Video Search Optimization

Apr 10, 2007 - 10:31 am 4 by

Welcome to SES NYC 2007! Chris Sherman moderating.

Got in a little late…Sherwood Stranieri from Catalyst was speaking. Came to a slide titled “Video and viral are drinking buddies.” I wish I understood that analogy. ;) Anyway, Sherwood was stressing the point that linking works very well to help with SEO. He feels that video is driven by viral marketing, not search engine marketing. Now he will go into video strategies for different industries and applications.

Spread of video throughout the web is happening very fast…6-7 figure traffic per month. So: people have the idea of using video as a content provider. Everybody that produces content on this level has a stake in the game or could benefit from it. Right now…viral marketing is the primary mechanism, so how to leverage that for lasting value? There are bloggers to television networks. They decided to work with a “feeder strategy.” Made two groups of videos, one geared towards YouTube and others towards video SE’s. The goal is to get them back to the website, so that they can view the ads. If you post videos, it is not enough to just be famous on YouTube. This can be used as a foundation for other updated content, which turns into a cycle that keeps feeding users.

Caution: all-in-one video players can cause problems for search engines. Be mindful of how the video is implemented. Sometimes it is made “almost too sophisticated.” Avoid taking that road too quickly without considering possible after-effects. Pages that mix html content with the actual video players will function best. He shows a couple examples of pages with both html and video. The he goes into top ranking videos in standard search results. “Video search is reaching out to the so-called ‘real world’ of search engine marketing.” “Beyonce has a video from YouTube on page 2 of the regular results. CSI Miami on #1.

Video for pharmaceutical companies. Here we have a very different approach. Very regulated, conservative space. Has two approaches: one for onsite/brand portals. Offsite/off-brand veers towards curiosity and entertainment sites. These are dry topics, but video can add depth or dimension to the topics. It ads color/details/life to products. Things like patient interviews on a website, brings life. So far they have not achieved the strongest natural rankings in regular engines for this, but are getting some lift. He shows another example of a medical animation showing the creation of a cell or something, and how it garnered traffic because it was interesting.

Video for ecommerce: make it newsworthy. Showcase anticipated uses of products you sell. For example, if you sell power tools, use them to build a deck. Sell clothing? Use a runway show. Prepare for unanticipated uses of products. These can be very big. One person made an MP3 player out of an Altoids tin. This can be leveraged. Use teaser strategy and bring people to a branded page. Imagine the commercial value of having footage that no one else has, and making it work for your marketing. Brings up the Mentos/Diet Cole example. This was leveraged after by producing additional videos. Shows other videos that show up high. The rap video for Pepto Bismal, etc.

To wrap it up: video pages can be strong contenders in regular search results. Most of today’s videos search success stories are happy accidents. Product demos, testimonials, entertaining commercials – use anything that adds dimension to the products. But don’t fake it (or suffer from massive quantities of negative commentary). Execute your strategy with the right mix of video and text content.

Next is Eric Papczun from Performics. Will dive right into stats. 123 M Americans now consume video online. 7B videos served/month. 72% watch news videos online, 27% once a week. 76% of users are sharing videos. Driving the viral chain. Video consumption is moving from TV sites to video sites and eventually to search. So, will video kill the radio star? Seeing more and more people searching for video than things like music.. The top destinations. He shows share of traffic versus share of video streams. 43% YouTube traffic, but only 9% of video streams. MySpace leads the share of video streams at 20%, followed by Yahoo sites at 11% then YouTube.

The relative share of traffic: 68% Google Video, 21% Yahoo, 8% AOL. Traffic relative to 2.20% Google video, 0.69% Yahoo! video. The reality is that most people are using traditional search engines to find videos, or going to a trusted provider like YouTube where they have relationship and a community there. (Last year, Blinkx was garnering lots of press, but they have less than 1% share of traffic.)

The roadblocks: Lack of simple and consistent taxonomy for producers to use. Search is too dependant on text from video’s corresponding we page. Flash video players. Ugly URL’s with lots of parameters. So he says that you should think like the Video searcher. Shows the example of searches for Michael Richards (Kramer from Seinfeld), and how there is a short opportunity to get videos indexed. Shows the top video results at Google for Michael Richards, which are not good. (#1 is titled “the Death of Michael Richards’ career.” People are also searching for Kramer. Those sites that were smart and also optimized for that did a good job of gaining multiple share.

