3 Ways to Use YouTube to Drive Traffic to Your Website

social media how toAre you wondering how to get people from YouTube to your website?

Are you looking for ideas to move people from watchers to clickers? Keep reading to learn how.

Why YouTube for Traffic?

With an impressive three billion daily views, this video-sharing platform stakes its claim as the world’s second-largest search engine (behind Google) and is considered the third most-visited website in the world. Think YouTube is only for Justin Bieber fans? Think again.

As a marketer, there’s an absolutely incredible potential with YouTube if you deploy the right strategy. Imagine each of your videos as “mini websites.”

First, your content can get found from within YouTube itself.

youtube's search result pages

Leverage YouTube's three billion daily views to get found quicker!

Then, your content has the potential to get indexed inside Google’s search engine results pages, embedded on blogs and shared across all of the social networking platforms!

google for your keywords

Get even more exposure when your videos get ranked inside Google!

Building brand awareness and creating “celebrity status” are inevitable with the correct strategy, but at the end of the day, there is no “video bank” that you can trade in your views for dollars.

Instead, you need to strategically leverage your videos to perform one very specific function: drive traffic to your website.

Most people think viral video when they think YouTube. Until now, you’ve been under the impression that success on YouTube meant capturing some hilariously comedic moment with your cat or unsuspecting son or daughter on video and sharing it with the world.

You’ll quickly discover that you don’t need millions of views to get results. It’s all about the quality of your visitors, not the quantity.

Your YouTube videos will build rapport with your viewers, so that by the time they end up on your website, they are primed, pumped and ready to take action with you. In short, your conversion rates go up.

It’s my job to show you how to get your audience off of YouTube and onto your website, so they can start taking action with you. Let’s begin.

What’s Your Call to Action?

There are three ways to convert viewers into visitors. However, there’s truly only one strategy for effectively accomplishing this traffic-generation goal: a compelling call to action.

Each of your videos must tell your viewer exactly what to do (e.g., “go to my website”), how to do it (e.g., “click the link below”) and most importantly, why to do it (e.g., “get my free report on 7 Weight-Loss Secrets”).

liz dialto

Here's an example of a specific call to action.

Why should your audience leave YouTube and visit your website? The more compelling the offer, the more you can expect to convert video viewers into website visitors.

“Compelling” usually translates into “Free!” A free report, video, consultation or software application is enough to get people to take action with you.

However, as a savvy marketer, you also need to convey why this “free gift” is a must-have item that is worth getting immediately. What will your “free gift” do? How will it change prospects’ lives and make them better people?

Once you have crafted your compelling call to action, you’re ready to learn the three simple yet powerful ways to effortlessly get your YouTube audience over to your website.

Traffic-Getting Strategy #1: Tell People Exactly What to Do!

This is the easiest yet most often overlooked step. At the end of each and every one of your videos, you need to specifically communicate your compelling call to action and tell people exactly how to get to your website (and the benefits of doing so!).

This step can be completed with a simple line or two of dialog: “Thank you for watching my video! To discover the seven secrets for successfully potty training your puppy, head on over to www.MyPuppyPottyTrainingSecrets.com to get your hands on this powerful, 3-part video series right now.”

click the play button

Tell people what to do and why they need to do it, and they'll be compelled to take action with you!

Traffic-Getting Strategy #2: The Video Description Box

Every time you upload a new video on YouTube, you have the opportunity to add a description of the content. Most marketers never take advantage of this function.

To turn your video’s description box into a traffic-getting machine, here’s all you need to do: Add a 5-6 word call to action at the beginning with your complete website URL:

“Get More YouTube Traffic: http://www.JamesWedmore.com.”


This URL (don't forget the "http://") will become a clickable link that video viewers will easily see under your video.

Although this is a great start, I also recommend adding a paragraph or two of text to describe the content of your video. This way you can add your website URL again at the end of your description.

Traffic-Getting Strategy #3: The Call-to-Action Overlay

The third and final way to convert video viewers into highly targeted traffic is through a little-known YouTube feature called the Call-to-Action Overlay.

