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SEO For Your Web Video

Video is Sticky

Everyone has heard that Internet video can be a powerful tool for creating sticky web sites. Until recently though, video has been out of reach to the average “webmaster.”  With the increased availability of high-speed Internet access, and the rapidly decreasing costs of equipment and technology, that has changed.  Really good video is now being created not just by professional videographers, but by everyone from soccer moms (and players) to CEOs. They all know that video is one of the best ways to improve the engagement level (A.K.A. “stickiness”) of their Web site. Regardless of whether you are selling homes, cars or blenders on your Web site video tours and product demonstrations attract and retain visitors.

Some people have argued that because video is not searchable by Google or the other engines, it’s a waste of time.  It is true that video, like other forms of embedded media, can not be indexed by today’s search engines.  There is progress being made towards having Flash files (which is how most web video is presented) being indexed. But, the best we can hope for in the short-term is that links buried within Flash files will be discovered and indexed. The ability of a search bot to actually understand the contents of a video file is a long way off – if it ever happens.  Does that mean we should ignore video?  Of course not, we don’t create our web sites, or videos, for the search engines, we create them for people.  People like video – a lot.

How Does Internet Video Get Found?

Since the engines can’t index your video, you’ll need another way for it to be found.  How did your visitors find your site when your “home tours” were just a bunch of photos stacked on a page?  Hopefully, you surrounded the photos with descriptive text.  Big surprise … you do the same thing with video.  Describe to your visitors what they can expect to see when they watch.  If you are doing a neighborhood tour, then perhaps you should write something like: “Join us on a short tour of beautiful Westwood Estates, a gated community located on the rapidly expanding northeast side of Austin, Texas.  During our tour we’ll travel along lush, tree-lined streets on our way to Sundance drive where we’ll see a lovely 3 bedroom, 4 bathroom ranch style home with an in-ground pool and ….” Easy, right?  Keep in mind that the most important part of SEO is content, and content is more of an art than a science.

Most video hosting sites allow you to enter a title, description and some key-words. Be sure to keep your site and page key words in mind when entering those.  Before you upload your video, give it a key word-rich and descriptive file name; perhaps “neighborhood-tour-westwood-estates-austin-texas-jack-leblond-agency.”  The video sites will give it a new name when you upload, but some still keep track of the original name and display it to viewers.  While I have yet to see documentation that suggests it, I suspect that the original file name is also included when people search the video sites. Why waste an opportunity to use your key words?

Use a Video Hosting Site

If you host your own web videos, there are a few additional bits of Search Engine Optimization that can be accomplished, but self-hosting video is a complicated (and potentially expensive) undertaking I do not recommend  – unless you have a well-trained staff and deep pockets. Even then it’s generally not a good idea.  The costs and hassles of self-hosting far out-weigh any minor SEO benefit.  Plus, having your video collection in your YouTube Channel, or any of the other video hosting sites only increases your overall exposure in the search engines result pages as blended search is becoming more popular.  Having multiple items (text, video, images) types show in the SERPs does result in a higher click-through ratio for you.

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SEO is All About The Content

Video production is not part of SEO, but as your visitor engagement is affected by good or bad video, I’ll offer a few tips. Make sure that the first and last few seconds of the video contain your business name and contact info.  Some video sites will pick the static display image from this area.  If possible, take advantage of the lower third of the video to provide additional information.  For example, if you mention a street name, address or phone number in your narration, display it in text as well so your viewers get reinforcement of the information.  When people both hear and read the same information, they are more likely to remember it.  Keep videos short, 3-5 minutes is the max.   People have good intentions, but short attention – they will drift off quickly after the 5-minute mark.  End your video with a call to action; “Call 555-1212 now to schedule a tour of the homes shown in this video.”  Be sure to display the text on the screen at the same time. Lastly, as tempting as it is, do not use commercial music as the background.  Yes, we all love Jimmy Buffet tunes, but the music industry is taking more people to court than the Williams sisters.  Trust me, it’s not worth the hassle.  There are lots of places where you can get free or low-cost music.

originally published October 8, 2008

Written By

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG (www.tgslc.org). In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Nicole Boynton

    October 8, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for reminding people about not using other people’s music. I just had this debate with a friend yesterday over a podcast I had created with looped background music. My music came from a royalty free website and was just an instrumental because I am not taking the risk of getting sued over using restricted music!

