By Dan DelMain
Once you’ve poured time and money into making a marketing video, you want people to actually watch it. And not just people, but your target market. In this post, we’ll explain how to make sure they find your video – aka video SEO for small businesses.
Internet video marketing is a pretty broad term, so this post will primarily focus on how to optimize your video for YouTube. But in general, this information also applies to other video sites like Vimeo, Vevo, and Dailymotion. We’ll start at the point when you’ve made your video, but you haven’t put it online yet. Sound good? Let’s do this!
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SMB Video Marketing: Background
Americans watch more than 10 billion videos each month, up more than 40% in 2014. Will yours be one of them?
You can improve your chances by applying search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to your video, just like you would a webpage or blog post. That’s because videos are one of the types of content Google and other search engines pull up in their results. As you can see in this screenshot, searching for DelMain Analytics and Molly’s Fund (one of our clients) pulls up not just website pages, but also a video we made:
When following YouTube optimization best practices, your video will also show up higher in YouTube’s internal results:
Video SEO is important because it’s the long game. Initially, you might promote your video on your social media channels, in your e-newsletter, and on your site. But after your initial SMB video marketing push wears off, the main way people will find your video is by searching for related keywords. Video SEO is the gift that keeps on giving -- it’ll bring you more viewers month after month, with no extra effort on your part. Awesome, right?
So how do you improve your YouTube SEO?
Video SEO Ranking Factors
How high your video shows up in search results – and if it shows up at all – depends on 5 main factors:
How many views does your video have? (Obviously, more is better)
What percent of the video do viewers watch? (Ideally, at least 75%)
How many likes does your video have on YouTube?
How many comments does your video have?
How many people added it to their favorites?
Online video marketing is all about increasing those numbers...all of them. YouTube and Google don’t just care about views. That doesn’t tell them how engaged people are. You could trick people by naming your video “Game of Thrones - Season 4 Complete,” but if your video is just 3 minutes of a picture of a dragon, people are gonna hit the Back button faster than you can say “Winter is coming.” If viewers watch your video all the way to the end – which is pretty – that’s a very good sign in Google’s eyes.
Other YouTube optimization factors: Google and YouTube want to see comments, which show that people are actually engaged and interested in your video. The same goes for favorites; they indicate someone wants to watch it again or share it. In short, ask yourself, “Did I create a concise, compelling video that engages people and that is interesting enough to share?” If you can honestly answer yes, your SMB video marketing is off to a great start!
Video SEO: Should You Use YouTube or Vimeo?
So once you’ve created that fascinating video, where should you upload it? YouTube. It’s free, and it boasts the biggest audience, with 1 billion monthly users. It’s also the best from an SEO standpoint. You can put your keywords in your video title and description, so it’s easy to find. Finally, Google owns it, and it rewards YouTube videos with preferential treatment.
Fans of Vimeo say that it’s higher-quality than YouTube, with less fluff and a more niche community. However, it’s mostly used by film professionals. And it only has a small percent of YouTube’s audience, with about 70 million users. As Forbes wrote about Vimeo last year, “It is not a perfect tool for SEO, since it features a smaller community.” So we suggest YouTube for online video marketing.
Before you can upload your video to YouTube, you’ll need to create a YouTube profile, or “channel.” Here’s how to do it. Make sure you’re signed into Gmail or Google, then view your channels and either create a new one or make one for a Google+ account you already have. Then you’ll need to fill out some details:
Name of business: Make sure your business name is 100% accurate. Don’t abbreviate it or leave off something like “Inc.”
Thumbnail avatar: This is the avatar that will represent your YouTube channel. We recommend using the same one that you use on other social media platforms (like Facebook) for consistency. It can be your face, your logo, etc.
Thumbnail background: Here’s where you can promote your products and services in an aesthetically pleasing way. Or include your phone number. Just make sure your background image is sharp and consistent with your brand. Here are a few good examples that include relevant info without getting too cluttered:
Add channels: Now it’s time to link to your various social media profiles. Definitely add your homepage, and consider adding your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and/or Google+. Keep in mind that only four social media profiles will get embedded; the rest get added to your “About” tab.
About: Add background info about your business here. (Include some of your target keywords – that’s key for internet video marketing.) Make sure to include your company’s address, phone number, and contact email address.
Playlists: Expect to upload a lot of videos with different themes? You can organize videos into playlists and show them off on your YouTube channel.
Notifications: Get an email whenever someone comments on your video, so you can reply if necessary. Here’s how.
Step 2 of YouTube SEO: Optimizing Videos
OK, now your YouTube channel is customized for your business. You’re ready to upload your first video!
