Virtuous Video

A chronic lament of many website owners is “we built it, but they couldn’t find it.”  There’s just too much competition for the first search engine results page. There is an industry – so called search engine optimization (SEO) – of (trying) to make your site stand among the millions of also-rans. Yet not all SEO initiatives are successful.

One problem is that the tricks and techniques, which used to have your site on page one, no longer work as well. As marketers, we have to be continually trying tactics to generate traffic.

A recent research report by Nate Elliot of Forrester Research points out how video on a web site can improve its search ranking. This agrees both with anecdotal evidence and some of my own tests.

Let’s assume you have some video content relevant to your product, project, or cause. If you don’t, see below. It’s easy to add video to your site and even easier to add it to video sharing sites – not only YouTube,  but also Metacafe, Vimeo, Break and many others. None of these charge you for the service.

Video added to your site can appear in “blended” search results. You may have seen this already, where a search engine results page includes not just links, but images, news photos (linking to an article), maps, and video. To see an example of this, search Google on a term such as Cross Country Skiing. By the time you read this, your results may differ somewhat from mine, but you should see blended results.

Although there is a lot of video on the web, it is less common than plain text pages – Forrester estimates 50 times less. Of course, just shoveling moving images into your site isn’t enough. There’s always a catch, but this one is manageable. Namely, help Google as well as your customers by optimizing your video for the web. In doing so, you can gain even more than a 50 fold advantage.

The basic techniques of tagging, titling and adding video to pages with relevant content are similar to what you or your webmaster should do to optimize plain text pages and still images. If you’re not doing this yet you’ve got lots of company. Tagging can give your site an advantage – take it. Video also involves some extra work. To make it easier for Google to find, create an xml sitemap just for video.

There are other video optimization techniques, such as paid web submission services for video, but I have found no compelling reason to use them.

You say you don’t have any video worth showing or no video at all. This is not the time to call James Cameron. You don’t even need a nephew in film school. As with any of your external communications, follow the KISS principal (keep it simple stupid). An inexpensive video camera, a story outline showing what your product does and some rehearsal may be all you need.

If you don’t know where to start or you’d like a bit of polish to video, there are a number of video editing services, which can take your rough footage to the next level. An intriguing option is video production startup Pixability. It is a service, which can provide simple guidelines and even lend you a video camera. You shoot, return the camera, and receive a finished video.

You don’t have to buy a beret and head to film school to boost the visibility and engagement of your online endeavor. Lights, action, …