithm in the past three months, but I will focus on features that enable discoverability since that is the main reason you clicked to read this article.
Table of Contents
What is YouTube Videos Click Through Rate?
Click-through rate calculates the percentage of how many of your impressions on YouTube turn into views. It likely mirrors a subset of your channel’s total views.
Once you upload a new video, YouTube will start showing it to users whom YouTube believes, are interested in your video.
This might be users who subscribed to your YouTube channel, a person searching for a specific key phrase in a YouTube search, or a person watching someone else’s video and seeing your video in the right sidebar of recommended videos.
Whenever your video thumbnail appears on someone’s screen we refer to this as a YouTube video impression.
Think of each impression as a chance to earn a view.
The YouTube impressions click-through rate calculates the percentage of how many of your impressions on YouTube turn into views.
To put it differently, how often viewers watched a video after seeing an impression of your video defines click-through rate.
Remember that, while some of your views might come from impressions, some views might come from sources with no thumbnail impression, for instance from video links that are shared outside of YouTube.
Why are YouTube Videos Click Through Rates so Important?
If you want to be successful on YouTube, you have to first realize that CTR on YouTube is greatly important, you have to master the following two success factors to climb the ladder of success, you have to pay attention to video watch time and video watch time percentage.
To put it differently, what percentage of your YouTube video is watched on average?
If you upload a 5-minute video and your viewers watch 3 minutes on average, which represents a 70% watch time percentage.
The higher your watch time, the more likely that YouTube will recommend your video to relevant new viewers who might enjoy your video.
But everything dies or lives with your YouTube impression click-through rate.
YouTube screen space is very much limited.
So when YouTube takes a chance with one of your videos and fills – let’s say – 8% of a user’s newsfeed with your video thumbnail, this gamble has to do the trick.
Otherwise, YouTube would misuse everyone’s time and screen space, scrolling over non-useful videos.
That’s one hundred percent what happens when your click-through rate is low.
YouTube will just stop recommending it to new users.
And thus your video journey life dies, even though it had a great watch time to live on
Today I will show you how to avoid early death in the life of your videos and how to attract thousands of beneficial clicks to your YouTube channel.
Strategies to Improve Your YouTube Videos Click-Through Rate
#1. Create Captivating Thumbnails
Thumbnails are one of the greatest factors that impact your CTR percentage, and they can literally make or break your whole channel.
They are much more than just a small content frame, thumbnails are the teasers, and they are the billboards that scream “this video content will be interesting” to the viewers.
No matter if it’s a long-time subscriber or a person seeing your channel or video for the first time, thumbnails will have a great role in persuading them to stop scrolling and click on the video.
Shockingly, some YouTubers don’t even worry about making a thumbnail at all, which prompts YouTube to select a random frame for them.
Daniel Cheung of Make SEO Simple Again shares some compelling advice on how to make your thumbnail stand out:
“First, the visual you use must arrest immediate attention,” says Cheung. “If you think about it, the thumbnail is tiny on a mobile app and desktop; therefore, it needs to be snappy and visible.
At the same time, you want to add text as a layer on the thumbnail visual media. And there are nuances to this, that is, there is often a sweet spot of 3-7 words that you can fit before it becomes:
Too long or too small to read.
And when it gets to the copywriting of the overlay text, again, it must be snappy. Don’t repeat the same video title; rather, word it so that it inspires curiosity.
Questions often work well as do calling out things that most users think is true (but you are suggesting that they are wrong).”
“We discovered that out of the many tasks YouTubers need to do to ensure their videos get the clicks and views, creating click-worthy thumbnails appears to be the most essential. We always incorporate a human face in our thumbnails. It aids us to build an emotional connection, and it does help us to boost CTR on YouTube, big time.” Olga Bedrina of Wave says.
#2. Write Fascinating Video Titles
Catchy titles are all the fashion nowadays on YouTube but remember that click-worthy is not the same as clickbait.
Don’t write checks your content can not cash.
Don’t lie to your viewers through the title and then disappoint them with ambiguous tips or life hacks.
This has an enormous negative impact on your channel’s credibility, and the vast majority of people won’t check out your other videos if they recognize the channel.
A great tip to make your titles more attractive is to focus on hitting the user’s pain points, while still reflecting on the video’s actual content.
“Keep in mind that CTRs are recorded the highest shortly after you upload your video because your followers and subscribers will be informed about the new content,” says Bernadett Dioszegi of Bannersnack.
“After your video is watched by more viewers (beyond your main audience) CTRs will decline. But if you decide on a subject line and a title that is specific and it mirrors the content of the video, you will notice a boost in overall views and watch time, and you will witness a high average percentage viewed.“
#3. Test Run Different Thumbnail and Title Combos
Even if a particular type of thumbnail or a specific title formula has worked well for you in the past, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test run with new combos.
“If you are bothered about the click-through rates, just remember that the more users that click on your video title or thumbnail, the higher you are likely to rank for a given search term, and it will ultimately improve your YouTube CTR,” says Jackson Gartner of White Peak Digital.