In essence, the Overlay is a simple banner ad that sits on the lower third of your video. You have full control over the copy, thumbnail image and the desired destination you want to send users to. This function takes a few minutes to set up, but failure to add it is simply leaving valuable traffic on the table. James: do you have a video or link that shows how to set this up?


The Overlay will appear as soon as the video begins to play and can be closed by the user.

To activate this little-known feature, you’ll need to start by signing up at ads.YouTube.com.

promoted videos

Get more views and exposure with YouTube Promoted Videos.

For a step-by-step tutorial showing you exactly how to install and activate the Call-to-Action Overlay function on all of your videos, watch the special training video below.

Final Thoughts…

There are three ways that we can turn our videos into traffic-getting machines: a) Give a call to action in your videos, b) add a URL to your description box and c) add YouTube’s Call-to-Action Overlay function. These three tips can do wonders for increasing your traffic!

Make sure to add all three of these strategies to each of your videos, and remember: it all starts with a creating a compelling call to action! If you have something that people want, they will take the next step to work with you!

What do you think? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, James Wedmore

James is the founder of Video Traffic Academy. James shows others how to use the tools and skills they already possess to harness the power of video to grow their business. Other posts by »

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  • http://www.wordandmouth.com/ Dave Thackeray

    As a three-axis content creator I find this kind of content the most appealing and right now, James, this is one of my favourite posts of 2011. I didn’t know about the call-to-action overlay and I thought I pretty much had YouTube mastered.
    Congrats on an excellent article and one I think will be revisited by folks here at SME time and time again.

  • http://www.IfSimply.com/ Keith Griffis

    I have to say great summary James. Just curious if you feel that having a standard video intro ha any affect on conversions. I have seen it work well both ways (ie with a company logo and audio intro and without).

    Also, I find that if you place your call to action about 30 seconds before the end of he video and show it for 2 seconds and then show it again at the end it primes the viewer to think about it and then act on it at the end. Gets higher clickthroughs as the viewer is still watching through to the end, but they start thinking of the value you are providing.

    One last question. What is the beat way to determine the keywords to target on YouTube? The new ad tool?


  • James Maxwell

    you have forgotten about youtube “annotations” that are totally free  and allow you to link from your own videos start to your website

  • http://www.fotobubbles.com/ kumar

    Fantastic article James. We have already seen the benefit of 1 of your recommendation about utilizing the summary section of the video on Youtube. Will try out the others as well.

  • http://productlaunchthatworks.com Brian Kwong

    Nice.  Didn’t know about the last one with the overlay, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.simplicityadmins.com/ Sarah Santacroce

    Wow, never heard of the overlay technique. Great ninja trick, thanks so much, James ! 

  • http://twitter.com/donald_576 DONALD UKPONU

    Thanks for sharing.Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to socialmediaexaminer :))

  • http://www.modgirlmarketing.com/ Mandy McEwen

    Great tips.. thanks for the overlay technique.. I’ve seen it on videos several times but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about setting it up. Thanks!

  • http://www.austintenantadvisors.com/ Nathan K Smith

    It’s also important to use your keywords in the Title of the video.  In addtion adding your address may help provide citations for your places pages as well.

    I wasn’t aware of the overlay.  I always added that directly into the video.

  • http://Wordfruit.com/ Richard Clunan

    Refreshing to read a plainly-written guide, James.

    This, for example: “Communicate your compelling call to action and tell people exactly how to get to your website (and the benefits of doing so!)”

    …is such a basic principle, but so many people seem to either not know or not fully understand it. Perhaps this is partly because while the principle is simple and basic, applying the principle so it does the job in a simple way can be a fair bit of work.

    Marketing and Copywriting blog: http://wordfruit.com/blog

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  • http://twitter.com/georgiasap Georgia Sapounas

    @james wedmore  “James: do you have a video or link that shows how to set this up?” – don’t forget to delete ;) Great post btw! 

  • James Wedmore

    Dave!  Thank you for the kind words!  I feel the same way as you, I always think I have Youtube “mastered,” then they go and do something like change around their entire interface and functionality…but I’ll save all of that for the next article ;-)


  • James Wedmore

    Hey Keith!  Great questions!

    1.  Whether you use a video intro or not isn’t really relevant, your goal is really to CAPTURE & KEEP the attention of your audience (just like your website), you have a few seconds to WOW and INTRIGUE them.  A quick intro can do that, or a creative opening, or….??

