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Video SEO

Because of a recent potential client, I’ve been looking more into video SEO than I had before.  I’ve been studying why some sites are successful in getting their videos into Google and why some are not.  According to a recent discussion on Search Engine Watch, videos are 53 times more likely to produce a first page result than traditional techniques.  I am not sure where they got their information, but I don’t think that’s quite accurate.  I think it may be accurate in the short-term and I think that’s how they are framing it.  Another thing I’ve noticed is a lot of talk about YouTube optimization.  I find it hard to agree that a good positioning in YouTube is all some people need to worry about.  Basically, by working to promote a video on YouTube, you are giving that brand more power in your market than your own website.  I don’t think that YouTube has the SEO benefits for a company that is commonly believed.  When a video is posted to YouTube, you’ve given them your asset and allow YouTube to place contextually relevant advertising alongside your video – most likely from your competition.

There are a few noteworthy things I found when I was doing my reading and I’d like to take a minute to talk about them.

It is true that Google is pushing SOME video to the top of the listings in SOME industries.  Unfortunately, it’s not ubiquitous.  For example, a search on “internet marketing” yields zero video results on the first page.  I know there is a wealth of video content on the subject.  A search on “Ford Taurus” also shows zero videos.  No videos reviewing the car, no video test drives, nothing.  A search for “president obama” yields news results and some images, but no video.  Another interesting thing is that neither set of results show any YouTube listings. However, a search for “Haiti earthquake” and “Olympics” both yield video results.  So, video, though powerful, seems to currently be relegated to news type results, how-to videos, and current events.  The moral of this story is to investigate your industry extensively with regard to video results before you make a grand plan on optimizing and submitting them.  We all know that Google presents different TYPES of results for different industries, and video might just not work if you are selling car parts.

One really great thing about video is how fast it comes into the results.  If you do have lots of video, and you do have a target audience that Google thinks would want video, you may be in luck.  For example, if your website is geared towards pushing video news, you’ve got a great opportunity to capture traffic from the organic listings in a hurry.  Remember though, video news is perishable so unless you have a very sustainable model to keep feeding videos, you will probably only experience a temporary spike of traffic while your video is relevant.

I find it interesting that videos generally get better positioning in search results because of what is known as “blended results.”  Blended results can contain real-time news rolls, (from twitter usually) image results, and video results.  The placement of videos on the page depends on what Google thinks is the most important for that niche.  If up to the minute news is deemed more important than video, the video results may be pushed down to the bottom of the page to let a real-time news roll from twitter have the more prominent position.

Another thing your video may compete with is the news results that Google puts towards the top of organic listings when it thinks it’s appropriate.

The huge amount of content available in video and it’s popularity make it impossible for the search engines to ignore.  Google has been trying – for over a year now – to get really good at transcribing the spoken word in a video in order to provide contextually relevant PAID ADS alongside the videos.  Google could make so much money if they could correctly place ads with video and not have to rely on the input from the video poster.  I’ll keep my eye on this as Google works it and perfects it.

There are other ways a video can help your website beyond just providing great content for users.  If you take the time, you can transcribe your video to help build the spiderable content on your website.  Remember, alone the video doesn’t have much to offer for the overall SEO of your website, but if you take the time to pull the great content from the spoken word, the video will not only yield great (albeit short-term) success in the search engines, but help with the overall SEO of the site.  Remember, the transcription has to be accessible to the search engines!  No frames or java pop-ups, etc.

I’ve also heard that Google has been trying to analyze videos for flat surfaces that they could insert product placement ads.  That opens very interesting potential revenue stream for video producers, but probably very little control of what is advertised.  I would be really interested to see how this comes out, if they continue to pursue it.

So, how do you get your videos into the search engines?  It’s not that difficult.  The search engines allow sites to submit video content in the form of an XML feed.  However, if not done properly, the videos probably won’t make it in to the index.  Each search engine has its own set of guidelines for content submission and format for the XML feed.  Also, with any kind of feed, the guidelines you see may not be the most up to date and your feed may be rejected for something they haven’t published yet.

An important thing to remember is that Google and other search engines are not very good at finding video on their own, let alone determining it’s content.  The only way you can depend on to get videos listed is to have them submitted, by someone who knows what they are doing.  Does that mean you have to hire a firm with gobs of video-specific experience?  Not really.  Since the underlying principals of organic SEO apply to video promotion, any seasoned pro SEO will be able to get great results.  Heck, selecting a firm with tons of video promotion experience might be a mistake in the long run.  I find that companies that specialize in one little niche of marketing tend lack the skills it takes to leverage the rest of the website’s marketing potential.  Your company may find that it’s “all-in” in one type of media or delivery method only to find that particular method evaporate overnight.  Then what?  If Google decides to move video results out of the organic results into their own set, will your company survive?  Will it be competitively placed in the remaining Google results?  If your video promotion partner doesn’t understand organic SEO and incorporate it into your campaign, then no.  You won’t be there.  Google flipped the switch one day putting video in the results… they can just as easily flip it off.

In conclusion, video content can be a powerful tool for your website’s success… if done correctly.  Currently there is such a huge opportunity for people to get it right because so many are getting it wrong.  Because of the increasing capabilities of computer hardware, and increasing bandwidth to homes, video is going to remain very powerful in the future, and may ultimately be the main focus of any internet marketing campaign.

2 thoughts on “Video SEO”

  1. My friend Rob Snell raised a good point with me in email about this subject. I didn’t dig deeply enough for my Ford Taurus and Obama videos. There’re out there, just not at the top of the listings which highlights the fact that just because you have a video, doesn’t mean that it’s going to automatically get to the top of the results. You still need organic SEO experience.

  2. A well-written and insightful piece SEOMike. I’ve been doing Video SEO work exclusively for almost two years now and it was a pretty easy slam dunk for a while, but the honeymoon’s over now for sure. Meaning you are right on in that it takes real SEO knowledge and work to get videos to rank that you are hosting on your own web site, or even those that you have had optimized and posted to video web sites such as YouTube. I contend that online video marketing should be a standard component of an overall online marketing program, and that the process of consistently creating new, low-cost videos tied to desired keyword-terms is a strong way to get valuable top-ranking links on Google. thx Tim T

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