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December 5, 2006

Merging Video and Search Engine Optimization

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Search Engine Watch’s Chris Sherman says video is finally hot.

Yes, yes, it is, and the turnout for this morning’s Video Search Optimization panel is a testament to that. There may be a lot of red eyes in the room, (me thinks some people spent a little too much time at the bar last night), but the bodies are here because marketers want to know how to get those online videos optimized.

Video is the coolest media that everyone is talking about but no one is optimizing for. That means if you are being smart about optimizing your video Meta data, it puts you at a significant advantage over those that aren’t.

You may remember 10 years ago when it was relatively easy to get your site to rank well in the SERPs by applying only a moderate amount of effort. Back then optimizing Meta information, finding the right keywords, and applying a good keyword density was enough to control your rankings. Well, that’s where video search engine optimization is at today.

If you’re optimizing your videos, it gives you an enormous strategic advantage over your competition. If you’re not doing it, you may as well get out of the way.

Before you even create video for the Web, you need to determine your plan. What kind of video are you looking to make? What is its purpose? Where will you submit it? What info do you need? Knowing this information upfront will save you time and money later on.

Once you know what you want your video to do, you can start creating your Meta data. It is very, very important that you take the time to create an accurate Meta toolkit for your developers. Your toolkit is a set of instructions that will let them know how big your video is, identify the keyword information, let them know what format you will be using, etc.

Getting this information correct is absolutely the most important part of video search engine optimization.

When you’re creating your keywords, be sure to think like a video searcher. For example, if you’re a news site, realize that your audience is looking for video on the events they missed yesterday (Michael Richards tirade, Britney on how NOT to exit a vehicle), therefore the keywords you choose must be descriptive of the content in the video, not your brand. The panelists urged marketers to be even more descriptive with their video Meta data than they would for their sites Meta tags (likely because, at least for now, they carry significantly more weight).

The Meta information should be added during video encoding, but it can also be included during the initial video creation. Video Meta information includes listing the video’s genre, copyright information, description, keywords and title.

This information is doubly important because your video Meta data will be used much the sam waye your site’s Meta tags are used to identify it in the SERP.

Another thing to keep in mind: file naming is critical. Under no circumstances should you name your video "Video23" (I hear "Video25" is also out too, sorry.). This will hinder indexing because it gives engines and users no idea as to what your video is about. The file should be named based on its content and what you think people are likely to be searching for.

The panel identified two roadblocks to the success of video search engine optimization.

First, the easier sites like YouTube and Google Video make it to upload video, the lesser the quality. People are searching for video, but they’re not searching for quality video. According to Jon, babies blowing bubbles in the background is not quality content. Perhaps not, but it gives me an awesome alliteration high!

Second, publishers and video sites are still working out monetization issues. How much will people pay to watch a video? How should publishers charge?

Like regular site search, each video search engine has unique submission requirements. Here’s a summary of some of the most popular:

  • Singing Fish: Allows publishers to submit their site URL and video directly. Ideally, you want to keep all site media elements in a single directory in the root of your site. (www.site.com/videos). Like most engines, Singing Fish also utilizes an RSS driven inclusion program.
  • Google Video: Users can upload videos via either a site submission form or through a downloadable desktop tool. Publishers can add or update Meta and content information for each video, or use the video dashboard to update all files from one screen. The Google dashboard also includes a tab for reporting to see what people are interested in and what video they’re not watching. And of course, since you’ve uploaded your video to Google, they take the bandwidth hit, not you.
  • YouTube: Converts video to a set format so it’s very important to start with a good quality video. YouTube allows users to include a series of basic meta information, including the title, description, tags, language and video category. The downside of YouTube: it’s flooded with content (dogs riding skateboards = awesomeness), so optimization is imperative.

The panelists mention a series of other factors to keep in mind when creating Web video, including:

  • Ignore low bandwidth options. With the rise of broadband, bandwidth is becoming less of a concern for users.
  • Sites like Google Video and YouTube have made file format less of an issue, as well.
  • Editors should be trained to think like video searchers.
  • Encode for the right keywords – title, description, and keywords – title is super important.
  • Allow for encoding of all formats.
  • Surround video with on-page relevant text.
  • Crosslink to videos using keywords in anchor text.
  • Create an optimized video site map.

With the panel reporting that 54 percent of online users are consuming video online, now’s the time to jump into the fledgling market and get ahead of your competition.

[Note from the editor: Due to a technical glitch, Monday's session reports were delayed a day.]





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