Is Video a useful SEO tool?
Nearly 4 years ago, Nate Elliot made the groundbreaking claim that properly and strategically indexed video pages are 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than their text-based cousins. Why? There were simply fewer videos than web pages. Brands and video-makers who took the time to index their videos were living the page rank dream.
But that was 4 years ago. Michael Jackson was still with us and some 113,529,600 hours of video had yet to be uploaded. So is video still the unsung secret hero of an SEO’s arsenal?
Honestly, there is no simple answer. Video can help you, but how you choose to use it depends on how it will help. Most of the time your video decisions will require you to choose between supporting your brand and increasing traffic to your site.
Treated with spruce and correct SEO techniques, there’s no reason a decent YouTube or Vimeo video can’t draw traffic. But the traffic won’t be going to your site, it will be going to the video hosting site. This can be an excellent way to increase awareness of your brand, but remember: Search Engines don’t watch videos! The written-side-of-things is your ally. Treat the text the same way you would treat any SEO post. Keep the title and description keyword-heavy and utilise tags for maximum keyword coverage.
Also, don’t neglect the power of transcriptions. There are plenty of transcription services on the web. There are automatic ones such as YouTube’s frankly awful Auto Caption service, but also high quality human versions. There are plenty of ways to get written versions of your video which can be placed in the video description and, if they’re keyword-heavy, you’ll see an improved search rank in no time.
Hosting or Embedding: The Big Debate
So should you host the videos on YouTube or your own server? As we’ve already established, and as with anything else in the big bad world of SEO, it’s a tug of war. YouTube is certainly more straightforward and more searchable, but even embedded on your site, the YouTube page will be raking in the traffic and any links to your video will be links to YouTube. Self-Hosting on your own servers or a cloud service like AmazonS3 can give you greater customisability and video protection, but perhaps less exposure to a passive audience. I would say if your site has better domain authority than YouTube (it doesn’t); or if you’re confident in your video’s ability to go viral, then by all means host on your site. If not, build your reputation first with your own YouTube channel.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you do decided to host your own video content and if you do expect it to go viral that you make sure that your hosting provider can handle the traffic and that you can handle any extra potential charges.
The notion that you’ll lose out on exposure by hosting on YouTube is a myth. Ultimately, as long as you provide Google with a well-made Video XML Sitemap, it shouldn’t matter too much. Google can spider the video and you won’t miss out on any due traffic. Not all video hosting sites provide this service (YouTube does), but take a look here for a fairly comprehensive guide on How-To. Also make sure you provide a link to your site in the YouTube description! It won’t count for much in terms of backlinking, but it will encourage viewers to visit your site.
How do I make my video popular?
Now all you have to do is make your video go viral. ‘What makes a video go viral?’ you ask? Other than promotion through your social media, I would say originality and unexpectedness are key. Whether it’s babies rollerskating to promote Evian, or pandas increasing their chance of extinction by scaring each other with sneezes; originality and cuteness reign supreme.
Heroes and Zeroes of Viral Campaigns
Everyone on earth, Mars and The Moon tuned in to the Kony 2012 video on its release. Its success was down to its emotive nature and high production values. Its failure was in its shady backing and a one-man nude march by its creator.
Reebok released a pair of videos to support their ‘I am what I am’ campaign featuring notorious rapper 50 cent. One was a 30 second montage of news stories discussing Fiddy being shot 9 times interspersed with the man himself sitting in a flooded warehouse, ominously counting to 9.
The video was pulled by Reebok amid concerns from anti-gun groups.
A sister video was released featuring the same man spending time with his son and discussing his emotional rags to riches story.
It’s a genuinely moving video, but compared to its violence-focussed equivalent has garnered little attention on YouTube. The moral of the story: Be Controversial. (But not so controversial you blow the whole multi-million dollar campaign).
So what do I do now?
You need to find a video that’s right for your business. Popular types include ‘How to…’ and ‘Tricks and Tips’ videos. What little-known industry facts can you share on the web to bring traffic to your site? Make a YouTube channel for your company and start sharing your passion with the world. But make sure you follow the tips above!
Alternatively, you could take the creative approach. Looking at viral hits such as Rebecca Black’s Friday, Psy’s Gangnam Style, Singing Cats, Talking Dogs and Children acting Childish; I would propose a video of a baby performing dressage on an Alsatian to a synth-pop accompaniment would be the perfect video to support any brand.
And don’t forget….
Time visitors spend watching the videos on your site is time spent with your brand, and it’s time spent on your site! That’s never a bad thing. Now go and make videos!
What is Movember?
- Movember (a combination of the terms Moustache and November), is an annual national incentive welcomed far and wide by mo bro‘s (Movember brothers, I think) who help to raise awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other male cancer initiatives, by the growing of their moustaches.
