Increasing click-throughs from YouTube

Five months ago I posted a video to see what results a YouTube video would produce compared to a static HTML page on the same subject. The results were dramatic. While my WordPress page on dividing Agapanthus has floundered with a handful of hits, the video has been viewed over 1,600 times! (You can read about how I set up this experiment here (internal link).) Briefly, I paid close attention to the captions Google produced, cleaning them up to make them more sensical to Google’s search engine. And while I am pleased with the number of plays, this success hasn’t resulted in any more hits for the website you are at now. What follows are ideas that might increase traffic; I’d be interested if they work for you.


Originally, I so concentrated on producing my video that I didn’t look around at all the options YouTube has to offer. As you can tell by this screen shot, there are at least 12 different choices to explore. The first one, marked by the pencil, calls up the “Info and Settings” menu, which leads you down the main rabbit hole of YouTube. But first things first. Notice how I ran the two words together? When I first posted the file I wasn’t sure if a space would prevent its uploading. In The Old Days you had to have a character between file words names, even a dash or an underline, lest a server reject it. Now, however, after seeing countless files with spaces on YouTube, I went back today and separated the two. I am sure this will help Google index, now that the two are properly separated. Having located the navigation points surrounding my video, and having done some light housekeeping, I was ready to tackle a goal that made perfect sense: find a way to produce a clickable link from my video to my website.


As you can see from the above screenshot, I was able to make that clickable link happen, although it took many hours. The captions at the bottom of the frame are what I first worked on when I posted the video, the link above is the one I just made. I will probably go back and edit it. Make it say something like “Visit my website” instead of just giving out a URL. Before I outline some of the steps I took, I would advise you not to go through with this process if you have just a few videos. It’s far easier to upload a video to YouTube and then embed it into your website (internal link), than going through what is a long process to produce a clickable link. But if you have an entire channel of YouTube videos, well, I think you are committed to going the whole route.

You’ll need personal accounts at Google and YouTube to get things going. You’ll also need to identify your website to Google and eventually YouTube will have to verify your ownership. All of this means keeping track of codes and ID numbers. You’ll probably deal with both Google’s Webmaster Tools (external link) as well as Google Analytics (external link). Get to know them. I think YouTube wants to make sure that videos linked to sites only go from video posters and site owners who are the same. This process is harder at sites hosted by People who can access and manage settings at their servers directly will have a much easier time. Just to give you an overview, let’s say you’ve uploaded a video to YouTube. I assume you’ve already corrected the captions to get your best chance at proper indexing. Now then, you:

1) Select Video Manager.

2) Click on Info and Settings.

3) Select the frames in your video where you want your link to appear.

4) Pick Add Annotation.

5) Select Spotlight. There are other choices but that’s a good one.

6) Choose the style you want your text to appear in. This is what people will see when deciding to click on the link. Don’t forget to put a blue border around your caption.

7) Click on the Link box.

8) At this point you will have many choices. You will usually want Associated Website. This means a click will take a person from the video to the website associated with your video. Don’t see this option? You won’t if you haven’t properly identified your website and yourself to Google and YouTube.

9) Your caption text won’t appear unless a person hovers over the caption area with a mouse. Use the link capability around something you want people to click on, like your website address. In other words, at some point in your video, have a frame that clearly and boldly spells out your site. After you upload your video you can use the linking capability to tie that title page to your site.

Unfortunately, according to Google, the annotations will not show up on tablets or mobile devices. More on annotations here (external link). I am aware that some people say that, in fact, annotations do show. Not on my iPad.

In closing, I think this process is worth the time if you have many videos and a single site for them to link to. Otherwise, try imbedding. Also, be sure to create a link in the caption or comments box that accompanies a description. Simply type out your URL like this: No brackets or HTML needed. YouTube will recognize the link when you type it out.  Lastly, I am thinking of taking the text of my captions and including them in the video’s description box. I’m not aware of any limitations on length. It may further help Google to index. Good luck.