Have you ever tried to add a clickable link to your YouTube videos, only to find that you can’t? There are in fact three ways to do this, methods that have remained hidden – until now!
YouTube Now Lets You Create Clickable Links!
YouTube is great (our free YouTube guide explains this assertion in greater detail). You can upload videos, share them with the world…you can even monetize them with Google advertising.
In the past two years, YouTube has also (at last!) added the ability to include clickable links in your videos, an invaluable help to explain something you might be discussing; contextualise whatever you’re showing; or just provide a link back to your website.
As a result there are three ways to create clickable links in YouTube videos, whether they’re ones that you’re embedding on your website from a third party source, or if they’re videos you have created yourself.
Creating Clickable Links In Your Own YouTube Videos
YouTube’s method for adding clickable links to your own YouTube videos demands that you have a verified account, which enables external annotations. You can ensure this by signing into YouTube, opening Video Manager > Partner Settings and checking your account is verified.
If it isn’t, go to Channel Settings > Advanced and find your Associated website. This should be the site you own that will be used as a target for the links you are about to create. Click Verify to begin the process, which is straightforward but may take a little time. Several methods are provided for verification — the HTML upload and the option of adding YouTube’s verification code to the header of your web page (especially if it is something that is easily editable like a WordPress blog) are particularly recommended.
With your site verified, open the Video Manager. Across the top of the screen you should see a toast notification to Enable your account for external annotation links. Click Enable, then Uploads. Here, choose the video you want to add a link to and select Annotations from the menu.
You’ll probably want to pause the video before proceeding. Click Add annotation, select the type you want to use (choose from Speech Bubble, Note, Title, Spotlight and Label), insert the text to be displayed and use the text editing tools to determine how the annotation appears. Use your mouse to drag the annotation around the screen as per your requirements. You should also notice the Start and End fields, which control when the annotation appears in your video and for how long.
When you’re happy with these, check the Link box and in the resulting menu select Associated website, entering the URL of your site as previously specified. A preview link will help you check the URL entered. To complete adding the link to your YouTube video, click Save, then Publish.
Take the time to view your video on YouTube and click the link to check it works as intended. YouTube permits you to edit and republish annotations as often as is required.
Add A Clickable Link With Mozilla Webmaker
If you don’t own the videos you’re embedding, but want to add a link, the simplest method is to go to Mozilla Webmaker, select Tools > Popcorn Maker > Start from Scratch and get to work. You will need to create an account on the site before you save anything.
On the right-hand side, paste the YouTube (or Vimeo) URL of the video you want to add a link to. The clip must be one that is publicly available and can be embedded.
Once the clip is found it will appear below this in the My Media Gallery section. Double-click to add it to the main view, or drag and drop. The clip editor will appear on the right, useful for making any changes to the video length and volume.
Below the main viewing area, you’ll find the layers displayed. Your link will be displayed as a layer, so click Add a layer, then click into the layer area and select Text in the right-hand menu.
Use the Basic tab to add the link Text and URL; you can also adjust the position of the text here, while the Advanced tab controls font type, size and colour. You should adjust the position of the text layer to ensure the link appears at the correct time code.
When you’re done, click Save. The right-hand pane will display some settings, but most important is the Embed tab, where you can specify a size for the video and grab the embed code to add it to your website. The link(s) you created will now be displayed on the video when viewed through your web page.
Add Clickable Buttons With LinkedTube
A similar system to Mozilla Webmaker’s tool, LinkedTube is a web-based console that adds links to your existing YouTube clips and like the method above this is intended for embedded videos only – the clickable links will not be visible when viewed on YouTube.
Begin by finding the video you wish to embed. It doesn’t have to be one of your own, but it must be one available for viewing publicly. The video should also have embedding enabled.
Copy the URL, and open www.linkedtube.com. You will find a panel on the right-hand side where you should add the video URL, the text for the button you want to create, the URL, and any mouse over text. Note that when the URL is added, the LinkedTube tool will strip it down to the ID string.
Paste the URL into the YouTube Video field, then complete the other fields as required. If you’re using this video to make some extra cash, you might add an affiliate link in the Button URL field (for more information about affiliate links, our free 50 page Monetization Manual explains in greater detail).
As you make changes, use the Update Preview button to see how they will appear. When you’re happy, click Save & Get Code, where you will find the Embed Code ready to be copied and pasted into your website or blog.
Conclusion: Three Ways – Or More?
We suggest using the first method whenever possible.
Note that added clickable links or buttons won’t be visible on YouTube with these methods, which rely on third party tools adding overlays to your videos. If you’re not already making money from your own YouTube videos on the site itself, you can at least use other people’s videos and one of these clickable links, embedding the results in your own web page or blog.
However, for simplicity, the LinkedTube option is probably best, but the Mozilla Webmaker method offers more flexibility and is certainly more suited to longer videos. The native YouTube method can only be used if it is your own video that you’re adding links to.
Of course, we may have overlooked another secret way of adding clickable text to a YouTube video, so don’t forget to tell us in the comments.