HOW TO: Use Annotations to Increase YouTube Views, Rankings, and More [Creator's Tip #74]

YouTube's video annotations functionality is one of the most effective features you can leverage in your videos to drive traffic and views to other videos, solicit engagement with viewers, increase subscribers, drive traffic to websites, and more. Not only that, but annotations are a ranking factor in YouTube's search algorithm.  On this week's Creator's Tip, we collaborated with Matt Ballek of VidiSEO to share with you some of the top reasons why you should be utilizing annotations regularly in your videos and to show you several tips and tricks to use annotations effectively.

What are your top tips for using annotations?  Let us know in the comments area below!

Why Use YouTube Annotations

  1. Increase your search engine optimization.  The more time your video contributes to each viewer's overall viewing session the higher your video will rank.
  2. Direct viewers to your other videos.  While keeping viewer's on YouTube is important it is even better if their additional viewing time is spent on other videos on your channel.  By using annotations you can direct viewers to other videos you want them to see instead of them being directed to related videos YouTube suggests.
  3. Makes things easy for your audience.  This is especially important for viewers you get who may not be that familiar with the YouTube channel and how to navigate around it.  Use annotations for things like providing a button your video to allow a viewer to subscribe to your channel.
  4. Update information in older videos.  Having relevant information in your videos is important so use annotations to update older videos when links or information you previously provided is no longer available, website links have changed or the information needs to be updated for more recent news or trends.

YouTube Annotation Tips & Tricks

  1. Annotation Menus.  Annotations don't necessarily have to drive viewers away from your video.  Instead you can use them to help viewers navigate through different spots in your current video.  This is especially effective when you have a particularly long video or one with a lot of tips and information.
  2. Close Slate or End Card.  This is the best place to suggest other videos or playlists for your viewers and get subscribers.  Most top YouTube channels utilize this type of annotation so it's easy to see different ways you can use it.
  3. Pause Annotation.  A pause annotation can be placed at the end of your video to allow some additional time for your viewer to decide where they want to click or whether to subscribe without adding actual time to your video.
  4. Annotation Analytics.  It's a good idea to utilize YouTube's annotation analytics to see what your click-through rate is for your annotations.  A high close rate could mean that your annotations are getting in the way, whereas a low click-through rate could indicate that your annotation is not standing out enough to get the attention you want.  Use this information to experiment with different colors, types of annotations and positions to find the one(s) that work best for your audience.
  5. Plan for Annotations.  When possible, taking the time to plan ahead for annotations will make them more effective.  Look through your video content calendar and find way to connect your videos together.  By doing this, you can easily put annotation placeholders into your videos as they are created.


Don't Miss Any Stories!
Get daily online video news, tips and trends via email!


View The Full Video Transcript:

On this week’s Creator’s Tip video we’re going to talk about annotations. We’ll cover some of the reasons why you should be using them if you’re not already, and we’ll give you some practical real world examples and tips of how to use them very effectively in your videos. That is coming up this week on Creator’s Tip.

Hey guys, my name is Tim Schmoyer and welcome to another week of Creator’s Tip where every week we just try to help you guys who are making online video content know how to make that stuff perform the best on the web.

This week we want to talk about annotations. There are several good reasons why you should be using them if you’re not already. Number one it’s really good for search engine optimization. The more time that your videos contribute to a viewer’s overall viewing session the higher your videos will rank so if you’re annotating to other videos, sending them to other playlists, keeping them on YouTube longer, your video will rank better because YouTube says, ‘Hey, this video is keeping people on our site longer than this video so we’re going to rank this video higher than the other one.’

Number two, kind of along with that, it also directs people to your other videos easily. So rather than just waiting til the end of the video to come and then them seeing whatever related videos YouTube might happen to show, give them your videos to go look. Annotate to them. It sends traffic, more views to your other content.

Number three it makes it easy for people who may not be familiar with YouTube to kind of navigate a little bit more. For example, if you says, ‘Hey, click the subscribe button.’ And they don’t know where the subscribe button is if you just have an annotation on the screen and point to it, it makes it really for people who aren’t familiar with the site to kind of engage in those other ways.

Number four they are also helpful for updating information on some of your older videos. Say you talk about something or your refer to something that maybe no longer exists or links are out of date or something, you just put an annotation over that spot in the video giving an explanation that now links to the new place or gives the new information.

I want to introduce you guys to a friend of mine, Matt from VidiSEO here on YouTube, and he’s going to give you some practical real life examples of how you can use annotations on your video without any expensive software, more skills you have to acquire, even taking a lot more of your time. Here’s Matt.

We all know that annotations are great for linking to videos, growing your audience and linking to my channel. But that’s only scratching the surface. Here are a few tips to turn you’re anNOtations into anYEStations.

Starting with, annotation menus. Annotations don’t have to drive viewers away from your video. They can also be used to help viewers explore your video, like Dora. Create an annotation menu box by linking to specific times in the same video and viewers can skip around to the parts that interest them the most.

Another annotation playground is the closing slate or end card for your video. This is where you can suggest other videos to watch, get subscribers, or drive viewers to relevant playlists. Just look at any top YouTuber for inspiration.

These also work very well for the oft forgotten Pause Annotation. You can place a pause annotation at the end of your video to add some additional decision time without adding to the actual length of the video itself. Just enter the amount of time you want to pause here and see if you an increase your click-through rate. For that kind of information, head on over to YouTube’s annotation analytics and dig into some click-through and close rate data. A high close rate could mean that your annotation is getting in the way whereas a low click-through rate could mean your annotation isn’t standing out enough. Find the right balance by experimenting with different annotation types, color and positions.

For example, if you get a lot of views from embedded video sources, you may want to make sure you are not getting shutter blocked by the YouTube player. That’s where this happens. Oop!

Lastly, the more you plan ahead for annotations, the more effective they become take a look at your video content calendar and see how videos could connect together. This allows you to have annotation placeholders that you can plug into your videos as they are created. So I hope that gives you some ideas for making your YouTube videos more annatastic! Back to you, Tim.

Thanks, Matt, that was awesome. You guys definitely need to go check out his channel at YouTube.com/VidiSEO. You can click that annotation right there to go do that. Right now I actually have a video on his channel about how to brand yourself on YouTube. There is so much noise, so many people here that everyone just kind of blends in together and I actually humbly would submit that I have given some advice, probably some of the better advice than I have given in a long time on YouTube branding so go check that video out. You can click this annotation right here to go do that, it’s all linked up below.

And if this is your first time from Matt’s channel or from wherever else, welcome, we’d love to have you guys subscribe. Every week we just give those of you guys who are video creators some tips and ideas for really how to perform the best on the web. Also check us out at ReelSEO.com for all the content we are publishing for you guys all throughout the week. And if you want to keep up with online video news and stuff that’s happening here on YouTube and the platform and how it’s developing and what it means for those of us who are video creators, check out my new channel. It’s at YouTube.com/VideoCreators. I’d love to talk with you guys and hang out with you over there as well and yeah, thanks for hanging out, I’ll see you guys next Thursday for another Creator’s Tip video and I will see you then. Bye!

About the Author -
Tim Schmoyer is the host of ReelSEO's Creator's Tip and the author of "30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel". You can see some of his personal videos on his Family Vlog Channel. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.facebook.com/ken.fisher.37 Ken Fisher

    Great stuff Matt…your videos and site. You're a master!

↑ Top