According to Cisco's Visual Networking Index, video made up 64% of all consumer internet traffic in 2014. By 2019, they believe it will be as high as 80%.
Video (blue) as a percent of total Consumer Internet Traffic: 2014 v 2019 (projected)
With more and more people watching videos for both entertainment and education, marketers and business owners need to get on board and start taking advantage of this popular medium.
Step 1: Make Videos!
First things first, if you're not already creating videos for your business, do it! Seriously, you've got a great video camera in your pocket that you're wasting on texts, phone calls and that Game of War game you downloaded because Kate Upton rode a horse in a commercial.
Grab your phone, get over your "stage fright," and just make a damn video already. Once you're done, it will be your choice if you want to delete it forever. No pressure.
I'm not suggesting you should shoot a video and upload it straight to YouTube; some production will be needed. But lucky for you, we live in the 21st century and editing video has never been easier… You can do it right on your phone!
Two programs in particular, VidLab and Splice by GoPro, are free on the App Store, and make it easy to turn your raw clips into polished videos. You can splice together clips (so don't worry when you need multiple takes to get it right), add text overlays, transitions, music, and more.
What would have required some serious software and lengthy imports and exports to and from your computer now can happen in the palm of your hand. Isn't life incredible?
The level of production is up to you. I recently stumbled across what is now my favorite example for hesitant clients: PLANK. It's a simple floating shelf with a magnet on the underside so you can hang your keys. Straightforward, right? Probably doesn't need a video.
But the team at ILoveHandles knew better. They recruited a friend and let her go at it with the camera rolling. The result is a largely unpolished but ultimately informative and—more importantly—endearing explainer video for their product.
I now have a better understanding of what this product is and how it works (without having to read!), and dare I say?—I actually enjoyed myself on an ecommerce site that ultimately just wants my money.
Not selling products on your site? What about detailing your service, or giving a tour of your business? Are you posting on the blog? Repurpose that post into a video for added value and visibility!
Your videos don't need to have Hollywood-level production quality to benefit your users, but if you want them to benefit your site there are certain things you should invest the time in.
Step 2: Optimize Videos!
Write metadata for every video
Just like the pages of your website, each and every video you post online has certain pieces, known as metadata, that deserve your attention. These fields may seem basic and boring, but they're actually extremely important as they allow you to provide more contextual information about your video.
Sure, you don't have to do anything special, but doing so will hurt the chances of your video ever being found, and it will do you almost no good from an SEO perspective. If that's the case… why'd you waste the time making the video in the first place?
You have multiple choices when uploading your videos, and while the basics may differ slightly, every platform is going to give you the ability to add metadata. For this article, we used the Goliath, YouTube, as our example.
Like a meta title on your website or an email subject, keep your video title short and sweet. YouTube's limit is 100 characters, but anything over 70 (including spaces) will be truncated in search results.
Try to make it enticing, use relevant search terms, and don't stop after one! You're not going to find the best way to get your message across effectively and concisely if you do it only once.
The description field of your video is where you can throw brevity to the wind and really get in-depth. Stay on topic, but use this section to convey your company's tone and style.
You've got up to 5,000 characters to play with on YouTube, but give some real consideration to the first 100 or so. This portion will accompany your video as intro text and can work with the title to help grab attention.
Tags are another great way to target your video for relevant terms and phrases. Don't feel limited to single words (but do keep each tag under 500 character) or your video topic. While tags can and should relate to the topic of your video, you can also include tags related to your brand, the location (of your business and/or where the video was made), the date, etc.
While using keywords and terms in pieces like your title and description is important to getting your video found, don't stuff them in and think "it's optimized!" The same rules apply as when writing for your site so write naturally… your audience will appreciate it, and search engines are giving more weight to that!
Include a transcript
Adding a word-for-word transcript is another way to add indexable content to your videos. What does that mean? It means Google and Youtube read the files and use the contents to determine where and when your video should be returned in search results.
Transcripts are completely separate from your descriptions, so you don't need to worry about character count or word limits. Given that how we speak is often quite different than how we write, it's likely that a written transcript will include even more great terms and phrases related to the content.
YouTube allows you to type a transcript as your video plays (and it automatically pauses while you're typing), or gives you the option to upload a file.
If you're hoping to track the effectiveness of your videos beyond just views and likes, Annotations can be a great tool. You've probably seen them before—small text boxes that encourage you to "Click here to Subscribe!" or "Click to learn more!"
Rather than hoping a viewer takes the initiative to read your video's description and click your link—you did include a link, right?—you can serve it up to them while they're still engaged with your video content.
By default, you can link to a number of destinations:
- Google+ Profile/Page
- Subscribe (to your YouTube channel)
- Crowdfunding Project (like a Kickstarter)
In order to link to your website, your account needs to be verified and in good standing. You can find out more about this from YouTube Help. Using proper UTM tagging, you could see which videos, or which links in those videos are driving the most traffic to your site!
As I mentioned before, there are other options for where to upload and house your videos besides YouTube. Two great examples are Vimeo and Wistia.
Vimeo carved their niche as the high-def alternative to YouTube—they were the first video sharing site to offer it.
Wistia has positioned themselves in part as a video hosting platform for businesses, offering in-depth analytics and customization of the video player.
Depending on your needs, the right platform for you may vary, but if you go with one of the major players you'll never have to worry about performance. What's most important (to start) is having video in the first place.
Written content like blogs and site copy continue to be the main tool for many online marketing and optimization efforts, but video is growing and should not be ignored.
A simple scroll down your Facebook news feed should be indication enough of the love affair we all share for video. The best way to improve your site—from search rankings to conversions—is to give searchers and visitors what they're looking for. Right now, that's video.
Just don't forget to optimize them with good old-fashioned text!