Trigger Happy YouTube: Use With Caution

YouTube offers a free and convenient video platform, for anyone to use. What a great opportunity for the frugal online marketer, right?


There are certain uses for YouTube, but it also comes with substantial risk. In fact, there are some kinds of videos that absolutely don’t belong on YouTube, under any circumstances and if you run an online business, you need to know about this.

Read on to learn about the risks of using YouTube and discover exactly what kinds of videos do and don’t belong on YouTube.

The YouTube Risk Factor

By using this service, you agree that we can drop the ban-hammer on you any time, without warning.During our recent web clinic webinar we spoke briefly about some of the benefits and drawbacks of using YouTube as your video hosting platform. This caused quite a flurry of questions and so we thought that it was worthy of a post by itself.

The first point that needs to be addressed is the risk associated with hosting your videos on YouTube. Unfortunately, I know about this first hand, since my largest YT account was banned some time ago.

Without going into too much detail, here’s what happened:

  • The account was over a year old.
  • It contained 115 original videos, no copyright violations and completely TOS compliant.
  • It had more than 1,000 subscribers, who actively participated with comments, likes etc.
  • It was banned without warning, without explanation and without chance for recourse, from one moment to the next.

There are a lot of spammers on YouTube. Some of them using bots to download and re-upload other people’s videos, some participating in comment spamming and much more. Because of this, I estimate that hundreds, or even thousands of accounts are banned on YouTube, every day.

However, even a completely legitimate account can be wiped out, for no discernible reason.

This brings us to rule number 1:

Never put any video on YouTube, that you can’t afford to lose.

I’ve received far too many messages from people who’ve experienced the same thing as me: they had a real, legitimate and non-spammy account and had it banned for no reason. Rule number one is not trivial.

And it gets worse: your videos and your account always need to be compliant with YouTube’s terms and rules. However, those rules can change at any time. Even if all your videos are TOS compliant right now, the TOS can change over night and your account can get whacked because it’s no longer compliant with the new rules that were just created. Google (the owner of YouTube) is notorious for doing exactly this, with many of their services.

Essentially, you don’t really have any rights to any videos you upload to YouTube.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

There are some advantages to uploading videos to YouTube. The most obvious one being that it’s free to use.

In addition, the platform brings a certain traffic potential with it, especially since it’s often used much like a search engine. Your YouTube-internal rankings are based on the number of views, number of likes, ratio of likes to dislikes, keywords in the video title, description and tags and good old backlinks to the video. Get these factors optimized and you can have a video appear in the search results on YouTube, as well as in “related video” sections for other videos.

Another advantage is that it’s sometimes easier to get a YouTube video ranked in Google search results, than getting a page from your own site ranked. This is because A) YouTube belongs to Google (and Google likes to promote Google) and B) domain authority is a very strong ranking factor in Google.

Unfortunately, there are also some serious drawbacks to YouTube, even apart from the sudden-account-death risk.  One of them is the video quality, which isn’t terrible, but also isn’t thrilling, on YouTube. This is especially true for screencast-type videos.

Apart from that, there’s also a branding problem: YouTube is interested in promoting YouTube. They are never interested in promoting you, your content or your website/business. Every YouTube video contains YT branding, links back to YT, links to YT social options and links to related videos, even if you embed them on your own site. This can partially be fixed (more on that later).

Take the above, combined with the risk of losing your account and the conclusion is that you don’t have much control over your YouTube videos. A video on YouTube is like an asset that you don’t own or control and that’s never a good thing.

What Does and Doesn’t Belong on YouTube

Here are the types of videos that belong on YouTube:

  • Anything private and completely non-commercial. E.g. a vacation video you want to share with your friends, which has absolutely nothing to do with your business.
  • If you’re on a budget: things like “casual” videos you add to your blog and videos that don’t directly have a conversion goal.
  • Viralbait: videos that have the express purpose of going viral, through the YouTube social media elements. This would be part of brand marketing.

And here are the kinds of videos that do not belong on YouTube:

  • Any business related video that has a direct conversion goal (e.g. a sales video).
  • Any video you place on a page with a direct conversion goal, like a video testimonial on a sales-page (because you will “bleed visitors” through YT embedded videos).
  • Any video, the sudden loss of which would hurt your business.

What to Use Instead?

Wistia LogoThe short answer is that for business related videos, you should either host them yourself or (my recommendation) use a video-service such as Wistia. Wistia provides a fantastic service, amazingly detailed video stats, a great video player and much more. It comes with a whole range of tools that support your marketing efforts and all the videos you see on this site are hosted by Wistia. As usual, I tested a ton of different options and services, before deciding that this one was the best.

The longer answer will be delivered shortly, in a separate blog post, covering everything you need to know about online video.

How to Make YouTube Videos Suck Less

If you take all of the above into consideration and you’re 100% aware of the benefits as well as the risks associated with YouTube and you still want to use the service, we’ve got something for you.

For embedded YouTube videos, you can add parameters to remove some of the YouTube branding, prevent related videos from showing up at the end, set the video to auto-play and more. And we’ve built a nifty little free tool, to help you set all that up: Better YouTube Embeds

This online tool, which takes only seconds to use, automatically sets some options to improve your YT embedded videos and it gives you a simple choice of tick-boxes for further customization. Just grab any YouTube video URL and have a play with it.

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have any un-answered questions about the topic? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!

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About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better marketer and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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