You Shouldn’t Use YouTube For Building YouLinks







As a link builder I’m not enamoured with YouTube and do not recommend using it as a primary way to build links or as an integral part of your SEO program. 


  • Videos on YouTube are on YouTube so any optimization effort you implement helps YouTube and not your website/pages.     

  • YouTube contributes to the pinking of the ‘Net/Web (uses nofollow) so any link you insert to guide people back to your site passes no link popularity. 
  • While traffic from YouTube can be beneficial, you have to optimize the content on YouTube like any other in order for people to find it.  This is time better spent elsewhere.
  • Efforts to make a video go viral begin with the webmaster, not YouTube
  •  It’s doubtful you’ll build a brand following on YouTube unless the public is already aware of your brand.      

  •  By-n-large people look  for information on a search engine first, they don’t search on YT for a place to buy baseball cards.  There is a reason Google has become a verb and YouTube a pastime.

But the number one reason?

  • YouTube results bump web pages down in the general search results and web pages make sales , videos don’t!

Want to see what I mean?  Look here, here, and here  and notice how the videos are all ranking in the top five but the sites they represent – don’t.    Yes the exposure is nice but where is there opportunity to make a sale??    Throw in local search results and images showing up and it can take a while to get to a static search result.   If your goal is to make your website an authority in your industry/niche, you should house and promote the videos on your site, not YouTube.  This will help with algorithmic authority, branding and traffic.

So is using YouTube to build SEO  links a wasted effort?   Pretty much which is why I don’t recommend using it to increase your link popularity but I wouldn’t totally discount using the number two search engine on the Net to build awareness.  Consider doing this: 

  • Make shorter versions of your video’s and insert on YouTube, longer vid stays on your site
  • Create those shorter versions as teasers and as a lead-in to promotions/information on your site
  • Be sure the start and ending frame of the vid include the URL to your website
  • Optimize your YouTube listing with your keywords
  • Be the first one to leave a comment/review under your vid, include the URL to your website and explain a longer more detailed version of the vid exists on your website
  • Encourage everyone you know to drop a comment/review on the video  (re/views help push your vid to the top for your keywords)
  • Create a video area on your site just as you would a media room and promote it to the media, your customers, vendors etc.
  • Make the vid’s on your website available through Creative Commons, make full descriptions embedded with kw rich links part of your attribution.

You need to decide what’s best for your site and if having YouTube video’s come up in the serps for your keywords is your goal, power to you.  But if you’re in business to make a profit and plan to use video to attract links, know the links you point at YouTube will have little to no effect on your overall rankings. 

Use YouTube or any image/audio hosting site wisely and they can be your greatest ally  and not a ranking enemy.

(photo taken from Zazzle.  Buy a tee shirt!)


  1. says

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  2. scott says

    Wouldn’t it be easier to simply not include keywords or useful titles in videos? That should push your youtube video down on google, and your site up.

    Like you said, users don’t search on youtube…so why bother using youtube keywords?

  3. altinkum says

    if we cant do anything with youtube then how should improve our wesites then

  4. Mae says

    Hi, Im relativley new to link building. After reading your article, it really made me think twice about using YouTube. Guess I’d better spend my time and effort elsewhere.
    Thank you for the wonderful insight.

  5. Dianna Lambert says

    This is great information, I have spent the last five months teaching myself how to create and upload a website, learning about custom script, embedding etc. I now have my site uploaded, and I was going to implement youtube as a suggetion from a friend. Now after reading this, I have attached a couple of the videos on my website instead. I have paid for godaddy’s search engine-traffic blazer but it has taken me forever to figure it out. I still dont think I have it done right because even if you type in my actual business name it doesnt even come up. I will take your advice and begin submitting press releases etc. thanks again for the great information. Dianna :)

  6. Steve Merrick - FirstFound says

    YouTube might drive some traffic, but what sort of traffic? I don’t imagine that conversions from YouTube are particularly high. That, combined with the fact that a YouTube channel can outrank you, suggests that it’s best to stay away.

