Every minute, over 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. As of 2017, there are over 5 billion videos on YouTube and the number is growing every day.

There are many videos competing for the eyeballs of internet users. Therefore, how do you make your video to stand out in this sea of videos?

The answer is simple.

You need to have an outstanding video, give it a great title and a top-notch thumbnail image. Using a proper YouTube thumbnail size is also worth considering.

Trust me; the thumbnail of a video is just as important as the video content or the video title.

And in today’s post, I’m going to show you how to create outstanding thumbnail images for YouTube, the ideal size and best practices to get the most out of your videos.

Do you want to generate YouTube views?

Consider this, the most powerful call to action on YouTube is the play button.

But that is not all.

Your thumbnail image also serves vital roles as far as generating clicks to your YouTube video is concerned.

If it is not visually appealing, you will miss out on a lot of clicks. You must have an eye on visual design if you want the best thumbnail image that will attract people to your video.

Do not use the default YouTube Thumbnail

In 2015, Google announced a new thumbnail algorithm. This algorithm is based on deep neural network technology. This new development automatically compares video frames and selects the best still image to be used as the video thumbnail.

Why does that matter?

The purpose of this algorithm is to pick out the best thumbnail images for your YouTube videos. It is a great development. However, it does not beat a custom thumbnail size. That is because a custom image helps in branding.

How do you set a custom YouTube Thumbnail?

Setting a custom YouTube thumbnail size is extremely easy.

After you upload your video, you will see some default thumbnails at the bottom.

To the right, you will see the “Custom Thumbnail,” button. You need to click it so that to add a custom thumbnail from your PC.

But do you know that your brand is your most important business asset?

It might not be on your balance sheet but it is one of those intangible assets that will determine the profitability and the future of your company.

You can use YouTube videos to build your brand. To do so, you should add the same distinctive branding to all your YouTube video thumbnails. Make sure that each thumbnail has your logo and your distinct brand colors.

The most important part of a video in YouTube is the thumbnail. Click To Tweet

A Video still might not be your Best Thumbnail

Why is that the case?

Your video is constantly in motion. Therefore, pausing the video, and trying to take a still image to use as a YouTube image might not be the best idea.

You might have realized that when you pause a video and take a still, the person on the video is always making a ridiculous expression. That is not what you want your audience to see.

Instead, what should you do?

  • Do not use a video still as your thumbnail image. The best thing is to take an actual photograph. Pause your video and take a staged photograph. That will lead to the best thumbnail size.
  • You Tuber Rossana Pasino has high-quality YouTube thumbnails that are taken as actual photographs instead of video stills.

Make the Best Use of Color

You see. Bright colors will make your video to get more attention.

That is not all,

They will also make it stand out of the competition.

However, do not make your video thumbnails to be too bright as that will make them look cheap.

  • The YouTube channel, My Cupcake Addiction, is an example of how to properly use colors to make your thumbnail image to be more attractive.
  • The text and graphics of your YouTube thumbnail should have contrasting colors if you want to get more views and clicks. Contrasting colors will make the graphics and text of your thumbnail to be read well.
  • Do not use the default colors. To make your thumbnails to stand out versus other thumbnails, you need to edit the colors using your favorite graphics editor. You can turn up the saturation a bit. Even a small change in hue/saturation can make your thumbnail images to be more attractive.
  • While using the graphics editor, you should sharpen the edges of your thumbnail image.
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When you use colors appropriately, viewers will click through on your thumbnail images to see the videos behind the images. That will increase your views, popularity and ultimately, search engine ranking.
You are probably wondering:

What’s the Right YouTube Thumbnail Size?

First, according to Google, the YouTube thumbnail size should be 1280 X 720 pixels. The minimum width must be 640 pixels. To achieve the best effect with YouTube players, a ratio of 16:9 is desired.

Secondly, the best thumbnail size is a larger image size that can easily scale down. That is better than a small-sized image that will need to be scaled up. A larger image size will be scaled down to be small for searches and will expand when it shows as part of the YouTube suggestions on what to watch next.

Apart from YouTube thumbnail size, there are other technical specifications that should also be considered. First, the image file must not exceed the 2MB limit. Secondly, the file must be in.PNG, BMP,  GIF, or. JPG formats.

The Proper Use of Text

Why does this matter?

After achieving the best YouTube thumbnail size, you should also consider other factors such as making your video to have the right text.

Here is the deal:

  • You need to use text over your images or on the side. Thus, you should find a thumbnail image that will work well with text over it or on its side.
  • Having text that is too small for your thumbnail image will reduce the number of clicks. That is because the text will not be viewable when the thumbnail appears in search engine results.
  • Too much text on an image is also not good. There is the need for the text that viewers can read in one quick glance.
  • What is needed is a concise title and if you see it fit, a concise subtitle.

Include a Human Face

What is the real story behind that?

Humans are psychologically drawn to other human faces. Every day, we gather information by looking at faces. Humans love to see faces on videos.

You see:

The strategy of including faces on YouTube thumbnails is a strategy that has worked very well for BuzzFeed.Com. Just check out the video archive page of Buzzfeed on YouTube. It has many thumbnail images with faces.

In addition to that:

Including a human face will make the thumbnail image to connect with viewers. A thumbnail with a human face will stand out whether it is being viewed on a PC or on a mobile device.

Emotive videos will lead viewers into the soul and heart of a video.

Be Concise

But here is the kicker:

The text that you place on your thumbnail image should be as concise as possible. There is no need to use ten words when you can use four words.

  • The title of your video and other descriptive texts should be extremely concise. You should use a few words that catch the gist of the video and will attract the interest of an audience.
  • Instead of saying ‘How to Wear a Headband over Your Head in 10 Different Ways’, you can simply say, ‘10 Ways to Wear a Headband.’ That is the true meaning of being concise.

Do Not Just Include a Human Face: Include a Highly Expressive Face

Here is what you also need to know:

A YouTube thumbnail image that has a highly expressive face that hints at controversy will capture the interest of audiences. Emotions that a video can evoke include shock, fear, and suspicion, among others.


Split Test

Split test to make sure that you have the right YouTube thumbnail size and that all the other important matters have been well catered for. You should split test different thumbnails and different channels and see what gets more views. Evaluate the response of your audience. Once you determine what works for your audience that can be your go-to strategy.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before You Upload You Custom Thumbnail

  • Does my thumbnail look great on all device types
  • Do I have the right YouTube thumbnail size
  • Does my thumbnail feature my branding
  • Will it compel viewers to click the play button
  • Is the play button prominent
  • Does my thumbnail hint the theme of the content

Wrapping it up

Image thumbnails usually show up in Google search results. If you want your videos to stand out in the long line of search results, you need good thumbnail images.

You might have heard it said many times that you should never judge a book by its cover. However, when it comes to YouTube videos, that advice does not apply. When internet users are searching for videos to watch while using a search engine, they will definitely choose the videos that have the best covers, the best thumbnail images.