Youtube Annotations: What Are They And How Do You Use Them?

What are Youtube annotations and how do you use them? That’s the topic of this episode of CBB. Also in this episode, I’ll give you 5 specific tactics you can use annotations for in order to grow your list and increase engagement. I’ll also share how this lazy guy (that’s me) deals with annotations. 😉

Episode #102 | Episode Date: July 29, 2015

If you’re going to use YouTube marketing to its fullest, then you’re going to need to take the extra time to set up certain things for each YouTube video. One of those things is annotations.

What are YouTube annotations and how do you use them? That’s the topic of this episode of CBB.

Also in this episode, I’ll give you 5 specific tactics you can use annotations for in order to grow your list and increase engagement. I’ll also share how this lazy guy (that’s me) deals with annotations. 😉

And that’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode of Coffee Break Blogging.

Now we are going to continue on our overall theme here in the last couple of episodes where we are talking about “videos”. In Episode 100, we talked about building your YouTube channel. Now from there we went directly into how to make good looking videos; videos that look and sound good, and we talked about that in the last episode; Episode 101. Today we are going to return back to YouTube and we are specifically going to talk about YouTube annotations; what they are and how we can actually use them.

Now here is the thing about YouTube… YouTube has a lot of different tools at our disposal. And it is one of those things that we can easily just upload a video and then walk away. And it is tempting, actually, to do that because all these other things take a lot of time. But at the end of the day, you are not going to get nearly as much results from YouTube if you just simply upload your videos, slap a title on there and walk. It’s not going to just “do it” all by itself. You got to put some tools in place to get the most bang from it. And yet, I’m talking to myself here, too, because I tend to be the lazy type when it comes to YouTube. Annotations and stuff like that; it is not in my nature to go and do stuff like that. Now, I have a way of doing that and we’ll go over that in a little bit, but this is just one of those best practices that if you want to get the most promotional value out of your YouTube videos, you should be using YouTube annotations. That is just the way that it is.


So first of all, what is an annotation? What the hell is this thing? Well, really, all it is, is that you take your video and you’re adding “hot spots” to it. That’s what you’re doing. Now, these hot spots could be something like a little piece of text that pops up on a little bubble over the top of your video; that type of thing… But the most useful thing that we are going to be using it for is to have hot spots that are actually “clickable”. Now, think about it from a marketing standpoint, this is what makes a YouTube video actually drive traffic to things that matter or where you can provide a call to action on a YouTube video. It goes a lot deeper than just saying on the video “Hey, go to blah-blah-blah.com” most people are probably not going to do that. Some will, but most won’t because people are lazy. If you just put that on the video with the text and you make it clickable so that if they actually click on the video it goes to blah-blah-blah.com, that is going to be a lot more effective, right? Well, that is what I mean by putting a hot spot over the top of the video; then you can make it clickable.

What Does It Click Into?

Well… built-in, YouTube has certain things that you are allowed to make that thing clickable to.

Another Video

Obviously, that serves YouTube purpose because they will love for you to just stay to YouTube.com all day. So one of the things that you can do is make it so that if they click on that hot spot it goes to another video on your YouTube channel; that is pretty simple, right?

Your Channel

Next one is to go to your channel itself. So if you say, “Go visit my YouTube channel” you can actually put a hot spot over the top of that video that points right to the main homepage of your channel on YouTube. Now directly related to that is that you can also give them a link which directly allows them to subscribe to your YouTube channel. Now, you have seen YouTube videos do this, left and right. And it is actually one of the best practices is that at the end of one of your videos you remind the viewers to subscribe to your YouTube channel if they want more. Pretty simple stuff, right… Where you can actually give them a link on top of that video which goes right to where it subscribes them; it’s a direct link to subscribe to the channel. So that is another thing that you can do with these hot spots.

Your Google+ Profile

Another thing that you might want to do; and it is one of the options is that you can link it to your Google+ profile. If that is something that you want to do, you can do that. Or if you have a business and you have got a Google+ page for your business, you can direct them over there. So for example, if you are actually using your Google+ profile for lots of discussion, maybe you are using that as the basis of a community, you can direct them over to that page.

