Shareable visual content drives click-throughs and link-backs
This is the second of a two-part series. Also see:
• How to use content communities to expand your brand’s reach
Guest post by Jacob Klein
You’ve finally done it — created one of the hottest videos the Internet has seen. It combines the incomprehensible virality of Rebecca Black’s vocals with the undeniable epicness of the latest Game of Thrones trailer. Phone this one in, people — this video is going to sell itself.
While it’s true that some pieces of great content seem able to spread without much, if any, marketing behind them, you’re not the type of person who likes to take chances with your premium content. You’ve created some beautiful, HD-quality video content that’s just begging to be shared and you want to give it the christening it deserves!
I recently found myself in a situation similar to the above description. I had a great piece of video but wasn’t exactly sure how to make sure I was getting the ROI I knew it deserved. I wanted to make sure my ducks were in a row before I launched so I did what any responsible SEO does when he or she needs to develop a skill: a crap-load of research. Here are some of the more actionable nuggets I’ve been able to glean from my foray into video marketing.
The SEO benefits of video content
1When Google crawls your site, they are looking for several indicators including page quality, relevance and keyword instances. Multimedia objects add value to all three of these metrics. Videos also increase a user’s Time On Page, an important indicator of page quality, which seems to becoming more and more important every day. Not to mention people are more likely to link to your content if it contains multimedia content, as demonstrated in this article on What makes a link worthy post.
Ecommerce sites should also seriously consider placing videos in other locations, such as product pages. Aside from the added stickiness and quality added to your product pages, they also help you stand out on search engine results pages with the addition of a video thumbnail. Zappos churned out 50,000 product description videos in a single year and doubled their linking root domains because of it. Learn more about how to get your video results to show up in Google.
Surround awesome with awesome
2When Google crawls your page, it’s looking for signals to indicate that your content is related to a given query. A page with an H1 title and an embed code isn’t sending Google the message that this page is full of awesome, related content. In fact, Google isn’t able to decipher your video at all, so why not send better algorithmic signals to the Big G by surrounding your already awesome video with equally awesome images and text. This also gives you another opportunity to target the keywords you’re after.
Give your visitors a resource to acquire more information on the headline they were just linked to– give them more reasons to link to your video. Tell a story about how the video was produced or simply summarize the contents of the video. Consider linking to other, related videos to keep the user who wants more as engaged as possible. Make your page the authority on the topic at hand and a rich, linkable resource that people will continually reference in the future.
Where to stick it
3Because of astonishing multiplier effects and Google’s unabashed bias toward its own videos, many choose to host their videos on YouTube. If you’ve gone this route, I suggest you check out Paddy Moogan’s guide for tips on how to make sure you still receive precious link juice from your YouTube videos. There are paid services that can host your video on their servers, while to Google it will seem as though the video were on your domain. Wistia offers such packages for as low as $24/month and they’ll even generate and submit video sitemaps for you (more on that later). Vimeo Pro might be a more affordable video hosting option at $199/year if budget is a concern.
Offer a full transcript
4One way to get more content on your page with video is by providing a full text transcript. You can either use a program such as Wistia’s transcript service ($5 per video) or have an actual human being watch the video and type it out by hand. CaptionTube can also transcribe your YouTube videos as well. This will also help users who might not be able to otherwise hear the video for whatever reason (at work, on a bus, deafness, surfing on an odd type of device, etc.).
Add a title, meta description and file name
5You want to make sure your video has a strong, viral, catchy title that could include keywords but not at the expense of the quality of the title itself. Take all of the skills you’ve learned writing incredible blog post titles and apply them to your videos! Be aware that people also tend to throw the word “video” on the end of their searches. A bit of keyword research around some of your target keywords and the word “video” couldn’t hurt when trying to form a proper title. YouTube has its own keyword research tool that could be used even if you’re hosting your own videos as this data is indicative of what videos folks are searching for in general. Doing this type of research beforehand will help you target high traffic keywords for both your title and meta description. If you’ve decided to host the video via YouTube or some other video hosting service, be sure to include the proper tags as well.
Treat the description of your video (on YouTube or otherwise) the same way you would a meta description. Use keywords but don’t over do it. Write a paragraph that will persuade someone that this video is both relevant and something worth watching. Remember that these terms show up in bold on the search engine results page if the Googler uses the same terms found in your meta description.
