When developing your video strategy, it's important to ask yourself in a serious way what you're looking to gain from it.
Start by defining your approach and establishing if your goals are realistic and attainable.
Should you be aiming to be the next viral hit on YouTube, or to strategically improve your site's SEO?
YouTube Isn't Your Best Friend
Although YouTube is known to be the second largest search engine online, it's a common misconception to believe that tapping into its community is the only way to make online video work in your favor.
The idea of reaching YouTube's audience of more than 800 million users is certainly appealing, but if you're setting out to make a “viral video,” it probably won't happen.
A simple look at the statistics makes this fact easy to understand.
As of this writing, 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. That means that 4,320 hours (180 days) of content is put up every hour. Chalk that up to a mind-boggling 103,680 hours (11.84 years) a day.
How is your three minute video going to stand out from the other 12 years of content uploaded on a daily basis?
In reality, plainly uploading a video to YouTube in the hopes of improving brand awareness is a primitive strategy that will most likely fall flat. Even if your video attracts a large amount of views, those clicks will end up bringing more value to Google than they will to you and your business.
Making online video beneficial to you requires an intelligent strategy. By properly incorporating video into your site's content, it's possible to see some great results in terms of SEO. Here are some key points to remember.
The Host With the Most
The first impulse of many video creators is to upload their videos to YouTube. If you're looking to incorporate the clip into your content strategy with the goal of improving your site's SEO, this probably isn't the best move to make.
The obvious benefit of YouTube is that it will host an unlimited amount of videos for free, allowing you to dedicate the entirety of your budget (if any) into production. This selling point is countered by the fact that when a video ranks well on YouTube, none of that value is attributed to your site, since YouTube remains the original host.
If your video is embedded on another site in isolation (not as part of the original post in which it was incorporated) there is virtually no benefit for you, other than potential exposure. If you're looking to gain something more than just a slowly-inflating view counter when your video gets shared, you may want to look past the attraction of YouTube's free hosting.
There are several video hosting services that can help you leverage video content to its full potential in terms of SEO – if you're willing to pay.
Platforms like Vimeo Pro, Vidyard, Vzaar and Wistia will offer you a range of features that YouTube cannot. These features range from aesthetic options such as customizable skins and players to fit your brand image, to the SEO-valuable ones such as listing your domain as the source of the video, allowing you to gain referrals each time it's shared.
The cost of these services vary from as $29/month to about $99/month, which can seem a little pricey to some, but if you're seriously aiming to incorporate video into your content strategy, their benefits can be invaluable.
Incorporating multimedia elements into your content has an immediate enriching effect on the quality of your website. The inclusion of video within posts has been shown to correlate with improvements with time-on-page statistics as well as social shares.
As Jason Acidre of Xight Interactive puts it in his interview with Brainshark, “Including videos on text-based content makes the content look more comprehensive, and this aspect makes it more appealing to readers, which increases the probability of having the content shared.”
Furthermore, it's important try to incorporate your video in a way that makes it an integral part of the post. The clip should be supported by the text and images that surround it (and vice-versa) so that rather than share the video as a stand-alone element, people will be more inclined to share the entire page it resides on.
Since Google doesn't crawl through the actual video as part of its ranking process, it's up to you to ensure all relevant information is optimized. If you want your video and page to rank as well as possible, search engines need to be able to determine what your content is about.
Make the necessary information available to search engines by:
- Including a full transcript of the video within the post. This can be done manually, or as Jacob Klein suggests in his article on the subject, through transcript services like Wistia.
- Creating and submitting an XML video sitemap to get your videos indexed. Google's support page offers guidelines and instructions on how to do so.
- Including rich keywords in video title, description, tags and actual file name. As you would for any other piece of content, you'll want to perform some keyword research beforehand to establish which ones will generate the most traffic
Taking all of these suggestions into consideration, one of the best things you could invest in is the actual production quality of the video content.
Proper optimization can definitely help your video perform well, but if the content itself isn't great, it can actually be detrimental to your brand. Don't rush the process, and take the time to produce something that's of sufficient quality that it could actually be shared organically.
Combining quality with intelligent hosting and optimization practices are your best bets for making video a successful part of your content marketing strategy.
Image Credit: iStockphoto