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Optimising your videos

  • Posted On July 3, 2012
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

Last month, I participated in a webinar for Liveclicker all about optimizing e-commerce video for search. I presented on both optimizing video landing pages (onsite) for search as well as SEO for YouTube. In reality, these best practices are applicable to any video strategy and not specific to e-commerce with the exception of the examples used. The following is a summary of the 8 tips/best-practices that I provided with regard to onsite video landing page optimization, starting with some background on the ever changing nature of search.

Search is evolving at such a rapid clip that it is even difficult for SEO experts to keep up with the pace. According to SEOMoz, Google changes its search algorithm up to 500 – 600 times each year.
One of the biggest changes we’ve seen recently is the incorporation of social elements into search results. Social factors have always supported SEO in an indirect way, in that if you have good content, people want to share it and link to it. However, in December 2011 Google confirmed that it was using social signals such as likes, retweets and +1s for search engine ranking.
Earlier this year, Google announced a radical shift in personalization, Search Plus Your World, where the default search looks at your social connections. If you’re signed into Google with Search Plus Your World turned on, you see different search results than everyone else, which makes it a little more difficult to determine how well you’re ranking.
In this ever evolving world of search, what are the most important steps to take to optimize your video content for search engines?
Tip #1: You MUST Brush Up on General SEO Best Practices First
Optimizing video for search engines isn’t its own discipline, but simply an extension of SEO. Standard SEO best practices such as well-planned navigation, site structure, internal site links and title tags are important to drive traffic to your website. Once you have a well optimized website, then your video results should rank better as a matter of course.
Take Spanx.com, for example. After completing an SEO audit with Liveclicker and subsequently improving its page titles, metadata and links, they saw a visible uplift in video page views:

A few of the best places to learn about the latest search engine news and guidelines include:
SEOMoz
Search Engine Land
Search Engine Journal
Search Engine Watch
SEO Book
Tip #2: Start with Keyword Research
It doesn’t help to rank first for phrases that no one is searching for. For that reason, you always want to start with keyword research when optimizing video, or anything else for that matter.
YouTube is a great keyword research tool for video (with the exception of their own dedicated keyword tool which is quite useless). Even though we’re talking about on-site video SEO for Google, it helps to get an idea of what folks are searching for when specifically looking for video content (which is all you can search for on YouTube) If you go to youtube.com and do some searches, it’s easy to unearth related search queries being used to find video content.

When you filter your search, you see even more examples:

Google’s keyword suggestions are also helpful in determining what people are searching for in Google (regardless of whether looking specifically for a video), as are other keyword research tools that you might have access to:

Tip #3: Submit a Video Sitemap to Google
It can be quite difficult for Google to find videos on your pages. The best way to ensure that Google can find your videos is to:
Create an XML video sitemap that tells the search engine exactly where your page is, and where your video is, along with some information about it.
Submit your video sitemap through Google’s webmaster tools.
Once you’ve done that, Google crawls your page to verify that the video exists and in most cases, indexes your video where it can appear in the universal search results.
How do you know if Google has indexed your videos? The easiest way to check is to go to Google Videos and do a search using site:yourwebsite.com with no spaces to see how many videos on your site are indexed and determine if there’s a mismatch.

Tip #4: Test adding Video Transcripts to Landing Pages
Many e-commerce sites don’t have much text, in which case it may be worthwhile to include transcripts of your videos. Liveclicker studied 37 pages before and after adding transcripts. Pages with transcripts earned on average 16% more revenue than they did before transcripts. Why? The uplift was likely related to increases in traffic through long-tail keyword searches resulting from matches in the transcripts.
How should you include a transcript? Ideally, you want it to be in the source code rather than hidden from your viewers. It’s ok to put the transcript of the video at the bottom of the page, but it must be representative of the content of your video and not stuffed with keywords. Of course, you can use that same transcript for YouTube, which we’ll cover in another post.
Tip #5: Help Viewers Share your Videos with Opengraph
In most cases, it’s sensible to make videos on your website shareable through social widgets such as Facebook like and Twitter retweet. Did you know that you can also allow your videos to be viewed on Facebook directly when someone likes your page? For example, if you were to go to the blog post shown below and click “Like”, the video thumbnail along with the description would show up on your Facebook wall for all your friends to see. When a friend clicks the video thumbnail, the video will then play directly on their wall. If you have a player with integrated Buy Now buttons, that will show up on Facebook as well.

