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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

Facebook’s Hobbi app was a complete flop

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook seemingly has enough money to throw away projects and apps they know will fail. Hobbi is their most recent flop.

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Facebook failed Hobbi

Due to its abysmal underperformance on the App Store, Facebook is killing their new app, Hobbi, just months after its rollout in February.

Hobbi was the brainchild of Facebook’s New Product Experimentation Team, whose stated purpose is to rapidly ideate, build, and launch experimental new apps – then pull them if they aren’t successful.

Hobbi was designed to help users document their progress on their various personal projects and, well, hobbies. Complaints centered primarily on its threadbare feature offerings. Notably, Hobbi does not allow its users to browse the works of other creators through the app- it only packages media like photos and videos for sharing elsewhere.

A post on the Tech@Facebook blog states that they “expect many failures” from the NPE Team, suggesting that Hobbi was not necessarily intended to last. But you have to wonder… what is supposed to be the point of a tool like this?

Stories are a popular feature on most major social media websites, including Facebook itself. And Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) already allows its users to curate and group posts about whatever they want, including personal projects, hobbies and interests, through their story highlights.

So Facebook created a product that was already made redundant by their existing properties. What is experimental about that, exactly?

Hobbi originally drew comparisons to Pinterest. Both are like digital scrapbooks; Pinterest is a platform for content that inspires creativity, and Hobbi creates progress reports for creative undertakings.

One could also compare Hobbi to the underperforming video streaming platform, Quibi, which recently became infamous for its ostentatious ad campaign, aggressively flaunted celebrity cameos, and ultimately, its overwhelming failure.

Jeffery Katzenberg, Quibi cofounder of Disney and Dreamworks fame, blamed the coronavirus pandemic for Quibi’s flop – a questionable claim, considering just how much free time many have had to binge Netflix’s Tiger King during the lockdown.

The same could be said about Hobbi. People have been taking on projects like crazy in the time that has Hobbi been on the market. Quarantine cabin fever has us baking, crafting, painting, cleaning, and redecorating like never before. Yet Hobbi went nearly untouched.

Nobody used it because nobody needed it. Surely some cursory research would have demonstrated this?

One conclusion is that the app itself was the research – that Facebook’s NPE team isn’t really creating finished products, but rather testing the waters for potential new ones. (Could this framing be an elegant form of damage control, though? It’s easier to say “I meant to do that!” than it is to admit failure, especially in business.)

Still, creating throwaway apps in a bloated industry feels like cheating, whether it was meant for research purposes or not. There are plenty of indie app developers who create great tools with way less funding. Filling app marketplaces with lemons makes it harder for folks to find those gems.

Either way, hopefully we will see some original ideas coming from Facebook’s NPE Team moving forward, because this was clearly a disappointment.

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Social Media

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?

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Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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