YouTube has become a beast, taking seat as the second largest search engine in the world. Hulu and other niche’ engines are nipping at YouTube’s heals. Yet video search optimization remains relatively uncharted territory for most.
Today at SES Toronto, respected industry experts answered the question “Are you overlooking the opportunities of video search?” The answers were a veritable “how to” clinic on tactics and optimization techniques, which will undoubtedly prove insightful for any business looking to fire up a video content campaign.
Panelists in the session, “Optimizing for Video Search: Virgin Territory?” drilled deep into the promising statistics of this massive vertical. Moderating today’s session was Mona Elesseily (Page Zero Media). On the panel was Amanda Watlington (Searching for Profit), Gregory Markel (Infuse Creative) & Steve Espinosa (eLocal Listing).
First to speak was Amanda Watlington. She begins by noting that Canadians are global champions of online video viewership with a whopping 21.1 million people watching according to comScore. Nearly 3.1 billion videos have been uploaded to the Internet and the average viewer watches 147 videos per month.
Eighty-eight percent of Internet users viewed online video in February. The average Canadian video viewer watched 605 minutes of video in February. These facts mean one thing, if you aren’t doing video you are neglecting a gigantic online user segment.
How do viewers find videos?
Forty-five percent of video viewers begin their surfing experience by navigating directly to a video sharing site, mainly YouTube. To a lesser extent people find video via search engines, social networks, bookmarking sites and email.
Set Realistic Expectations
A small percentage of videos reach 1 million or more views. If you want more views, you must work hard to get them. Optimization & social media engagement are key components in driving viewership.
Challenges for Brand & Search Marketers
Brand marketers – creating brand personality, engagement and loyalty in an increasingly fragmented media ecosystem.
Search marketers – challenged with limited search engine result page (SERP) real estate. With a large amount of advertising and various verticals funneled in with universal search space is limited.
Advantages for Brand & Search Marketers
Brand marketer – Creates a direct communication channel with users, adds new media outlets and taps into communities that may not have been available to you through traditional broadcast media. Community engagment and brand personality are easily channeled to create a meaningful relationship with users.
Search marketers – Optimizing video content is another way to gain a foothold and take a significant place in the SERPs.
Should you host or post your video content?
Host it – Hosting your own videos allows you to seize control, but also presents optimization challenges. It’s necessary though to optimize the video content landing page to ensure your users know video is available.
Make sure you:
– Create video with branding in it
– Write a clear title and description
– Create tags to identify subject
– Create landing pages for each video
– Avoid pop up layers
Post it – YouTube, Yahoo! & Brightcove get the most attention, but just because videos are branded and get significant views on these sites doesn’t mean you’ll take over the SERPs.
Make sure you:
– Create and optimize a channel
– Socialize and engage through the channel
– Optimize each video submitted
– Seek subscribers & ratings
– Aim to be on page 1 featured videos
– Look at what successful channels are doing
– Embed videos (use the same techniques for optimizing the landing page)
– Experiment with annotations, video responses and thumbnails
If you host it you can also post it; as of now there is no duplicate content screen for video content. In either case the SEO must be good. As more video is optimized users will be able to find video more easily in the SERPs. If the optimization of a video isn’t strong enough it will be pushed farther down as new content with better user search syntax.
Tips and Tactics
– Offer videos in multiple formats
– Do keyword research before creating the video
– Write a compelling video summary
– Use PR and word of mouth
– Embed links to video in online press releases
– Use marketing communication
– Feature links on you website
– Make it easy for viewers to share your videos
– Optimize video by applying SEO principles
Next up to the podium was Gregory Markel. Gregory begins with a disclaimer:
the best YouTube expert in the world still doesn’t know what a YouTube engineer knows. It’s necessary to search out the information for yourself, subscribe to the YouTube blog and Twitter YouTube channel.
Once upon a time keywords and video counts were very important to ranking. These are still very important, but they are only two of several ranking factors.