    2.  Love the Pre-frame of the Call to Action, that is a GREAT tip!  Here’s another one:  use the “Pause” annotation at the last second of your video and it will hold your call to action on screen without ending and displaying “related videos” that are from other channels!

    3.  Regarding keywords, I use Google Adwords and look for keywords that a minimum of 3-5,000 Exact Searches per month and have a low competition of videos when I type that keyword into Youtube.  That’s the trick, look for keywords that yield a low number of video results inside Youtube and it’s far easier to rank higher.

    Great questions!


    James Wedmore

  • James Wedmore

    Nice!  Way to take action!


  • James Wedmore

    Annotations are awesome!  Unfortunately you can only use them to link to other videos, channels, playlists or subscribing…not a web property…it’s a bummer I know

    -James Wedmore

  • James Wedmore

    YES! Simple is good!  Thanks for the comment Richard!


    James Wedmore

  • James Wedmore

    Hey Georgia!  Yes, there is a video embedded at the bottom of this article taken straight from my training course that shows you exactly how to set up the Call to Action Overlay (I’m assuming that’s what you are referring to)



  • http://learnit2earnitwithlynn.com Lynn Brown

    Annotations are a great way to remind people to LIKE your video and to SUBSCRIBE to your channel.  As you say James, “tell people what to do” is always key in getting better results with your videos.  There is also another annotation most folks don’t use and should…. it is the PAUSE feature.  At the end of your video, add pause for 3 or 4 minutes.  Then your video doesn’t end and go into YouTubes’s  carousal of other videos which may take your visitor away from yours!   This is a really good article James, thank you for sharing your tips and advice.  Very helpful.

  • http://mytitleguy.com/ Stephen Garner

    awesome post James – clear and to the point. your teachings in VTA are awesome.

  • Makeusocial


  • Blemaire

    Love this application fantastic way to promote your videos  THANK YOU!!!!

  • Shane

    I am a member of James’ Video Traffic Academy.  I have done a few online info package courses on video …some that were 30x as expensive …none have had the impact that VTA & James has had on my video marketing success.  Oh …and the private community for VTA is unbelievably engaged & helpful to each other …I can’t wait each morning to check in with this group!

  • http://www.saceleanul.tk/paul-blog.html Szasz- Sebes Paul

    Wonderful site

  • http://skyler.me Skyler Sweet

    Smart, Smart & Smart.  Knew it but now I know it.  :)

  • http://internetconsultantindia.com/ Soumitra

    How much the ads will cost james ?

  • http://blog.flatrocktech.com Outsourcing_IT

    Great article! YouTube can really generate traffic as long as you offer compelling content.

  • http://www.tributebandreviews.co.uk/ John O’Hara

    Hi James, I always make sure my website URL is visible at the bottom of every video that I create, it runs all the way through to the very end. I put a call to action 10 seconds before the end of each video and let it run until the end. When it comes to the YouTube description I always put my website URL at the very beginning of it and then I put another link and a call to action at the end of the description. I also put all the relevant tags for the video in the YouTube form. I then set about the task of promoting that specific video URL on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. I use Tubemogul to get it out to other video sharing sites as well. I don’t usually need that many backlinks to get it ranked well on YouTube or Google.

  • James Maxwell

    Great post. Hi James you definitely can link to external site using annotations. Check out the video we produced below http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=-smYSGCYB2c at 1m 41secs. Do you have any recommendations about getting to the top of youtube search?

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Well explained about the importance and effect of YouTube on improving the traffic to the website. Many people use the YouTube to watch different videos, so it plays very vital role in online.I like your way of presentation.

  • James Maxwell

    sorry James yep you are right just checked and linking to external sites using annotations is for premium accounts only

  • Ben Saunders

    You need to ensure you have a partner account with YouTube – Which will only happen if you are alreday hitting the big time in terms of video views

  • http://www.urbanmedia.co.uk/ Urban Media

    Some fantastic tips and advice and things we have been missing out on and for our clients. YouTube is a fantastic search engine and you’d be silly not to use it. We’ve got the keywords bit right but forgot the key call to action – URL in the description! Seems so simple but it’s surprising how many of us forget it. http://www.youtube.com/user/eltonboocock?feature=mhee Definitely going to put your tips and advice into practice. http://www.urbanmedia.co.uk 

  • http://www.profitblog.com/ Raj

    About the last one – The call to action overlay, I thought it was only for Youtube ads… Thanks for letting us know that we can also display a link/text of our choice. BTW, what is the requirement to get selected into the Youtube ads network?

