Does YouTube Count As A Backlink for SEO?
Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors for SEO.
The more backlinks you have from authoritative websites, the better your own website will rank in search engines like Google.
But what about YouTube? With over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google.
So it would seem YouTube links should count for SEO backlinking purposes.
Let’s explore the value of YouTube links as backlinks and best practices for leveraging YouTube to improve your search rankings.
YouTube Links Function As Backlinks
First, let’s cover the basics.
What is a backlink?
A backlink is any link from an external website that points back to pages on your own website.
These incoming links are seen by search engines as votes of confidence for your content.
The more backlinks you have, and the higher authority those linking sites have, the more trust and ranking power gets passed to your own site.
YouTube links point users from YouTube videos to your website.
So these links do indeed function as backlinks that search engines can crawl and index.
According to Google’s guidelines, any link intended for users or search engines to follow into new content is seen as a backlink.
That includes links in YouTube video descriptions.
In fact, Moz found that YouTube links make up nearly 4% of all backlinks to the top 10,000 websites.
So YouTube does provide a meaningful number of backlinks for many sites.
The key is whether those YouTube backlinks actually help with search engine optimization and rankings.
YouTube Links Aren’t As Powerful As Links From Authority Sites
Here’s the caveat – while YouTube links count as backlinks, they don’t pass as much SEO value as links from other authoritative websites.
Why is that?
Primarily because YouTube links are nofollow links.
The nofollow attribute tells search engines not to pass link equity or anchor text.
So nofollow links pass less SEO value compared to regular “dofollow” links.
Text links on articles published on authority websites in your niche are usually dofollow links. So they lend more direct SEO power.
For example, an editorial link from a site like Healthline or WebMD to your health and medical content would be much more authoritative than a link in a YouTube video description.
Moz found that links in YouTube videos pass about 36% less ranking power vs links in the description text on authority websites.
So YouTube functions as a backlink source, but not typically a powerful one on its own.
The SEO value depends on the authority of the specific YouTube channel giving you a backlink.
A link from an influencer or brand with millions of subscribers will pass more equity than a small channel.
But even top YouTube channels don’t compare to the domain authority levels of leading publications.
YouTube links are just one part of a diverse, natural link building strategy.
Relying solely on YouTube for backlinks likely won’t move the needle for rankings.
YouTube Descriptions Offer Backlink Opportunities
The key place on YouTube where you can earn backlinks is in the video description section.
When uploading a video, creators have the option to add a written description with supplemental information about the video.
This description field allows adding clickable hyperlinks.
Any links directing viewers from that video description to your website will function as backlinks.
According to Moz, if you can get a link added in the first line of a YouTube description, it tends to be weighted more heavily by Google.
But links anywhere in the description can provide SEO value.
Some best practices for optimizing YouTube video descriptions for backlinks:
- Strategically use anchor text with your target keywords
- Add the link early in the description to give it prominence
- Link out to related pieces of content on your site
- Embed links to your most authoritative pages
- Write descriptions that compel viewers to click your links
Getting YouTube links needs to be an earned, natural process though – buying YouTube backlinks is strictly against Google’s guidelines.
We’ll cover tips for earning YouTube links a bit later.
YouTube Can Generate Referral Traffic
Here’s one advantage YouTube links have over plain text backlinks – they send video viewers directly into your content.
So even if YouTube links are weaker for SEO purposes, they can be very beneficial for generating referral traffic.
People discovering your content through YouTube may convert into leads and customers.
According to Linkody, YouTube drives over 20% of outbound clicks from Google Search.
So YouTube serves as a major traffic driver, beyond just providing backlinks.
Appearing in YouTube search and suggested videos can significantly boost site visits.
This makes it valuable to optimize your YouTube channel and videos for exposure and traffic generation in addition to backlinks.
Best Practices For Earning Backlinks Via YouTube
To leverage YouTube most effectively for backlinks, focus on these best practices:
- Produce quality video content optimized for your niche and target keywords. More popular videos will get more engagement and backlinks.