As with images, the video file should have a keyword rich file name with hyphens in place of spaces.
Implement schema for video
6At the moment, it is a bit unclear how Google will choose to use schema data for video. The protocol is in place, but Google doesn’t seem to take any of it into consideration yet. It couldn’t hurt to future proof your site by deploying at least the very basics of schema.org’s recommendations for video objects sooner rather than later.
Create a video sitemap
7As your collection of videos continues to grow, it is important that Google be able to crawl and index them all. This can be assured through the creation of a video sitemap. Much like a normal sitemap, the video flavor mostly just points to the URL of each video with the addition of properties such as duration, family friendly (yes/no), etc. Phil Nottingham has put together a couple of simple templates that can be used to get you started. Also be sure to check out Google’s Video Sitemap Guide or grab a WordPress plug-in if that would better suit your needs.
YouTube video sitemap template:
<video:description>Video Meta Description</video:description>
<video:duration>Length of Video in Seconds</video:duration>
<video:tag>Target Keyword 1</video:tag>
Self-hosted video sitemap template:
<video:description>Video Meta Description</video:description>
<video:player_loc allow_embed=”yes” autoplay=”ap=1″>http://www.yourdomain.com/videoplayer.swf?video=url</video:player_loc>
<video:duration>Length of Video in Seconds</video:duration>
<video:tag>Target Keyword 1</video:tag>
A video sitemap not only solidifies your inclusion in Google’s index, it also helps Google grab the video thumbnail to be utilized on the search engine results page, which in turn should help boost click-through numbers. It would also be prudent to include the following line in your robots.txt file pointing at your new video sitemap:
Other technical considerations
8However tempting it may be, avoid using iframes, as Google likely won’t crawl them. If possible, use an HTML5 video player with a Flash video as a fallback. No one likes a video that starts blaring audio when they enter a site. Give users more control over their experience (and eardrums) by disabling autoplay. And finally, if you’ve decided to give your users a choice between HD and standard video quality, be sure to set the default play setting to HD. Users may not know they even have the option to upgrade, so why not give them the best you’ve got up front?
Brainstorm to understand your audience
9A piece of marketing content is only as valuable as the amount of exposure, attention and links that it ultimately commands. Spend some time brainstorming a list of the people and publications that might be interested in your video so that all of your hard work isn’t for naught! Get a handful of the smartest people you can find into a room and hammer out a list of potential targets. Understanding your audience and what might appeal to key influencers will benefit your entire outreach campaign.
Make it shareable
10Implementation of social media icons on the video page in question should go without saying. If you’re using WordPress, I’d recommend the plug-ins Digg Digg, which gives you a floating social bar similar to Mashable’s, or Shareaholic, which gives you the “Sharing is Sexy” banner you’ve probably seen before. If you’re just looking for the basics, I’d recommend grabbing the appropriate code from Twitter, Facebook and Google directly or throwing the AddThis widget on any page.
Make it embeddable
11If you’re hosting your video on YouTube, check out Paddy Moogan’s guide to assuring that you still get a few links from that proprietary embed code. If hosting video yourself, make sure that the embed code is available to users and includes a link back to the original video page. This code should be placed into an iframe so that users can easily find and copy your embed code. Geoff over at Distilled recently posted some tips for manipulating the embed code.
Double and triple check that these embed codes work on various platforms before launching. If you’ve ever had that sinking feeling a Web marketer gets when he or she realizes that the embed code on an expensive infographic hasn’t worked for three days, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Some webmasters and bloggers are more willing to embed a video than they are to directly link to your page so make sure you’ve got a link back to the source inside of that embed code!
12Comments are a great way to build up keyword rich, user-generated content on a page and nothing starts up a conversation like a good video! They also keep visitors returning to your domain if only to see if anyone has responded to their witty, hilarious, totally original comment. This is particularly effective if you set up a system in which users receive an email when their comment has been replied to. Comment Reply Notification will do that if you’re running on WordPress.
