YouTube is Changing Some of Its Clickable Link Practices Soon
With spam and even phishing links running rampant on the YouTube platform, the site has announced some sizable changes to combat the problem. Unfortunately, some of these adjustments could impact how creators currently link affiliates, sponsors, their own websites, and more.
First, effective August 10th, the social media icon links that creators could have on their desktop channel banners will no longer be clickable. Personally, I’d always been advised that these weren’t a great thing to use so I haven’t. Still, it’s an interesting little update — and one that likely impacts the largest number of creators.
As for what is probably the bigger change, YouTube will basically be disabling links that could previously be placed in several areas of Shorts. Links in Shorts descriptions, Shorts comments, and links in the vertical live feed will soon no longer be clickable. YouTube notes that this change will begin on August 31st but will roll out gradually.
The good news is that the platform does have plans to roll out some new features that will hopefully help fill the gap left by these policy updates. This includes clickable links on channel pages that YouTube describes as “prominent.” Near the Subscribe button, creators will be able to add links to websites, social profiles, merch, and other links that are allowed under the site’s Community Guidelines. As creator Roberto Blake explains, this will essentially create YouTube’s version of the “link in bio” (something that influencers on Instagram have long had to use). This update is expected to debut on August 23rd.
Another update is that YouTube is working on a way for Shorts creators to send viewers to their channel or long-form videos. YouTube says that this function is in the works and will arrive by the end of September. They describe this as “a safer way for creators to direct viewers from Shorts to their other YouTube content.”
Of course, none of these changes addresses some of the worst spam and phishing issues on YouTube. On that note, though, the blog post notes that they have been rolling out updates that have reduced impersonation on the platform. Furthermore, they state that the Increase Strictness feature for moderation has helped hold more spammy and inappropriate comments for review, meaning they don’t make it to publication.
For me personally, I think these updates end up being a net positive. Honestly, I wasn’t really sure how many people were checking links in the description of Shorts anyway, so I think that gaining a way to lead viewers to long-form content on my channel is a good trade off. I’m also curious to see how the “link in bio”-esque feature turns out as it might also be something I can take advantage of with my Shorts. But, most importantly, it’s great to see that YouTube is (finally) taking spam and impersonation comments seriously as it’s something I’ve seen an awful lot of over the years. So while there may be some downsides and a learning curve involved with these updates, hopefully they will ultimately be beneficial for creators and viewers alike.