He also advocates surrounding video with html. Recommends keeping videos “off of the root.” Use a separate directory. Also suggests using video site maps, one sitemap linking off of regular sitemap. He advocates using the word video over and over again. The more times you can get it into META data and content, the more success you will have with regular searches. Not a lot has changed in terms of relation to traditional SEO. Link and anchor text are very important. But now file tagging and commenting Are becoming more important. (this makes sense since it is SE-legible content that surrounds the video). There is a whole collection of folks that “sit there and really do the work for you.” Now instead of watching the whole state of the union address, you can watch only the parts that pertain to you.

Shows some common video distribution tools like Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Blinkx. Best practices: train editors to think like searchers. Encode for the right keywords – use them in filename. One video per URL (avoid Flash and pop up players). Suggest using tools to remove metadata that is just “noise” getting in the way. Add tagging./ Keep video files in same directory. Surround video w/relevant text. Crosslink to videos using keywords in anchor text. Create an optimized video sitemap. Upload videos to SEs. Add in-format metadata.

He feels there is a good opportunity to brand yourself in video. Grab real estate around the term video. Really wants you to focus on the keyword video. If you have a good potion in video, you will do well down the road. Paid search helps to capture current stories (like Kramer video” search. Shows and example of top paid listing titled “Kramer’s Racist Rant.” He feels that in Google, video search can be gamed by suing links and anchor text. He shows a chart with correlation between linking and rankings. Not perfectly scientific, but the evidence definitely points to the Goggle video ranking algo using these.

Gregory Markel from Infuse Creative. Talks about the fact that it is exiting to see all these people interested in video search (the large room is pretty full). Why is video search so important? Well, it is free, that helps. There is no cost per action or cost per click. More guys search for video than girls…that’s a surprise. Laughs. He will skip through some redundant content to leave more time for QA. You cannot rely on the big players for the highest view numbers. They often see numbers surprisingly high on the second tier engines.

AOL video search skews entertainment-based searches. They find that focusing only on YouTube is sometimes causing the miss of big surprises when it comes to traffic. More people search for video that news, love, and religion. Video is influencing regular search results. A search for Corvette Video” on does not return a single manufacturer site. Again, this is free. Many of the video search engines have great integrated viral/community tools. One ting that is hot with VSEO is similar to the commercial blogging enterprises. Tagging teams can help follow regular SEO and help to create artificial interest that leads to additional viral bang.

The list of video SE’s is growing exponentially, weekly. New engine every other day it seems. He shows a list with lots of them, and states that there are still tons left off of it. Goes into basic approaches to optimization and submission types. The uses the word “sexy” for the second time in his presentation which as usual makes me cringe. Shows some examples of encoders that can be programmed to be SEO-friendly. There are three main ways to get content into a video search engine (VSE). The first are crawler-based VSE’s. Another submission type is the upload-based like YouTube. A degree of keyword prominence seems to come into play with these. Keep usability in mind also…use the keywords but include a call to action in creative. The second are the ones where you upload a video. With many of the upload types, you will see requests for specific information: use them!

Third type of submission that is possible after crawl and upload is RSS. Yahoo! Is one of them. They would require and HTML RSS feed, pretty basic. Optimization tips for this include title, description and keyword, as usual. Include this within the RSS structure. If yopu are posting video on a website, make sure you link it from relevant html pages with associated keywords. Goes into some examples of how the process is still manual and somewhat labor intensive. At Infuse, they create a tool to semi-automate the process. This also tracks views. He announces that they will be creating a commercially available version of this tool sometime in the third or fourth quarter.

He does not see the landscape changing soon. Shows some case studies. A Non-profit sex education site for teens. Video and sex education types of keywords – figure this out, it is extremely competitive. They received over 250K video views in the course of two months with only optimization cost. When they talk to companies now, the first thing they ask is what are your video assets. Another case study shows over 1000 video views (brand impressions) per week as a result of their efforts. He echoes that secondary VSE’s can be important especially in some niches. He lists essentially the same best practices as the other speakers.

Before you upload videos, take advantage of the medium. Watermark the lower right hand corner in order to create brand reinforcement like CBSA does for example. Include a brand reinforcement in the first frame of the video. In last frame of video, include an audio or text based call to action. These are simple things that can add to overall marketing benefit. If you really want to be geeky, make sure that you are also optimizing your spoken word. Although voice-recognition is still growing, it is changing rapidly. Additionally, the ability to recognize characters is also improving, so include keywords in the video subtitles, if available. He gives one example of around the Superbowl, many people would use the word “commercial” in their searches. So they actually tagged their commercial with the word commercial, which worked great. Finishes with a list of helpful resources. Blinkx created a wiki for VSEO…can be very timely information.

Note: This is live coverage of SES NYC 2007. Please forgive any spelling or grammatical errors that slipped by n the interest of speed.


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