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Multimedia Search Optimization (Part 2): Video SEO

September 23rd, 2010 | | Advanced SEO Tips, Nuts & Bolts of Optimization, Video SEO

Last week Caleb gave us some super-useful info about the first subject in our (tiny) Multimedia Search Optimization series: the creation and optimization of images for SEO. Check with him for a little background on the history and current state of multimedia search, as well as his tips on how best to rank for images, and then continue on with this second and final part of the series!

Why Video SEO?

Because! For many topic areas/keyword phrases, it’s much easier to appear on the search engine results page with a video result than with page of your website. Additionally, videos frequently have a higher click-through rate than normal organic listings.

In addition to multimedia search results being included in major search engine SERPs, the usefulness of actual video hosting-site search functions should not be underestimated. YouTube is technically the second most-used search engine behind Google, and the audience who understands that they can use YouTube to find how-to information and tutorials rather than solely entertainment is constantly expanding. If you can offer a video that teaches something both industry-related and useful, the impact in terms of branding can be much larger from an engaging video than via text ads or organic results. Additionally, competition for search results listings for the same terms are frequently much lower for video than for other organic listings: there just aren’t as many videos yet competing for a certain niche keyword as there are web pages.

Now that we understand that the creation and optimization of videos might be a viable branding and traffic-development strategy for your website, the next steps are important. How do you “do video right” in order to maximize your chances of being discovered and making the big time? There are a few important things to keep in mind:

  1. Choose an interesting, unique, relevant topic- Ah, that’s always the rub, isn’t it? Make it entertaining and differentiate yourself, but hey you’ve still gotta provide something useful to watchers. In most cases you won’t get to make random unique videos on just any topic. In order to make a video make sense for your business, you have to keep it industry-relevant or related But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and deliver a message in a different way, so keep in mind that unique and different DO count in terms of “shareability” and in terms of the time people will dedicate to watching your videos.
  2. Use a descriptive title- Funny titles are…funny, but they usually don’t give Google or searchers any help in understanding the content of your video. Especially because a video search result won’t contain any snippet of text like the meta data associated with a web page search result, you need to make sure the title describes what someone will find there. Use whatever keywords you’d like people to find the video with. You can target keywords in your video’s title in the same way that you can target them on your website, so either keep in mind that you should keep them consistent with the keywords on the page on which the video is embedded, or do a little research to determine the video-specific competitive landscape for a keyword before you title the video. Using YouTube’s keyword tool will allow you to determine dedicated video-only search volume for keywords, and then you can use the number of competing videos which appear for your terms on Google Video or YouTube to determine the relative competition for each term. If you are hosting your video at a site like YouTube, tag your video accurately and take advantage of the video description and captioning capabilities YouTube offers to expand upon its content.
  3. Embed your video- It’s better to embed your videos on your pages than link to them. Links get broken, locations get changed- and it will be sad when your excellent video inclusion no longer can be played because it was relocated or removed.
  4. Create a thumbnail- If you create a useful, descriptive thumbnail image for your video rather than letting the thumbnail be a random image from the video, it will be more likely to catch a searcher’s eye and interest.
  5. Add a video sitemap- You can either add video information to your sitemap, or create a separate video sitemap to direct search engines to the video content you’d like indexed. If you don’t know how, you can read Google’s video sitemap advice. Don’t forget to submit (or resubmit) your sitemap once video is integrated.
  6. Leverage video analytics- If you really want to understand how people are interacting with your videos, you need to have some sort of analytics to give you that visibility. Unfortunately this issue can become complicated by several factors, including where you host your video. If you host your own video on your site (an option which gives you the most control but isn’t financially feasible for many, particularly if you have a large number of videos or high video traffic), you can track user interaction with the video and your site using Google Analytics’ Event Tracking. You can find out when people stop watching, their actions before and after watching the video, and how they got to your website in the first place.  If you customize the video player on your site for an embedded video hosted elsewhere you can still gain Analytics data, but this is a bit more complicated and you’d better have a competent programmer on staff to implement. For videos hosted on YouTube, you can use YouTube Insight to gain some understanding of who is watching your videos and where they’re coming from, but if you use Google Analytics to track other site use metrics, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed by the feature set currently available, as it won’t give you as much data as you’d like to fully understand visitor actions before or after they interact with the video, and no metrics regarding how engaged they are with the video itself. If you have videos hosted elsewhere, or on multiple sites, using an analytics package such as that offered by TubeMogul can help you gain a greater understanding of your traffic quality by video and by platform.  Overall, the best choice for you will depend on your video requirements, visitor volume, and budget, but no matter what, to get the most usefulness from your video SEO efforts, you need to make sure you can track whatever you do.

In summary- if you have videos, fix them up and start leveraging them! If you don’t have any videos, consider what areas of your business might be translated to the format and step into the arena. Interactive, engaging multimedia search is part of the future of SEO, and you need to be there with it. Once again many thanks to Rand and the SEOMoz team for their great image and video SEO tips at their Pro Conference- for more fabulous ideas for creating an overall online video strategy, check out these tips from SEOMoz team member Kate Matsudaira!

Jessica is an Account Supervisor at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.

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