- The idea was launched circa 1999 by a group of 80 guys in a pub in Adelaide – and since then has gotten great publicity for it’s cause, with ambassadors including many well known celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and UFC Lightweight Champ Frankie Edgar.
- The campaign has even gone on to partner with Google Chrome to create a video:
Great! – What can businesses learn from Movember?
Aside from the success that comes with the genuine promotion of a charitable cause, there are many things all business owners and it’s employee’s can learn here, including:
1) Teamwork increases the odds of success!
It was a team of 80 guys that first started the initiative, not just one. Now, while it is entirely possible to begin something on your own and grow it from there, it is so much easier having people agree on the same thing from the start.
Aside from the team of people being on the same wavelength, being part of something gives it more power, which gets things going faster than if you have to wear all the hats yourself!
2) The best gains can be gotten through giving something away!
There’s a reason why on your lunch-break, if you’re lucky you’ll see a coca-cola van parked up, attached to a trolley full of free drinks it’s giving away – branding.
Being known to seduce potential customers with your product is an age-old tactic and is regularly used, use it!
The original mo bro’s gave away their freshly shaven upper lips and gained tonnes of cool-points in return.
Whatever your business niche, offer up some freebies! It might lose you money in the short run, but could very well gain you leads and will strengthen your brand awareness in the long run.
3) People outside of your niche, will help you – if what you are doing helps them!
With the recent banking scandals and shortfalls related to the Olympics, it might be hard to believe it, but people like to be nice! – Even more so when other people appreciate their niceness.
One example of this is Qantas – the flag carrier of Australia, who painted a moustache on one of its airplanes in aid of the charity in 2011.The famous ‘tache can also be spotted at the Qantas terminal where it is displayed proudly on the entrance building:
The business of aviation isn’t particularly well known for charity among the masses, however Qantas getting involved in this shows that it doesn’t matter what you do, it will be recognized if there is genuine goodwill behind it!
4) Forget paid promotion in hopes of going viral, if your idea/cause is a good one, that is PR enough!
It’s true you can buy your way to a million views on YouTube and etc. but I’m guessing the satisfaction isn’t nearly as close to when something genuinely takes off!
Of course working with internet giants Google can bring any cause to the attention of the masses, mostly because Google pretty much run the inter-web. However, it wasn’t Google that shed light on Movember alone.
The charity worked its own way to the forefront for many reasons the biggest being that it relates to men, who make up a huge scale of the population!
Allowing/encouraging others to get involved in your cause, means they’ll feel closely related to it, and if it appeals to them personally they’ll be even more likely to continue or at least acknowledge it among peers.
After that, going “viral” is almost the next step, simply because people will want to be a part of something so good!
Ask Men‘s Movember movie comedy short:
MovemberTV: Movember’s Impact on Awareness
If you are at all familiar with the concept of classical conditioning, then you should understand why roughly half the webmasters in the world wince every time Matt Cutts (Google’s head of search) mentioned a change to their algorithms. We’ve been burned too many times by the likes of Penguin, Panda and the fold algorithm and as such most of us treat his announcements a little bit like we treat a trip to the dentist – with a lot of trepidation.
Well if your website is called ‘www.oompadoo.com’ then you can breathe a sigh of relief – this time Cutts is overlooking you and giving you a bit more time to lick your wounds. This time Google is interested in targeting the owners of ‘www.buycheapfuronline.com’ and ‘www.bestbodybuildingarticles.com’. That’s right – ‘exact name domains’ or ‘exact match domains’ that have URLs designed to precisely mimic the phrases people are searching for. According to a tweet from Cutts this will only affect 0.6% of English queries – though sometimes as we know these low sounding statistics can leave fairly devastating shockwaves.
Why This Change?
Of course the reason for this change is that many sites that use ENDs do so in lieu of actual good content. This is an easy way for a site to get to the top of the SERPs and so in many cases the quality content simply isn’t there to back it up. At the same time this strategy lends itself to sites that don’t have very diverse content but rather simply focus on answering a single question in order to get AdSense revenue.
In fact this is something that has been on Google’s agenda for a while now, and not so long ago a foreboding announcement came that Google would be favouring websites that focussed on building a brand for themselves with a recognizable name and image rather than one-hit wonders. Of course this direction wouldn’t favour ENDs.
What Does This Mean?
It’s worth noting that Cutts’ tweet also stated that the change was targeting low quality exact match domains – but of course there is likely to be some collateral damage and some perfectly good sites are likely to see their rankings drop too. Some sites of course use ENDs simply because they were there, and some business names happen to be great keyphrases.
