Online video has exploded and has quickly surpassed other formats when it comes to reaching out to your audience successfully. This is mostly because it’s getting so darn easy to watch videos online by home internet service getting faster and faster with higher bandwidth connections and more advanced smart phones. I-Phone users know this quite well as Apple offers a YouTube application as a default application.
With all of these people swarming onto the net with their video players rolling it’s easy to say that SEO video content is undoubtedly a marketing tool you cannot afford to ignore.
Don’t believe me? This is what Web Site Monitoring says about YouTube’s…
- YouTube viewers consume over 2 billion video views per day, double the prime time audience of all three major US broadcast networks combined.
- 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute at YouTube.
- Average person spends 15 minutes a day on YouTube.
- More video is uploaded to YouTube in 60 days than all 3 major US Networks created in 60 Years.
If you’re not making use of video SEO in some way you are missing out on a major money making opportunity. So let’s find out how to do this.
Do I Host or Post?
Many people have come up to me and asked me this question and it really depends on your resources. Hosting a video on your site is a decision that requires some thought. The biggest factor to making this decision is the large amount of bandwidth a popular video can consume. The load could lead to your server shutting down, or cost you in overage fees with your web host.
Here is a real world example – A 10MB video viewed by 100 people will use up 1GB of bandwidth. Many small hosting accounts allow you 20 to 40GB per month range and overage fees that are very substantial. In many cases using a service like Amazon S3 and Amazon CloudFront are very cost effective solutions to deal with the bandwidth usage issue if you decide to host the video on your site vs uploading to a video distribution site like YouTube.
So what is the benefit of hosting your own videos? Well, the traffic is yours, not a video sharing site and you can wrap your videos with lead forms or calls to action that promote sales where you cannot do that with sites like YouTube. I am a big believer in posting your videos on your site if you can afford it but if you cannot then you need to at least have them on YouTube.
Posting your video using Video Distribution Sites such as YouTube, MetaCafe and others do offer great benefits because it is very easy to upload files, share videos, get lots of traffic and views for no cost, and free! But there are some disadvantages like adverting on top of your videos, lower quality, length of videos limited to 10 minutes max, no benefit from linking, few statistics available to show video engagement, and little to non organic traffic pushed to your site.
So why not get the best of both worlds? I like to use both in combination with each other. Put “teaser” videos (no more than 3 minutes long) on video sites like YouTube and have the full video on your own site. This technique allows you to get exposure and traffic from sites like Youtube and still tap into the video results in organic search, drive traffic directly towards your site and gain the ability to generate links more effectively.
So how do you set up your videos to get maximum SEO benefit? Let’s take a look.
Keyword Enriched File Name – Your video file name should contain keywords when possible. File names like abc123.mp4 describe absolutely nothing important to a search engine, where as embedding keywords like video-SEO.mp4 will help the engine identify what the video is about. Just like image files, search engines have a terrible time figuring out the content of a video file is and must rely on external signals to define what the movie is about.
Push the visitor to the conversion point – At the end of the video steer the viewer towards your intended goal. First you need a pre roll and post roll that has your domain name, phone number, or email address.
Small bites please – Having multiple video files lets you target more keyword combinations, and it is easier for viewers to zoom in on the specific content they’re interested in. Also remember that the majority of YouTube videos are under 3 mins so the more you can keep their attention the better. Also do not wait till the end to talk about problems or FAQ’s as the more descriptive the better for your viewers.
Text is now the in thing – Make sure the text is keyword rich as OCR Technology is making great strides. In 2009 Google purchased reCAPTCHA, you know are those funny looking letters you see when you fill out forms, asking you to enter in the letters into a box, in order for you to validate that you are indeed a human? They purchased them not for the CAPTCHA feature, but as a way to improve their OCR technology, the technology they use to understand scanned words. reCAPTCHA has a pretty large database of letters they collected matched to what actual humans thought those letters were.
Make your voice and audio tracks clear – This is not just for the benefit of your audience. YouTube is working on video transcription, which will lead to them being able to index content in your video. Google owns YouTube – the technology will likely make it into the crawler at some point, so make it easy for them, and of course, mention your keywords from time to time.
Non date based content – Avoid specific references to time and dates in your videos unless it fits the theme. Doing so can make the video seem stale and out of date when it’s not necessary.
XML Video Sitemaps
Part 1 of my video marketing talked alot about the best practices of getting your videos in SEO shape. Part 2 talks about how to use sitemaps and video RSS feeds to get the search engines to index these videos because at this point videos are not automatically indexable by the search engines. So, if you want your videos to show up in Google and Bing’s search results you’ll need to use a XML Video Sitemaps.