YouTube Ranking Factors
Title, keywords, descriptions, tags, links, ratings, view counts, thumbs up/down, shares, favorites, comments, authority channels, annotations, flagging, one box result, subscribers, usage, embeds and paid search. Whhewww!! Is that it? It’s better than 200+
A big mistake many people make is using the wrong keywords or placing the keywords too late in the title and description. Tip: YouTube will tell you what is popular with the drop down suggestion menu under the search query box.
Greg feels that community ranking factors are more important than traditional ranking factors. Analyze the competition, check their public statistics & data on the video watch page. There is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. View numbers, favorited, honors, links, ratings, comments, etc. After that, assess your marketing objectives and targets and meet or beat them!
Tips for Optimizing Community Ranking Factors
– Make great and unique videos
– Ask users to rate your videos
– Post a “video response”
– Add comments prompting people to watch your video
– Use similar but not the same keywords in your titles
– Post new videos on Thursdays or Fridays
– Join the YouTube partner program (easier said than done)
– Use social media and websites within your control to submit/post your video link/embeds and get the word out.
– Submit your videos to multiple video sites using www.tubemogul.com – currently free but limited use.
– Link your videos together – use annotations with a message to your viewers “stay tuned” /prompt them to click through to the next video.
– Create playlists
– Monitor your video content with YouTube Insight
Video Paid Search
– Adwords: advertise your video or channel via Google/Yahoo!/Bing
– Use “promote your video” and/or “promote your channel”
– Target the YouTube content network via Google content and site targeting
– YouTube Direct Sales: Buy Brand channel ($170-$250,000), buy homepage for a day 240 million views @ $250,000
– Network placement
– Ad insertion placement in YouTube TV and Movies
– Relevant video overlays for certain videos
It’s all changing quickly!
Gregory closed with a one minute research study his company explored. Using the iPhone app 12seconds.tv they uploaded a video targeting the phrase “disruptive marketing example”. The video upload took one minute. In 2 weeks the video ranked 2 and 7 out of 300,000 results. There’s a vast amount of video platforms available today which equates to a great deal of opportunity for you to take advantage of.
Last up was Steve Espinosa. He doesn’t waste time describing how to create a viral video, he assumes we’ve already got some ideas cookin’, but he does ease the tense crowd with a picture of his 6 month kid.
Many people don’t know that Yahoo! has implemented universal search into their search results. Yahoo! still accounts for 20% of search volume so don’t turn your back to them.
– Each industry is different, therefore each threshold of attention is different depending on the target audience. Use Google analytics to determine what the videos bounce rate and average time on the page.
Use Google Website Optimizer to do A/B testing. Create different variations of the video and then run a test using the free tool to track your conversions.
– Export videos as SWF file type – YouTube and Yahoo! video players do not use Active X controls
– Utilize Google video sitemaps
– Be sure to export in 4:3 aspect ratio. Google is still using this aspect ratio for universal search.
Video Link Building
– Drive users to your channel!
– YouTube adds “nofollow” to all video titles except for your latest video
– Yahoo! doesn’t add “nofollow” to video links. By building links to these static Yahoo! pages, it will benefit your
Show your call to action in your thumbnail
YouTube takes thumbnail captures at the ¼, ½, and ¾ mark of the video, why not optimize this with a call to action?
Optimize your embed code with a link back to your video. If anybody copies this embed code they are ultimately assisting you in bolstering links back to your video.
Twitter nofollows all links on the main twitter.com profile but not the mobile version of the site. Begin by building links to your twitter site. Once you tweet about your new video and provide that link you will ultimately be passing link juice to the video.
As you add links when distributing your video on sites like twitter, use URL parameters in order to gather the same data you get on your site with Google Analytics.
Channeling YouTube Link Juice
Subscribe to big brand YouTube users with high authority profiles and you will be added to their profile under recent subscribers. The link goes to your channel page and that link juice is funneled through your most recent video post.
Continue subscribing to these big brand authority pages and spread it out. After you’ve been removed from the ‘recent subscriber’ section, go back and comment on their profile. The DoFollow link on your username will pass link juice back to your user profile and on to your video. That is just slick!!!
The session proved that although video content is a sometimes overlooked resource, this highly populated vertical is one that is worth taking advantage of if you haven’t already.