Universal Pictures: Optimizing Video for Search

We hear a lot about universal search (define) and how it will keep SEO (define) professionals on their toes with constantly evolving ranking algorithms (define). So how can local online advertisers take advantage of universal search?

Since universal search algos increasingly look favorably on video, the medium has been discovered by some clever SMBs as a side door into top SERP (define) rankings. For these local marketers, top spots for certain keywords that have a great deal of bid pressure (i.e. “restaurant San Francisco”), suddenly become more accessible with optimized video.

Combine this with the relative dearth of optimized video out there, and it becomes a great opportunity for local video producers that are on top of their SEO game. Most local online video is buried within the listings of Internet yellow pages (IYP) sites that don’t optimize the content effectively.

What are some of these optimization tactics? It can be as simple as uploading a video to YouTube that also resides on your Web site or landing page, according to Steve Espinosa, director of product development for eLocalListing. When Google sees that the copy and meta data surrounding your video is the same as the equivalent YouTube clip, it will rank your video and landing page higher as part of its increasing favorability of YouTube content.

Enter eLocalListing

eLocalListing has started to take some of these tactics to market. It’s the latest in a growing wave of companies to offer video advertising to SMBs. Unlike many others, eLocal has SEO in its DNA.

“We’ve had top results in Google within three days of creating and submitting the video,” Espinosa said. “These are terms such as ‘painting in Columbus Ohio’ or ‘photographer in Sacramento.’ These aren’t small cities.”

The company’s strategy originated because SMBs aren’t willing or able to shoot a video ad, convert it to a digital format, upload it to YouTube, and build a corresponding landing page with optimized tags and site copy.

With this in mind, it offers a low barrier video production product, similar to the well known Spot Runner, which lets SMBs customize a short video ad using stock footage. It also offers a landing page for the sizeable segment of SMBs that don’t have a Web site (or have one that’s poorly optimized). This all costs $99 for set-up plus $159 per month for SEO and SEM placements.

“You pick a video you like, and we’ll assemble it with the information you want shown at the end, add the music, and then it becomes part of your online profile,” said CEO Tim Judd.

The company’s viral distribution and SEO strategy is a double-edged sword, though. While universal search creates the opportunity to push video into top SERP rankings, rapid evolution of universal search algorithms makes it difficult.

“Our content syndication strategy and our profile pages have changed three times in the past two quarters to adapt to how Google and Yahoo read and establish authoritative documents for their algorithms,” Espinosa said. “It’s constantly evolving and our strategy has to constantly evolve along with it.”

Optimizing How-To Videos

So far this year, we’ve already seen noticeable interest and investment levels around how-to video sites. These often have the informative and entertaining attributes that make them a natural fit for viral distribution.

New sites include HowCast, which launched earlier this month with $8 million from Tudor Investment Corp., as well as MonkeySee, and WonderHowTo, which both launched last month.

Like the local video ads outlined above, there’s a great opportunity to use basic SEO tactics to make how-to videos surface in SERPs. This opportunity becomes even clearer if you consider that Hitwise reports 2.6 percent of all searches are how-to in nature; and 5 percent of the traffic from the top 10 how-to searches goes directly to video sites.

Hitwise’s top how-to searches for the four weeks ending January 26th:

  1. How to tie a tie
  2. How to …
  3. How to have sex
  4. How to get pregnant
  5. How to write a resume
  6. How to win the lottery
  7. How to kiss
  8. How to lose weight fast
  9. How to lose weight
  10. How to solve a Rubik’s Cube

So what does this mean (besides the fact that the searchers for questions 3 and 4 should meet up)? For IYPs, local search sites like Citysearch, and anyone else dabbling in local video advertising, a nice opportunity exists. Using optimization techniques, video in certain categories (home improvement, travel, lawn and garden) can generate traffic from this giant base of how-to searches.

Not sure where to start? Try a search for “how to optimize online video clips.”

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