It’s safe to assume you already know that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. You probably also know that YouTube is owned by Google. But did you know with the right strategy, you’re able to backlink your YouTube videos to rank higher on all search engines?
In fact, Google uses over 200 factors in their algorithm for website rankings — and backlinks at the top of that list. The more relevant backlinks you get for your content, the more likely you are to show up in search queries.
The best part is, you don’t need fancy tricks or even a lot of in-depth knowledge of how it all works. But it helps. Just a basic understanding of search engine optimization (SEO), including how to use backlinks, will go a long way toward improving your link’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you want to learn how to backlink your YouTube videos, this guide covers a few useful tips to help you get started.
What is a backlink?
Basically, a backlink is a link on another website that directs visitors to yours. A relevant backlink that links to your page tells search engines that your website is important, which can push you higher in search results.
Think of it as if you were to share a link with your friends. You are personally recommending something to someone who is interested in that content. When a website shares a link to a blog, video, etc, Google will see that as the same thing. Depending on the website, that “recommendation” can be seen as high value to search engines.
However, not all backlinks are created equally.
In the next section, we’ll discuss key differences to consider when learning how to backlink your YouTube videos.
Nofollow vs. Dofollow links
In terms of SEO, backlinks will fall under two different categories: nofollow and dofollow links. Dofollow links help your search engine rankings, while Nofollow links, for the most part, do not.
Google and other SERPs feed these links to their algorithms to determine ranking value.
According to Google, dofollow links are the only ones that are seen as worthy of being ranked.
That’s why, when it comes to link building, you want as many dofollow links as possible.
Google created this distinction in order to prevent unfavorable link building practices back in 2005.
Today, WordPress and many other CMS software will automatically add the nofollow tag to comment links. So, if this is the first time you’ve heard of a nofollow link, it’s safe to say that any spam-related comments you see aren’t receiving any SEO benefits.
Link building for social media
When you create a link through a social media platform, it affects whether it is a dofollow link or a nofollow link. Unfortunately, they will mostly be nofollow links.
But even though nofollow links don’t directly benefit from their position on Google, they’re still valuable.
The whole point of being on the first page of Google is to get traffic, and nofollow links still generate traffic. It’s just how web developers tell search engine bots “this is a user-generated link.”
How to check if your links are nofollow or dofollow
To check a link: Right-click on the link itself and click “View page source”. If you see a rel=”nofollow” in the HTML of the page, that link is a nofollow. Otherwise, the link is dofollow.
Related: 12 Top SEO best practices for small business websites
Why you need to backlink your YouTube videos
In today’s world of marketing and SEO, link building and brand awareness are directly related — especially with regard to video content.
With a great content marketing strategy, you can earn a high number of appropriate backlinks in a relatively short amount of time.
Looking at video analytics to gauge incoming traffic
Again, a higher “external” traffic percentage increases the chances that search engines will value your videos as credible.
And eventually, you will see higher organic search traffic for your videos. This is because YouTube wants users to stay on their platform.
So, anything that brings people in and keeps them there will be rewarded through promotion on YouTube, as well as Google.
How to backlink your YouTube videos
Before you can actively build backlinks, it’s important to understand why you need to build them ethically.
Google protects its rankings and will punish anyone who tries to cheat the system.
Their systems know if a website isn’t following the rules because they crawl and catalog pages constantly. They use their algorithm to determine what a natural backlink profile is compared to an unnatural one.
For example, let’s say you gained 10,000 links to your video one day, then only two or three over the next few weeks. More time passes and suddenly your website gains another 2,000 a month later. The Google algorithm will consider this suspicious behavior and likely flag it.
If you try to spam your video link in places it doesn’t belong, you’re likely going to annoy people.
Additionally, if the content you’re spamming your link on has nothing to do with the video, the backlink won’t hold any value anyways.
Link your content in places where you’re going to get viewers who want to watch it. Not just for the SEO, but also the watch time will tank if viewers aren’t watching the whole video all the way through, telling YouTube, “this video is garbage”.
So, let’s look at five ways to backlink your YouTube videos.
Anyone active on YouTube in the early 2010’s knows all about a good old-fashioned collaboration video. Collaborations are still alive and well on YouTube. If you’re a creator in a particular niche, reach out to guest post for a brand or person who uploads similar content to your own.
A good example is how REI’s YouTube channel teams up with different influencers who create content using their products. The brand itself obviously has a large following of hundreds of thousands of YouTube viewers. And, collaborating on a video not only creates a more personal touch for the brand but also helps boost SEO traffic to the influencer’s personal channels too.
This concept is designed to bring in potential visitors who normally wouldn’t access your content. It also makes it possible to bring in additional views from a different creator, which could potentially lead to new subscribers and continual visitors.
