How to Create External Links in YouTube Videos

How to Create External Links in YouTubeIf you've always wanted to create clickable links from within a YouTube video to an external website, you can now do so. This article will show you how. 

For a long time, YouTube has allowed you to create links to other videos, channels and YouTube-centric actions like voting, commenting or subscribing. Also, using 3rd party software or creating overlay ads, you could create some outbound links, but it was tricky and cumbersome.

Then, a few months back YouTube began to allow external links to fundraiser sites like Kickstarter. Now it seems the floodgates are open. 

You can create clickable links and buttons from within a YouTube video using their annotations tool.

I created a video, How to Create External Links In YouTube, and put together a step-by-step process outlined below. 

First, Associate Your Website. 

  • Log into YouTube.
  • Click on Video Manager.
  • Choose Channel Settings in the left hand navigation.
  • Choose Associated Websites and enter in your website.
  • Note: Your YouTube channel and the Google Webmaster Tools for the associated website must share the same Google Account. If you don't have Webmaster Tools enabled for your desired Associated Website, go take care of that now

Second, Connect Your Webmaster Tools.

  • Log into Webmaster Tools.
  • Select the desired associated website.
  • Choose Configuration. 
  • Choose Associates.
  • Add a New User.
  • Put in the email address associated with the Google Account.
  • Check off YouTube.
  • Now you'll see that YouTube has been associated with this Webmaster Tools account.

Third, Verify Your YouTube Partner Account.

Apologies, apparently I deleted the text for the callout for #3 in the video, and by the time I noticed it, I already had some activity on the video, so I didn't want to take it down. Next time, quality assurance. 

  • Head back to YouTube. 
  • Go to Channel Settings > Features.
  • Click on Verify Account.
  • Google will either call or text you (your choice) with a code. Enter it into the next screen.

Fourth, Enable External Links.

  • Go to your Video Manager.
  • Select any video and click on Edit > Annotations.
  • When you arrive in the annotations screen, you'll see a blue bar at the top. Click “Enable” and agree to the terms of service.
  • Note: I've done this twice and BOTH times Associated Websites wasn't enabled immediately. I had to go back into the Video Manager page, and then re-enter the video I wanted to create external links for.

Fifth, Link Away!

I didn't create a #5 in the video, because at this point your channel is enabled for external links to the associated website. Here's what I show:

  • In annotations, select a moment where you want to create an external link. I used the Spotlight annotation, but you can choose Speech Bubble or Note.
  • Select the “nearly invisible” box (if you wish.)
  • Select “link.”
  • Choose “Associated Website” in the pulldown menu.
  • Type in your website (or any page at that domain.)
  • Click Save and Publish, and your external link is ready for action!


You now have the ability to create outbound, external links from within your YouTube videos. Once enabled, it will work for any YouTube video you've put up.

Is this something you can put to use? How would you use it? Let us know in the comments below!

Rich Brooks
YouTube Marketing