YouTube Marketing: Creating External Links to Your Website

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How to Link to Your Website from Within a YouTube VideoHave you ever wanted to link to your website directly from within a YouTube video? Then this post is for you.

Dear Rich,

I’ve recently starting using YouTube as part of my online marketing campaigns. I know I can  ask viewers to visit my website as part of the narrative, or create a link to my website (or landing page) in the description, but is there anyway to create a link from within the video?

–YouTubing in Eustice

Dear YouTubing,

If I had gotten this email a few months ago I would have said yes, but you’ll need to jump through a bunch of hoops and create overlay ads for your videos, something that can add quite a bit of time to your video marketing.

If I had gotten this email a few weeks ago I would have said yes, but you’ll need to use some 3rd party software.

But, I got this email this week, and so I can answer YES! 

Yes, Virginia, there is a way to create external links from within a YouTube video to a website or landing page. 

It will require flipping a couple of switches in YouTube, having a Webmaster Tools account for the website in question, and associating these accounts. 

I created a how-to video that will walk you through the process and posted it to (where else?) YouTube, and titled it How to Create External Links in YouTube.

And, for those people who don’t like to watch how-to videos, and for the search engines who need words to understand what this post is all about, here’s the walkthrough of how to create external links in a YouTube video.

Associate Your Website with Your YouTube Channel

  • Log into your YouTube account.
  • Click on the down arrow next to your profile picture which will open a menu. Click Video Manager. YouTube Video Manager
  • Click on Channel Settings in the left hand navigation when it appears. YouTube Channel Settings
  • Click on Associates Websites and then enter your website.  YouTube Associated Website

Connect Webmaster Tools

  • Log into Webmaster Tools.
  • Select the website in question (there may be more than one.) Select Website in Webmaster Tools
  • Click Configuration in the left hand menu, then AssociatesWebmaster Tools: Configure Associates
  • Click the Add a New User button.Add a New User in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Enter the email associated with the Google Account (and YouTube channel), select the YouTube checkbox, and click AddWebmaster Tools: Add a new associated user

Verify Your YouTube Partner Account

So, in the video above I inadvertently deleted the text in the third callout title. When I discovered my mistake, I already had a handful of likes, so I decided to keep the imperfect version. From now on, no misstakes. I promise. 😉

  • Return to YouTube and your Channel Settings. Click on Features this time. If your account isn’t verified, click on VerifyYouTube's Channel Setting Features
  • On the next screen Google will ask you to enter in a phone number to receive a call or text with a verify code in it. Verify Your YouTube Account
  • Once you receive your code, enter in on the next screen. Verify code for your YouTube account.

Enable External Links in YouTube

  • Go to your Video Manager.
  • Select any video, click on the arrow next to Edit and choose Annotations. YouTube Annotations
  • On the next screen you’ll see a big, blue bar across the top, asking if you want to enable external links. Click the Enable button and agree to the Terms & Conditions on the popup window. (Sorry, no screen grab!)
  • I’ve discovered that even after you enable external links, it won’t work the first time. My recommendation is to now go back to your Video Manager and reselect Annotations for the video you want to create links from.
  • Get to the point in the video where you want to add the external link. Click on Add annotation and select Speech Bubble, Note or Spotlight. I chose Spotlight in the video, because I like how you can overlay it on a “button” in your movie. Adding an Annotation in YouTube
  • You can choose any font size, color or background you prefer. I keep the font size and color the same, but make the background color transparent. Choosing a background color for your Spotlight annotation
  • Next, click on Link and then choose Associated Website from the pulldown menu. Link to an Associated website in YouTube
  • Enter in the associated website (or a page within the site.) Create an external link in YouTube
  • Click the Save and Publish buttons near the top of the page as needed, and your external links are live!
     Save & Publish Your External Links in YouTube

Takeaways

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been waiting for this type of functionality for a long time!

You can now use annotations to drive traffic to a website, blog, or opt-in page. This is going to make YouTube an even more powerful online marketing tool.

Did you find this helpful? If so, why not sign up for our free email updates so we can share a lot more how-to’s, tricks and tips so you can reach more of your ideal customers!

Let us know in the comments below if you have any thoughts of how you’ll use this, or any questions about the tutorial or YouTube marketing. 

  • Hi Rich – Thumbs Up!!  I have not tried this yet, but looks cool!

