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Want more traffic to your web site? You need videos!

Want more traffic to your web site? You need videos!

June 27, 2009

Quality counts!

With new search engines like Blinkx.com, who claim to rely more and more on OCR (optical character recognition), voice/speech recognition, and image recognition, optimization of video content will likely be much more so about the quality of the video itself. For example, if Blinkx.com relies upon voice recognition as an example, it would be important to make certain that you are speaking clearly in the video so as to make the job of voice recognition easier for the search engines.

I recently read a report by Cisco that predicts Web traffic will increase five-fold in the next four years, driven in large part by streaming videos. Right now, videos make up about a third of all Web traffic, but within four years, that number is expected to double. And once you figure in all the ways videos are watched'on TV, video on demand, peer-to-peer and the Internet'it's predicted that video will account for 91% of all Internet traffic.

That's a staggering percentage!

It really shows just how important video is to consumers. I think the reason why newspaper and book sales continue to dwindle, while streaming Web videos and TV consumption continues to rise, is that most people prefer watching to reading. I know I'm a huge advocate of using video and pictures to tell a story. In fact, I have a whole series of videos I've done that you get when you opt-in to get my e-book at WatermelonSecret.com.

There's no denying that video is fast becoming the Big Zig on the Internet. Sites like YouTube and Google Video are showing astounding growth and have an amazing following. So how do YOU take advantage of video sites like these for search engine optimization (SEO) and use video to improve your site's search ranking?

 

Think of video as no different than any other web content. To improve search ranking, the same basic principles should be applied. Video content has to be fresh, unique, and of high quality to be an effective marketing tool for improving search ranking. In fact, I would make the bold statement that this is especially true for video given its visual nature.

Kenn Renner, a top real estate broker and speaker from Austin, TX is a firm believer in Video SEO. By tagging his video with specific keywords relevant to his business, the nature of the video, and his location, he optimized his video to be found by first-time buyers looking to purchase a home in the Austin. 'We launched a video announcing our first time home buying seminar, and within a day my video hit first page Google for all the relevant search key words we had used as part of our search engine optimization.' Kenn says his videos are now the single most effective marketing tools he uses.

Blend Tec's CEO and founder Tom Dickson uses video to solve his toughest challenge: How do you sell a $399 kitchen blender? Show it's so powerful and durable that it can blend just about anything. And that's exactly what he does ' he blends an iPod, TV remote control, an old hearing aide, a stun gun, broom ' you have to see it for yourself at www.willitblend.com. Does it work? In one year, traffic to the Web site increased 650% and sales jumped five-fold.

If you want to effectively use video to improve your site's search ranking, your video must be seen to add value to your users. Visitors need to see your video as providing something useful and informative, otherwise they'll just go elsewhere for a better stuff. You need to create videos that offer truly unique content with references to (and links to a Web site), publish this content to the popular video sites (like YouTube and Google Video) and tag the content with several keyword and keyword phrases that accurately describes your video.

I found a really neat site online that can help get you started if you're looking for more information about using Web videos to market yourself online and improve traffic to your Web site. Visit trafficgeyser.com and sign up for their free videos and see what you think. They have four great little videos that I learned a lot from. The videos offer tips on how to get your point across to any personality type in your own movie, choosing between Macs or PCs and whether or not you should get a laptop or a desktop. There's even a video on choosing the right camera and the best place to purchase it.

 

OPTIMIZING YOUR VIDEO FOR SEARCH

The tips below may be a little technical, but understanding the mechanics of how video search optimization works can give you a leg up on your competition, or at least help you understand what your local Web guru is talking about when you ask about video SEO.

HTML Surrounding Video
When you publish a video on a Web site, you still need to make sure you have text on the page too. Content in a video can't be picked up by the search engines so it's important that you still include some text on the page with keywords that are most relevant.

Filename, Title, Description
These elements are not enough to allow your video to rank well on its own, but it's a necessary step. Without this information, your video will definitively NOT rank well.

Tag It!
Make sure to include the most relevant keywords in your meta tag and meta description. Tag videos with specific keywords, even if it means tagging each scene. Takes a little bit more time, but is worth it.

Keyword VIDEO
At the Search Engine Strategies conference last April, the point was driven home that many people now add the word 'video' to their search query keyword phrase. This reinforces my notion that people simply prefer to watch videos instead of reading Web pages. So make sure that you add the word 'video' to your title, description, meta data, etc.

Links and Backlinks
Just like with SEO for regular Web pages, your videos should have links to other web sits (called backlinks). Use relevant keywords and phrases as the anchor text for these links. Whether this is your own page, or simply a page on a video sharing site, you need you want to have rank, you need backlinks. In addition, it's a good idea to crosslink to videos using keywords in anchor text.

Video sitemaps/MRSS/RSS
In order for Web crawlers to easily find all of your online video content, you should create a sitemap, RSS, or media RSS (MRSS) file to help engines identify where to locate and index your videos.

Single Video Directory
Keeping your videos all in one place off your site's main directory helps provide easy access to search engine crawlers. Move all of your videos into one folder and make sure to upload all your future videos to this same folder

No Flash Video Players
Search engines (at this point) have a hard time crawling video content inside Flash players, so stay away from them if you are hosting videos on your own site.

Optimize your URLs
In the same way that you do this for other Web pages, you will want to optimize your URLs so that they to contain information about the video. Also, make sure you only have one video per URL.

Make Great Thumbnails
A video thumbnail is what users view when they are deciding between which videos to watch. Different video search engines will grab thumbnails differently. Some will use the first frame while others will take a frame from somewhere in the middle.

Branding
The first and the last frames are perfect for branding your business or company. Place your logo there, as well as your URL and any other information you think is applicable.

Uniqueness
More than anything else, make sure that your video is creative and unique. It can be entertaining, informative, instructive or all of the above, but the point is that you want to give a reason for people to want to share it with others. This is the best way to attract backlinks.

Additional Optimization Techniques
Use social bookmarking sites like Delicious, Furl, Stumbleupon, Faves, or Digg to assist in the visibility of your videos. Add backlinks to your videos, and create traffic.

The Future of Video SEO
As companies like Google, which bought YouTube.com, continue working to better determine the content and relevance of multimedia, the methods that we use to optimize websites and in particular, videos, images, and audio may be different some day. Right now optimization still relies upon including meta data and keyword information in or surrounding the current content.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The potential of video to improve your site's search ranking and increase both traffic and conversions is amazing. Video gives you a way to engage customers (new and old), and it's this engagement factor as well as the interactive nature available (like clickable areas) that can provide a better user experience for your visitors.

It's not difficult. Start using video in a low-tech, low-cost way (less than $100) and try using the tips I gave you here. Succeed, fail and succeed again!!