Video’s Forgotten Value
At a recent luncheon I attended, publishers began talking about the value of video on their mobile and desktop sites.
Editors commented that their readers didn't use video enough to make it worth giving it the focus it seems to get. "The value is for advertisers," one remarked. "They see video as sexier than print; but our readers really aren't using it that much."
Another agreed: "It's more flash, less substance."
These publishers are forgetting one of the most crucial things about video: it's searchable.
That's right—search engines love video, and will often give an edge to a video over straight text. In fact, according to Forrester Research, you are 53 times more likely to get a spot on the first page of Google's search rankings if you create a video than if you don't.
That is a whole lot of value in terms of audience development. For a publisher questioning the value of video it's important to remember that Google and others have transformed the experience of search into something richer and more dynamic than the list of sites they used to deliver. RealTime Search, video search, blog search, image search—the search engines have embraced the multi-media aspect of the Internet and incorporated it into their rankings. Video appears, not only as links to YouTube and other video sharing sites, but also embedded directly into search results.
This means, of course, that established sites that don't use video are losing rankings to sites, blogs, or updates that do.
While many publishers are using video, this forgotten aspect of video's value means that many publishers aren't fully optimizing it for search. Like text, video needs to be properly tagged and referenced so the search engines can find it and identify it properly.
Starting with the basics, here are some things a publisher can do to optimize video for search:
- Optimize keywords in the title, description, and tags. Name your video the same way you name your Web page or your blog post, with the keywords in front. Besides searchable keywords use the kind of practical, benefit-oriented words you use on your magazine's newsstand cover: tips, secrets, how-to. A good title to your video is as important as a good cover line on your print magazine; and the rules of thumb are the same-what is user-friendly, reader-friendly, is going to be search-friendly as well.
- Use keywords in the voice narration of the video itself. In the early days of video you could call it anything, and use any keywords you pleased in the description, because the search engines couldn't tell the difference. Google now "reads" voice narration, and assesses the content of the video much as it does the written content on a page. This is a great opportunity for search-savvy publishers to optimize their videos' content, using keywords appropriately, and making sure the keywords in the narration are consistent with those used in the title and description of the video.
- Create a video site map. Include in the site map the video file, a thumbnail image, the title, and the description. This will enable the search engines to include your videos directly in search results.Optimize each video's URL by including information about the video in it.
- Keep your videos short. The success of your video is going to affect its searchability, and the most successful videos tend to be between two and five minutes long. There are always exceptions, and some publishers are having great success with "long form" videos. But overall, if you have a lot of really great content, it's best to break it up into a series of videos rather than running it too long.
- Link to your video from external sites and blogs, and use your keywords in the anchor text of the links pointing to it.
- Encourage people to comment on and "favorite" the video.
Besides being searchable, video is also shareable. Of course it is everyone's dream to hit it big with a viral sensation; and of course it doesn't always happen. But even if a video doesn't go viral, it still provides the SEO benefits to support text content in developing audience members.
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.