When you’re getting ready to optimize your video, try to get into the mind of your target customer. What search terms are they likely to use? For example, if you go to YouTube and type in “wedding venues in ma,” as a bride-to-be might, you’ll see this video among the top results. We’ll use that as an example below...
File name: Before you upload your video, change the filename to something that includes your target keyword phrase(s). For the example wedding video, that might be “boston-wedding-venues.mov.” (Separate keywords with hyphens.)
Title: Now upload your video and give it a title that also includes that target keyword phrase(s). Your limit is 55 characters. The wedding video has a highly optimized title of “Boston Wedding Venues - Best Wedding Venues In Boston Massachusetts.”
Description: This is the most important part of uploading your video, crucial for internet video marketing. You want to write at least 1,000 characters, because search engines crawl this part, and you want them to have plenty to index (including those ever-important target keywords). Neglect the description at your peril.
So what’re you supposed to say for 1,000 characters? Describe what happens in the video. Talk about where it was shot and how long it took. Explain why you made it. If it’s a video for your business, talk about your business. And definitely link to your website! You can even add things like your address, phone number, and links to social media profiles. Take a look at the description for the wedding video – it is long. That’s the goal. This is not the time to be succinct or worry about boring the reader.
And make sure to include some long-tail keywords in the description to keep attracting people for the long haul. Some videos take a while to get a lot of views. Your video’s view count might be more like a slow burn than a Michael Bay explosion.
Category and Tags: Now that you’re done with the description, the rest is smooth sailing. Pick a category so YouTube knows how to categorize your video (and when to suggest it to people as related viewing). The same goes for tags. Try to add 10 or more.
Advanced Video Optimization Strategies
If all that was a snap, here are some advanced techniques for optimizing your YouTube video.
Put your main keyword first
...in the video’s title, description, and tags. Your brand name or website name can be included at the end of the title, but put your topic keywords up front.
Write a tempting title
Your title should be compelling and entice users to click. The rules of copywriting for blog titles and sales pages also apply to YouTube video titles. If you have an effective title, you will have a better clickthrough rate, and the YouTube search algorithm will take that into account in ranking your video.
Upload a transcript
Uploading a transcript gives Google additional information to crawl, so it’s great for SEO (especially if you have your target keywords in there). Plus, it improves accessibility. If you don’t have time to transcribe your video, Speechpad is a service that will do it for you, for only about $5.
To upload a transcript file, click on Edit for the video in your YouTube video manager.
Click on the Captions tab.
Under the Add New Captions or Transcript header, select Transcript File as the type, and upload your script for the video.
Within a minute, YouTube will do its magic. You can see it work by watching your video. Click the CC button on the video and YouTube will display the words in exact sync with the audio. (Here’s an example.)
Space your videos out over time
If you have multiple videos, you may be tempted to just dump them all into YouTube at once and get it over with. But just like with blog posts, it’s best to space them out over time. This shows Google you’re active and haven’t just disappeared.
Step 3 of YouTube SEO: After You Post It
Congrats! You posted an optimized video to your optimized YouTube channel. But you aren’t done yet.
Remember earlier when I talked about signing up for email notifications when someone comments on your YouTube video? That’s because YouTube tells us, “Respond to comments in the first few hours after you publish a video. These first viewers are your core audience and building comments early helps increase the video’s ranking in search.” Best practice for small business video marketing: Don’t ignore your commenters.
You also want to encourage other sites to link to your video. Just like with any web page, backlinks to your video from other sites will help your videos to rank better in YouTube search. So here’s what you do:
Embed your video on your site
Post it to Facebook -- and consider putting some ad dollars behind it for extra visibility
Pin it to one of your Pinterest boards (bonus points if it’s a group board!)
Tweet the link to your video on Twitter
Post it to Google+ under your company’s profile, and +1 it with your personal profile
If your Google+ and YouTube accounts are synced, the video will automatically appear under the Videos tab in your Google+ profile
Add it to your e-newsletter -- it’s been proven to boost clickthrough rates and lower opt-outs
Those are the ins and outs of online video marketing! Any questions? Get in touch or leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to answer you.
Dan DelMain has a history of helping businesses realize their potential through online marketing. Before developing DelMain Analytics, Dan DelMain managed the marketing department for an e-commerce company. He left that company to form DelMain Analytics in 2009, where he could share his digital marketing talents with multiple businesses. A graduate of University of San Francisco with a degree in International Business, Dan enjoys being active indoors and outdoors, traveling abroad and playing bagpipes.