That said this will likely call a stop to people buying up keyword domains and selling them on and it might level the playing field for those sites do have more obscure and original URLs (that said ENDs will still have some value due to direct traffic which Google can’t control). For every person who will be angry at the changes there will be a new opportunity created for webmasters to jump in and fill a void at the top of the SERPs. Whatever else you say about Panda and Penguin they do seem to have reduced the amount of spam sites that come up and this does make for a better browsing experience…
So looks like this time ENDs haven’t made the most recent Cutts. But the real question still lingers… could bad puns be next? (Then I’m in trouble…)
The author of this article, Jeet is an avid blogger and expert SEO analyst. He is also a good writer and often writes guest post on SEO niche. He founded GetLinksPro, a link-building and SEO company. He also shares his knowledge and tips on SEO on twitter. You can also follow him on twitter @getlinkspro.
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Topic in question:
Google Adwords’ image search ads
Are these new?
Well yes and no. No technically, since they were originally launched at a Google Search event back in 2010, but to you – yes if you have never used them before, obviously.
What are they?
In short, they are ads that include images similar to the ones you see on the search network as part of a PPC campaign.
Where do you use them?
These can be used as part of your online advertising campaign in Google’s display network. Specifically, they will appear at the top of Google’s image search above the lines of images returned. Here is an example:
Why would you use them?
For many reasons. There is a huge untapped opportunity to be found via the images you have on your website than just through regular SEO. For instance, through the ALT-tags used in your images. These can lead people to the content on your website.
Also, often people are genuinely just looking for an image rather than actual text content – for instance when looking for new shoes, or any product they are interested in. This is a great chance to draw in prospective customers.
Hold on, don’t we already have image ads on the display network?
We sure do!
So, how are these different?
They’re completely different. Image ads are ads featured in Google’s display network. This network is different from Google’s search network. Instead, it is a large collection of websites that are in a partnership with Google that work to display graphical ads that have been built with the display ad builder.
Those ads look like this:
Will these cost me more than usual search ads?
No, you can bid on relevant keywords as you usually would. So this will only cost you as much as you choose to bid.
Any tips for effectiveness?
Google advises you create a separate campaign for these kinds of ads. This way you can gauge quality scores much more accurately and hone the campaign in a way that works best.
Things to keep in mind?
Although a useful way to advertise, it is worth noting that there are no guarantees this will be a huge success in terms of conversions, and as with text ads, it is a process of constant tweaking until you find what works.
Some users have suggested that this is something that best works with tangible products (on e-commerce sites) where someone will search to get an idea of a product they will eventually wear, use or feel (i.e furniture, clothing or decoration).
If your product doesn’t fall into this band, then the outlook for image ads search might be branding; a way to advertising the visual aspects of your services. Low Cost Holidays [link redacted] does a good job of this. Here, I searched the term winter holidays:
Okay where do I start?
You can explore this feature in Adwords by selecting a campaign on the left and then selecting ads from the top panel. From there, select new ad and then Specialised – Search from the drop down menu:
Follow the instructions from there. – Good luck!
July 10th, 2012.
I recently found this leaflet in the bottom of my draw. It shows how all the different search engines used to relate to one another and how they got their results.
It bought back memories of how it used to be in the search engine game. It also shows how long we’ve been in the SEO game compared with some of the other jonny come latelys!
May 22nd, 2012.
There has been a lot of discussion around the search marketing industry over the past few weeks thanks to what many consider to be a pretty major update released by Google. There has been a lot of speculation that has followed with some good and not-so-good advice as a result.
With all of this information floating about it’s difficult for anyone without their ‘ear to the ground’ to get a concrete understanding of exactly what ‘Penguin’ is, and what the effects have been. I’ll put the speculation to one side for the moment and start with the facts:
What is it?
Google’s latest update aimed at rewarding high-quality sites in search results by targeting and demoting sites appearing ‘overly optimised’. Some sites that have used or are continuing to use outdated tactics (specifically tactics to get other websites to link to theirs for the purposes of improving rankings in search results) have been affected by this, however there are reports of websites that have never engaged in such tactics being affected by the update as well.
When did this happen?
Google released a blog post stating that the update would roll out “in the next few days” back on 24th April- almost one month ago at time of writing. Most sites affected by this will have noticed changes around 24th onwards.
How to I tell if I was affected?
Sites affected by the update will probably notice a change in rankings and visits from organic search traffic (specifically visits from Google) around this time. If using Google Analytics you should be able to tell by navigating to ‘Traffic Sources’->’Sources’->’Search’->’Organic’, making sure you have a date range that spans a few weeks before and after this date. To be sure it’s best to limit the data you are viewing to Google only. Look for ‘Primary Dimenson’ and click ‘Source’ next to it to give you a list of organic search sources, and click on ‘google':
The example above shows a drop in visits from organic search (specifically from Google)- if you see a consistent increase in visits around this time it is likely that a competitor may have been affected and your site may have improved in rankings as a result.