If you want to do this, you can use the following code in the top of your page to tell Facebook where to find your video and its size:

Tip #6: Leverage your Video Content
The more content you have on your pages that can be ranked within the different verticals in Google – image search, organic search, video search etc… – the more traffic you can drive to your site.
E-commerce retailer, eBags, added several still images from their videos to the bottom of the pages that had video on them. A lot of the images were indexed in Google Images and, as a result, they experienced a 115% uptick in traffic to the video pages.
Tip #7: Create Compelling Thumbnails
This is a no brainer as the thumbnail is the first thing that people look at and the most important. Make sure your thumbnails are eye-catching, relevant and high quality.
Thumbnails should be:
Clear, bright and in-focus with good composition
Visually compelling to attract a click (close-ups work well)
Accurately representative of your video content

Tip #8: Ensure your Landing Pages Load Quickly
One of Google’s new ranking factors is how long it takes for a page to load. Essentially, Google wants people to find what they are looking for. Faster pages improve the user experience while decreasing bounce rates, whether or not they contain video.
Some helpful, free tools that you can use to evaluate your site speed include:
PageSpeed – an open source browser add-on
YSlow – suggests ways to improve speed
WebPagetest – shows a waterfall view of performance
Webmaster Tools – Site Performance Lab
So, there’s a bunch of, somewhat random tips and best practices for optimizing video landing pages for search. Obviously we’ve covered these in the past, but it never hurts to review best practices, right? We’ll dive into part 2, YouTube SEO in an upcoming post.
Reprinted with permission from Video Commerce Consortium Blog.

Source: 8 Best Practices to Optimize Video Landing Pages for Search Engines http://www.reelseo.com/8-practices-optimize-video-landing-pages-search/#ixzz1yn2KxDuT
©2012 ReelSEO

Online Video 101

  • Posted On June 25, 2012
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

Online Video 101 for Small Business is a new e-book from ReelSEO, and it’s full of applicable information you can use to help streamline and improve your video marketing efforts. Oh, and it also has a delicious gooey center:
It was written by our good friend Kevin “Nalts” Nalty. That’s right, in one ebook you get the insight from an expert and author of “Beyond Viral: How to Attract Customers, Promote Your Brand, and Make Money With Online Video,” AND the sense of humor of one of YouTube’s most prolific video marketers and creators. You got knowledge in my entertainment! You got entertainment in my knowledge!!
Every day more and more small business owners and entrepreneurs are turning to online video to find and engage new customers. The medium is more compelling, and more likely to foster a relationship with consumers than text alone.”
Online Video 101 for Small Business is laid out in easy-to-follow chapters like:
The Small Business Online Video Dilemma
How Will Online Video Help My Business?
9 Simple Ways to Play
Do’s & Don’ts
Most of the common concerns and questions small business owners have with regard to online video are addressed directly in this book. Too expensive? Not true! Too much effort? That’s crazy!

Source: Online Video 101 For Small Business Marketing – FREE E-Book http://www.reelseo.com/online-video-101-for-small-business/#ixzz1yn22AfOJ
©2012 ReelSEO

7 unexpected ways online video helped our small business

  • Posted On April 9, 2012
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

1. YouTube SEO
Showing up at the top of search results is key to directing customers to your products. YouTube is the #2 search engine and showing up in the top of YouTube organic results can be a very powerful tool. Many of our videos show up in the top YouTube search results and as you can see we are now showing up #1 for the term “asset tracking”.

