SEO and YouTube – Link Building On The Web’s 2nd Biggest Search Engine

According to various sources, YouTube is the 2nd biggest search engine on the Internet with more than 3 billion searches per month. Obviously, there’s a big opportunity in placing and optimizing videos for YouTube. That’s a lot of search traffic, and ranking a video for a popular search is sure to drive revenue.

However, YouTube is also a decent place to build quality, relevant links to your website. With the right approach YouTube can help your ecommerce site rank higher on Google.com (and Bing.com too).

How To Build Website Links On YouTube

First, understand that there are two places to get links on YouTube:

  1. From your channel, which allows you to create links to your website and other social profiles
  2. From inside the description in any video(s) you upload to the site

Getting the channel link is easy. Just create a channel/profile, fill out as much information as you can, and pat yourself on the back. Give yourself bonus points if you take the time to link to other social media profiles, and upload a branded YouTube channel cover. Check out our YouTube channel (and click on the About tab) to see how we filled out the social media links.

YouTube channel link opps

Here’s a screenshot of the links we have on our YouTube channel. Linking social media profiles together is always a good idea.

Getting the links from the videos you upload is only slightly more complex:

  1. Upload a video to YouTube. Videos should be useful or interesting, should be titled to reflect their content, should be branded so consumers know who they’re watching, and should be authentic (overproduced videos don’t work very well).
  2. Place a link prominently in the video description. The recommended best practice is to place the actual link in the very first line of text when you upload the video. This is the best place to put a link on all of YouTube because the link is very likely to get clicked on.

Why Adding A Link To Your Video Description Is So Important

Take a look at this screenshot of a YouTube video about changing a tire:

YouTube video with link in description

A link in a YouTube video description can drive a lot of targeted traffic.

The link in the first line of the description has a lot of value:

  • If only a small percentage of the people who watched this video clicked on the link – say 3% – that works out to more than 30,000 website visitors. If the percentage is higher, the traffic could be significant.
  • The link in the video can point to a related page on the site. Relevance is a key factor when Google (and Bing) evaluate link quality.
  • Google is indexing this link because it’s in the description of a top video about tire changing on YouTube. That means the link is likely viewed as high quality.

NOTE: In this specific example (see the video page here), the link in the video description is sub-optimal. It’s basically pointing to a clone of the YouTube page, which doesn’t offer the user a lot of value. However, if this link pointed to a quality article about changing a tire with additional details, the relevance would be strong.

Great links occur where quality meets relevance. If a quality video links to a related page, the link in the description has ranking value.

Aren’t YouTube Links Nofollowed?

If you’re an SEO nerd – or if you’ve talked to one about building links on YouTube – you may believe that YouTube links have no value because they are ‘nofollowed.’

But here’s the thing about that: “nofollow” is just a guide. You can read a post of mine on SEOMoz a few years ago about nofollow to see why that doesn’t necessarily matter. If the video is good and the link is relevant, why wouldn’t Google (or Bing) consider it? Nofollow isn’t a commandment. It’s just how webmasters tell search engine bots “this is a user generated link.”

But setting aside the nofollow question, most SEO experts agree: If a popular YouTube video relevant to your business where to link to your site in the video description, it can’t be bad.

What About Loading Up The Description With Links?

Technically, YouTube doesn’t limit the number of links you can include in your description. You can, therefore, write a very long description that includes dozens or hundreds of links.

While we don’t have any hard data on the efficacy of this practice, we do not recommend including more than a handful of links (five or six links seems to be the very upper limit). There are also concerns about dilution – if your description has only one link, that’s a strong signal. If it has five links – or fifty – that’s not nearly as strong of a signal.


YouTube is a great place to build links, provided you have good videos to upload. Uploading garbage videos is a sure-fire formula for failure because no one is going to watch them. If no one watches a YouTube video, Google and Bing aren’t going to assign any importance to whatever link(s) are included in the video’s description.

Therefore, the best practice is to upload good quality videos, optimize them, and then make sure to place a relevant link in the description.

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