  • http://www.themediamama.com/ Joelle

    Thanks James for all this great information about YouTube  especiallly about the YouTube ads. I would love to find out more about the YouTube ads networks. I will pass this along to my viewers!
     Thanks Joelle Norwood aka The Media Mama

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  • http://www.brandignity.com/ Brandignity

    It’s all about quality not quantity, agreed!!  Optimizing your YouTube can really help drive traffic to your website and it’s up to you to convert those leads into clients by facilitating an environment of communication, great customer service and honest organic marketing.  Optimizing your YouTube page is a fast, easy way to help increase visitors to your site.  Great post!!

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  • http://www.optiem.com/Services/Media/Social%20Media%20Marketing.aspx Grace @ Cleveland Social Media

    I’d also love to hear some suggestions on how to rank well in youtube’s search (besides integrating keywords into a video’s title).  

  • Vitoria Castro

    Very Nice Art

  • Vitoria Castro

    I Just don’t get tired of your posts and great content James!

    I’m happy to be part of the VTA community :)

    Vitoria Castro

  • LuisCid

    Great, just what we needed. More ads in youtube! A-hole!

  • http://twitter.com/hinadeane Hina

    Awesome! I had never heard about the call to action overlay before, thanks for sharing!

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  • Tim Taylor

    Thanks’ for the info. Looking forward to getting started! Tim Taylor/ToolTimeTv.com

  • http://bananaprod.com/ Brpod Jiggs

    Nice read, I particularly like the part that talks about the “overlay” since that’s all new to me. Thanks for the informative post!

  • http://milkmen.com/ milkmen


    Great Post!  Thanks for your questions Keith.  3000 – 5000 exact matches & low competition is very specific insight.  Do you find lots of opportunities that meet the criteria?

  • http://www.GreatSmallBusinessAdvice.com/ Allison Phillips

    Excellent tips and some I wasn’t aware of so thank you!  Need to go implement some of these right now!

  • http://www.dailytrader.com/ Global Wholesale Suppliers

    You may go for video marketing bu joining youtube. There are lots of businesses that are earning a handsome amount by this marketing field. I do agree with “Wholesale Suppliers” that you have discussed very good point in start that do what people want. it is the best strategy to grab the attention of consumer. 

  • http://www.self-esteem-tips.com/ Self Esteem Tips

    i’ve been getting into youtube a lot recently and promoting my sister’s “art show”another little tip, it helps if your youtube video thumbnails are interesting. youtube always uses the midpoint of the video, so while you’re editing, try to make a short stretch of video around the midpoint that’s interesting to look at.

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  • Djkoolbob

    gonna get on it tonight! this something we need, our website plus marketing our radio station will benefit from this call to action.
    thanks so much for the 411 and looking forward to more…..

  • http://www.elschaddei.org/ Iona Irving

    This is very educational. I will be implementing same to my website. Check out my website and give me some ideas, please. Web Address is: http://www.elschaddei.org.
    Iona Irving

  • patelanjali

    Building brand awareness and creating “celebrity status” are inevitable
    with the correct strategy, but at the end of the day, there is no “video
    bank” that you can trade in your views for dollars.

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  • http://gegenflugangst.de/ Flugangst

    We’ll give it a try. We are ranking our videos in Youtube lately and we find it a success. Anyway, I saw a lot more potentials after reading your post. Great information to implement this early. Thanks James.

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  • http://www.andelyons.com/ Ande Lyons

    LOVE this post James and SME!!

    I was immediately distracted from The Great To Do List and happily journeyed off into the wild blue yonder of YouTube Land – thank you!  It was so easy to implement all your ideas, too. 