OK it looks like my site has been affected- What else do I need to know?
1- You’re not alone-
thousands of sites have been affected by this update- some undeservingly so (to the point where Google has created a feedback form for sites that don’t believe should have been affected by the update)
2- Penguin is an algorithmic update- it isn’t personal.
Google has identified your site as being within this ‘category’ based on the data it has, not due to a human reviewing your site personally.
3- Reconsideration requests won’t help-
“Because this is an algorithmic change, Google has no plans to make manual exceptions. Webmasters cannot ask for reconsideration of their site, but we’re happy to hear feedback about the change on our webmaster forum.”
4- Noone that has been affected by Penguin has recovered… yet-
There is a wealth of speculation and tips for recovering from the penguin update online, however noone can confirm what the best solution to recovering from this update is. Currently there has been no ‘refresh’ or ‘reevaluation’- sites that were affected are still in the same boat.
5- Penguin isn’t ‘real-time’-
Like the ‘Panda’ updates before, the Penguin update isn’t continually reevaluated in real-time, meaning any changes that are made now won’t have any impact until Google reevaluates their data at a later date.
How can I get my traffic and rankings back?
The only certain answer at this stage is no-one can be 100% sure (as with pretty much anything within the SEO sphere), but the potential signs of redemption lie in evaluating the existing links to your website and the methods used to attract links from external websites.
Microsite Masters released some interesting findings of sites they analysed that had been affected by the Penguin update:
“every single site we looked at which got negatively hit by the Penguin Update had a “money keyword” as its anchor text for over 60% of its incoming links. On the other hand, the sites that were not hit by the update had much more random percentages.”
This suggests that sites with a higher percentage of links that use the keyword they are trying to rank for (‘money terms’) in the clickable part of the link to their website (‘anchor text’) are more likely to have been affected by this update. This isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ issue, and I’m certain that Google would have considered several other factors rather than the percentage of keyword-rich links a site has, but suggests that Google are looking for more evidence of brand promotion rather than search engine manipulation when assessing the links to your website.
As with other large updates introduced by Google in the past, this re-emphasises the importance of diversifying the sources of income your business as a whole has. Depending on one revenue channel alone can be risky- even when times are good, so it’s important to remember that channels such as paid search, email marketing, online PR, affiliate marketing and social can be profitable.
img credit: opencage.info
So, what’s the problem?
Nothing, if you haven’t been massively over-zealous about how well optimised your website is. Being vigilant and up to date isn’t a problem, the issue Google is trying to fix relates to those link-fiends who have over-used their ‘white hat’ so much so, that is has turned a miserable shade of grey (In case you’re confused, I refer to this post).
Okay, so what is ‘over-opimisation’?
In a nutshell, it’s the act of doing everything that is possible to optimise your website, in a non-human and bot-like way.
Sure, over optimisation can include (and will probably be identified by inclusion of ) any of the following:
- Scraped, copied web content
- Too many ads on the page & not enough original content and copy
- That fact that your website loads faster than the speed of light
- When all links that are inbound and have identical anchor text
- Infinite forum links
- Hidden text (in a colour that matches the background, so it can’t be seen)
- Sites linking to you that are dodgy or malicious in any way
This list is not exhaustive as there are many more examples of things Google might suspect & then penalize you for.
Below, I’ve included a helpful video from SEOMoz’s very own Rand Fishkin that does well to explain what changes should be made to save your site from dropping in the ranks and possibly fading into obscurity online after Google’s next update:
March 7th, 2012.
Barry from Search Engine Roundtable posted an interesting find from a Google Webmaster Central forums post. The OP pointed out that PC World (a leading electronics chain in the UK) is ranking with “Mothercare” (a leading baby/parenting chain in the UK) as it’s title in search results for the term ‘PC World teeside park':
I’m still very intrigued as to how this happened, but after some digging around I think I’ve found a reason why (which I posted on Barry’s post).
1- It’s showing up for ‘mothercare teeside park’ as well (suggesting it’s not ‘one way’). Both results show a Google Places result with the same address and a phone number: 01642 618325
2- A quick search for ‘01642 618325 pc world’ returns http://uk.wowcity.com/hartlepool/?what=digital+camera+consumer+products
3- On this page the first result for Mothercare links through to PC World’s homepage (although the details are correct for Mothercare). Note this passes through an internal tracking script and isn’t a direct link.
This looks to me like an error in Wowcity’s listing as the cause of the problem, and probably isn’t anything to do with the folks at PC World or Mothercare (or the agencies they may be working with), but is an interesting fine nonetheless.
If my theory is correct it begs the question- Does Google Places trust it’s citation sources too much? Would love to hear your comments (particularly if you work for PC World, Mothercare and Wowcity!) below.