This article happens to be the most popular article in Web Designer / Web Developer Magazine, even if it’s aged a bit now! Keep in mind that the stats offered here are from 2011/2012 and have only increased since! The Google screenshots are also now changed somewhat from back then. But, the info is still as relevant today as ever. Amazing stuff!! :-) Thanks for the many thousands of hits on this, everyone.
For years now, video has exploded in popularity, and it’s only going to continue. In this article, I’m going to offer a study of this phenomenon, and how it could positively affect your business.
Routinely, when I meet with clients, I ask them: “What’s the number one search engine in the world?”
Usually, they reply, “Google.”
“Right,” I say. “Now, what’s the number TWO search engine?”
This question usually throws them. Some say Yahoo, naturally. But, they’re wrong; it’s Youtube!
Oh, and, guess who owns Youtube? Why yes … it’s Google! Stick around and I’ll expand on why that’s an enormously important fact. Youtube’s stats speak for themselves: [Stats below are from 2011!]
- More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the 3 major US networks created in 60 years
- 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute, or one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second.
- Over 4 billion videos are viewed a day
- Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month
- Over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube
- Source: Youtube’s stats page (here)
Let’s Back Up a Bit
To begin our study of the importance of video marketing, I’d like to show you a typical results screen from a Google search. In this screen, I simply searched for “construction contractors.” Here’s what came up:
It’s not important for you to be able to read the text on that screenshot. Simply notice the screen: At the top, there are the paid advertisements in yellow. Off to the right, there is a map with some dots (representing contractors). Below that on the right are more advertisements. And, the main results listing for this search appear in the center of the page. For this search, the top results are the typical listing of seven companies appearing on the map. You’ll see this listing of seven highlighted companies on many searches.
But, how do they get there? Are those seven listings “organic results,” or have those companies paid for that visibility?
This is where it gets a little confusing for some. You see, those seven companies do represent “organic” results allright, but only insofar as they haven’t paid Google to be there. They’re there because they (or their marketers) have done a number of things better than their hundreds of competitors.
Like all search results, this represents a dynamic equation, to be sure. But, a few contributing factors include:
- good SEO practices
- appearance on other search engines that Google finds influential
- synergistic factors involving other web sites
- positive reviews on various review sites (e.g., Yelp)
- thorough information appearing on critical sites (e.g., Google Places)
- keywords often appearing in the domain, business name, or link titles
- and, likely, a number of other issues.
Sure, But Where Does Video Fit Into That?
Video is a vital part of the above mix. It fits square into (1) good SEO practices (provided it’s done right), (2) appearance on other search engines, (3) synergy with other sites, (4) the thoroughness with which a site’s non-Google profiles have been populated (more about this in a moment), (5) keyword strength (potentially), etc. So, basically, it’s a strong background factor to all of these. It’s a piece of the formula, in other words.
For example, I want to focus in on that concept of thoroughness for a moment. Take Google Places, for example. This is Google’s basic registry for all businesses in the world. Knowing that Google owns Google Places, isn’t it logical that Google pays special attention to this listing listing? I think it is, and I’ve seen the differences between those who have paid special attention to it and those who have ignored it. It seems to be the case that businesses get a little extra “Google juice” for going the extra mile in terms of their listings on sites like Google Places. By “going the extra mile,” I’m talking about being as thorough as possible. And, in the case of Google Places and a number of other directory sites, that means including some of your own video marketing in those profiles.
Clients routinely come to me because they’re stuck concerning SEO. And, yes, we can and often do run through their sites and update the on-site things over which we do have control (meta-tagging, schema markup, title-tagging, proper ratios of text to HTML, keyword use, etc.). But, while those things certainly help, quite often I feel that many businesses nevertheless eventually hit what I call an “SEO plateau.” To me, this means that you’re doing about as good as you’re going to, unless something changes. And, that something could be quite a range of things. But, the one thing that you really do have some control over is expanding into video marketing.
I talk a lot about synergy with clients and, while that’s a tough subject to define precisely, consider the following scenario:
For the sake of this example, let’s assume you can get a great domain name, loaded with keywords reflecting your city and your business type. For example, “PortlandPizza.com” (which happens to be the domain name of an actual pizza restaurant here in PDX). That much of this example is, coincidentally, a true thing. But, the rest I’m going to make up as part of a way to illustrate a point:
- Okay, you’re now PortlandPizza.com, which is your primary site
- Let’s say you also grab “PortlandPizza” as your Youtube channel name (and upload numerous vids)
- Let’s say you also grab it as your Facebook business “page” name, and then embed those Youtube vids there, as well as on other assets such as a blog
- Lets say you take pains to grab this account name all over the web, in numerous places (e.g., Gmail handle, Youtube/Flickr account name, etc.)
- Now consider that all of these accounts will have profiles, mostly pointing back to your domain with live links. Additionally, the your site points out to them all and/or embeds things from them (e.g., maybe you use a Flickr set for photos, etc.)