Your Blog

Now here is the most valuable one that you are probably going to want to use, and that is to link it to an associated website. In other words, your blog. Now the associated website is Google’s way of ensuring that there is some ownership of the stuff that you link to.

So this is not something where you are going to throw affiliate links and stuff in there and link out to weird places because that could be a potential user experience problem for people who are on YouTube. So what you do is you set up a linkage; I’m not going to get on the technicals on this, but it is pretty easy to do, you are just showing Google that you indeed own that property and then you can actually send people to your blog, even though it is offsite, they’re leaving YouTube.com, you can actually take them there by clicking on that annotation. So these are some really useful things that you can make these hot spots linkable to.

Setting Up The Annotations

Now setting these things up is actually really easy. On every YouTube video on your channel you are going to have a link there that just says “annotations”. Click on that and what you are going to do is you are going to see the video and right underneath that you are going to see a timeline. And it looks similar to a video editor timeline, actually. And then what you do is that the video will start playing and you can set annotations that have a certain start point and end point on that timeline.

So let’s say that you wanted an annotation that only shows up on top of your video between 10 seconds and 20 seconds; well you could easily do that. You just go to that point on your timeline, you just pause the video so it does not keep on going; at 10 seconds, and then you just set up whatever type of annotation that you want. And you drag it until it disappears at the 20 second mark. Very simple stuff… You can put stuff on your screen and you can have it only there for a little bit of time and then go away. So therefore, you can see how we could have multiple annotations throughout your video depending on what URLs you are talking about or what have you.

Annotation Ideas

Now what are we going to use these annotations for, like what are the real world usages of these annotations? Well, let me give you a few ideas…

Linking Out To Squeeze Pages or Content Upgrades

One of them is to simply link out to squeeze pages or even content upgrades. Now this is a very effective way to use your YouTube videos to build your email list. Now in past episodes of Coffee Break Blogging, we did talk about the idea of the content upgrade as a very effective way to build your list. All it is is giving some type of a downloadable bonus; some type of a lead magnet but specific to that content.

So think about it… If you create a really high quality video or a how-to video; let’s say you are giving a tutorial on a video on how to do something and you say “by the way, if you would like the exact checklist on how to get this done, go over to blah-blah-blah.com and download that right away”.

You can actually put a hot spot right over the top of that video; clearest way that goes and allows them to download that thing and of course via an email opt-in. That’s a content upgrade off a YouTube video. That is going to be a very, very effective way to build your list. And that is the most specific; but you can back up and make it a little bit more general by sending them to squeeze pages so you could mention various lead magnets that you have and you could do that on the video and then if they click on that they go to a squeeze page and you can build your list. So that is a very effective way to do that.

Now the big thing here is that you need to make sure that any squeeze page or content upgrade that you are delivering is on your main domain name because that is going to be your associated website, but that is probably the way that it is anyway, so you are totally fine.

Related Blog Post

This is a way to turn your YouTube profile into a traffic generator for your main blog. So you could just be talking and you can say, “Hey, by the way, if you want more information on that on written blog post, blah-blah-blah” and you can actually put an annotation over at the top of that section of the video which links off to that blog post. And you can make these links, by the way, open to a brand new window so you are not going to take them away from the video while they are in the middle of watching it, okay? So that is a very important point.

Another Video In A Series

So let us say you are running a series of YouTube videos or you are doing an episode based thing… Well you could link to the next installment in that series by actually linking out to that video. One of your types of clickable hot spots on these videos is to go to another video. And you simply paste the URL to that YouTube video in there and it works beautifully. So you can actually very easily say… Let’s say you have a part 1 and a part 2. At the end of part 1 you can say “In order to continue this video, click here” give them a clickable hot spot and it goes right to part 2 and they just continue. Okay? That’s how that works.

Your Own Related Videos

Very closely related to the previous one is another strategy that you can use and that is to actually create your own related videos. Now you have probably seen on YouTube or many times, unless you disable it; that is… That when a video is done playing, YouTube will automatically display a grid of a bunch of videos that they think you might be interested in. And some of them are going to be yours, many times some of them are not going to be yours. Now with this clickable hot spot then you can actually build your own related videos that go after the video is done.

