Monday, November 3, 2008

How to Optimize Video Content for SEO: 7 Tactics to Improve Your Rankings

Web users love online video. A summer report from comScore shows that U.S. residents watched more than 11 billion online videos in May 2008. And 52% of those viewers reported taking some action after watching, such as looking for more information or making a direct purchase, according to our 2009 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide.

Derek Fulford, Manager, Search Marketing,, achieved an impressive 275% increase in daily views when his team optimized for search a series of archived online videos for one division of their organization.

If your site employs online video, you can borrow Fulford’s tactics to ensure that your content is indexed by search engines and shows up when users enter relevant keywords.

“For us especially, being a publisher site with revenue dependent on ad sales, video is something advertisers are familiar with,” says Fulford. “Our sales team is effective at selling video ads, so the more video we can generate and the more views we achieve, the more ads we can sell.”

Based on the success of that first campaign, Fulford’s team is now working to create a standard video SEO protocol for all of’s video content. Flash-based players can make search-engine indexing more difficult. But Fulford found that many techniques used to optimize text-based content can be adapted to the video environment.

Fulford’s top seven tactics for improving search visibility for video content, include educating video production teams on front-end SEO, employing keyword targeting strategies, surrounding online video with tags, user comments, and other text-based content.

Tactic #1. Educate your video production team on SEO basics

Many critical steps in optimizing videos happen when files are created and placed onto Web pages. So, marketers must work closely with their video production team to ensure they understand the basics of SEO. In larger organizations, video production may be handled by a separate division.

To avoid confusion, Fulford recommends engaging in a formal SEO training process with any video production team. Key elements should include:

- Hosting an “SEO 101” training session with the video team. This session can introduce video producers to key concepts, such as:

o Identifying keywords for video titles and file names
o Tagging options
o Creating keyword-rich text descriptions of video content

- Planning a follow-up “SEO refresher” course or a more advanced training session several months after the team has begun employing SEO basics.

- Meeting with individual team members who’ve shown interest or requested deeper training on SEO topics.

- Writing a one-page, SEO-basics document that the team can take away from sessions to use as a resource during their day-to-day production duties.

Fulford stresses that even after conducting such training marketers should double-check new video files to ensure proper SEO techniques are being used.

“You can’t expect the video team to do everything, so you have to review their work.”

Tactic #2. Conduct research to ID relevant keywords for searches

As with all SEO campaigns, optimizing video content begins with identifying relevant keywords. Here are a few essentials:

- Identify a specific theme for video keywords.
Web pages may contain multiple content sections and navigation links that you can target for search engines. But video content tends to be shorter and more tightly focused.

For example, features dozens of videos on hurricanes. Rather than choosing a generic search term such as “Hurricane,” the team identifies storms by a specific name or location, such as “Hurricane Ike” or “Hurricane Ike Houston.”

- Use keyword research tools to supplement your keyword list.
Once you’ve identified a major theme, keyword research tools, such as Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery, can identify popular terms, highly competitive terms, and useful synonyms that Web users are likely to type into a search engine.

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