- Consider that all of your profiles also contain your most important keywords (e.g., “pizza, portland pizza, pizza delivery” etc.)
Now you should begin to see what I’m talking about in terms of “synergy.” And video is probably the best way I know of to really kick-start and facilitate that synergy!
Add to this the power of having super anchor text in this example, which is like bonus points. In case you don’t know, anchor text is the text that’s used to make the link — that is, the text that’s actually underlined as the clickable link itself. For example, there are three basic kinds of links you might see to a standard web page:
- “To visit our pizza shop’s page, visit www.JoesPlaceOnHawthorne.com" (most common — just gives the link to the page)
- “To visit our pizza chop, click here”
- “To learn more about our delicious pizzas, visit our site.”
So, in the above example, the anchor text is:
- delicious pizzas
What that helps communicate to Google:
- The brand name “JoesPlaceOn Hawthorne” is associated with the URL “www.JoesPlaceOnHawthorne.com" (Google Juice? A little, in terms of branding, but nothing for pizza.)
- No extra information communicated to Google — just a normal link. (Google Juice? No. Doesn’t hurt or help.)
- JoesPlaceOnHawthorne probably sells pizza. (Google Juice? Yes, the best of the three offered here, but also the least common and toughest to get.)
Ergo… To get more mileage from the anchor text phenomenon: IF you’re building a new web site and/or getting account names on FB, Youtube, etc., think about this stuff first, before you buy any domain names and/or secure usernames on other sites. Here’s why:
- “To visit Array Web Development’s page, visit www.ArrayWebDevelopment.com" (Google Juice? Yes, it tells Google that we do web development, and we will pretty much always get this from others because simple listing our address gives us the desired anchor text by default.)
- “To visit our Array Web Development’s, click here” (Google Juice? No, but we haven’t lost anything, either.)
- “To learn more about our web development services, visit our site.” (Google Juice? Yes, although we didn’t need it because we almost always get it from scenario #1, above.)
I spent longer than I’d planned on anchor text, but I hope it illustrates why usernames and URLs are important. But, let’s take a look at another typical search result that shows why video is great marketing. This time, I’ll search for “how to make a salad”:
Ahh, interesting! This is actually exactly what I wanted to show, only with a twist. As you can see, the results lists actually include three video stills, with links to the vids. Each of those three videos includes most of the keywords from our “how to make a salad” query. This illustrates why it’s important to pay attention to how you title your videos, as you may well wind up directly on a Google search page instead of being found via a Youtube search.
I’m glad I went on a bit about anchor text, above, because I think it’s actually relevant here, as well. You might ask, for example, “How did Google come to select those three particular videos from the millions out there on salad making?” Well, that, too is a complicated thing. But, if I had to guess, I would certainly not downplay the importance of anchor text in that formula. I would bet that quite a number of links have the words “How to Make a Salad” as the anchor text that links to the URLs. So, you have to think about this in terms of your roll-out of your video strategy.
Another lesson here (this is the twist I mentioned) is that all three videos in this case are non-Youtube vids, which means that Google does in fact pay attention to a broad array of video sites. I’ve seen many, many Google results screens that link to Youtube, of course, but the best practice for video seems to be in uploading your vids to many places. (We used to use TubeMogul for this, but now the site is called Oneload, which is free for personal use, and $75+/month for commercial use. A few other sites do this, as well — major time-savers!)
When Your Competitor Gets National Attention
BTW, In that “PortlandPizza.com” example I gave, I was reminded of one other critical note. First, I want to point out that they are, in fact, the #1 organic search result on Google for the term “portland pizza.” However, it’s also true that the results page begins with Google’s signature seven-company listing of map links — and they’re definitely NOT among this seven. This begs the question: Why not?
Well, it’s surely a complicated matter, and may or may not be fixable for this company via a foray into video. But, it’s important to note that, no matter how hard you try to optimize for a given word or term, and no matter what means you may employ, success is never absolutely guaranteed. One phenomenon I’ve personally seen a few times happens when one of your competitors happens to pull in national attention for the same term you’re optimizing for. This might mean a front-page story on Yahoo, or a huge mention on a top-tier national web site. I mean, if you’re working to optimize for a term like “Portland Pizza” and your competitor (who does zero video) happens to be profiled in the New York Times as “Best Pizza in Portland”… well, let’s just say that you’ll have an uphill battle, to say the least, regarding besting those people in the organic listings (video or no video).
This scenario actually happened to one restaurant near my home. I recall seeing a front-page Yahoo link to “America’s Best Pizza,” and the story just happened to include a link to a restaurant just up the street from me. That restaurant IS in the seven-member Google map listing on page 1 of the results, and I expect they’ll stay there for quite some time, riding solely on the power of that high-profile coverage. Supposedly, it’s pretty darned good pizza, though. So, maybe they deserve it.