The Danger Of Linking Your YouTube Videos To Your Website

By Megan O'Neill 

Well folks, YouTube Associated Website Annotations, a new breed of annotations that let you link your videos off YouTube to your personal website, are officially hereVerified partners in good standing can now add annotations to their videos that allow viewers to click and be redirected to the website associated with their YouTube channels.  But before you go all Associated Website Annotation-crazy, understand that this feature has its drawbacks.

Most YouTubers that have made enough videos that they are qualified to be “verified partners” make videos because they want people to watch them.  They want viewers to engage with their content and be inspired to discover and watch more videos, comment, like, subscribe, etc.

When you give viewers the option to click away to your website you are breaking this engagement.  The viewer stops watching your content and is sidetracked.  Maybe they’ll come back to your video (it does stay open while the website loads in a new tab), but there’s a good chance they won’t.  After all, the average online attention span is getting shorter and shorter.

Ultimately, this feature can hurt you in two ways.  For one, if you’ve got your videos monetized and are making money off of views then sending viewers off the site, thus preventing them from watching more videos, may cut down on your revenue.  But it’s not just about the money—sending people offsite in the middle of your videos could also affect your ranking in searches on YouTube and your likelihood to appear in YouTube’s recommended and related videos.

Recently YouTube made a major change to its search algorithm, putting major emphasis on watch time.  The longer people stick around and watch your videos, the more engaged YouTube’s algorithm assumes these viewers are and the more likely your videos are to show up in top search results and recommendations.  Sending your viewers to your site mid-video could kill your YouTube algorithm mojo.  (Note: Waiting until the end of your video to put your Associated Website Annotation up will help you avoid this issue.)

Now, before I get lambasted for being an Associated Website Annotations hater I should point out that there are YouTube creators that these new annotations will be perfect for.  Particularly brands and businesses that are using YouTube primarily to drive traffic to their websites.  These sort of creators care less about YouTube ad revenue and watch time than they do about conversion (although as viewers click away from YouTube these videos’ search performance may suffer, so there’s definitely a give and take there).

If you’re a verified partner in good standing and want to give this new feature a try you can find a quick tutorial here on the YouTube support site.  But, like I said, before you go all Associated Website Annotations-crazy, put some thought into your objectives, do a few test runs to see how the annotations affect your views, engagement and watch time and come up with a strategy that works for you.

Image credit: Grounder via

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video expert here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.