    Cheers! Ande Lyons (YouTube Channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/bringbackdesire)

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  • Havarti

    This article is 100% on point! I utilize two of the techniques in this article to drive traffic to my blog/sites. 
    I add an annotation to the video telling the viewer to click the link below the video. Little tip – figure out how to title, describe and tag your video correctly and your hits will sky rocket. 

  • ZoltanBalazs

    Thank You for this post, it was helpful and informative! http://zoltanknows.info/

  • http://twitter.com/Bbredel Brooke Scott

    Can you confirm that in order to use the overlay, you have to pay?

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  • http://twitter.com/JenningsDerek Derek Jennings

    Well done James!! I just stumbled across this article and found it immensely helpful- as I am prepping a commercial for an app company that strives to do just that (gain more eyeballs and clicks on their website to drive a subsequent download increase of their mobile app).  My question is: Before herding viewers to one’s website, what are some strategic tricks and tools that can be employed through social media to help build that “herd” in the first place? (assuming the content is of excellent quality- more “premium” type content than “popular” content most users post).  Thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/JenningsDerek Derek Jennings

    Well done James!! I just stumbled across this article and found it immensely helpful- as I am prepping a commercial for an app company that strives to do just that (gain more eyeballs and clicks on their website to drive a subsequent download increase of their mobile app).  My question is: Before herding viewers to one’s website, what are some strategic tricks and tools that can be employed through social media to help build that “herd” in the first place? (assuming the content is of excellent quality- more “premium” type content than “popular” content most users post).  Thanks!

  • Adorablebannerco

    I am trying to follow along and the screens I am seeing are quite different than the screens in the video. I am scared to guess my way through in case things have changed. Is this video up to date as of March 2012?
    Thank you!

  • Reidgoldmine

    Your article points out the gold standard for those wanting to be a success with cross channel marketing!

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  • Helge Habenicht

    Hi James,

    thanks a million for the information it answered the question I had to the point.

    Kind regards from Cape Town…

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  • http://www.moonfiller.com/ Taran

    Great ways to get traffic, its really a great article.I got so much nice info from this article.Thank you for sharing such useful info.

  • Dr. Mosher

    Very well done. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about You Tube optimization. I’m just now getting around to getting on board. Wish I had known about this a couple years ago.
    Dr. Mosher

  • http://taimoorsultan.com/ Taimoor

     Very nice and useful post James. :)
    Thank you!

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  • PD Architecture

    P.S. Following my earlier post, I seem to have the call to action feature now working as per your suggestions, a little bit of feedback though, and it is because the post is not a new post, some your links and processes in the video are outdated so takes a while to actually find the way you tube now actually allows you to do this, (especially for the inexperienced like myself), but otherwise, thanks again great tip

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  • Charlotte

    Dear James,

    Great site and great tips ! However, I’d like to challenge
    you and get your advice on the following:

    I have several e-commerce websites in Europe for which I
    want to create associated YouTube channels to promote their products. 2 of
    those websites are in the same language, with similar products but serving 2 different
    countries (for instance: 2 websites in English, one “.ca” serving Canada and another “.com” serving the US).

    Is it better to have 2 YouTube Channels pointing towards
    each websites (and if so, what are the risks of duplicate content from a Google
    perspective) ? Or a single one to leverage more traffic per videos but with
    less flexibility towards redirection and links ?

    Thanks in advance for your ideas, cheers, Charlotte.

  • http://twitter.com/Miss_LosAngeles ✨ADRIANA MICHELLE✨

    Thank you!

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  • http://wptemaer.dk/ Jan Rokkjær

    Thanks for some usable information for every online marketeer.

  • http://www.ReginaldChan.net/ Reginald Chan Xin Yon


    Good stuff and thanks for all the images. Looks good!


  • Paul Day

    A bit of help if possible – I have completed the Adwords and your call to action recommendations some time ago, and all worked fine see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXniSSI4IPw, it has my PD Architecture advert and link at 1pence – perfect. I have now added two new videos, set up everything the same in Adwords and used the call to action, but it is not my adverts appearing in the new videos see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPPHevfPZNk? Can you tell what I have done wrong. I added the videos to the same campaign, should i have set a new campaign for new videos?

  • Weng Minhas

    what do you think about submit your video on RSS?

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