- Fill out titles, tags, descriptions, captions, playlists, and other metadata completely to rank well in YouTube and Google search results.
- Promote your videos on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to drive more viewers.
- Reach out to influencers in your industry to potentially collaborate on a video featuring your product/service.
- Interact with and comment on other top channels’ videos in your niche to build relationships that can lead to backlinks.
- Leverage YouTube Cards and End Screens to link out to your content at the end of videos.
- Join relevant forums and communities to connect with creators open to linking to great content in their niche.
- Create tutorials and case studies that provide enough value for others to want to link back to your expertise.
The goal is to build awareness and loyalty from viewers who will be more inclined to link to your content if it offers unique value.
Buying YouTube backlinks does not achieve this and can in fact harm your channel.
Focus on organic strategies to earn genuine backlinks over time.
Measure The SEO Value Of YouTube Links
To understand how impactful your YouTube backlink building efforts are, you need to be able to quantify the SEO value they generate.
Link analysis tools like Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic and SEMrush provide metrics to assess the power of your backlinks.
Some key factors to examine:
- Domain Authority/Page Authority – The DA/PA scores indicate the power of a website or page to rank in search. Backlinks from higher DA/PA sites pass more equity.
- Trust Flow/Citation Flow – Similar to DA/PA, TF/CF measure how trusted and influential a domain is for SEO authority.
- Number of Subscribers – Channels with more subscribers tend to be weighted more heavily for YouTube backlink power.
- Relevance – Links shared in the context of videos closely related to your niche are seen as more relevant.
- Link Velocity – Growing at a natural, steady rate is positive. Sudden spikes in YouTube links can seem unnatural.
Check your YouTube backlinks against other referral links earned.
This gives perspective on how much equity YouTube links are passing relative to other authoritative sites linking to you.
Diversify Backlink Profile, Don’t Rely On Just YouTube
This brings us to our final point – YouTube backlinks work best as part of a diverse link building approach.
Earning links from many different authoritative sites related to your industry lends credibility and authority.
Over-relying on just YouTube links doesn’t show much breadth.
Here are some other powerful backlink sources to incorporate:
- Educational Resources: Links from sites like Wikipedia, Medium, SlideShare, etc.
- Business Directories: Industry-specific directories like BestCompany, Help.org, and TopnList add great SEO value.
- Competitor Backlink Analysis: Study where your competitors earn links and pursue similar opportunities.
- Interviews: Getting featured as an interviewee on podcasts, blogs, and publications nets valuable links.
- Community Participation: Actively engage on forums and Q&A sites like Quora and Reddit in your niche to build awareness.
- News Coverage: Getting featured on industry news websites lends powerful authority and branding.
This well-rounded mix of link building tactics is far more impactful than any single source. So use YouTube to supplement your SEO efforts, not become completely reliant on it.
Monitor your search rankings and traffic to see how your entire backlink strategy is paying off over time.
YouTube Backlinks FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about YouTube backlinks:
Q1: Do links in YouTube video descriptions count as backlinks?
Yes, any link directing viewers from a YouTube video description to your content counts as a backlink search engines can crawl.
Q2: How much SEO value do YouTube backlinks provide?
YouTube links provide relatively minimal SEO value on their own.
Text links on authority websites in your niche are usually more powerful.
But YouTube links contribute equity as part of a diverse link profile.
Q3: Can I buy YouTube backlinks?
No, buying backlinks of any kind violates Google’s guidelines and can lead to manual penalties.
Focus only on earning links through natural optimization and outreach strategies.
Q4: Should I optimize my YouTube videos for SEO?
Absolutely, optimizing titles, descriptions, tags, captions and metadata helps your videos rank in YouTube and Google search.
This maximizes their visibility and backlink opportunities.
Q5: Are links in YouTube video titles counted as backlinks?
No, only links within the video description can be crawled as backlinks.
The video title itself is not clickable.
In summary, YouTube can serve as a source of backlinks but should not become your only link building tactic.
Include YouTube as just one component within a diverse SEO strategy.
Combine a mix of link building approaches to maximize your search visibility and traffic.