Even if a user doesn’t participate in the conversation, the presence of real user interaction on a page adds stickiness and authority to the page much the same way YouTube star ratings and comments help keep a video popular. Users often love when the video creators jump into the conversation themselves, so don’t be afraid to join in on the conversation. Content creation, user engagement and stickiness benefits outweigh the unpleasentries that come along with the responsibility of moderating an open forum.
If a video is controversial, generating unsavory responses or you simply don’t want comments on your video for whatever reason, this is always an option, but I’ve often found comments to be a great way to keep people coming back for a second look.
Consider releasing several videos in a series
13If you’ve got a video that’s been doing well and it allows for further development or spin-offs, don’t hesitate to make a similar video or start a series of videos in the same vein. The original Shit Girls Say video spawned an innumerable number of copycat videos with the same theme, some of the best coming from the same producers of the original. Other sites break their videos down into several chapters. Video series are a great way to encourage users to continue exploring your site for related video content.
Put video behind an email or social wall
14If you’re an established site with thousands of viewers who just can’t wait for your next video installment, consider asking users for an email address before viewing your content. You could give the user Part 1 in a series and ask for an email address to view Part 2. You can choose to provide a “Skip This” button to avoid frustration. This can be an effective way to build an email list for future marketing wins. You could also employ something similar where you’d instead ask for a Facebook Like or Twitter follow before allowing the user to continue on. Whether or not you make this optional will depend on the relationship you’ve built with your community.
Be sure that your marketing wall isn’t interfering with Google’s ability to index the page. It should not be a URL redirect or anything like that. Take a look at Easy Video Player, a program that lets you embed buttons and links directly into your self-hosted videos much like YouTube already allows. Overlay.tv also promises something similar without affecting a search engine’s ability to crawl your video page.
Add video to old and new content
15Videos can and should be reused within other content on your domain. If you have an older post that might be supported by your new video, go back and enhance that content with a link to the new video. In future posts you can always refer to your older videos as you would with any other piece of content. Try not to embed the video on more than one page as you want to make sure the original video page is seen by Google as canonical. As with duplicate images or text on multiple pages, it’s best to avoid at all costs.
Consider submitting video to myriad video services
16If you’re going the YouTube route, there’s no reason not to submit your video to the other video hosting sites that might get your creation some additional exposure. After some time, if your self-hosted video isn’t gaining any traction, you may want to consider submitting to YouTube as well as other outlets, listed below. Distilled did a case study following the submission of a YouTube video over a period of time and came up with some great tips.
Check out OneLoad (formerly TubeMogul) as a simple way to hit all of the major outlets at once. Do what you can to assure that a link back to your domain is included within the video itself, the description and wherever else is possible as options vary from site to site.
Sites for video submissions:
17Think of video marketing the same way you would any other piece of original content. Many of the same strategies you’ve applied to your infographics and epic blog posts apply here. Grab your Rolodex and do what it takes to get your content in front of as many Web influencers as possible.
Here are just some of the places you might consider pitching your video content:
- Blogs whose audience might be interested in your video
- Email lists
- Your own social media accounts
- Powerful, on-topic Twitter accounts found via services such as FollowerWonk, Klout or MuckRack
- Learn how to Market to Reddit and then post to http://Reddit.com/r/Videos
- Thinking local? Target local newspapers, radio stations and magazines
- On-topic community forums
- Target blogs who often post video to their home page
- Got a funny video? Submit to “bored” sites such as Bored At Work, At Work and Bored, or Bored.com
- Leverage current relationships with bloggers, influencers, community leaders and other affiliates
- If you’ve used YouTube and someone has linked to the YT version, contact them and ask for a link to your domain.
- Depending on the nature of your video, consider using paid video advertising on Facebook, Google, etc.
- Meet face to face with contacts who might be willing to promote your content (do what it takes!)
- Submit to a video directory, such as Blip.tv, VideoJug, WonderHowTo, IMBroadcast, Bizuns.com/videos, DailyMotion, etc.
- Send personal, genuine emails to publications and influencers who might post your videos
In a recent expert video series on Grovo, VP at Distilled Tom Critchlow explains that businesses using video in 2012 may be considered slightly ahead of the curve, but if by the end of this year you’re still resisting, you’ll be behind. I hope you’ve found some of the above to helpful in your quest to build links, bolster social media metrics and future-proof your domain through the production and marketing of incredible video content.