2. Referring Traffic
Visitors don’t just come to your website out of nowhere, so posting videos on YouTube is not only a great way to raise brand awareness but an easy way to drive visitors to your site. Besides our main site (http://www.waspbarcode.com), which has more than a million visits a year, YouTube is the second largest generator for our site traffic.
3. Getting Social
Using videos is an easy way to build on our social communities because it allows us to show people what we are doing almost instantaneously. In the past year we have generated 3,900 YouTube subscribers.

4. More Engaged Customers
Knowing what peaks your customer’s interest is a great way to make sure your message is getting communicated effectively. We are able to figure out when visitors were disengaging with our videos using YouTube Analytics. This helps us produce videos that lead to a much more engaged prospect.

5. Awards
In the past year we won several video awards that facilitated internal buy-in and enabled management to have confidence in what we are doing. All our videos are created in-house with some help from freelancers.
6. Press & Exposure
Being recognized for the work you’re doing spurs activity around your brand. Our videos have been featured in many online articles, giving online publishers a reason to publish our stories.

7. Inexpensive Advertising
PPC advertising is an important way to have a tightly focused ad direct traffic to your website. YouTube Promoted videos are a very inexpensive way to do this. Our average click per view is $0.15 cents.

On the Rise
Videos are a very effective way of finding new inexpensive audiences. Even though our videos only get a moderate amount of views, they are quality views that allow us to leverage the technology for existing opportunities so that we can grow our business. Videos have increased several metrics on our website and will play a much bigger role in Wasp’s marketing future.
Case and point – watch one of our latest videos:

Thanks to our friend Julie Perry for all the support!

Source: 7 Ways Video Marketing Helped Our Small Business http://www.reelseo.com/7-ways-videos-helped-small-business/#ixzz1rVdHgSXo
©2008-2011 ReelSEO.com Online Video Guide

Video Email Marketing Newsletter is here

  • Posted On March 28, 2012
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

For nearly fifteen years, technologists have tried to solve the problem of how to integrate video and other forms of rich media into email.  The idea was that people wanted to have richer, fuller Internet experiences right in the inbox, without the need to click through an email message to the web.   Unfortunately, many of the early efforts ultimately proved fruitless or unpopular. Today, the web is littered with startups that claimed to offer a solution enabling video in email.

Integrating video in email has always been a bit of a tricky problem to solve, but not just for technical reasons.  Plenty of people in the industry still question the underlying premise of integrating video in email at all.

  • Does video in email annoy subscribers?
  • Does it defeat the purpose of getting people to click through the email?
  • Is it worth the effort, given potential deliverability and rendering implications, especially since simply including an image in an email linked to a video on a landing page is the de facto industry best practice?

When it comes to these questions, nearly everyone has an opinion.  So, as someone that spends his days living and breathing in the world of video in email, I thought I’d share my thoughts in a three-part series on the topic.

In today’s post, I outline how the landscape has shifted in the world of video in email, and why more marketers are embracing this tactic now than ever before.  In the second post to come, I will outline how many of the points conventionally used to argue against video in email no longer hold as much water as they used to.  Finally, I’ll wrap by sharing why I think video in email is here to stay and what you can do to maximize the opportunity.

Open Standards (HTML5) Have Opened Up Video in Email

Over the last two years, a growing push to advance the nascent HTML5 standard has forever altered the landscape of video in email.  Unlike earlier efforts to advance video in email using proprietary technologies, HTML5 is an open standard.  It’s built into all of the modern web browsers and most of the modern mobile devices, including Apple iOS devices and the latest Android operating systems.  Adobe has announced plans to stop building Flash for mobile devices.  In short, HTML5 is here and it’s here to stay.

The momentum of HTML5 video in the wider industry has huge implications for email marketers.  Unlike Flash, HTML5 is supported natively in the browser, eliminating the security risks of third-party plugins that hindered earlier efforts like RadicalMail from taking off and prompted mail clients to disable Flash support in the early 2000’s.  In the new mobile paradigm the world is now entering, people increasingly read email their smartphones, one of the most fertile environments for HTML5 video.

