How To Optimize YouTube Videos For Mobile Viewing

According to YouTube statistics, 50% of video views come from mobile devices. This accounts for a large portion of YouTube viewers. Thus, check your channel’s mobile traffic. If it’s low, chances are your videos aren’t sufficiently optimized for mobile viewing. Adopt optimization strategies to make your channel mobile-friendly and enhance traffic.

To determine your channel’s mobile traffic, click on your Channel Icon followed by Creator Studio. Next, click on Analytics, then Devices. You will be able to see your channel’s phone and mobile traffic. You can further obtain information based on the mobile operating system.

Below are 3 tips to optimize YouTube videos for mobile viewing:

1. Use YouTube interactive Cards instead of annotations

YouTube annotations are indispensable tools to boost engagement with viewers, provide essential information and grow your audience. However, annotations don’t work on mobile videos. Alternatively, YouTube has released the interactive “Cards” feature, to cater to the growing mobile audience. Cards are like annotations, but are optimized to suit both mobile and desktop interfaces. 

Cards add an element of interactivity to YouTube videos. Much like annotations, cards allow creators to add custom images, titles, call-to-action text and links to associated websites or channels. Cards are displayed on the right-hand side of the video on desktops and below the video on mobiles. Viewers can also scroll through them while watching the video.

Watch the video below to understand how Cards work on YouTube:

2. Optimize thumbnail images

Thumbnails play a vital role in getting viewers to click on your videos. Essentially, thumbnail images are the equivalent of a book cover or a movie poster for your YouTube videos. They help viewers determine what your video is about. Therefore, it is vital to optimize thumbnail images to suit all digital devices.

Thumbnail images appear significantly smaller on mobile devices. Hence, choose an image that works well on both, large and small digital devices. Below are a few tips to help you choose good thumbnail images:

  • Choose an image that perfectly describes what your video is about.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.19.33 pm

  • Use close-up shots of people to attract viewers’ attention.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.20.06 pm

  • Use images with brightly colored backgrounds.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.21.59 pm

  • Choose an image that has a good composition.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.22.29 pm

  • Use text sparingly. Avoid overloading your thumbnail images with text.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 4.23.22 pm

  • Choose high resolution images.

People often overlook thumbnails as an important tool to attract new viewers. Thumbnails are in fact keystones of a successful YouTube channel. Therefore, follow the above tips to make your thumbnails mobile-friendly.

3. Optimize your video titles to suit mobile devices

Video titles introduce your video to viewers. Titles provide an insight into what your videos are about. Titles also possess an enormous SEO value and make your videos more searchable. Pack your video title with keywords that people would use to search videos similar to yours. In addition, keep your video title short and succinct to suit all devices. 

Long video titles are not conducive as mobile devices tend to display limited characters. For instance, take a look at the difference between the video title displayed on a desktop and a mobile device, below.

Mobile Device

Mobile Device



From the above images, you can notice that a mobile device displays fewer characters. Thus, follow the tips below to make your title mobile-friendly:

  • Pack the title with keywords to improve search rankings
  • Use a “hook” in the beginning of the title to grab viewers’ attention. This can help viewers make a split second decision to watch videos.
  • Write a short, catchy and descriptive video title.

For example, take a look at the below title. The title is concise and compelling. Now who wouldn’t want to watch a skateboarding cat?

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.57.11 pm

The video viewing experience on a smartphone varies from a desktop. Thus, content creators must take steps to optimize YouTube videos for mobile viewing. Follow the above steps to provide an ultimate video experience for both mobile and desktop users.

Interested in getting your YouTube video discovered by masses of targeted fans? Click this link:

Manasa Boggaram is a writer and has a strong passion for music, positive news and constructive journalism. When she is not researching story ideas or writing blog posts, she spends her time reading books, discovering new music and eating lots of street food.

Leave a Comment