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Video and Podcast Search Engines

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Video streams and podcasts have exploded in popularity on the web, but how do you search to find this type of content? And if you're a content owner, how do you make sure your multimedia files can be found?

A special report from the Search Engine Strategies conference, August 8-11, 2005, San Jose, CA.

In this session, speakers presented information about multimedia search engines currently available and how to prepare files for inclusion in the audio/video search engines.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members talks about how to submit audio and video content to search engines, and offers tips on optimizing content so that it can achieve high rankings even when traditional SEO techniques don't apply. Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Video search

"Audio/video search technology is fast becoming a must for today' s digital lifestyle as more consumers gain access to high-speed Internet connections and consume more audio/video content that ever before," said Karen Howe, Vice President and General Manager of AOL' s Singingfish.

"Video search is still difficult to use right now," said Peter Chane, Senior Business Product Manager at Google. "You often can' t find the video you want. Playing back videos can be a little weird—you can have problems hearing audio with video. And many files might not be Mac-compatible."

Still, many search engines offer video searching capabilities, including Google Video, Yahoo Video, Singingfish and Blinkx.

"We launched Blinkx in December 2004," said Suranga Chandratillake, Co-Founder and CTO. "Our basic aim is to find areas on the Internet that aren't gatherable by traditional indexable search." Searchers can also go to to view current video headlines.

"When people don't provide a lot of description around their audio and video content, you need to employ a smarter way of searching for it," Chandratillake continued. "We use speech recognition on every single computer to listen to audio and video clips that are submitted to our system. We will actually understand word-for-word what is being said in the clips."

Singingfish has been in the audio/video search arena for over seven years. Unlike traditional search engines, Singingfish only indexes multimedia formats, including Windows Media, Real, QuickTime, and mp3 files. "When our crawler grabs your files into our index, it gets categorized," said Howe. "Indexed files also get pushed throughout the AOL network and other networks as well, including InfoSpace, Lycos, and Real Networks."

Yahoo's video search offers both simple and advanced search capabilities. "Advanced video search goes by search query and popular file formats for audio and video—AVI, MPEG, Quicktime, Windows Media, Real and Flash," said Bradley Horowitz, Director of Technology Development at Yahoo. "When you click on one of the thumbnail images on your Video Search results page, you will go to a page containing additional information about that particular video."

"The upper part of the page displays a thumbnail image from the video, as well as its name, file size, and file type," Horowitz continued. "You can click on the thumbnail image or 'Play Video' to launch the video file from its hosted location."

Yahoo uses Media RSS, a new RSS module that supplements the enclosure capabilities of RSS 2.0. "Media RSS extends enclosures to handle other media types, such as short films or TV, as well as provide additional meta data with the media," Horowitz explained. "Media RSS enables content publishers and bloggers to syndicate multimedia content such as TV and video clips, movies, images and audio."

Podcasts and audio search

Podcasts are a method of publishing audio programs that is similar to RSS. Listeners can subscribe to podcasts via "podcasting" software, which periodically checks for and downloads new content automatically.

According to Chandratillake, podcasting experienced a 25-fold increase from January through May of 2005. Currently on Singingfish, the most popular searches are for podcasts, music and radio programs. Other types of audio searches include sound effects, interviews, ebooks and speeches.

Yahoo launched its audio search in August 2005. "We do music specifically, which is a more structured database of content that you can navigate through, such as bios, discographies, tour dates, etc.," said Horowitz." We also do podcasts, which is an increasingly important category of audio on the Web.

Editor's note: Yesterday, Yahoo launched a new podcast directory that's separate from its audio search service.

Grant Crowell is the CEO and Creative Director of Grantastic Designs, Inc., a full-service search engine marketing, Web site design, and usability firm.

A longer version of this story for Search Engine Watch members talks about how to submit audio and video content to search engines, and offers tips on optimizing content so that it can achieve high rankings even when traditional SEO techniques don't apply. Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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