Today, the following mail clients are capable of displaying video right in the body of the email:

  • All iOS devices when opened in the native mail client (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch)
  • Hotmail, when viewed in an HTML5 compliant web browser
    • IE 9+
    • Chrome 3+
    • Firefox 3.5+
    • Safari 3.1+ on desktop, and 3.0+ (iOS)
    • Thunderbird
    • Apple Mail 3, 4
    • Outlook for Mac 2011

When considering the popularity of mobile devices, the above mail clients consistently show that close to 50% of all email messages read today support HTML5 video.

For example, this campaign sent recently by Disney generated 49.5% of all video in email views through the HTML5 format:

In another recent example, this campaign sent by Saks Fifth Avenue generated 67.5% of all in-email video views from HTML5.  So much for email not supporting video.

Video in Email Streamlines Mobile Viewing – Tap Once, Not Twice.

As we progress deeper into the mobile era, marketers are also looking to make it easy for mail recipients to consume content on their devices.  It comes as a surprise to many marketers that the old belief that it is easier for people to consume video when it’s on a landing page doesn’t apply in many mobile situations.  For example, iPhone users that receive an email containing a static image linked to a landing page containing a video are forced to tap on the image in the email, wait for the clickthrough redirect, open a new browser or browser page, then tap again on the video to get it to play.  In the reverse situation, where the video is in the email, only a single tap is required to initiate playback.

Brand Marketers Use Video Email Marketing To Extend Ad Reach

Brand marketers understand how to use television to bombard an audience with video messaging to build demand for a product, promote the brand, or drive an offline purchase.  It’s of little surprise therefore that this class of sender is more willing to use video in email as a mechanism of increasing the reach of video advertising.

For example, when Sky sought to extend the reach of its video advertising for the TV mini-series “Game of Thrones,” it used video in email to generate an incremental 1 million+ views of its TV trailer.  Discovery Channel also used the technique to promote its hit TV mini series, “Life.”  Such tactics are used because they reduce the friction between the recipient and the video view while generating the same sense of excitement as a video would generate on a landing page.

Animated .GIFs and .PNG Videos Also Extend the Reach of Video 

While I’ve pointed out that it’s no longer unusual for close to fifty percent of email recipients to have the ability to play video in email, that’s only looking at those recipients capable of playing the full video in the mail client (at full framerate, with player controls and audio playback), using the HTML5 format.  In fact, the reach of video in email is much greater, in some cases in excess of 90% of a sender’s list, when also taking into account the animated .GIF and animated .PNG formats.

Like HTML5, these formats are open standards and therefore not subject to filtering by mail clients or Internet Service Providers. While many in the email community scoff at the use of these formats due to perceived lack of quality and inability to support sound, the reality is that the quality can be surprisingly good as a backstop to full video.  Plus,animated video images can drive clicks higher when benchmarked against static images.

For example, HP used some best practices with this animated .GIF video (watch the video below @~1:03) to ensure it was able to communicate its message about a new laptop for sale.  In the example, HP used text in the animated .GIF and included a call-to-action on the animated .GIF to drive clickthrough.

Other senders, such as Holland America, decided to A/B test an animated .GIF video in email versus a static image and observed a 100% higher clickthrough rate on the video segment.

In my experience, such increases in CTR using animated .GIFs vs. static images are uncommon, but increases of 5% to 15% are not unusual.  Unfortunately, those senders that are using CTR as a proxy to measure A/B splits for video in email should think twice: that’s because while it’s possible to measure the clicks on an animated .GIF video, it’s not currently possible to do this on the full HTML5 video.  Therefore, if you’re trying to drive an online action, it is a better idea to use post-click metrics to measure success.