  2. Matt Stigliano

    October 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Nicole – Music and royalties being dear to my heart, I have to chime in on this one. Right now, record companies are searching for every way they can to increase their bottom line. One of those ways, is looking at sites daily for any sign of their artist’s music, so you’re smart to debate your friend on this one. Back when Napster first came to light, record company employees spent hours and hours uploading fake tracks with the wrong bands associated with them, just so they could break the system and make it worthless to the user. I suspect they’re going to get even more aggressive pursuing users who use their music in video, podcasts, etc. as their business models have shifted drastically. Back when I started, record royalties were where the good money was at and touring was not worth so much. Not any more…the roles have been reversed thanks to file sharing and now many record companies need every cent they can get when it comes to their artist’s music, so they’ll try and get it wherever they can.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    October 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Ooops pushed “submit” before I was done.

    On the video post – Jack, thanks for the article. As someone who wants to try and delve into video sooner rather than later, I will be reading this one more than once. I’m only just now starting to get things put in place, but when I do, I hope that video will become a big part of what I do.

  4. Vegas SEO

    October 8, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I completely agree that video helps SEO. It really helps to decrease bounce rate as people are stimulated visually and will want to stay more to watch. Humans in general like to see and watch things instead of read things.

  5. Joe Zekas

    October 8, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Search engines do index video titles and keywords. No SEO is usually required to rank in search results. Just use YouTube to host your video.

    Go to Google and enter these keywords: Hyde Park condos Chicago. You should see video thumbnails in the top 5 results.

    Just write a good title, a simple description and relevant keywords. Nothing to it.

  6. Fred Light

    October 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Search engines not only index titles, subject and keywords/tags, they rank WELL and FAST. I have many hundreds of videos online and most end up on page ONE of Google (searching for the #1 keyword search…. i.e. city, state, real estate). Not only does it happen, it happens within hours or a day. Every single time.

    It’s not difficult and you need no SEO.

  7. Jeff Dowler

    October 12, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    Jack – great info. I am doing a lot more with video and try to use keywords and other means to help them get found. Terrific suggestions – some things I need to do a better job of focusing on. I use the word video in posts where I have posted a video – some folks search homes with videos and I have ended up on page 1 of Google a numer of times this way. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

    Jeff

  8. Mike Mueller

    November 5, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Jack-
    What about putting the link to the post that the video will be embedded in the video description?

  9. jf.sellsius.theclozing

    July 26, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Excellent advice, Jack.

    Also, leave comments containing keywords. Favorite the video. Evidence suggests engagement with video is a ranking factor.

  10. Jack Leblond

    July 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    @All – Thanks for the great feedback. As pointed out by some, video ranks well (and quickly). Just be sure to do it correctly so your viewers get the picture you intend for them to get.

    Making sure to completely fill out the description, tags and URL when you post a video is very important. Make sure potential visitors have ways to find you.

    Lastly, there is new evidence that the number of views you have for the video is irrelevant (at least for know anyway). Check this out:
    https://www.jackleblond.com/web-video-can-improve-search-rankings/

  11. Jason Barone

    July 28, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Another note on hosting: THe most popular sites including Youtube, Vimeo, Viddler and a few others specify in the Terms of Use “No Commercial Use” so be cautious of what you’re putting on those sites. You may go 6 months without any issues, but don’t be surprised if one day you wake up and your account is terminated, without warning. You’ll loose months of hardwork, and all of the links to your profile will go dead. I’ve already had this happen on Flickr (photo sharing site).

    Look at almost any commercial website, their videos will almost always be self-hosted. A lot of companies use Amazon’s web services to host videos because videos take so much bandwidth to view properly. You can also check out some paid hosting services.

    And it’s difficult to judge what’s commercial and what isn’t. Look at the Blendtec blender videos on Youtube. Is that commercial? You could argue it both ways…

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