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The 10 Commandments of Video Search Engine Optimizaton [SEO]


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Most companies, agencies and associations know that visual storytelling needs to be part of the online communications mix. Technology and audience reach are no longer an issue and the simple act of placing video on a page boosts overall search results. This creates divine opportunity for Marketing, PR, IR and Corporate Communications professionals, but a wing, a prayer and repurposed b-roll is not enough to shine a light on your message. Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) can be a messenger’s best tool and this tip sheet will teach you how to use it.

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The 10 Commandments of Video Search Engine Optimizaton [SEO]

  1. 1. Type to enter text By Larry Thomas President Latergy, LLC PRESS
  2. 2. Most companies, agencies and associations know that visual storytelling needsto be part of the online communications mix. Technology and audience reachare no longer an issue and the simple act of placing video on a page boostsoverall search results. This creates divine opportunity for Marketing, PR, IR andCorporate Communications professionals, but a wing, a prayer and repurposedb-roll is not enough to shine a light on your message. Video Search EngineOptimization (VSEO) can be a messenger’s best tool and this tip sheet will teachyou how to use it.The people have gathered. According to comScore Video Metrix, 178 million U.S.Internet users enjoyed 6.2 Billion viewing sessions in June, 2011 for an averageof 16.8 hours per viewer. Globally, more than 3 billion videos are viewed a dayon YouTube alone. Demand for online video is strong and it is expected to growby 81 percent by 2015. That’s the good news.The bad news? Finding a specific video can be akin to wandering through thedesert in search of a particular grain of sand. More than 13 million hours ofvideo were uploaded to YouTube during 2010 and 48 hours of video areuploaded every minute, resulting in nearly 50,000 hours of content uploadedevery day.Have faith, Marketers, because you’ll need it to succeed IF your video is NOTsearch engine optimized. For inspiration, look to Zappos, king of online retailand VSEO. According to “The State Of Video In E-Commerce – Q1 2011″ bySunday Sky, a study of keywords related to shoes resulted in 8.1% returning aZappos video. Monthly, 77,316 website visits and more than $500,000 inrevenue are specifically attributed to their video listings in search results.Amen!Whether your message is about stocks and bonds or heels and souls, VSEO isessential. To save your message from drowning in a sea of content, thou shaltfollow these “10 Commandments of Video Search Engine Optimization”.
  3. 3. I. Create video site maps Use video prominently on your home page and throughout the entire website and make it search engine friendly with a video site map, which is an XML file that tells search engines where videos can be found on a website. It helps search engines identify the file as video and understand the nature of the content and the technical specifications of the file. Video site maps help you explicitly tell Google which content you wish to be indexed, giving you more control than with an organic search algorithm. Additionally, video site maps allow you to choose how your videos are listed and define what metadata is most relevant to your video, optimizing search results. Comply with Google’s recommended format by working with your webmaster to ensure each video listing includes these five items: “Title”, “Brief description”, “URL of video player”, “URL of thumbnail image” and “URL of raw files”. Sample Video Site Map Site maps are prepared by <urlset xmlns="" input from PR webmasters with xmlns:video=""> and Marketing to help engines <url> identify & understand video. <loc></loc> <video:video> <video:thumbnail_loc></ video:thumbnail_loc> <video:title>Grilling steaks for summer</video:title> <video:description>Alkis shows you how to get perfectly done steaks every time</video:description> <video:content_loc></ video:content_loc> <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes" autoplay="ap=1"></video:player_loc> A video site map is XML code that makes your video more discoverable and indexable.
  4. 4. II. Use keywords to drive video results Video search is still driven by text. Really! Fingerprinting, watermarking and graphic scans may soon be coming en masse to a screen near you but, for now, its mainly about the keyword. Keep that in mind and be verbose. Fill out every field. Always include the transcript whether its requested or not and add key industry terms, product names, competitors and relevant phrases your audience is likely to search for. Include common variations on spelling and related topics. When it comes to keywords … more is more. YouTube Dashboard Always post transcript as base for keyword selection. Most video platforms, YouTube included, support transcript uploads, one of many keyword fields that should be filled out completely.
  5. 5. III. Incorporate real time, universally popular terms Strengthen your video’s visibility by adding keywords and phrases based on current data about popular searches. To learn what people are searching for simply go to YouTube or Google and slowly enter the likely search term … then make note of the ‘auto-type suggestions’ and use the exact same phrases in your metadata (a.k.a. keywords). Likewise, strengthen news hooks by incorporating trending topics on Twitter, Yahoo! and other sites that offer most popular listings. Only do this if the hot topics and terms have a reasonable connection to your brand and message. How To Identify Popular Terms Incorporate keywords and phrases based on popular topics. Incorporate keywords and phrases based on suggestions. Tap into public demand by paying attention to the suggested search terms and trending topics.
  6. 6. IV. Name your video carefully Use keywords in the title of your video and the title in the URL of the page and player where it resides. Search engines will assign a higher priority based on the placement, relevance and density of those words. Choose each word carefully and name your videos accordingly, placing the most likely words at the beginning of the title. Hypothetically, if Ford wanted to post the Edge commercials with Derek Jeter, they could choose one of these titles (with comment about effectiveness in parentheses): • TV Commercial: Ford Edge with Derek Jeter (Really Bad) • Ford Edge TV Commercial with Derek Jeter (Pretty Bad) • Derek Jeter, NY Yankees, Stars in Ford Edge TV Commercial (OK) • Derek Jeter, NY Yankees, Has an Edge: Video from Ford (Good) Sample of Keywords in Video Title and Player Incorporate keywords into the title of the video and the player URL.
