The recommended size for YouTube thumbnails is 1280x720px (1280 pixels wide and 720 pixels high). These dimensions work out to be a 16:9 ratio, which is the most commonly used aspect ratio across YouTube players and previews.
Some other guidelines recommended by YouTube are:
- Thumbnail images should be under 2MB.
- Make sure your thumbnail size is at least 640 pixels wide.
- Be uploaded in image formats such as JPG, GIF, or PNG.
Why are YouTube thumbnails so important?
Thumbnails and titles act like billboards and are the primary things potential viewers consider when deciding whether to watch your videos. Well designed thumbnails and titles will get more clicks which means more views for your videos and more subscribers for your channel.
Thumbnails and titles are usually the first thing viewers see when browsing on YouTube and an important piece of your video’s metadata. They work together as a team to build anticipation while accurately representing what’s in your video. Make a good first impression on your audience!
Are clickbait thumbnails effective?
To explain why, let's go through some official YouTube terminology:
- Impressions = How many times your video thumbnails are shown on YouTube
- Clickthrough-rate (CTR) = Proportion of your impressions that turn into views
- Average View Duration (AVD) = Average amount of time viewers watch your video
AVD is a key determinant of whether the YouTube algorithm continues to recommend your videos to potential viewers. If viewers are clicking your thumbnails and then finding out that your video doesn't match up with the title or thumbnail, they will click away and not watch your video. This has the effect of lowering your AVD, which will lead to YouTube penalizing your video. This is why you should never use clickbait thumbnails or titles!
Should I test my thumbnails?
Thumbnails can help you with your CTR (which we discussed above). A good thumbnail and title can increase the proportion of impressions that turn into views. Just think to the last time you saw an interesting thumbnail or title on YouTube and decided to click on it. The key here is that your thumbnail should still represent the content of your video (and not be clickbait). This way you get more clicks, more views, and a high AVD!
Another benefit of improving your CTR is that the YouTube algorithm likes videos with high CTR and AVD. This means increasing your CTR leads to the YouTube algorithm recommending your videos to more viewers.
Want more tactics to grow on YouTube? Check out our 52 Tips to Get More Views on YouTube