2. Embed YouTube videos to your website and other related websites
While embedding a YouTube video to your website isn’t actually “link building”, it does create an opportunity to build on the SEO of your video and still gain views. This is true even when users aren’t viewing it on the YouTube website.
For example, if you have a product demo video on your YouTube channel, you can embed that video on a relevant webpage on your site. Then, when someone visits and views the video on your website, it can continue to increase the viewership and engagement. Again, this tells Google that your video is related to the content on the website and deserves to rank that link higher.
3. Share on social media
Promoting your videos on social media shouldn’t be anything new if you’re familiar with content strategy. Depending on your audience, social media platforms can have an incredible impact on the performance and engagement of your YouTube videos. Some of the more popular social media platforms include:
The more people watch and share your videos, the more your video generates organic backlinks. So it’s crucial to maintain an active social media presence if you plan on link building.
With that in mind, consider asking yourself the following questions:
- When was the last time you audited your social media process?
- Are your social posts getting you the results you want?
- Are there any platforms you’re not posting to?
For example, Pinterest is a large social media platform with more than 433 million monthly active users. But it may not be the first platform you think of when sharing your YouTube videos.
One of the best new ways to backlink your YouTube videos is by using Pinterest Video Pins.
These help you attract and capture your audience’s attention using a cover image, since they play in the user’s feeds. If you need help creating a buzz-worthy cover image on the fly, GoDaddy Studio has plenty of free templates and tools to easily create your own masterpiece.
You can also take things a step further and use sites like Repurpose.io to automate this entire process for you. Imagine not having to manually crop, resize or publish your video to each individual social media account. Instead, you can set it up so that it all happens instantly after it goes live on YouTube.
Related: 12 ways to improve your content marketing
4. Create a dedicated blog post for each video
Similar to embeds, you can put backlinks to YouTube videos within relevant content on your blog. Not only are you able to create the video and optimize it for YouTube, but you can also curate written content around the video.
No matter the industry, blog posts can offer how-to tips, tutorials or first-hand reviews. This type of content is actionable and provides value to your audience. Anything worth creating a video is probably worth writing a blog post about.
Pro tip: Try summarizing the main points of your video, then expand on those points in writing. This approach works particularly well because short videos get the most engagement. You can also post your summary on YouTube and link to the expanded version.
5. Answer forums and Q&A sites
Forums like Reddit or Quora are online discussion places for specific niches and industries. These platforms allow members to give their opinions and clarify subject matters. They also allow you to post useful links to help support your arguments or provide answers to questions, thereby making forums ideal for your YouTube video links.
Not only can you get a high quantity of views, but the views you get from Q&A sites are high-quality too. This means the people that watch your video will watch most, if not all of it, to help them learn more about that topic.
You can reverse engineer this tip by using sites, like Answerthepublic.com, to create content that fills knowledge gaps. If you have the skills or know-how to speak to those questions, create a video and then share it. Now you’re in backlink city, baby.
Wait, you’re not done!
By now, you’ve learned how to backlink your YouTube videos, but you shouldn’t stop there. With all that you’ve learned in this article, your YouTube channel itself is also great for backlinks because there are many places you can add them to drive traffic and increase your website’s backlink profile score.
Backlink on your channel
Let’s start with your channel banner. You’ll want to link your website in the channel description, along with links to your most active social media sites. Then, add any relevant links to your About section.
Include links in the YouTube video
Next, we have the video itself, starting with the video description. Including a link in the first line of the description has a lot of value because it’ll be “above the fold” when someone is watching the video on YouTube. This means that they don’t have to expand the description to see or click on it, which is prime real estate.
Then we have the YouTube cards and end screens. Cards are a great way to include clickable content while the video is playing. This could include:
- Other videos
- Links to other websites
End screens are like cards since they pop up at the end of the video. You can use them to link to other videos, playlists, channels and add links to a custom URL.
However, you have to be accepted into YouTube’s Partner Program in order to add custom clickable links. You’ll also need to verify that you own the site you’re linking to.
To join the Partner Program, your channel must have more than 4,000 watch hours and at least 1,000 subscribers in the past year (at the time of writing this).
Additionally, the links you include will have some SEO power because they’re coming from a website with some of the highest domain authority.
Knowing how to backlink your YouTube videos will help make a major difference in your view counts. Pick one or two steps that are easiest to tackle and start on those. As you get comfortable, you can continue adding more complex strategies to your content plan.
Personally, whenever I upload a video to my YouTube channel, nine times out of 10 I’ve got a corresponding blog post ready to go when my content goes live. Even if it’s just explaining the video or including a few photos, it adds a little extra context behind it that my followers love. Having the blog link to the video and vice versa is the least I can do with my own content strategy.
Make sure you’re uploading good-quality videos that are optimized and have relevant links. Maintaining a good YouTube channel that provides valuable content for your audience will help you gain more organic backlinks and direct traffic.
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