  7. 7. V. Post your video to YouTube and other user generated content For the highest visibility, your video should be on YouTube, Metacafe, Vimeo, DailyMotion and other general sites that support user generated content. Most provide audience reach and social media features at no charge and YouTube can be used as the primary home for your video in certain situations. YouTube dominates from a consumer view standpoint, but there are other sites you should use to cover as many bases as possible. Post video and/or links on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and targeted topical or industry specific networks and blogs. There are UGC sites focused on healthcare, philanthropy, sports and most every other topic. Placing video on these niche sites may not generate as many views as the broad consumer platforms, but the context and quality of the audience may be better for your brand. Sample Niche Targeted UGC Sites GodTube reaches SchoolTube conservative reaches educators Christians. and parents. ICYOU reaches ExpoTV reaches consumers focused consumers interested on healthcare. in product reviews. While YouTube is the best way to reach a large online audience, there are hundreds of UGC sites that provide targeted reach based on topics, demographics and geography.
  8. 8. VI. Add interactivity with YouTube annotations Take advantage of annotations to drive interactivity and lead your viewer to the desired outcome. Annotations appear in the form of bubbles, notes or spotlights that encourage the viewer to interact with the content and click the video or something else on the page. Use this feature to bring attention to specific points in your video, drive “likes” or comments and insert hyperlinks to informational and transactional pages on your site. You can even use them to deliver a “Call this number NOW” message and embed a web to phone link. Sample Annotations on YouTube Sample “Bubble” annotation. Sample “Spotlight” annotation. Hyperlink embedded in “Bubble” annotation. Annotations bring attention and add interactivity to certain items in the video.
  9. 9. VII. Aggregate video in a microsite, multimedia player or an online newsroom Concentrations of video will make those content-rich pages more attractive to the engines and to your audience. In addition to the positive impact from keyword density, this will enhance the likelihood of your audience watching more than one video. Display video in an interactive player that enables sharing via e-mail, embed code, grab html, post to social networks and links to key pages or sites. The main advantage of an online newsroom or a social video player over an embedded YouTube player is control. You control the branding, interactivity, environment, access and content. Sample Online Newsroom and Branded Online Click to learn about Brightcove players. Click to learn about iPressroom. Online newsrooms with multimedia libraries and branded video players help engines and people find video.
  10. 10. VIII. Leverage all relevant social mediaplatforms and tools to drive interactivityVideo is inherently a social medium and search engines rewardactivity. Max out on engagement by encouraging – even ensuring itvia media buys and earned media, coupons and contests – highvolumes of linking, liking, commenting and sharing. View the socialmedia sites – including, but not limited to YouTube, Twitter,Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Digg, Yelp – as content andconversation “spokes” that lead back to the business “hub” – yourwebsite. Display a link to your website (or other “owned” media) atthe beginning of the “description” field to generate traffic to yoursite. Do not use URL shorteners (ie:, becausepeople are less likely to click on an unknown link.US Video Consumption by Unique Users Top U.S. Online Video Properties Ranked by Unique Video Viewers, June 2011 Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations Source: comScore Video Metrix Property Total Viewing Minutes Unique Sessions* per Viewers (000) Viewer (000) Total Internet : Total 178,447 6,255,493 1,008.3 Audience Google Sites 149,281 2,311,116 324.1 VEVO 63,003 399,503 112.0 Yahoo! Sites 52,665 247,834 34.8 Microsoft Sites 50,663 286,892 32.8 Viacom Digital 49,493 274,933 76.8 47,687 167,137 20.7 AOL, Inc. 43,915 251,987 49.3 Turner Digital 30,063 121,301 46.2 Hulu 26,701 156,939 184.8 Amazon Sites 21,247 43,193 8.3 Social media is not the only online video driver.
  11. 11. Social Media & Video Facebook is the primary driver but a blend of blogs, bookmarks, and social networks should all be used. Social networks, blogs and bookmarks drive video views through recommendations from trusted sources.IX. Initiate engagement with a carefullyselected hi-res image for the video thumbnail. Make it easy to spot and make sure your image is appealing. Use people shots over product shots. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is made up of thousands of pictures. I’ll say no more. Thumbnail Images & Video Which Image Are You Most Likely to Click? Once people find your video, the thumbnail is a factor in whether they click to watch.
  12. 12. X. Place calls to action and key messagesat the beginning and end of your video Now that weve used text and images to help your audience find your video and choose to watch it, one way to engage your audience is to end the video with a call to action inviting comments, clicks, likes, etc. in support of your business and communications goals. Even better is to feature the call to action at the beginning of your video, as well, because most people will not watch your entire video unless your name is Hulu or Netflix. This can sometimes be accomplished with “Annotations” (tip 6, above) but you should also have messages embedded in the actual video – delivered by the on-screen talent and via graphical and text overlays. Video Completion Rates by Source While online media sites have the highest completion rates, brand videos are not far behind. Per the “Tube Mogul–Brightcove Online Video and the Media Industry Q4 2010” report, less than 50% of viewers watch entire
  13. 13. Follow these ten guidelines and your video will be much closer tocommanding the audience it deserves and needs to generate targetROIs. If you simply post it they will not necessarily come. VSEO is amust, but you also need a steady stream of well told stories. After all,getting your audience to notice a video is only step one. Step two is toengage them with a good story and step three is to evoke a response oraction. You need all three to be successful, and I will cover more topicsin the next Views You Can Use.Meanwhile, Latergy is here to help you position, create, distribute,optimize and measure video in a way that drives views and, moreimportantly, solid business results.The path to success may test your faith but online video will lead you tothe Promised Land.Please contact Larry Thomas (646.290.0453, questions, requestsor to tell him your story. Published by Press, the destination for integrated marketing communications knowledge. PRESS