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Searching for Successful Video SEO Strategies: What Really Works

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When adopting search engine optimization (SEO) video as a strategy to increase traffic to a website, those implementing the strategy have several issues they need to be aware of: the content being offered, the video’s ranking on the search engines, and the overall goal of the strategy. But there are also areas that have to be addressed. These include best practices for implementing video SEO, as well as challenges and pitfalls to avoid in order for the video to attract the largest number of viewers to a website, which is a video’s ultimate measure of success.

Of course SEO video is an outgrowth of SEO, says Tom Wilde, the CEO of Ramp. He stressed that for the use of SEO video to be successful, it is important to understand SEO basics. SEO depends on “two big buckets of effort,” he says. The first bucket would be on-site optimization, which is a website's "content and links pointing at each other." The second is off-site optimization that is feuled by Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any of the search engines that examine content beyond how many links point to it, he says. An example of this is how Google mines a webpage to determine the “aboutness” of the webpage’s content, he says.

Search engines employ a few approaches to understand the aboutness of a webpage, or of particular content on a webpage, Wilde says. It looks at the words in the webpage’s URL, as well as the webpage’s title, the body of content, and the links out from, and into, a webpage. “It associates all those things together to try and come up with the best guess as to what a webpage is about,” he says. The search engines do that to try to understand “what is the best piece of content to put in front of a user.”

It Starts With the Content

The key to attracting viewers to a website using a video starts “with great content,” says Richard Glosser, president of Hilltop Digital, a consulting firm that helps companies with digital growth strategies. The video has to be “produced well,” as well as be contextual and relevant, he says. If the video does not contain those elements, it will be not be of interest to anyone, he added.

Sharing Glosser’s opinion for the need for quality content is Aaron Aders, the market research director for DigitalRelevance, which is headquartered in Indianapolis. When it comes to content, the video should provide value to the target audience, according to Aders. But a video should be entertaining as well as educational, and it should increase not only the amount of views by the originally sought after audience, but also grow in views by being shared among that audience, he added.

With that in mind, those who deploy video SEO need to determine what the overall goal is for any specific piece of content, and ensure their technical and creative strategies match up with that goal, says Phil Nottingham, a consultant for Distilled, an international marketing and SEO firm. “Ultimately with video SEO, goals are best served when individually targeted with a specific piece of content, rather than trying to make a single piece of content match up to loads of business and marketing goals,” he says.

Making the most from implementing an online video strategy is Keiser University, an academic institution that is a client of Vertical Measures, an SEO company based in Phoenix. Keiser has campuses peppered throughout Florida, with its College of Golf located in Port St. Lucie. In order to get a jump on the competition in regards to attracting potential students, the college has been posting videos on YouTube, says Paul Zagnoni, a managing partner with the school.

The Florida-based College of Golf uses instructional videos on YouTube to drive traffic to its main site and recruit potential Students.

The reason Keiser uses video SEO to promote the golf college is that in golf, there are a lot of videos -- such as instructional videos. The administration realized that videos are valuable assets that can be used to inform potential students about what Keiser has to offer, says Zagnoni. That video effort “has been very successful,” he added.

The university’s strategy has been to provide content that students of golf would be interested in, he says. The videos are produced in-house using a microphone and a mid-level camera, Zagnoni says. “That’s what’s good about YouTube; the video’s aren’t expected to be professional productions,” he says.

There are a lot of golfing schools out there, but there are only a handful of golf colleges that Keiser competes with, and those schools are very active online. Therefore the video strategy the college has implemented is to provide a lot of golf tips with faculty and instructors. “Viewers seem to like those because it is a free golf tip,” he says.

Because the golfing videos have worked so well, Keiser University plans to implement a video strategy to promote a firearms school the university has recently acquired, Zagnoni says.

Of course, content is only the start. It is one strategy that goes with other strategies -- or best practices -- including social media, syndication (such as on YouTube), and getting ranked high on the search engines.

Video SEO Best Practices

The goals of video SEO are always to attract more traffic from organic searches, to increase brand awareness, and to increase the video’s rankings on the search engines, according to Nottingham. When it comes to ranking a website -- which is used to determine its placement on the search page -- Google is the leader, but YouTube does its own ranking of the videos on its website, according to SEO experts.

Ultimately it’s about getting your content to show up on Google search results -- hopefully on the first page, and if at all possible in the top three results, because there is a huge drop-off after the first page, according to Wilde. About 90 percent of clicks to items produced by a search are on the first page, and the remaining 10 percent of clicks are on all subsequent pages. In addition, about 80 percent of all first-page clicks are on the first three items listed. “So there’s a real premium on getting on the first page, and getting to the top of the first page,” he says.

Therefore, those who implement SEO video need to understand the position of the video on the rankings, says Bruce Clay, the president of Bruce Clay, Inc., who added that the general objective of deploying a video is to get traffic to a website. The video imparts on the viewer that by going to the website there is additional data available. From an SEO point of view, those who deploy a video for SEO want to optimize videos in a way to get them to appear on the YouTube channels and cycle within YouTube so that viewers watching the video can be tied into the website of whoever posted it, he says.

However, Wilde adds it is important to know that when it comes to SEO, “[V]ideo is tricky and at a bit of a disadvantage because a video by itself isn’t text.” It is an invisible object of binary content, he says. That means when Google encounters a video file, it does not appear to have the ability to look inside that video to try to understand its aboutness. So the video’s creator needs to help the search engines do that, and there are a variety of ways, he says.

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