This sitemap is simular to your webpage XML sitemap but does offer different tags .Here are the essential tags to include in your XML Video Sitemaps to be optimized correctly:
- <loc> – This is the landing page URL visitors go to in their browser to view the video. It’s highly recommended that the HTML title tag on this page matches the <video:title> content (100 characters or less) for best results.
- <video:video> – This is used to specify the type of file the entry describes.
- <video:content_loc> – The location of the video file (.mpg, .mpeg, .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .ra, .ram, .rm, .flv etc.) itself. Technically this entry can be omitted if you specify the location of the video player file in <video:player_loc>, but Google recommends using both.
- <video:thumbnail_loc> – Image thumbnail URL, this is the image that will be shown in the organic search results. We highly recommended that you use an image that draws attention to your video.
- <video:title> – The title of your video. Include a carefully crafted title with your keywords here and make sure the content matches your landing page HTML title. Maximum 100 characters long.
- <video:description> – Description of what’s in the video, again use keywords here as applicable. The size must be below 2048 characters to avoid truncation, and it should match the landing page HTML Meta Description content for best results.
- <video:tag> – Although this tag is not required, we highly recommend it. You can add up to 32 separate tags (each with one entry) for each video. This is a good place to put keywords as well.
- <video:category> – This tag is also optional, but recommended as it provides additional ranking related metadata. The maximum length is 256 characters. If in doubt about what to use for a category, review the available categories that YouTube uses for it’s videos and find something appropriate.
Each video sitemap must contain less than 50,000 entries and be less than 10MB in file size. If you have more videos than that, you’ll need to use multiple sitemaps and I actually like this idea of splitting your video sitemaps even if you do not go over the limits.
Below is an example sitemap for video for a client of mine. Note the use of keywords that are used in this example:
<video:player_loc allow_embed=”yes” autoplay=”ap=1″>http://www.abc.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123</video:player_loc>
<video:title>Rebuilding Your Pool Pump is Easy</video:title>
<video:description>Here is a step by step guide on rebuilding your pool pump which can save your hundreds of dollars.</video:description>
<video:restriction relationship=”allow”>GB US CA</video:restriction>
Hopefully my example gives you a good idea on setting up your XML sitemap for video. But like all good things, they change and this is really no different. Right now these are the most important SEO related tags you should use for your video sitemap but to keep up on new happenings within the video sitemap world, you should also closely review and monitor Google’s Video Sitemap Specification Page (last updated 7/16/10) for specific details on tag requirements and functions for reference. Google updates this information on a regular basis, so watch for changes.
Yes, your ready to launch your video sitemap! Just a second chief, you will want to make sure the follow things are taken care of before you let the spiders know:
- Double check all your URLs are correct and crawlable (no 404 codes or broken links). Don’t forget there’s more than one file to verify. You have 4 URLs that need checking. The thumbnail, player, video and landing page should all be valid URLs.
- Verify your robots.txt file is allowing the URL’s to be spidered. A simple search on your web browser or your webmaster tools will do the trick.
- Remember to updating you sitemap is a must anytime you add or remove a video from your site.
When you’re ready submit your video site map I like to use a duel approach. I will link to the sitemap using your sites robots.txt file and ping the engines to tell them about your new sitemap using Google Webmaster Tools.
Video Feeds – Understanding mRSS
So Media RSS was created by Yahoo and is also supported by Google and Bing for discovery of rich media such as video, audio and images. It’s an extension to the RSS 2.0 specification and looks very similar to what you see used with a Blog RSS Feed. It’s nice to see all the major search engines work with each other isn’t it?
I like the addition of mRSS feeds in combonation with your XML Video Sitemap as a way to announce new content to the engines but not for resubmission of the same files. The reason why I like to add mRSS to your XML Video Sitemap is faster indexing of your video (and other media) by the engines. It is also a great idea idea for sites that frequently add new video content to their site. If you are only posting a video or two every year it’s probably not worthwhile to maintain a mRSS feed. In that situation, a XML Sitemap will be more than sufficient.
Here is an example of a mRSS entry with the minimal tags that Google requires.
<media:content URL=http://www.abc.com/rebuildingyourpoolpump.flv medium=”video” duration=”600″><link>http://www.abc.com/videos/rebuilding-your-pool-pump.html</link><media:player URL=”http://www.abc.com/videoplayer.swf?rebuildingyourpoolpump.flv” />
<media:title type=”html”>Rebuilding Your Pool Pump is Easy</media:title>
<media:description type=”html”>Here is a step by step guide on rebuilding your pool pump which can save your hundreds of dollars</media:description>
<media:keywords>pool, pumps, rebuild</media:keywords>
At this point you are really ready to go and start shooting video and marketing it like a pro!