BACK TO BASICS: Videos, YouTube and Being Found Online

BACK TO BASICS: Videos, YouTube and Being Found Online

by Jessica Lee, November 19, 2010

If you’re not already using videos as part of your Internet marketing strategy, it’s time to start considering it for two very important reasons: Universal Search and YouTube. With videos being a standard blend in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and YouTube being the second largest search engine in the world behind its parent company, Google, people are looking to videos as a new way of obtaining the information they seek.

Don’t know much about video? You’re not alone. Like most new online developments, it takes time for them to go from industry to mainstream. It may seem like an exhausted issue by now to Internet marketers, but for many businesses – small or large – it’s still unchartered territory.

The good news is that while many businesses have not yet capitalized on video, pros in the Internet marketing space have been working hard to understand it, test it and report on it. And once best practices are developed from this, it makes it easier for businesses to adapt to it.

Understanding the Importance of Video

By now, you’re probably used to seeing Universal Search results for a query made in Google. And while Google has further refined the types of content you can zero in on since it first rolled out blended search (think the “Everything” sidebar on the left-hand side of the results page and the inclusion of Tweets), its goal is to bring users the most relevant content for their query, whether it’s news, video, images, current conversation or something else.

How to Make Pizza SERP

And since Google owns YouTube, it’s a fair assessment to say that videos from YouTube are an important part in blended search results. YouTube has some pretty impressive stats, boasting 2 billion videos watched per day with hundreds of thousands uploaded daily from a user base of ages 18 to 55.

A recent report by comScore highlighted online video consumption for October 2010; Google Sites, driven primarily by video viewing on YouTube, ranked as the top online video content property with more than 145 million users.

And the benefits of video isn’t just showing up in a Universal Search results page; more and more, people are consuming YouTube’s video content straight from their mobile devices and on their televisions. And since YouTube is a massive search engine itself, a business has a better chance of being discovered if it has a video uploaded to the YouTube community.

Overcoming Common Roadblocks

Many people are intimidated by the thought of making videos because they think that production needs to be ultra sophisticated and therefore, would not be in the budget. Making videos then is placed on the backburner until it’s a viable option to include in spend. Businesses need to realize two things:

  1. If you’re not making video a priority, it will eventually impact the bottom line. Your business will have one less entry point and your competition will certainly beat you to the punch.
  2. Countless people and businesses have successfully monetized their video efforts with little to no production costs and limited video production skills.

Take for example, Gary Vaynerchuk, a New York Times bestselling author and very successful businessman. Vaynerchuk’s current career began after he was pulled into the family business more than a decade ago: a liquor store. But Vaynerchuk rebranded the business to be wine-centric, and with nothing but a camcorder, himself and sometimes a guest, Vaynerchuck launched his incredibly successful Wine Library TV, an online video podcast, in 2006. By 2008, the family business went from $4 million annually to $60 million. The podcast is scheduled to reach its 1000th episode by the end of 2010

Vaynerchuk is known for his no-nonsense approach to not only wine but social media and Internet marketing, proving you don’t need a huge production in order to be successful. The only necessities: A great idea and the initiative to go for it.

Even now after all his achievements, Vaynerchuk produces videos that feature him in the same format he used in the beginning: simply sitting in front of the camera and discussing his thoughts on wine, business and more. There’s no sophisticated set, scripting or heavy editing. It’s just him, his guest and their conversation – that’s it.

Getting Started with Videos

Now that you’re convinced making videos for your business is a good idea, you might be wondering what some of the next steps are. You’re going to want to:

Brainstorm Ideas for Video Content and Format

These aren’t always apparent but there’s always an opportunity with a little creative thinking and research. A search for videos related to products, services or concepts similar to yours can help to get the creative juices flowing.

Do research on trends for online videos to help with the direction or format. For example, 2010 saw a trend in stop-motion animation for online videos (although videos like that would obviously take more resources). Take care with aspect ratio as well. YouTube currently recommends 1280×720 (16:9 video).

Be a copycat. Examine successful videos for the industry you’re in or research viral videos to see if there’s an element that can be duplicated or spoofed. Copycats for viral videos often experience high levels of popularity.

Keep in mind the length of the video and how it can be compelling in the time allotted. In December 2009 at SES Chicago, Greg Jarboe, author of YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, said most videos steadily lose viewers once “play” is initiated; after 10 seconds, 10 percent of viewers will be gone and after one minute, half will leave.

Create a YouTube Channel plus Upload Videos to a Website

In the past, some people thought uploading a video to YouTube and a website at the same time is a bad idea because YouTube directly competes with a site for the same video in a search results page.

And while YouTube will generally rank for a video over any given site, the benefit is that YouTube is going to rank. That means increased chances a business is going to be found. At the same time, a website benefits by having engaging content on it for people to consume.

Now Google allows websites the potential to rank for a video hosted on that website with video Sitemaps. For more information, view this webinar from on Google video Sitemap best practices.

Creating a YouTube channel is easy and free for basic usage. There’s a heap of instruction in the YouTube help center that can provide step-by-step directions on how to create, personalize and maximize the benefits of a YouTube channel.

Optimize YouTube Video for Search

When uploading videos to YouTube, optimize the title, description and tags fields. Think about using keywords that are in your targeted set (if one exists) or other keywords that would be relevant. Some of the same best practices for Meta data of a website can be applied in YouTube, for example:

  • Title: In YouTube, there’s 120 characters allotted for a title. Because Google only displays up to the first 70 characters (with spaces included) of a title in the SERP, the targeted keywords should always be towards the front of the title. This ensures the user sees the same word in bold on the results page as was in his or her query. Generally, this improves click-through rates. Brand names are reserved for the end of the text in the title field.
  • Description: YouTube allows 1,000 characters for a description. Google only displays up to 156 characters (with spaces included) of a description in a SERP. The targeted keywords used in the title should also be used in the description and go towards the front. Include verbiage in the description that mimics how someone might search, for example, “how to make pizza” or “making pizza at home”. In YouTube, including a website’s URL in the initial part of the description (followed by a hard return) will allow a link to the site to be visible in the SERP.
  • Tags: In YouTube, the “tags” field is not treated exactly the same as we would treat a Meta Keywords tag for a website. Do include the targeted keywords that were used in the title and description, and any additional keywords that would help the video to rank such as the business brand, city and/or the topic of the video and so on, but be careful not to keyword stuff. Keep tags succinct. For example “homemade pizza”.

Note: If stumped on keywords and tags for the video, look to other videos that are ranking for a similar product, service or topic and use the same or similar words.

Next month, we’ll continue the conversation of videos as part of the Internet marketing strategy in a Part 2 of Back to Basics: Videos, YouTube and Being Found Online.

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