Adding Video To Email Is Easier Than It’s Ever Been

Today, it’s possible to use coding techniques such as the one shown in the HP example video to enable video in email.  Such solutions can ensure that even if video is not supported by the mail client, that an acceptable failover is possible to implement in most cases.  I’ll dive more into the tactics of how to implement video in email in the third post in this series. For now, I’ll leave you with my closing thoughts:

Video Email Has Arrived & It’s Time To Leverage The Benefits

  • HTML5 has fundamentally altered the landscape of video in email
  • Close to 50% of your mail recipients should be able to see full video in email
  • Close to 90% of your mail recipients should be able to see full video or animated .GIF/.PNG video in email
  • Video in email reduces viewing friction on common mobile devices like the iPhone
  • Video in email can extend video reach for brand marketers and senders trying to drive offline action
  • Including video in email is easier than it’s ever been before.

Source: Video Email Marketing Has Finally Arrived – The Case for Video in Email: Part 1 http://www.reelseo.com/case-video-email-marketing/#ixzz1qNW9xJnD
©2008-2011 ReelSEO.com Online Video Guide

Online Video, Digital Advertising, & Storytelling For A New Generation

  • Posted On March 1, 2012
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

Storytelling Key To Online Video & Digital Media Success?

Some of the most memorable (and successful) ad campaigns of all time have this in spades. Take the Gold Blend couple for instance. Over the course of 10 years, the nation was gripped as the pair progressed from instant attraction, to a final declaration of love. By the time the campaign came to an end, sales of Gold Blend had risen 70 per cent.

So how can digital fulfill a similar storytelling role? Is this even possible? Perhaps it is through social networks such as Facebook. ‘Social Media’ spend was up 60% year on year according to the IAB but I’m not convinced. Invading social media channels and bombarding consumers with commercial messages is almost as bad as bringing your Dad to the disco – it just isn’t appropriate.

And there isn’t the big brand spending required. Take Ford for example, whose centrepiece of their 2012 Focus launch was a Facebook page. While Ford shelled out an estimated $95 million to advertise the new Focus across a broad range of media, it spent just pennies on the dollar for Facebook ads according to the WSJ.

As for results, the Pepsi vs Coca Cola battle and how it ended (Diet Coke edged ahead of Pepsi to claim the number two sales slot in the US, behind Coca Cola) are well documented. In my experience, Facebook largely consists of small business ads – in my case cycling charities, easy credit solutions, greying hair cures and angry birds updates (so at least it is well targeted!).

Is digital display, therefore, resigned to the role of “click now” or can it really be a storytelling medium? Due to a number of developments, I feel it definitely can be:

  • Brands have lots of content, often expensively produced, often under used or under viewed
  • TV is an expensive place to show this content
  • TV by and large restricts a brand’s content to thirty seconds in length
  • More and more consumers are watching more and more content online
  • Online is the most efficient, targeted content distribution network that exists
  • Storytelling can be measured, using relevant and actionable performance indicators
  • Brands can engage consumers using bespoke, synergised content – square peg into square holes
  • This amplifies existing TV and digital budgets cost effectively

Underpinning all this is the need for a less binary thought process and a more collaborative approach across all media as well as within the digital discipline. Joining individual elements such as display advertising, video and bespoke content for example will enable brands to use digital to tell stories with an outcome greater than the sum of the parts. This is critical, harnessing the various ‘non matching luggage’ touch points of digital advertising that the consumer encounters to deliver compelling stories – across screens, across devices, across formats.

Insight underpins this approach to storytelling too. The insight derived from hundreds of campaigns and millions of users’ online behaviour shapes and informs creative ideas, audience interests and content distribution. Being digital also allows campaign effectiveness to be quickly and easily measured, or indeed pre-tested.

As part of our Specific Media VITAMIN project we tested a number of original programme concepts – with and without pre roll advertising – among a range of content types and audiences. Consistently it was the strongest performing advertising format from a brand metrics perspective (recall et al) but also the most welcomed from a format evaluation point of view.

