Link Building Strategies with Video on YouTube

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Many people ignore all of the tremendous link building opportunities on YouTube. They think of YouTube and think ‘video marketing only,’ and go about creating videos for brand exposure. Unfortunately, they’re missing out on a huge link building opportunity amongst an interested audience that can convert well.

This article is going to look at the three types of links you can build from YouTube to your website. Examples from real YouTube channels, including one famous YouTuber, will be scattered throughout this article so that you can see them working in actual videos.


In-video linking strategies for YouTube marketers

Using YouTube Annotations for link building

There are two basic ways that you can create links in YouTube videos:

  1. In a YouTube Annotation or Card after adding your website to your channel as an associated account.
  2. In the description below the video.

Both link types will be no-follow, as all links on YouTube leading to external websites are, but that doesn’t really matter. We’re building links on YouTube and using tactics to push people to click on them. Their use for search engines is not a concern right now as people already found your video via a search.

In the basketball world, Freak Vertical and BBall Training is a pretty big name amongst those looking for training techniques. This video of theirs perfectly illustrates how to use a Youtube Annotation as a link building tool. Watch the upper left hand corner the moment the video begins:

Click on that and you’re sent to an external website which was built specifically for their videos. Here’s a screenshot of how they built a page specially for their YouTube viewers:

freak training website

It cuts right to the point as one of the most focused landing pages I’ve seen. If you’re thinking at all about building links from YouTube to an external website, have this laser-like focus on your page. People on YouTube want to watch videos, getting them to click and leave YouTube is not an a opportunity you should waste on a page that is too busy.

Using this tactic can be even more effective with the presenter acknowledging the Annotation in the video. Don’t be afraid to tell your viewers what the Annotation is, and that you want them to click on it. Calls to action are always important.

Even if you don’t have something to link to externally in you video, you can still use them to link to another video of yours, or even a whole YouTube Playlist. Regardless of your linking strategies to off Youtube content, keeping people on your channel is incredibly important. Keeping them watching your videos, using a variety of techniques, is such an important way to get more YouTube views. With more views comes more chances to show people links and get clickthroughs.
Using YouTube Cards to build links

Youtube Cards are different from YouTube Annotations. The big difference is that they work on mobile devices while Annotations do not. This alone can result in your clickthrough numbers doubling over traditional Annotation style links. If you’re new to the link building game in Youtube videos, try both just to compare your results.

Let’s look at how YouTube Cards work. They’re very popular in the retail genre, and there’s no-name bigger than WalMart in retail. Here’s a screenshot of the ‘i’ icon in the upper right corner of one of their videos:


When users click on that ‘i’ button they see this appear on the right hand side of the video:


These are clickable links to WalMart’s landing pages for items used in the video. Many online retailers are choosing YouTube Cards over Annotations. Considering how good they look, with striking images, and how they allow the ever-growing mobile market to click, it’s easy to see why.

Using links in the YouTube video description

One of the most prolific users of links in the YouTube descriptions section is Philip DeFranco:

You’ll see that he doesn’t put the link directly in as an Annotation at any time. He instead directs his fans to look down in the description area of his video. This is something that he does in every single video. His fans know to go down there if they want to learn more about a story he talks about in a video, or if they want to check out the sponsor. Here’s a typical description from Phil:

youtube links in description

All of his fans know that they’re there, and he directs new fans to look every time. This is a great call to action tactic for Phil because, as you can see, he has many links. How he arranges them is important too:

  • The first group of links at the top are to his own website where he sells merchandise, and to other videos.
  • The second group of links are to his blog where he posts interesting facts and goings on.
  • The third group of links go to articles which further discuss the stories he is talking about.
  • Not shown as a fourth group at the bottom of links to his socials.

We all have links we want to push on YouTube. Even someone making good money off of his YouTube Adsense, like Phil, has things to sell and sponsors to link to. If you’re going to imitate him you need to keep things organized and neat so that your viewers can find the links they want at a glance. Using an auditory call to action, “Check out the links in the description below,” along with physically pointing down, will help your viewers learn where your links are.


Link building on YouTube

Now that you see all of the link building opportunities on YouTube, you’d better be ready to stop thinking it as purely a video marketing, or video hosting, website. It’s the world’s second most popular search engine, combined with the social interaction in the comments section, with link building opportunities aplenty.

Take all of this into consideration with each video you make, and watch as your videos become a more integral part of your entire online marketing plan.


And here’s how you monitor the success of your YouTube links:

Qualitative link building via target group specific content strategies!

Feature image via Jane Kelly / Shutterstock

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Ernest Thompson

Ernest is a social, digital, and video marketing writer. You can learn more on where he and his team prepare weekly posts with great insight into all things digital marketing.

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  • Awesome. Who knew there are lurking linkbuilding opportunities in YouTube. These are better strategies than simply churning out videos (those are nice – but vids for the sake of SEO is pretty annoying). Thanks for the cool insights!