Hey YouTube – You’ve Got Some HTML/TEXT Formatting Issues

Hey YouTube – You’ve Got Some HTML/TEXT Formatting Issues

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Last week, I noticed that there were some odd formatting issues with the new YouTube layout – both on the search results pages as well as on the single video landing pages.  I thought I would let it go a few days to see if it had changed but being that it has now been several days, I thought it would be worth pointing out. I have also sent an email off to YouTube to see if I could be of assistance but I would imagine that they are already aware of the issues as they are very obvious. Basically, Ive noticed two issues, one that is minor, and another that might affect the user experience on your video’s landing pages.

First, as you can see on the screenshot immediately following, it appears that there are issues with bolding searched keywords within the title of posts.

It appears to only happen on videos who’s titles are longer than what fits within their 590px results area. Im certainly not a website development expert so all I can do is guess-timate as to what the issues are and point them out when possible. While this is somewhat unattractive, I would argue that this is a very minor issue and does relatively little to upset the user experience on YouTube.

This next issue is where I first noticed the problem. Again, I figured that it was just a matter of YouTube adjusting things and didn’t expect it to last more than a day.  Now that it has been several days since I first noticed it, I thought I would point it out.

Ouch right?  Eww that is ugly. For those of you that were not aware (shame on you), you can include a full URL in the description field of your YouTube video, and it will function as a hot-link (at least, it used to).  While it does not pass link juice to the URL, it does provide an opportunity for you to potentially drive traffic back to your own destination.

As you can see above, rather than showing the hot-URL, it is displaying the HTML code for a link within the snippet.  This affects user experience from a few different angles.  First, the URL is no longer clickable.  Second, because YouTube only shows 115 characters (including spaces) of the description snippet (until a user clicks on the expand arrow) this code takes up the entire length of the snippet and the user now has to click expand if they want to read about the video.

Again, I have no idea what the fix is for this as I’m not a web developer but my suspicion is that it is a simple fix (probably the flux capacitor or charset).  You can see below that when you do click on the expand, the URL shows back up as it is supposed to.

Regardless of these temporary formatting issues, it may interest you to know that I no longer include a full URL within the first part of my YouTube videos’ descriptions, for a few reasons.  First, the meta description element for the document actually comes from the first 160 characters of the description box.  Second, I’ve seen very little benefit in terms of click throughs to my pages from the links, though I realize that this varies based off the content and my content may not work as well for this purpose.  Third, when you post a URL in the first few characters of the description, it takes away from characters that you can use to help describe your video.  Remember that the first 115 characters of the description field is used for the snippet – so that is valuable real estate.  Lastly, if you use YouTube’s promoted videos program, you can place off-site links within your YouTube overlay ads to drive traffic off YouTube.

If do still plan on including a URL with your videos, I would advise that you 1) Use a URL shortener like Bit.ly so that you can free up some characters as well as track whether or not it is actually working and 2) think about putting the URL after the first 160 characters.

When I first found this issue, I was worried that perhaps they were removing the ability to add these links – but I’m now convinced that it is just a formatting issue.  Let’s hope so and lets hope that they fix the issue soon.  In the meantime, in the event that it takes a while longer to fix, you may want to edit your description field.  More than likely, it will be fixed before you’ve had a chance to read this post.


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