Video Search 101, Part 1

Video is quickly becoming a major factor in Internet marketing and aiding in user engagement. According to comScore’s Video Metrix, U.S. Internet users viewed 14.5 billion online videos in March, up 11 percent from February. (Susan Boyle’s YouTube videos probably helped with the numbers.) Additionally, watch Hulu‘s rise because they recently surpassed Yahoo as the third-largest online video site.

YouTube, of course, is still king of the hill with almost six billion videos showed and more than 100 million unique visitors in March. Fox interactive comes in second, but comScore predicts Hulu will surpass them this month.

With Internet video on the rise and the search engines looking more favorably on video content, there’s an opportunity to leverage this medium for your SEO efforts. We’ll focus on five steps for optimizing for video search, many which run parallel to traditional SEO best practices:

  1. Keyword research
  2. Video production
  3. Landing pages
  4. Distribution and keyword placement
  5. Tracking/analytics

Keyword Research

Before producing your video, you should have performed the proper keyword research to identify the top-performing and commonly searched keywords. These should be embedded in your verbal script or commentary.

Some search engines have the capability to convert speech to text and then index the results. These keywords should be infused within the title, description, and even the file name and URL, where possible.

Use a good keyword tool to identity different keyword phrases. Go for the long tail keywords in this case. More specific keywords are better.

Video Production

The first step in optimizing for video is the video itself. You can either hire someone or do it yourself. Your choices range from college students to full-fledged production companies.

As you consider which one to use, think first about your audience. Do they need a perfect video, or is semi-pro OK? Videos that are too polished may come across as an advertisement and turn users away. There’s something to be said about producing a video that seems more down-to-earth.

So how long should your video be? A good rule of thumb is anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes. Again, think about your audience and how much they can handle. You need enough time to get across your point with a call to action, but not too much that you bore them to death.

Also, consider how to produce a unique video. With so many videos out there, how will yours stand out, be memorable, and cause people to tell their friends about it?

Consider the folks at Will It Blend? To illustrate the power behind their blenders, they produce videos that show their product blending things like an iPod or glow sticks. This demonstrates the products capabilities while also being very viral and entertaining.

Landing Pages

Before uploading and distributing your video, decide where you want to direct people who see your video. Suppose your video has a call to action that causes the viewer to want to know more about your product or service. You’ll need to designate a “landing page” that will provide that detail. This landing page can be a Facebook page, a blog, a Web site, or business page in a directory.

Tag that landing page for analytics purposes. This will help you see how many people acted on your video and wanted to learn more.

Once a prospect views your video, they’ve begun a journey that will ultimately lead them to a mutual goal or a conversion for you. It’s your job to lead them one step at a time beginning with engaging them with your video then to your landing page and on to a purchase or other type of conversion. For more on landing page optimization, check out Tim Ash’s SEW columns.

In Part 2, we’ll look at distribution sources and embedding the right keywords with your videos, and tracking and measuring your video’s performance.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies Toronto, June 8-10, 2009, at the Sheraton Centre Toronto.

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