In the fuzzy-wuzzy world of marketing ROI, SEO has long held a reputation as the most difficult, unpredictable, and potentially most lucrative areas of marketing spend.
Google’s search indexing algorithms are a closely-guarded secret, and their formulas for rewarding page content, meta-data, links, click-throughs and other cyber esoterica are complex and ever-changing, constantly reversing the fortunes of publishers competing for SEO supremacy.
SEO is a massive, multi-billion dollar industry with charlatans and snake oil salesmen aggressively peddling their services alongside more reputable professionals. While most publishers today feel that it is imperative that they have an SEO strategy, with a few relying completely on SEO for their traffic, very few are able to isolate the drivers of SEO success or to drive predictable and repeatable results, despite spending thousands, and sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars to optimise a single page or to target a single set of keywords.
When Forrester Research noted in January of last year that Video SEO was 53 times more likely to drive a first page search result than traditional SEO, both media and marketers briefly took notice, and then moved on. Few sites implemented a Video SEO strategy, and publishers quietly went along doing the same things they had been doing for years.
Video content was in short supply. The methods for submitting it were complicated and poorly-documented. It was too hard, too new, too poorly understood.
But for those who made the effort, the rewards were nothing short of astonishing. On a regular basis, 1 in 8 videos produced first-page Google result, and some publishers saw results of 2 in 5 or better.
At these levels of efficacy, it’s not an understatement to say that in 2010, if you’re not pursuing Video SEO, you don’t really have an SEO strategy.
Here’s how it works:
- Videos need to reside on your site, ideally on a unique page whose Title tag matches the video title. It’s worth submitting other meta-data, such as descriptions and keywords, but for the moment, Google gives inordinate weight to title, and appears to ignore most other meta-data. Make sure that titles are specific: “2009 BMW 3 Series” is much more likely to produce a #1 ranking than “BMW”.
- You then need to create an XML video site map. This is similar to, but separate from, a traditional XML site map. (Do the XML site map also, but it’s really the video site map that’s crucial). It contains the location of all videos on your domain, and includes the video itself, meta-data, thumbnails, and other pertinent information. This video site map must then be submitted to Google via the Webmaster Tools, and validated by Google. The page will also need to contain a robots.txt file to assist Google in verifying the site map.
- Results should begin to appear in two weeks or less, and once the initial submission is approved by Google, new results should show up in 24 hours or less.
- If this all sounds complicated, the right partner can assist you in doing much of the heavy lifting for encoding, hosting, search engine submission, and tracking. If you do use a third-party, make certain that all traffic will be directed to your domain, rather than linking to a page hosted by the vendor.
Video SEO provides a predictable, affordable, and incredibly effective manner of garnering first-page and often #1 Google rankings. Results appear quickly, success is predictable, and at least for the moment, competition is light.
For marketers vying for a first page or #1 ranking, Video SEO is their shortest and surest path to success.
In the future, Google may reprioritize video, and increased competition may drive down the efficacy of Video SEO. But for now, and for the foreseeable future, Video SEO is the Google Goldmine.
Benjamin Wayne is CEO of Web video company Fliqz.