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Why all marketers should be doing video optimisation

Annie Wakefield
Digital Marketing Manager
3 May 2011

I begin this blog post with the following prediction:

Video listings will increase in prominence within Google’s search engine results page (SERP), in the near future (next 18 months). This is likely be in the form of an increased number of videos within the universal results, increased real estate dedicated to videos (similar to recent changes to Google Places) or a video thumbnail next to each website listing (for landing pages that contain a video).

THE SITUATION

Google is focused on providing the best user experience, in other words aligning websites ‘search results’ with a users intentions ‘search queries’.

The part to focus your attention is ‘the user’. User behaviour is shifting rapidly towards greater amounts of video consumption, whether that’s UGC on YouTube, news highlights on BBC’s iPlayer or movie entertainment on LOVEFiLM and it’s because video (after physical reality) offers the most compelling form of engagement with a user.

When you look at the formula below its easy to understand why Google will give video greater importance:

Users love and demand increased levels of video consumption
+
Google always wants to do what’s best for the user
=
Increased prominence of video within Google SERPs

Therefore brands should be using video as an integral part of their online marketing strategy given that video is the most effective way of seizing audience attention; as well as creating lasting brand impressions; fuelling discussion and driving conversion.

THE OPPORTUNITY

What if I told you that you could back in time to days of reduced levels of natural search competition, armed with what you know about the way search has unfolded, would that be something you’re interested in? Yes, I thought as much.Well on the proviso you believe in my opening prediction, a similar opportunity presents itself today in the form of ‘videooptimisation’. The great thing about video optimisation is:

  1. Most websites are not using video (this will change, but for now low competition)
  2. Websites using video are not optimising them (sounds familiar, when will webmasters learn)
  3. Video content creation can be inexpensive and optimisation isn’t that time consuming

In addition to the benefits mentioned above, video is a great way of acquiring links and driving traffic a website. A video, if displayed within the SERPs can double (or more) the amount of screen real estate your brand could own, which affects CTR (click-through rate).

VIDEO OPTIMISATION

The following are points to remember when optimising videos. This is not an exhaustive list, but more than enough to stay ahead of the pack with regards to optimising your videos.

1. HTML

Surrounding the video with relevant HTML text will help search engine spiders to index and display the video within the SERPs. It is important to use search phrases within the text that reflect the content of the video.

2. Descriptions

As with on page optimisation, the title tag remains one of the most important elements when optimising video content. Ensure the title tag is very specific and reflects what the video is about. Remember to include high volume search terms within the title. Try to make the title ‘catchy’ as this can encourage CTR (click through rates) if the video is displayed within the SERPs or listed on video sharing sites.

Although not as important, it is worth optimising the URLs and video files names.

3. Keywords and Meta

Increasing the amount of Meta data describing a video will increase the chances of a user and search ending finding the video. Tagging the video with relevant keywords and assigning the video to an appropriate category will also help. It is also important to remember that many users include the word ‘video’ within their search query. Therefore it is recommended that you include the word ‘video’ where possible within all the descriptions.

4. Transcript

Transcribing your video is a good way of providing search engine spiders with indexable, relevant and unique content. Remember to add a keyword rich title and short synopsis for the transcript. Google favours transcripts formats which are time coded and saved as a ‘.txt.file’. A time coded transcript breaks the script video into segments and each segment includes the time the words within the script are spoken in the video, followed by the actual words of the script. Listing the time of each segment should take on the following format ‘HH:MM:SS.mmm’.

5. Flash Video

Search engine spiders have difficulty crawling video that is inside Flash players. Therefore flash videos should be placed on HTML pages which contain text that the search engines can index

  • Make video content relevant and informative to targeted viewers
  • Label video with catchy title containing relevant high volume keywords
  • Keep the video short, under 3 minutes
  • Brand the video
  • Tag video with keywords

VIDEO AGGREGATION

The basic idea of video aggregation is taking one video and distributing it across as many video channels as possible. From a branding perspective, the more places your branded message appears the more likely users will view the video and thus be exposed to your brand.

1. Provide a video sitemap

In order for search engines to locate and index videos hosted on a site a separate video sitemap or RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is required. A simple method is to submit a video sitemap via Google Webmaster Tools.

2. Provide an MRSS feed

This is an extension of the RSS standard specifically created for describing media content. The specification contains elements for describing a video content such as file size, description, thumbnail and content. Adding the MRSS extension to your RSS feed enables you to deliver video content to your audience without them being required to come back to your website.

3. Use Social Sites to Promote Your Videos

Use Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to promote your videos. Enable sharing options within the video player so your viewers can do the same. This should create more places for your video to be found and increase the number of links back to your video.

4. Link Back to Your Site

Use a video player that allows you to setup call to action links for each video that will drive traffic back to your site. This way, if viewers watch your video from Google, or another source that’s not on your site, they can easily find your site through links contained within the player.

5. Distribute videos on video-sharing sites

In addition to posting a video on your website, video sharing sites are effective tools for gaining visibility and additional links. Remember to optimize all videos according to the ‘video optimisation’ guidelines above. Example video sharing sites:

6. Analytics

To gain insight into the success of the video that has been aggregated and generate learning’s, it is important to monitor the performance of the aggregated video. There are a number of metrics you could observe such as; aggregator referral, geographical location, time on site, pages viewed and bounce rate.

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