  7. says

    Good point here. The issue is similar to content syndication. If you are not really an authority yet or as much of an authority. often times the content with the higher PR or authority outranks the original source in SERPs. This is not a good thing. :-)

  8. Debra says

    Thanks Jason. If you can’t get a page to rank and your YT video is all that will, by all means. But be sure that vid is doing everything it can to send ppl back to your site. And yes we’ve noticed some channel pages have clean links on them, we’re watching to see if they have an impact (if we can tell).

  9. Jason Forthofer says

    I disagree. Like you said, you tube results move regular listings down. SO…if we can’t control that, why not join in the exposure?

    Plus, recently the youtube user channels pages now DO NOT have nofollow on your profile link. Check this out.

    You’ll see in the profile section that my url IS followed! I believe this is a new change.

  10. says

    I may have misunderstood what you were saying when you wrote, “YouTube results bump web pages down in the general search results.”

    Did you just mean that if your listing is already below the YT video it would be pushed down farther? But a listing below any YT video would be pushed down lower.

    Or were the examples supposed to show videos that don’t sell?

    That part, which you bolded for emphasis and then inlcuded examples, has thrown me.


  11. admin says

    @seodoctor As long as my webpage result ranks above my YT result I would be fine with world domination :)

    @Ryan Not sure I understand how YT will help a site rank for “keywords your site might not be able to as quick” if you can elaborate that would help

  12. Jacob Stoops says

    I agree, YouTube should not be your primary focus when building high-quality links. However, I do think that including a link in your video description (maybe to your blog or video page) isn’t a big issue.

  13. Ryan @ Linkbuildr says

    If you look hard enough there is a way to get a Dofollow link with some recent changes YT has made. Someone already publically disclosed this last week :)

    Youtube is really only good for ranking for keywords your site might not be able to as quick. I wouldn’t give much thought into Youtube for link building, just general brandning.

    If you’re just into affiliate marketing then that’s a whole other story!

  14. SEO Doctor says

    I think Johnathan had the right point. You link build to get a site ranking well in the SERPs. Link building is SEO, but SEO is not just about getting a page to rank – its about SERP domination and taking over the 1st page. This needs 3rd party sites like YT.

  15. Debra says

    @Matt Never said a YT vid would penalize a standard listing, sorry, I know nothing about earth4energy websites

  16. Debra says

    Hey Terry glad to hear you agree about the linking part. Yep, vids are HUGE bandwidth hogs no doubt but I have to wonder if the company with 10/20/50 thousand + pages cares or if that’s a concern? You’re that big you’re gonna have the dough to pay for bandwidth. If you come back at me and say yea but what about the little guy I’ll simply ask isn’t it better to have your webpage rank for the term and show in the serps than a vid? No one can show me how many people see the vid and then go back to the site and buy …… not a single study and I’ve looked. It just makes sense to me that if you are in business to do business, webpages that make sales are what you want showing up in the serps.

    I totally agree that branding is important, and that YT is second largest engine online and bandwidth suck – sucks. But the Web is getting crowded and if you’re not in the serps with a result people can click, get information and then order from, you lose

  17. Debra says

    @jimboot Hey thanks, I’ll look forward to the link. :) No, I got it 100% right, links from YT don’t help with your SEO link building efforts. I totally agree video is a great help with branding but it should be hosted on your site for maximum link building efforts.

  18. Matt says

    I am very interested in the assertion that having a YouTube video related to your website can penalize your standard listing.

    But the example you give don’t seem to support the claim. I discuss them here

    I was wondering if you actually had the position of the earth4energy websites (.com and .org) prior to the placement of the video in order to document the penalty?

    Otherwise, with limited resources and battling well-established websites in top positions, having a video placed in a top position–when your site is stuck on page 13–is a marketing win.

    I would think.

