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.
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