Youtube Thumbnail Guidelines for High CTR

Tired of your YouTube videos getting lost in the algorithm? After a month dissecting hundreds of thumbnails from the platform’s biggest creators, taking meticulous notes along the way, these insights are real.

What was discovered is surprising: the most successful thumbnails often followed one of six simple formats.

Ready to skyrocket your video views? In this guide, I’m revealing six proven thumbnail formats, so you can use them for your own videos and start seeing results.

1. Outcome & Result Based Thumbnails

This type of thumbnail visualize an outcome, whether it’s a skill or a product, the interest and curiosity is driven by the question they create. Such as “How did that happen?” or “How did they do that?”.

The more desirable the result, the more clickable the thumbnail giving you higher CTR’s.

2. Transformational Thumbnails

The have an obvious before and after state, often a split screen style image that blends together and piques the curiosity.

These work best when the before state is something that people can relate to, and even more so when the after state is desirable.

3. Comparison Thumbnails

A classic take on X vs Y, where you highlight the difference between two distinctive things, generating curiosity and interest with a desire to learn more.

For these to work, it needs to be something that people have never seen before, or a product that viewers are considering to purchase.

4. Novelty Thumbnails

A novelty themed thumbnails drives curiosity from a natural and instinctive urge to experience something unusual or desirable.

Typically seen as either a novelty that inspires awe, or a novelty that’s weird and unexpected (without being extreme and shocking).

5. Story Based Thumbnails

These thumbnails beg the question “What happens next?” and typically do this by introducing a question that sets up the first few moments of the story.

They compliment the hook of the video by revealing a little more, but setting up a deeper story. The viewers click these videos to find the answer to the questions, so it can become quite compelling if the hook is spot on.

SEO isn’t just about websites, the same concepts apply to platforms like Youtube, and enhancing your thumbnails along with the titles is a critical part of the optimisation process.