Tuesday Dec 18, 2012

YouTube SEO: Video Optimization

SEO optimization is still regarded as one of the primary tools in the digital marketing kit. However and wherever a potential customer is conducting a search, brands want their content to surface in the top results. Makes sense.

But without a regular flow of good, relevant content, your SEO opportunities run shallow. We know from several studies video is one of the most engaging forms of content, so why not make sure that in addition to being cool, your videos are helping you win the SEO game?

Keywords:
-Decide what search phrases make the most sense for your video. Don’t dare use phrases that have nothing to do with the content. You’ll make people mad.
-Research those keywords to see how competitive they are. Adjust them so there are still lots of people searching for it, but there are not as many links showing up for it.
-Search your potential keywords and phrases to see what comes up. It’s amazing how many people forget to do that.

Video Title:
-Try to start and/or end with your keyword.
-When you search on YouTube, visual action words tend to come up as suggested searches. So try to use action words.

Video Description:
-Lead with a link to your site (include http://).
-Don’t stuff this with your keyword. It leads to bad writing and it won’t work anyway. This is where you convince people to watch, so write for humans. Use some showmanship.
-At the end, do a call to action (subscribe, see the whole playlist, visit our social channels, etc.)

Video Tags:
-Don’t over-tag. 5-10 tags per video is plenty.
-If you’re compelled to have more than 10, that means you should probably make more videos specifically targeting all those keywords.

Find Linking Pals:
-45% of videos are discovered on video sites. But 44% are found through links on blogs and sites.
-Write a blog about your video’s content, then link to the video in it.
-A good site for finding places to guest blog is myblogguest.com
-Once you find good linking partners, they’ll link to your future videos (as long as they’re good and you’re returning the favor).

Tap the Power of Similar Videos:
-Use Video Reply to associate your video with other topic-related videos. That’s when you make a video responding to or referencing a video made by someone else.

Content:
-Again, build up a portfolio of videos, not just one that goes after 30 keywords.
-Create shorter, sequential videos that pull them deeper into the content and closer to a desired final action.
-Organize your video topics separately using Playlists. Playlists show up as a whole in search results like individual videos, so optimize playlists the same as you would for a video.

Meta Data:
-Too much importance is placed on it. It accounts for only 15% of search success.
-YouTube reads Captions or Transcripts to determine what a video is about. If you’re not using them, you’re missing out.
-You get the SEO benefit of captions and transcripts whether the viewers has them toggled on or not.

Promotion:
-This accounts for 25% of search success.
-Promote the daylights out of your videos using your social channels and digital assets. Don’t assume it’s going to magically get discovered.
-You can pay to promote your video. This could surface it on the YouTube home page, YouTube search results, YouTube related videos, and across the Google content network.

Community:
-Accounts for 10% of search success.
-Make sure your YouTube home page is a fun place to spend time. Carefully pick your featured video, and make sure your Playlists are featured.
-Participate in discussions so users will see you’re present. The volume of ratings/comments is as important as the number of views when it comes to where you surface on search.

Video Sitemaps:
-As with a web site, a video sitemap helps Google quickly index your video.
-Google wants to know title, description, play page URL, the URL of the thumbnail image you want, and raw video file location.
-Sitemaps are xml files you host or dynamically generate on your site. Once you’ve made your sitemap, sign in and submit it using Google webmaster tools.

Just as with the broadcast and cable TV channels, putting a video out there is only step one. You also have to make sure everybody knows it’s there so the largest audience possible can see it. Here’s hoping you get great ratings.

@mikestiles

Tuesday Oct 30, 2012

How to Waste Your Marketing Budget

International MoneyPhilosophers have long said if you find out where a man’s money is, you’ll know where his heart is. Find out where money in a marketing budget is allocated, and you’ll know how adaptive and ready that company is for the near future.

Marketing spends are an investment. Not unlike buying stock, the money is placed in areas the marketer feels will yield the highest return. Good stock pickers know the lay of the land, the sectors, the companies, and trends. Likewise, good marketers should know the media available to them, their audience, what they like & want, what they want their marketing to achieve…and trends.

So what are they doing? And how are they doing?

