How to create an "External Annotation" for your Explainer Video on YouTube.

2 years ago marc schwyn

Have you ever seen a video on YouTube and then suddenly a dim colored box appeared on the screen with some text? These are called "Annotations" by YouTube and they're handy for a couple of reasons.

  1. First, Annotations allow you to make changes to the information in your video.

Most video platforms don't allow you to make changes to your video file. So if you need to change something in your video, you'll have to upload a new version, which means you'll loose your view count, comments and all other interactions. This is especially bad if your video is getting lots of traffic from search and other sources. But YouTube allows you to add and delete annotations on your video which give you at least some freedom to modify the information your viewers see.

  1. Second, you can link annotations to a URL with what YouTube calls "External Annotations. However, to avoid it's users linking to lots of scammy sites online YouTube requires you to prove that you own the site you are linking to. This means that setting up your first external annotation can be a bit tricky.

Here are the steps you need to follow to setup the first "External Annotation" for your Explainer Video on YouTube.

1. Verify your YouTube channel

This is quite easy. All you need to do is associate a phone number with your account. To do this, follow the 4 steps in the image below: Login to your YouTube account > 1. Click on your user icon on the top right > 2. Click on "Creator Studio" > 3. Click "Channel" in the menu on the left > 4. Click the blue "Verify" button and then follow the instructions.


2. Ad an associated website to your YouTube channel

Once your channel is verified you can add an associated website. To do this, go back to your "Creator Studio" > Channel > Advanced > Scroll down > Enter your URL > Click add. As you can see in the image below.


Once you've added your URL the status will be "Pending" the screen will look like the image below. Click the "verify" link which will take you to a new screen.


On the new screen select your preferred version to verify that you own the domain you're linking up. If you already have google analytics we recommend that you use that option (it's the fastest). If not, you can also use the domain name provider. Google will allow that for almost any domain name providers.


If the verification worked you should go back to the same page on youtube where it should now say "success" with a green light. If it still says "pending" try clicking the "refresh" button. You can also try clicking the "remove button" followed by the blue "save" button on the bottom of the page and then trying to add your domain once again. If your verification failed, or if it worked and your status keeps saying "pending" you may have an issue with using multiple accounts. If that's the case please send us an email to with as many details as possible so that we can send you more detailed explanations of what you can do about this.


3. Create your first External Annotation

Once your external URL is verified, create your first annotation by going to the editing section of your video. Again, login to your account, click your account icon, creator studio and then the "edit" button next to your video, as you can see in the image below.


Then click the "End Screen & Annotations" tab to get into the annotations editor.


Annotations Editor

Now that you're in the annotations editor you can start playing around. You can create lots of different annotation types, but to show you the ropes we'll first create a grey annotation that links to your website.

Next: 1. Click Annotations > 2. Add annotation (select "Note") > 3. Add a text (you can write your website URL) > 4. Check the box "link" > 5. type your URL > 6. Click Save > 7. Click "apply changes". Now when you go to watch your video you will see your annotation and when you click it you will be redirected to your associated website.


Now your annotation is already working, but you can make it even cooler by placing it at the right spot and during the right time. To place it on the right spot you can drag & drop or resize it by using the tiny boxes on it's edges as you can see in the green arrow 1 in the image above. You can change the time that it appears during the video by dragging and resizing the bar below the video near the green arrow 2 in the image above.

And that's it! You've created your first external annotation. Now that you've verified your external url the next annotation should be much easier to do. So have fun with them and let us know if you face any difficulties or if you have any additional questions via email to