When it comes to sharing video online, YouTube is king. The platform boasts over a billion hours of video watched per day and is the second highest search engine online behind only its owner, Google. With such a massive reach, it’s clear why marketers favor the platform when engaging with consumers through video. But when it comes to using links on YouTube, there seems to some confusion over how best to do so…
There are a variety of ways to use links on YouTube. These range from the description box, the channel page, and comments section, to linking within the videos themselves. This can be done from either ‘cards‘ that pop up in the frame of the video, or clickable ‘end screen‘ elements that are overlaid on the video itself.
Whether you’re using YouTube to build your personal brand online, or a large business looking to expand your reach through video marketing, knowing the best practices for linking on the platform is essential. Let’s take a look at the various ways to do so!
Channel Page and Banner
When you visit a user’s channel, this is the default page you’ll be brought to. This is where all the basic information is laid out – who the creator or brand is, what their channel is about, a trailer demonstrating the type of content they produce, and a banner image.
The first place you’ll be able to find links on YouTube is at the bottom right-hand corner of the banner. First up is the primary link, which should lead to your main landing pages, such as a website or blog. To the right of this, additional links leading to various social channels of your choosing. Adding this in is quick and easy – simply go to your About page, click “Add Links”, and fill in URLs you want.
You can add up to 5 links on your banner. The first link will be displayed on the left, with the title of your choosing. It’s important to remember that this will be a “DoFollow” link, meaning any traffic driven from it will count towards your search ranking. Be sure to use your main landing page here to capitalize on this! The rest of these links can be filled with social media, support, or whatever URLs you wish.
We recommend using your own branded link for the first one on your banner, as they come with additional features such as detailed link analytics. This lets you track how many clicks your primary banner link is getting, along with a whole host of extra analytical data you’d be missing out on otherwise.
Links in the Video Description
“Check out my links in the description below!” is a phrase every YouTube viewer is used to hearing – creators, influencers, marketers, no matter the video-maker, everyone wants you to click their links in the description. These can range from affiliate marketing links to merchandise offers to simply other social media accounts.
There are two main problems that most creators face when linking in their description – but thankfully, we’ve got solutions for both! The first is pretty simple: always include “https://” before the link. When copying and pasting links from various different sources, it can be easy to lose or forget that prefix. However, due to the way YouTube is built, no links on the platform will work without it – they’ll simply show up as plain text, not clickable:
While people can of course still copy this text and paste it into their browser – that’s one step too many! Simply including the ‘hypertext transfer protocol secure’ prefix allows people to click the link and be brought to your intended destination straight away. Nice and simple!
The second problem is also one that can be solved with branded links – and that is; messy, ugly, inconsistent links. This is an issue experienced by even the most popular YouTube creators. Let’s take a look at two examples – The Rock and Zoella. Each of these receives millions of views per video. Even if just 1% of these viewers choose to view and click the links in the description, that still tens of thousands of possible conversions – not to be sniffed at!
If the examples above, we can see both The Rock and Zoella accounts are filled to the brim with links. However, there’s no consistency – some are long URLs, some are generic short URLs -not one of these featuring their own brand! Let’s take a look at what these descriptions could look like if one of these creators used a branded link with their own domain:
Certainly looks a lot neater to me! On top of that, branded links can have a potential increase in click-throughs of up to 39%, with an added sense of trust and security. This is because of the user’s brand being on their links. With Rebrandly, they can also change the destination URL of any of these links at any stage – perfect for changing the destination of links on several videos at once.
Links on YouTube videos – Cards and End Screen
In the early days of YouTube, ‘Annotations‘ were the primary method of linking from within a YouTube video itself. These were originally ugly text boxes with included the long URL popping up on screen, interrupting the video.
Since then, YouTube has moved on and developed two less intrusive ways to link from videos – Cards and End Screens. With Cards, a simple circle featuring an exclamation point appears in the top right-hand corner of your video, with teaser text if you wish, alerting the viewer to a link. Once tapped, a list of thumbnails and links pops up on the right-hand side of the screen. Cards can be useful for: linking to other videos, a relevant website, or merchandise store.
End Screen elements work in a similar fashion, altho they remain on the screen itself. These links appear in the final 20 seconds of a YouTube video, giving the user an option to click on similar videos, subscribe, or be sent to a website of the user’s choosing. Most creators will specifically create an end screen template for the end of their video to fit these links – the raw video simply has a blank space for the ’tiles’ to be added.
Both Cards and End Screens are incredibly useful tools for growing a user’s channel. Linking videos together and linking to preferred landing pages creates a seamless user experience for the viewer – they can be kept watching your content for longer and directed to your website to convert.
However, it’s important to remember that linking to an external website is only available to channels that are signed up for the YouTube Partner program and have their chosen website connected with to their account. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to link a variety of different sites from your videos – YouTube likes to keep a firm grip on where you’re sending their viewers!
There are plenty of ways to use links on YouTube – you just need to be sure you’re playing by YouTube’s rules when you do so. While the video-sharing platform can be an incredible tool for marketers and businesses alike, you must always pay attention to where and how you’re placing your links.
At Rebrandly, we’d recommend always using branded links on YouTube – everywhere except the Cards & End Screens, as they have to be dedicated YouTube or linked-website URLs.
Whether you’re commenting on a partner’s video, filling out your descriptions or about pages, branded links are the way to go. They look neater and more professional; Rebrandly.Video/Subscribe. They give a sense of consistency while promoting brand awareness – Rebrandly.Live/Highlights, Rebrandly.Blog/Read-More. Because you can always change the destination URL of any branded link you place on YouTube, you can ensure your links never go out of date.
Are you using YouTube to market your business? Comment below with a link to your channel, let us know how you find it!
- How to increase conversions with video marketing
- How to Edit and Brand your Instagram Bio Link (Video)
- Linking on Instagram: How to Link in Instagram Stories
- Linking to live video: Facebook Live tips for marketers
This Article is About:
- Using links on youtube
- YouTube linking
- Video marketing
- branded links for youtube
Originally Posted: 4th of December 2018
Last Updated: 3rd of March 2021