“You can improve this by experimenting with different combinations of video thumbnails and titles to see what works better for you, basically by performing A/B testing.”
#4. Build a Loyal Following
No matter what niche you focus on, boosting your CTR and generating more quality traffic to your channel is much easier if you grow your audience and build a loyal following.
“Your vibe appeal to your tribe,” and YouTube is one of the best channels for displaying your vibe.
On this note, Brack Nelson of Incrementors Web Solutions says, “Develop a loyal brand following. A large subscriber base shows you will be able to boost YouTube views. Videos become popular among others, and more comments and views will follow.
Including a call to action to visit your website and contribute to your channel can keep leads involved when they are not quite ready to make a purchase. This results in a long-term higher video clicks.”
#5. Optimize Videos for the correct Keywords
Naturally, the vast majority of people will bypass Google search and go directly to YouTube when they want to look up a particular video.
Nowadays, almost all YouTube giants leverage keyword SEO strategies when coming up with titles.
For example, if you search “the best movies 2023”, you will inevitably run into communiTV, WatchMojo, and Austin Burke, all of whom SEO optimized their titles.
Just like with ranking in Google, you have got to do keyword research for YouTube too.
“If you are just starting, then the best free alternative is to use the auto-complete feature in the YouTube search box.
In addition, you need to ensure that your target keywords are in the right places. This means the title of your video, tags, the description, and transcript.”
#6. Test with CTAs
Just like with thumbnail and title combos, you should also try out various CTAs to see which ones are leading to the finest results.
On that note, Nick Yee of Portent suggests “Although you are limited to 10 characters for a call-to-action (CTA), you should always try out various calls to action like Shop Now, Buy Now, or Learn More.”
Some of the most popular CTAs to experiment with are:
#1. Beginning of the video CTA: This one is relevant if you notice that visitors exit your video before the CTA even appears.
#2. Suggest another video CTA: If creating engaging videos is one of your strengths, this CTA can go a long way in building a devoted YouTube following.
#3. Follow on social media CTA: If the content you create on other social media channels is just as great as your YouTube videos, there is a high chance that users will be interested in following your work there as well.
#4. Subscribe to channel CTA: Naturally, subscribers will spend more time on your videos than non-subscribers. So, if you can get more users to subscribe, they will be notified for each new video you post, directly resulting in more views and a better CTR for videos.
#7. Improve Average Watch Time
The average watch time of your videos is one of the key metrics that YouTube’s algorithm utilizes for ranking.
YouTube knows that impressions and view count are not enough to determine the quality or relevance of content.
One of the best ways to improve your average watch time is to work on creating a powerful hook. The first 15-20 seconds of your video are important in persuading your viewers into watching to the end.
If you fail to keep them interested in the start, it doesn’t matter how great the remainder of your video is, they will jump off if the beginning is not able to hook them.
#8. Make Your Descriptions appetizing to the Audience
For some reason, a lot of YouTubers overlook the importance of video descriptions.
While focusing on the thumbnail and title should be your main objective, you should draw the users’ attention using the description as well.
Shockingly, when you typed “how to make money online”, there were not a lot of top results with “wow” descriptions.
For instance, would you rather click on a YouTube video with a description that says “making money online is simple” or “I will show you which online jobs pay $40/hour”?
#9. Be Consistent and Punctual with YouTube Posting Time
Even though it might sound a bit awkward, your YouTube posting time matters a lot more than you have ever thought it does.
A lot of people get accustomed to specific patterns, which means that watching your newly released videos could easily become a part of their habit.
For example, let’s say you upload a new video every Sunday at 8 PM Central Time.
A user will check out your videos for the first time and if they enjoy them, they will open your channel and watch the past videos as well.
Now, YouTube figures out that your content resonates with the person and will start recommending more of your videos to them.
This means that the next time you release a new video; they will see it on their YouTube homepage.
After a while, this turns into a subconscious routine and the user will be looking around the homepage each Sunday afternoon in hope of finding your new video.
#10. Focus on Your Niche and YouTube Target Audience
If one day you are making YouTube videos about cars and the next fashion, your subscribers—the users who are most likely to click on a new video in that important first 48 hours will start to ignore you. Why? Because the chances are the fashionistas don’t care about cars and the car enthusiasts don’t care about the latest coats on the market.
Focus on a specific topic and you will get significantly higher CTR. To illustrate, if you are in marketing, you might pick an area like Instagram ads to start. Then narrow that down to using videos in Instagram ads.
Over time, you might become known as an Instagram video pro. Once your channel is established and you have built a following, you will have the ideal audience at your fingertips to promote more general Instagram content.
By zooming in on your niche, you will get fewer views to start but they will be more focused, helping you achieve a better CTR and higher rankings in YouTube searches. You will also build the foundation on which your channel can grow.
CTR is a vital metric because it helps YouTube creators understand their customers—it tells them what works (and what doesn’t work) when trying to reach their ideal audience.
A low CTR could indicate that you are targeting the wrong audience or that you are not speaking their language persuasively enough to convince them to click.
With tested and trusted strategies rolled out, this article has been written to guide you on how to improve your YouTube videos’ click-through rates.