  19. says

    Basically I agree with you on the linking part Debra. I just see doing YT for links as not getting its role in Social Media, Universal Search and it being the favorite content type of many users. Basically G didn’t add vids to the SERP just because they could they did it because that is what users want. Whether to put on your site or on YT the decision be based on far more than just where links point. Bandwidth being the chief concern vids are real hogs! That’s how we ended up on YouTube… pay for more bandwidth or produce more vids it was an easy decision.

    1. if you are doing YouTube for links you’re doing it for the wrong reason
    2. to think that 1000’s of subscribers to your YT RSS feed doesn’t result in links is… not seeing the forest for the trees or seeing that M’s of views provides visibility that is hard to match
    3. for many businesses the negative of vids in results is actually a positive it gives them a chance to get visibility when the site itself can’t do it. i.e. it’s easier to get those positions
    4. YT is a great alternative if your bandwidth doesn’t handle the suck that video has on it. I was amazed how slow a site gets when there are 5 or ten people streaming vids with a few hundred regular visitors
    5. YT is the second most trafficed site on the web what marketer doesn’t want to be there!

    Links and visibility IMO, are an extra benefit to any marketing activity you do. IME when marketers do things just to get links they do them half assed and for the wrong reasons.

  20. Jimboot says

    You got 50% right :) If you are thinking of a sole web property as your only source for customers then yes, don’t try to boost its presence by links from YT. However I would strongly argue that you ignore Youtube at your peril. Our business has grown immensely by using Youtube. YT is INCREDIBLY powerful in building your personal & company brand. I just presented on the power of video at the recent #mktgnow conference in Melbourne & I’ll send you a link as soon as the vid is live.

  21. Debra says

    Thanks for your comments Andrew. Since this is a link building blog I think about everything as a way to drive links. You mentioned you did testing and found a YT page could drive more phone calls than an optimized page…. how were people finding the YT video? As a search result?

  22. says

    I can see how YT might be detrimental to some types of sites but in local search we are seeing it as a key strategy to help dominate local queries. While there are some local service types that don’t lend themselves to video, there are many more where a cheap video can be extremely effective at driving a phone call. We have done some testing where the YT video page can actually drive a higher call through rate then the client’s optimized landing page.

    So instead of thinking of your YT page as a way to attract links look at it as a way to increase conversions and you might like what happens.

  23. Debra says

    @wil The YT Insights point is a good one, thanks for bringing that up.

    I agree about the embedding, and I’m glad to hear it’s working for you, not surprised you have a great channel on YT. But you and I both know a kick-ass link builder will pimp those vids to the right places, embed them in blog posts, articles or with short descriptions and not worry about scrapers. IMO, sticking stuff on YT and hoping for the best is playing russian link roulette.

    @jonathan Thanks for the comment. Since my little blog is all about link building, it’s what I focus on. Rep management tactics are a whole ‘nother issue… :)

  24. Jonathan Bentz says

    I see what you’re saying about saving the investment in YouTube for SEO and link building is useless, and I totally agree there. But there is benefit in YT for marketing and taking up SERP real estate for online reputation management campaigns.

    The site still has its benefits to the process of link building, using YouTube just needs to be practically applied.

  25. says

    Debra, as a company that has a decent YouTube presence, I agree with what you are saying on the surface. But one of the valuable ways to turn YouTube, or slideshare, or any 3rd party site that hosts your content into something that can improve rankings is via embedding.

    Some publishers will embed your Youtube videos on their site(s) and one way to make that work for your rankings is to contact the ones that embed your content (which you can get from Youtube Insights) and contact them for an interview or something that will result in a link over. Heck sometimes you can just leave a comment asking them to link over.

    Personally I find that about 85% of my embeds are scrapers, but for the 15% that are not, they are easy links to attain because if you embedded my content you probably like it, and if you like it, you are probably more willing to link over.

    In this blog post I talked about how in B2B its been really helpful in starting off with prospective clients:

    I do agree though that other than the strategy I mentioned above most of YouTube’s impact on rankings is minimal.

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