One of the toughest parts of the creative process is coming up with names. Regardless of whether you’re an award-winning author or a video content marketer, coming up with new names for your works is a tough task. And yet, picking the right title is significant. The message you convey at first glance forms a clear line between you attracting viewership through search engine results (direct or referred).
A great video on its own is not enough to generate traffic for your site. The title is important since aside from the thumbnail you select, it’s the only bridge between getting a new pair of eyes on your content and heading off to view something else. A title must be something creative-catchy, even and functional at the same time. In which case, how do you find the perfect balance between utility and attractiveness for your videos?
How Does One Come Up with the Perfect Video Title?
Picking names is a delicate craft. People have very short attention spans, and the title of your video will be one of the first things they look at when deciding whether to spend their precious time on your video or not.
At this point, you’re probably going to have to make a pretty crucial sacrifice-you have to forego the desire to cram as many keywords in there as possible. A great title fulfills two very necessities – it should be both accurate and honest. Characteristics like catchiness (or relative ‘clickbait’) and expressiveness are also important, but they come secondary to the first two.
Steps to follow when selecting a video title
Do some proper keyword research
This step should be relatively trivial for an experienced marketer. Keywords are how you communicate with third parties like search engines to help people find your video. Google has been actively promoting videos on its search engines over the last few decades, so a proper selection of words that help them discover your content is essential. This step is so important, in fact, that you should probably have gotten down to it before you even started doing the video.
If you’re not familiar with the term, it involves doing some research about the most common terms people use to find content that’s like yours. A standard way to do it is by using Google’s Keyword Planner or a host of other products that offer similar services online. A useful tip: the autosuggest function provided in most search engines also counts as a perfectly functional keyword planner.
Once you have the keywords you want, try and integrate them in the title. Just make sure it makes sense grammatically since people tend to use a lot of shorthand when searching online.
Watch out for the title length
The length of your title is one of the most common gotchas a lot of people miss. Your title shouldn’t be too long, for two reasons, primarily. First, in terms of video SEO – Google only shows the first thirty-two words of any video (or search result); the rest is truncated, so it might not make a whole lot of sense to the people reading it. Second, people are impatient, even at the best of times. They will probably just read the first six words or so and move on to the next search result.
The sweet spot for title length is anywhere between 60 and 70 characters. If you can keep the number at 60, the better. With this length, it won’t be truncated in the search engine and that’s what you want for perfect SEO.
Use Episode Numbers in the Title
A helpful tip to maximize viewership in videos is to do what we call video chaptering – which means breaking content into smaller chunks that are easier to digest at once. In such case, an essential part of the process you mustn’t forget is to include the episode number in the title. Snips like “Part 2” or “Episode 5” are great ways to both help the user get around to watching earlier content first and YouTube recommending videos in the proper chronological order (and series-wise) to your viewers better.
When creating videos as part of a series, add the next video you intend the viewer to see as part of the end card in the control panel section of your video. If you want to take things a bit further, package the whole series into a neat video playlist to make everything that much easier to find.
Making Your Title Catchy
You’ve got keywords on your title. That’s all well and good for discoverability but does you no real favors once the potential viewer has found it. This calls for something more – something that will turn heads, raise the user’s curiosity. Your title needs to be catchy. A lot of the videos you’ve seen online look the same. There’s a reason for that. For example, a standard way of naming videos is “10 Ways to Lose Body Fat, Fast” or “5 Tips to Create A Successful Storytelling Video” The simple reason is, it works.
For that matter, one way to attract people’s attention is to appeal to the brain’s desire for finiteness. People like knowing how much time they are going to invest in your content. “Five tips” means about ten minutes of their lives. “Tips” on its own could be an endless barrage of information impossible to absorb.
Take note, however, that this might need a bit of experimentation depending on your target audience. A video that covers in-depth analysis of, say, “How Europe Allowed Hitler to Grow So Much” is very different from something like, “Ten SEO Rules You’ve Been Ignoring.”
Use Descriptive Language
Close to shortcuts, there’s nothing people love as much as being made to think something was their idea when you slyly coerced them into it. For example, there’s very little probability of someone watching a video titled, “Better Your Website.”
Sure, I may want to better my website, but the average person is a lot more descriptive than that. Think more along the lines of something you or your friends would type into a search engine. Why not narrow everything down to something more specific, more relevant, like: “3 Ways to Optimize Your Video Landing Page.”
On the other hand, the elephant in the room must be addressed-clickbait. Some people call it unethical while others prefer to flutter their wings and point towards the increased metrics, shrug and proudly proclaim, ‘if it works, it works.’ This depends on your target audience.
It’s not deniable that it does work in some cases, but the more mainstream it gets, the better people are at weeding such videos out. As such, you might see an initial rise in the number of viewers, but as soon as the search engine catches on, that graph will drop steeply.
Use some old-fashioned word-play
It’s time to put all those years of unnecessary Shakespeare plays and education about the inner workings of poems to good use. Whether they realize it or not, people like wordplay. Simple phrases like “Fun Facts To Brighten Your Day” secretly appeal to the brain because of things like alliteration. Just don’t get carried away or it will get a bit weird.
According to a study, ‘’in the know’’ titles are popular, but when it comes to performance, they do not give out the desired results. The average views for these videos are 15-70% lower than others.
Consider functional words
This tip applies mostly to people that feature educational content on their pages or websites. Both people and search engines are incredibly biased with regards to which content they are going to view. For example, if they are after tutorials, they will likely search for videos with the terms “how to” or “tutorial.” People looking for ideas will look for “tips,” and people looking for advice will use words like “when to” in their search engines.
Avoid spammy words
Google may have advanced algorithms, but they are still unpolished in the grand scheme of things. Earlier this year, for example, YouTube flagged several videos just because they contained the word ‘bomb’ in them.
Computers aren’t very good at recognizing context like most human beings are. For that reason, a lot of words are likely to be picked up as spammy by either search engines or email delivery systems. Terms like “buy now” or “free” or “cheap” are some of the most commonly used words by phishing-related attacks and spam. Only use such words if necessary.
When coming up with a title, remember that you are trying to create something that will appeal to both the human eye and mindless algorithms that listen out for keywords. It’s not all about creativity, for that reason. A little thought should always go into it, but puns and jokes aren’t still the best way to get people to your video.
All in all, the most important points you need to remember when creating your next marketing video title are that it must:
- Grab people’s attention without
- Not sound spammy
- Entice curiosity
- Use a few keywords (it shouldn’t be overloaded!)
- Be as descriptive as possible without being too long to read
- Include episode numbers, if possible.
- Be about 50 – 60 characters (not words) long.