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YouTube Annotations – A Powerful Tool

Now that YouTube is capturing 25% of all Internet search traffic, video producers should be working all the YouTube opportunities they can. But producing a good video and putting it on YouTube is only half the battle. The real battle is to make the video achieve its goal. Getting tons of views is worth little unless some of the viewers are taking the desired action – whether it is to go to a web site, call a phone number, buy a product or whatever.

YouTube requires a strong call to action because, unlike your website, there are a great many distractions eager to whisk your viewer away till he or she forgets all about your message. This is where annotations can help. The first thing you need to know about annotation is that to link to a web page, you need to first become a YouTube partner. To do that you must monetize at least one of your YouTube Videos.

Some people say you should have about 100,000 overall video views before you apply. But, I don’t believe that’s true. YouTube has been making it much easier. So follow the YouTube Guidelines above. Be sure your videos are good and that they comply with the YouTube Terms of Use, e.g. no copyrighted music. The bottom line is that, unless you are a partner, YouTube annotations can only link to addresses within YouTube, such as videos, search results, channels or playlists.

If you are not accepted, keep posting videos and applying every two months.

Whether you become a partner or not, to get traffic to a web site from a YouTube Video, you must enter a ULR link in your YouTube description. Use it in the first sentence so it will be seen even if the viewer does not click the “More” link to read the full description. Then use an annotation to tell viewers to click the link in the description below.

Even if you do not become a partner, annotations can still add value of your videos. To make an annotation, the video you wish to annotate must already be on YouTube. Then it’s a simple matter of using the YouTube Video Manager and clicking the down arrow next to the Edit button of the video you want to change, then choose the annotations options. Here are the official Instructions for using annotations in your YouTube videos.

There are different types of annotations like interactive notes and comments which can easily help a video. But the simple annotation tool can do some pretty sophisticated tricks. Here are a few:

Interactive shell game

Interactive magic tricks

Dress Us! Clever dress the naked girls

Choose your own ending video

Another choose your own ending video

A video that works like an interactive website.

Some Uses For YouTube Annotations


Subtitles can enable you to share your video in another language or clarify inaudible or unclear speech.

Background Information

Annotations can to used to add background information about the video.

Link to Other Videos

While you can’t make a link to a website unless you are a YouTube partner, you can use annotations to link your video to another video.

Highlight People and Places

YouTube annotations can highlight specific areas of a video. Mousing over one of these highlighted areas can reveal text and then if you click the highlighted area, you’ll go to a link.

A Few Of The Annotation Styles

Speech Bubbles

Speech bubbles can add a cartoon-like style. Use them like a thought bubble of what a person is really thinking as opposed to what he is saying. This opens up some very funny possibilities. Or use “Please subscribe to my channel.”


A Note annotation is more formal. Many video producers use them to notify viewers of new or similar videos you’ve created since the one being viewed. “Check out our next video.” The Note is linkable and can drive a variety of actions.


The Spotlight is a powerful annotation type that creates a transparent, clickable hotspot that you can place over your video and link to a desired action.

There are other annotation types available. They’re fully explained in the YouTube Instructions. YouTube now ranks videos according to how long viewers watch and this is connected to your entire YouTube Channel. Annotations which link to your other videos, can extend viewer time of your videos and channel and thereby give your videos a high search position.

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One thought on “YouTube Annotations – A Powerful Tool

  1. Ken Fisher

    “you must monetize at least one of your YouTube Videos”

    That’s what’s been holding me back using YouTube. I’ll have no problems getting accepted but I do not want every video with an ad on it. Do you have a direct quote in the guidelines?



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