In a recent look ahead to 2012, Jane Ratcliffe, chairman of MediaCom said: “There may also be exciting times ahead in the content arena, both in terms of production companies and content rights, which will open up huge opportunities for the brave.” With the case for branded content so compelling I feel it also offers huge opportunities for the logical and rational as well.

Source: Online Video, Digital Advertising, & Storytelling For A New Generation http://www.reelseo.com/online-video-storytelling/#ixzz1npM4rv30
©2008-2011 ReelSEO.com Online Video Guide

Social web video works

  • Posted On February 15, 2012
  • Categorized In News
  • Written By

Social Video Is Up

Everything about this report is pretty positive on the future of social video. Total campaigns are up, companies participating are up, viewcounts are up, spending is up. And that should be no surprise. Brands are evolving beyond simple video advertising, turning increasingly toward content-as-advertising. By creating engaging and entertaining ad content, they’re able to increase it’s sharability, and therefore it’s view count.

To date, for as long as there has been data until now, there have been 56 billion video views. That’s a lot, but it’s a mostly-fluffy number for me. Surely there were social video campaigns before we started measuring them… we just didn’t know enough to call them social video campaigns. But nevertheless, it’s still a huge number, and only covers a few years.

Over 500 campaigns earned a million views or more, and another 1,800 hit 100,000 or more. One in every twelve campaigns hit a million or more views, which leads me to my next point…

Get In While The Getting Is Good

The average branded social video campaign garnered 765,000 views in 2011. All but the most ambitious of brands would call that number a success. Two years ago, the average social video campaign grabbed only 460,000 views. The average number of views is going up… for now.

As more and more brands race to get in on the action, the odds of success are going to go down. There will be much more competition in two years than there is right now.

Make ‘Em Laugh

Humor is the most popular choice for style of social video campaign, with over 860 brands going that route. It was also the most-liked by audiences, grabbing 770 million views (Celebs & Icons were in second with 609 million views, and musical ads were next at 544 million).

The report says humor wasn’t the most effective creative approach, though, with other categories like Spoofs, Celebs & Icons, and Contests actually more consistently successful. Of course, you have to play semantics a little bit here, since I’m reasonably sure that spoofs are also humor-based. And a great number of the other categories surely had campaigns that, while “musical” or “animated,” were also focused on humor.

But that’s not the point. In fact, there’s a really great argument to be made for splitting out spoofs–it’s like  its own little sub-category of Humor anyway, and data like this can be an extremely helpful guide when brands are choosing what creative approach to use for their own campaign.

The Auto Industry Is Winning The Social Video Race

Automotive brands are running away with all the ribbons and trophies in the social video Olympics. They grabbed a stunning 265 million views–averaging 910,000 per campaign. Apparel and Accessories was the second most active type of brand in social video in 2011, with 213 million views and an average of 1 million per campaign.

The most effective industry? The cell phone industry, which averaged over 2 million views per campaign. People really love smart phones, apparently.

Thursdays Rule

According to the report, an age old question may have been answered. What is the best day for launching a video campaign? Most brands chose Monday or Tuesday, with Wednesday coming in third. The top performing campaigns, however, were released on Thursday:

Unsurprisingly, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday proved to be the worst days to launch, as judged by performance.

Reason for the Season?

The data even suggests that certain months, or certain seasons of the year may have greater social video potential than others. Many of the top campaigns were released in January, February, and March:

Conclusions

Social video may still mean slightly different things to different people, but the general idea is the same: video intended to grow and engage its audience through social media and social behavior. It’s beyond obvious that this kind of campaign works, and that’s why brands are rushing to it in droves. I wouldn’t be surprised to see next year’s report show that all these impressive 2011 numbers have doubled in 2012.

The brands that will succeed in the near future of online video are the brands that focus on giving the viewer a reason to watch, which usually boils down to this: don’t sell them, entertain them.

Source: Social Video Works – The 2011 Social Video Advertising Report From Visible Measures http://www.reelseo.com/social-video-report-visible-measures/#ixzz1mPXNb300
©2008-2011 ReelSEO.com Online Video Guide