A recent eTail report shows nearly half of retailers planned on focusing on SEO, SEM, and site research technologies in the coming months. On the surface, that’s smart. You want people to find you. And you’re willing to let the SEO tail wag the dog and dictate the quality (or lack thereof) of your content such as blogs to make that happen.

So search is prioritized well ahead of social, multi-channel initiatives, email, even mobile - despite the undisputed explosive growth and adoption of it by the public. 13% of retailers plan to focus on online video in the next 3 months. 29% said they’d look at it in 6 months. Buying SEO trickery is easy. Attracting and holding an audience with wanted, relevant content…that’s the hard part. So marketers continue to kick the content can down the road. Pretty risky since content can draw and bind customers to you.

Asked to look a year ahead, retailers started thinking about CRM systems, customer segmentation, and loyalty, (again well ahead of online video, social and site personalization). What these investors are missing is social is spreading across every function of the enterprise and will be a part of CRM, personalization, loyalty programs, etc. They’re using social for engagement but not for PR, customer service, and sales. Mistake. Allocations are being made seemingly blind to the trends.

Even more peculiar are the results of an analysis Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins made. She looked at how much time people spend with media types and how marketers are investing in those media. 26% of media consumption is online, marketers spend 22% of their ad budgets there. 10% of media time is spent with mobile, but marketers are spending 1% of their ad budgets there. 7% of media time is spent with print, but (get this) marketers spend 25% of their ad budgets there. It’s like being on Superman’s Bizarro World. Mary adds that of the online spending, most goes to search while spends on content, even ad content, stayed flat.

Stock pickers know to buy low and sell high. It means peering with info in hand into the likely future of a stock and making the investment in it before it peaks. Either marketers aren’t believing the data and trends they’re seeing, or they can’t convince higher-ups to acknowledge change and adjust their portfolios accordingly.

Follow @mikestiles
Image via stock.xchng

Tuesday Oct 16, 2012

Social Search: Looking for Love

binocularsFor marketers and enterprise executives who have placed a higher priority on and allocated bigger budgets to search over social, it might be time to notice yet another shift that’s well underway. Social is search.

Search marketing was always more of an internal slam-dunk than other digital initiatives. Even a C-suite that understood little about the new technology world knew it’s a good thing when people are able to find you.

Google was the new Yellow Pages. Only with Google, you could get your listing first without naming yourself “AAAA Plumbing.” There were wizards out there who could give your business prominence in front of people who were specifically looking for what you offered. Other search giants like Bing also came along to offer such ideal matchmaking possibilities.

But what if the consumer isn’t using a search engine to find what they’re looking for? And what if the search engines started altering their algorithms so that search placement manipulation was more difficult? Both of those things have started to happen.

Experian Hitwise’s numbers show that visits to the major search engines in the UK dropped 100 million through August. Search engines are far from dead, or even challenged. But more and more, the public is discovering the sites and brands they need through advice they get via social, not search.

You’ll find the worlds of social and search increasingly co-mingling as well. Search behemoths Google and Bing are including Facebook and Google+ into their engines. Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter have done some integration of global web search into their platforms.

So what makes social such a worthwhile search entity for brands? First and foremost, the consumer has demonstrated a behavior of acting on recommendations from social connections. A cry in the wilderness like, “Anybody know any good catering companies?” will usually yield a link (and an endorsement) from a friend such as “Yeah, check out Just-Cheese-Balls Catering.” There’s no such human-driven force/influence behind the big search engines.

SpyFacebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and others call it “Friend Mining.” It is, in essence, searching for answers from friends’ experiences as opposed to faceless code. And Facebook has all of those friends’ experiences already stored as data. eMarketer says search in an $18 billion business, and investors are really into it. So no shock Facebook’s ready to leverage their social graph into relevant search.

What do you do about all this as a brand? For one thing, it’s going to lead to some interesting paid marketing opportunities around the corner, including Sponsored Stories bought against certain queries, inserting deals into search results, capitalizing on social search results on mobile, etc.

Apart from that, it might be time to stop mentally separating social and search in your strategic planning and budgeting. Courting your fans on social will cumulatively add up to more valuable, personally endorsed recommendations for your company when a consumer conducts a search on social.

Fail to foster those relationships, fail to engage, fail to provide knock-em-dead customer service, fail to wow them with your actual products and services…and you’ll wind up with the visibility you deserve in social search results.

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