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SEO For Your Web Video

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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

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.

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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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Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.

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Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.

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Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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Brace yourselves: Facebook has re-opened political advertising space

(SOCIAL MEDIA) After a break due to misinformation in the past election, Facebook is once again allowing political advertising slots on their platform – with some caveats.

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Facebook open on phone in a wallet case, open for political advertising again.

After a months-long ban on political ads due to misinformation and other inappropriate behavior following the election in November, Facebook is planning to resume providing space for political advertising.

Starting on Thursday, March 4th, advertisers were able to buy spots for ads that comprise politics, what Facebook categorizes as “social issues”, and other potentially charged topics previously prohibited by the social media platform.

The history of the ban is complicated, and its existence was predicated on a profound distrust between political parties and mainstream news. In the wake of the 2016 election and illicit advertising activity that muddied the proverbial waters, Facebook had what some would view as a clear moral obligation to prevent similar sediment from clouding future elections.

Facebook delivered on that obligation by removing political advertising from their platform prior to Election Day, a decision that would stand fast in the tumultuous months to follow. And, while Facebook did temporarily suspend the ban in Georgia during the senate proceedings, political advertisements nevertheless remained absent from the platform in large until last week.

The removal of the ban does have some accompanying caveats—namely the identification process. Unlike before, advertisers will have to go to great lengths to confirm their identities prior to launching ads. Those ads will most likely also need to come from domestic agencies given Facebook’s diligent removal of foreign and malicious campaigns in the prior years.

The moral debate regarding social media advertising—particularly on Facebook—is a deeply nuanced and divided one. Some argue that, by removing political advertising across the board, Facebook has simply limited access for “good actors” and cleared the way for illegitimate claims.

Facebook’s response to this is simply that they didn’t understand fully the role ads would play in the electoral process, and that allowing those ads back will allow them to learn more going forward.

Either way, political advertising spots are now open on Facebook, and the overall public perception seems controversial enough to warrant keeping an eye on the progression of this decision. It wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for Facebook to revoke access to these advertisements again—or limit further their range and scope—in the coming months and years.

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