Now the best way to do this that I have seen is to actually use your video editor so you actually create a couple of thumbnails of videos that they might like that are very closely related and you embed those screenshots right in the video so it is literally part of the video file… But then what you do is you make a clickable hot spot over each one of those things that you put there and you make it clickable to that actual video. So that is the way, it is not even really a cheat; it is just a really effective way to provide related videos but you are controlling the entire experience, okay?

A Link Redirect

Now the last one; and this is just super simple, and that is that anytime that you mention any URL in your video, you could make it clickable. We have already mentioned that you can send people to your own blog, and this could be used for any blog post that you already have written, you could be talking about your latest blog post, whatever it might be; but you can also send them elsewhere. And the way you can do this is by using a link redirect so that is still associated with your website but it can redirect somewhere else, okay?

So for example, I want to link out to Optimize Press… which is a landing page solution for WordPress. So let’s say I am doing a video where I am talking about Optimize Press. Well, I could talk about Optimize Press and I could provide a link to it, and now obviously I can’t link directly to OptimizePress.com because it is not an associated website on my profile. But you can run it through a redirect using a WordPress plug-in such as Pretty Link or Pretty Link Lite and you can do a redirect to Optimize Press even using your affiliate link for it if you wanted to, and it will still be associated with your website and you will be able to make it work, okay? So you can use this for any URL that you want to send somebody to, from your video. Let’s just say you mentioned it in passing; and maybe they are interested in it, you can put a little hot spot just over maybe a 10 second period right at that point where you happen to mention it on the video.

There are lots of things that you could do here and let your imagination run raw because this is a really cool tool and it is meant to be used.

Set Up A System For Your VA

Now going back to my original point that there are certain best practices on YouTube but at the same time is it easier just to upload and go. So it brings us to this mentality of how can we get as close to we can to set it and forget it. How can we get to a point where we don’t have to spend the extra time to make these annotations? Unfortunately, there is no automated way that I know off, to create these annotations; so it is unique to each video. So the way that I do it is I have actually created a system for my VA to get it done; my Virtual Assistant.

And so when we upload certain videos, she knows how to do the annotations that are necessary at the end of those videos and things like that. So that is how I take care of it; for my purposes, I want to set it and forget it. I don’t want to have to mess with all these YouTube settings. I don’t even want to have to worry that much about the title, the descriptions and all that; I just want to upload the video and move on to my next thing. And in the way that I do that is by having my VA take care of all the post production type of stuff on YouTube.com, specifically.

And so if you have a VA, that might be something that you want to look in to having them do; because it is a real time saver and quite frankly, you might even want to have them go back in time on your YouTube channel and set some of these things where it makes sense because that can actually lead to some more additional traffic from YouTube to your site.

So that is YouTube annotations in a nutshell. Hopefully you got some ideas there on how you could use this.

My Invitation

I want to; at the end of this podcast again, to remind you about the Big Blog Monetization Webinar that we are doing on a routine basis and I’d love to invite you to this webinar where we are talking all about blog monetization that works today. Actually it has worked for a really long time because this is based on real business fundamentals. There is no business fundamental that backs up the idea of building up a site and then throwing ad tags all over it. And so therefore, you are only monetizing that site by sending people away from your site.

Here we are, in this whole multi-part series having to do with building our traffic; here in Coffee Break Blogging, and you do all this work that we are talking about to build traffic to your site and then your way of monetizing it is to send them somewhere else? How stupid does that sound? Well, it actually is pretty stupid and that is not the method of monetization that I condone or teach. And I want to show you how exactly I approach it which is a heck a lot more effective; it is going to make a boatload more money than banner ads.

So I would love to see you on that webinar, and I think you will find it to be valuable.

Lastly, if you are finding these episodes valuable, I would highly appreciate it if you jump over into iTunes and post a quick review for me of the show. And you could do that by going to blogmarketingacademy.com/itunes. And that will jump-start you right into the iTunes profile for this show and I would, again, really appreciate those reviews and star ratings. It really helps me get the word out but I also love knowing how things are going with you guys, my listeners… And anything that I can also improve is useful information for me. So again, that is blogmarketingacademy.com/itunes.

With that being said, thank you so much and I will see you next time! 😉