Link building

How to use video for link building

I first wrote about using videos, especially on YouTube, for link building in 2010. Here is my opening paragraph of this article:

“Nylon Magazine (and yes, I know I’m a little too old to read it) has started putting a YouTube link in every article in their print magazine. It’s a fantastic way to mix media and use Offline methods to promote online marketing Jamie Oliver sends emails to his subscribers containing video posts. This goes (you guessed it) to his YouTube channel.

If you’re reading this today, it probably doesn’t sound like something too unique, does it?

It actually looks pretty basic.

At the time, it was new.

Now video is everywhere.

  • YouTube isn’t the only player these days, but it’s still a powerful player. Vimeo, Vivo, Daily Motion and Twitch are four competitors and more will surely emerge.
  • Videos are typically embedded in email newsletters and websites.
  • The webinars are continuous and can be watched live or replayed.
  • We all hang out on Google Hangouts or have meetings with GoToMeeting.
  • We see our friends on Facebook Live.
  • We definitely all share videos from all possible sources on all possible social platforms.

Look at them statistics from Cisco:

  • Live internet video will account for 17% of internet video traffic by 2022. Live video will be multiplied by 15 from 2017 to 2022.
  • Internet video to TV will triple between 2017 and 2022. Internet video to TV will account for 27% of consumers’ fixed Internet video traffic by 2022.
  • Consumer video-on-demand (VoD) traffic will almost double by 2022. The volume of VoD traffic by 2022 will be equivalent to 10 billion DVDs per month.
  • Globally, IP video traffic will account for 82% of all IP traffic (both business and consumer) by 2022, up from 75% in 2017. Global IP video traffic will quadruple from 2017 to 2022, a CAGR of 29%. Internet video traffic will quadruple from 2017 to 2022, a CAGR of 33%.

It’s pretty clear that the video is not going to go away.

Creating Videos for Link Building: The Basics

Do your homework

As with any content, your first step before creating a video should be to conduct intensive research to see what is already out there.

  • Which videos work well?
  • Which ones get the most shares and views?
  • What sets them apart from all the rest? (There are different ways to get this information, but two popular tools are Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and BuzzSumo).

It’s important to remember that you can’t measure success just by the number of links your videos get.

Maybe a video gets 3 links but is shared 500 times on Twitter, watched 5000 times, then 4 people who want to use your product or service come to you after seeing that video.

Wouldn’t you call it a success?

Bring something new to the table

Originality will always be a primary concern when using videos to build links.

Like any other content, you need to think about how to make your videos stand out.

If you market gardening services and you see that there are 500 rose pruning videos, make a video of the tallest or oldest roses in the country, or do a series of videos where each video is specific to a region of a country.

Always remember to have good lighting and good sound. It sounds silly to have to remind someone, but I’ve seen a lot of poor quality videos.

If people can’t see you well or the sound is too low / there is background noise, people won’t sit on it.

Make sure your videos display correctly on mobile. With so many mobile users, this is something that needs to be taken into account. Don’t forget to make sharing your videos easy.

This is done for you on YouTube, but you need to make sure it is done on your site if you have embedded the video there.


First, let’s check out some statistics:

  • Every month there are more than 1.9 billion YouTube users logged in.
  • Every day, people watch over a billion hours of video.
  • YouTube has been launched in almost 100 countries and with 80 different languages.
  • YouTube is currently the second most popular site in the world, after Google.

Going back to my example of pruning roses, we see that two of the three first page SERP video results for a search for “pruning roses” are YouTube results. In many cases, all three are YouTube results.

SERP roses
Put simply, without video you lose the chance of having more SERP real estate and in my opinion you lose the chance of visibility which can lead to potentially interesting links.

Let’s look at Search Engine Journal on YouTube. There are currently 6,800+ subscribers and hundreds of videos.

Obviously, as a columnist for Search Engine Journal I’m a little biased, but it’s fantastic content. As a link builder fantastic content is my dream.

SEJ YouTube
As you can see below, this site’s YouTube channel appears as one of 10 listings in the SERPs on a branded search for [Search Engine Journal]. So this is a great way to take more space for your brand on the first page.

Each of these videos, like any content, is a chance for a link. Because we are interested in the links here.

Why video is so useful

Videos can be embedded on a site to make the content more engaging. Each can be used as a resource to someone when trying to build a relationship that will lead to a bond.

Playlists can be created and offered as resources. Transcripts and time stamps can be added to sites where videos are embedded.

Any of these videos may appear in the SERPs in a regular search or a video search.

When you email your newsletter, you can direct your subscribers to specific videos. You can let everyone know that you have a new series.

You can ask questions that people would like answered in your next video.

If you’re a fan of the skyscraper technique where you find content, improve something, and then reach out to the people who are currently linking to the original content, video is a great way to stand out.

An example from the real world

A few months ago I participated in a video where I was talking about old school link building. This video is part of an ongoing series with Siege Media, which is cataloged on YouTube and on the website.

For the first time, clips of the videos were shown instead of the entirety, and they aired weeks apart before the entire episode was released.

With a video chunk, you can do the same as you can with a big chunk of content and split it up and market those chunks on their own, then do the same with the full chunk.

Take a look at how this video appears on the site:

Headquarters media
You have the timestamps, which are very useful for people who want to go directly to a specific point. The two video clips are linked in these timestamps.

There are Show Notes, which refer to the discussion we had as well as how to follow us on social media. The social sharing buttons are there.

There are links to the podcast version of the episodes as well as the brand’s YouTube channel. There are also more internal links to keep a visitor on the site.

It all adds up to a great user experience. This is also an important point to note.

When we think of linking with videos, it’s not just about getting links to your actual videos.

That’s fine if that happens, but it’s more about using videos to generate interest in content that will attract links, either directly or indirectly.

I’ll close with another quote from my original piece:

This type of bonding won’t work with all demographic groups or all niches. This can be a fantastic way to generate more traffic for a fashion site, but not a great way to get more traffic to your site regarding retirement benefits. Some target demographics just don’t use a lot of social media sites yet.

This is no longer true.

From what I can tell, pretty much everyone has realized the power of social media and video.

It’s fascinating how quickly things change.


Time range: Each month I would expect 1-2 links, but I would expect a lot more social shares. In 6 months, I would expect 10 links minimum.

Results detected: Within hours of implementation, you may see conversions of some sort, whether it’s a filled out contact form or an email requesting services. In a month, I would expect the video to rank well for key terms.

Average links sent per month: 2 or more

Necessary tools:

  • Ahrefs
  • BuzzSumo
  • Youtube
  • Vimeo
  • Vivo
  • Daily movement
  • Tic
  • Google Hangouts
  • Facebook Live
  • Go to a meeting

Benefits of using video for link building:

  • Using video for link building is a great way to add more visual interest to your content, as well as simply adding more content to your marketing toolkit.
  • With the fierce competition we are seeing today, using videos to help build brand awareness and bring attention to your content is something everyone should consider.

Image credits

All screenshots taken by author, June 2019