    • Nozmo,

      Thanks! I was so stoked when I saw this! I want to go back into all my old videos and add external links, too. 🙂

  • Hey Rich! Nice video. I’ve been using these annotation for a few weeks now. I get a lot of traffic from YouTube already but I haven’t figured out a way to determine the clicks that are coming from the annotation vs. clicks coming from the links I add to the video descriptions. If you have any tips on that let me know. I can’t say that I’m getting more traffic so far but placement of the links is also a big factor. If you put the link too soon in the video that might work against your channel rankings on YouTube. I’m not taking any chances so I tend to add the website links towards the end.

    • Why, Ileane, I DO have an answer for you. 🙂

      Check out Google’s URL builder and put in “YouTube” for the source, “annotation” for the medium, and an appropriate name (such as the name of the video) for the campaign name.

      Here’s a blog post I wrote about it: http://www.themarketingagents.com/url-builder

      • Perfect! I’ll give it a try and let you know my results after a few weeks! Thank you.

  • Great stuff once again Rich! I’m all setup now. Much appreciated. 🙂

  • I hear people talking about this but you’re the first one to provide the explanation of “how.”  Just did it and I’m excited! Thank you.

    • Very cool! 

      I really feel this opens some great opportunities for marketers and small businesses. 

  • Very well done!  Just so you know, I embedded your video on my blog at  http://original-articless.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-to-easily-create-clickable-link-in.html with a very short article.

    I hope it increases your views.  I’ve already received a +1 on the post and it’s only been 15 minutes!

    People always say, “If you create great content others will link to it naturally” and that’s certainly true for this video.  

  • Hi Rich!

    Another great tip that I can surely use in our video marketing strategy. Very helpful. Gonna spread this word!

  • Great Article Rich! I sent this along to a client who was the very first to have video on his website for his national marketplace. You know, I am not a video person, but my client is so this will be a great boost for them. Thanks so much – VERY timely. You’re on top of this Dude!

  • Alan Fair

    Hi,

    I thought I would let you know that we’re currently doing some training for a client on You Tube and other social media and have found that the above options unfortunately no longer exist. Also there seems to be a bug at the moment where people aren’t getting the blue bar that has the enable external annotations.

    It will hopefully will get fixed soon, but I thought I should let you know.

    • Thanks. Maybe this is my problem. I never did get the blue bar.

      • Alan & Rita,

        I meant to look into this over the weekend, but got busy. At first I thought it was because YouTube made a change since I posted this, but I spoke with someone today who had followed the video yesterday or today and it worked.

        I’m wondering if this is something that YouTube is rolling out slowly rather than all at once.

        I’ll dive in deeper, but if you find you suddenly have the blue bar, or the ability to create offsite links, please let me know!

  • Hi Rich, Awesome video! I’m new to linking annotations to an external site, but can’t get it to
    work. I’ve verified my site and have “verification succeeded” under
    verification details in Google Webmaster Tools. I’ve added my email
    address under Configurations/Associates as a YouTube Association.
    However, I do NOT have the green light under Enable External Annotations
    in Channel Settings/Features. Am I missing a step somewhere? How do I
    get the green light to enable? Same result in Firefox and IE. My account is in good standing. Can someone help?

  • Thank you, Rich! This video has been very helpful. As I listened and watched you video, I followed the steps and it was done. You made it so simple. And, I’ve just became a fan!

    Gonna go over to YouTube, give you thumbs up and subscribe.

    Thanks again!
    TJ

  • jambavan

    Thanks for the post Rich, amazing information!

    I’m planning to link to external web. I wonder if a landing page will cause problem to the channel When you agree to the terms and conditions there it says that yo must follow Adwords rules.

    And it’s true that if you put the link too soon at the beginning of the video, that canwork against my channel ranking?

    Thanks!

    • Jambavan,

      Thanks for the question…I haven’t seen anything about when the link should appear in the video…I’d just put it where it will be most effective.

      As far as landing pages, I also saw nothing that would make me think you couldn’t drive traffic to a landing page.

  • I have yet to have annotations for external links work on mobile devices. You? If so, what am I missing?

    • Huh. You’re right. That’s going to take additional investigative work.

  • Rossana Conte

    Great help! Thanks! 😀

  • Hi Rich,

    I was finally able to setup the associated website link on my youtube video.

    I was wondering if there is a way to link to an internal page within your website. It seems that the exact website listed on your Youtube account must always be the website linked, nothing within.

    I ask this because my website also has a bridesmaids, prom, and quinceanera section in addition to the bridal section. Is there a way to link straight to the appropriate section of my site?

    I would also use “notes” and “spotlights” at particular times of the video highlighting particular dresses, and linking to the direct page the dress is on. Is this doable with Youtube’s current features at all?

    Thanks a bunch!