Does changing YouTube video title or thumbnail affect views? Be careful
Written by: Dexxter Clark, 28-08-2023It is possible to change the thumbnail on an old video.
(go to YouTube Studio → content → click on the video and replace the thumbnail).
But … SHOULD you replace/change thumbnails on old YouTube videos?
Thumbnails make a huge difference in whether you get views or not on YouTube.
Changing a thumbnail can drastically impact views, so be careful.
Changing a thumbnail does not impact the views you already received on a video.
It will impact the views you will receive in the future from the moment you change the thumbnail.
Yes, change thumbnailWhen the video is performing bad compared to other videos on your channel.
But it only makes sense when the video is still getting impressions having traction (25-100 views a day).
Most creators think that the video gets a boost when changing a title or thumbnail.
That is not the case!
Changing YouTube thumbnail does NOT affect algorithm, it changes viewer behavior.
The algorithm responds to viewer behavior, so promotes a video less (or more) based on this new behavior.
This may cause a video to go viral or die completely.
Changing a thumbnail can change viewer expectation of what they are going to see.
By changing the thumbnail, you’re not only change the Click Through Rate, but you also influence Watch Time.
And because more (or less) viewers reach the end of a video and click over to other videos, you also may change Session Watch Time.
Never be afraid to change a thumbnail back to the original when it doesn’t work.
But be aware that changing the thumbnail can have a permanent effect, which changing back not always fixes.
To greatly improve your chances of making a thumbnail get your MORE views, it helps to get better at making thumbnails.
In my Thumbnail Secrets video training I help creators like you step-by-step to blow up their videos the help of their thumbnails, with techniques that all big YouTubers in all niches use.
No, DON’T change thumbnailWhen your video is doing well and you want even more views.
Never change a thumbnail on a video that is doing well, it can only get worse.
I did this on multiple occasions, and I ALWAYS regretted it afterwards.
Like I said earlier, it can be permanent.
The problem is:
When you rank first for a search term.
You change the thumbnail, more viewers click over to thumbnail #2 instead of yours (#1), YouTube will rank the other one #1.
You might never get your number 1 spot back, because YouTube found that viewers clicking on the other video lead to viewers taking a viewing path that lead to viewers staying longer on the platform (and therefore seeing more ads).
It also doesn’t make sense to change your thumbnail when your video doesn’t have traction or doesn’t get impressions.
YouTube deemed the video to be bad and stopped testing.
In other words: nobody will see your new thumbnail.
You waste your time on making a better thumbnail.
Why do Big YouTubers keep changing thumbnails?Well, they know the game of YouTube all too well.
They know that viewers react differently to different thumbnails.
They are testing which thumbnail works best and gets them the most views.
When should you change your thumbnail?On a new video I would wait until a couple of hours after the release of the video.
Then you can change the thumbnail and wait a couple of hours before changing it again.
In the first few hours you could look at Click Through Rate, but after a few days: look at the change in views.
The first few hours is the only time that CTR actually is somewhat reliable because it pushes out your video first to your most loyal audience.
(explained in this article why CTR is unreliable)
ConclusionChanging a thumbnail (or title) is risky and only makes sense when a video has traction.
Can you afford the risk? Change the thumbnail!
If you can’t, DON’T change the thumbnail!
When you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my video training program: Viral Strategy.
The program takes you step-by-step through the process of getting views, subscribers and going viral.
For new creators I included a module that guides you step-by-step through the process of starting, creating and setting up a YouTube channel.
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