How to track links from your YouTube video description

How to track links from your YouTube video descriptionYouTube videos often feature a ‘call to action’ that requests the viewer to click on a link. The link is usually placed near the top of the videos description field so that it is highly visible. This link may lead to a website, a social media network such as Facebook, or maybe on to an eCommerce site. The end destination will of course vary, depending on what you are trying to achieve and what you believe the viewer requires.

A quick note on linking from YouTube videos, it is also possible to link out using annotations (overlaid hotspots that have a variety of time controlled actions), however due to the lack of support with mobile viewing platforms (e.g. phones and tablets) this is not a reliable solution and hence why the description link is generally preferred. This is a massive shame because if it was properly supported, it would almost certainly be more effective due to the link being inside of the main viewing area.

Obviously you will want to check how popular your video is and of course if viewers are following through and continuing on with your suggested ‘call to action’. There are a number of ways to achieve this depending on where you are linking to. For links to your own website, you can use Google Analytics to track referrals from your YouTube video. This works very well and as you are probably already using Analytics for your other statistical needs, it will require very little extra work.

If you are linking out to a third party website then things become a little more tricky. Unless you are provided with Google Analytics tracking integration or access to another comprehensive statistical system, then you may find there is simply is no data to view.

One solution often employed is the use of link shorteners such as http://bit.ly/ and http://goo.gl/. These all offer easy to digest, click-through statistics and are free to use and easy to implement. The main issues with such links is that users can be wary of where they might be redirected to. Links such as http://bit.ly/1h1dSTw don’t have any real words in and besides the lack of branding do not offer any sort of guarantee that you won’t be sent to an unknown destination.

By setting up your own redirect and tracking system you can have access to full statistics and provide branded, trustworthy links which viewers will be happy to click. If you feel that your domain name is the most suitable, then install a tracking system (http://yourls.org/ is a popular option) on your website and use that for your links. If your domain name is not relevant, too long or you just prefer to separate everything then register a new short domain. There are many international domains that can provide very short brand matching options, which can work well. Some domain providers will also provide link shortening services with tracking data ready to use. Regardless of which option you choose, make sure that the link suffix can be customised to read as something meaningful rather than a random string of characters.

Once you have your new tracking solution set-up, you will be able to give your viewers professional, nice looking links that they will feel comfortable clicking on. You will now be able to track this activity and hopefully use the data provided to improve your ‘call to action’ both in your video and in your description text.

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