Building Links with Video Content

Posted by Jacob Klein

You've finally done it. You are in possession of the hottest video the internet has ever seen.   It combines the incomprehensibly viral nature of  Rebecca Black's vocals with the undeniable epicness of the latest Game of Thrones trailer. Phone this one in, people– this video is going to sell itself. While it's true that some pieces of great content seem able to spread without much, if any marketing behind them, you're not the type of person who likes to take chances with your premium content. You've created some beautiful, HD-quality video content that's just begging to be shared and you want to give it the christening it deserves!

I recently found myself in a situation similar to the above description. I had a great piece of video but wasn't exactly sure how to make sure I was getting the ROI I knew it deserved. I wanted to make sure my ducks were in a row before I launched so I did what any responsible SEO does when he or she needs to develop a skill:  a crap-load of research. Here are some of the more actionable nuggets I've been able to glean from my foray into video marketing.
 
The SEO Benefits of Video Content - When Google crawls your site they are looking for several indicators including page quality, relevance and keyword instances. Multimedia objects add value to all three of these metrics. Videos also increase a user's Time On Page, an important indicator of page quality which seems to becoming more and more important every day. Not to mention people are more likely to link to your content if it contains multimedia content as demonstrated in Casey Henry's Moz piece on "What makes a link worthy post".  
 

Ecommerce sites should also seriously consider placing videos in other locations such as product pages. Aside from the added stickiness and quality added to your product pages, they also help you stand out on the SERP with the addition of a video thumbnail. Zappos churned out 50,000 product description videos in a single year and doubled their linking root domains because of it. Learn more about how to get your video results to show up in Google
 
Surround Awesome with Awesome - When Google crawls your page it's looking for signals to indicate that your content is related to a given query.  A page with an H1 title and an embed code isn't sending Google the message that this page is full of awesome, related content. In fact, Google isn't able to decipher your video at all so why not send better algorithmic signals to the Big G by surrounding your already awesome video with equally awesome images and text. This also gives you another opportunity to target the keywords you're after.
 
Give your visitors a resource to acquire more information on the headline they were just linked to– give them more reasons to link to your video. Tell a story about how the video was produced or simply summarize the contents of the video.  Consider linking to other, related videos to keep the user who wants more as engaged as possible. Make your page the authority on the topic at hand and a, rich, linkable resource that people will continually reference in the future.
 
Where to Stick it – Due to its absolute ubiquity, astonishing multiplier effects and Google's unabashed favorability towards their own video outlet, many choose to host their videos on YouTube. If you've gone this route I suggest you check out Paddy Moogan's guide for tips on how to make sure you still receive precious link juice from your YT videos. There are paid services that can host your video on their servers whilst to Google, it will seem as though the video were on your domain. Wistia offers such packages for as low as $24/month and they'll even generate and submit video sitemaps for you (more on that later). Vimeo Pro might be a more affordable video hosting option at $199/year if budget is a concern. 
 
Here are a few other hosting options to help you serve your video from your own domain:
 
For more technical and video production considerations be sure to check out Phill Nottingmam's presentation from a recent Distilled meetup in London:
 

 

Offer a Full Transcript - One way to get more content on your page with video is by providing a full text transcript. You can either use a program such as Wistia's transcript service ($5 per video) or have an actual human being watch the video and type it out by hand. CaptionTube can also transcribe your YouTube videos as well. This will also help users who might not be able to otherwise hear the video for whatever reason (at work, on a bus, deafness, surfing on an odd device type etc).

 
Title, Meta Description and File Name- You want to make sure your video has a strong, viral, catchy title that could include keywords but not at the expense of the quality of the title itself. Take all of the skills you've learned writing incredible blog post titles and apply them to your videos!  Be aware that people also tend to throw the word 'video' on the end of their searches. A bit of keyword research around some of your target keywords and the word "video" couldn't hurt when trying to form a proper title. YouTube has it's own keyword research tool that could be used even if you're hosting your own videos as this data is indicative of what videos folks are searching for in general. Doing this type of research beforehand will help you target high traffic keywords for both your title and meta description. If you've decided to host the video via YouTube or some other video hosting service be sure to include the proper 'tags' as well. 
 
Treat the description of your video (on YouTube or otherwise) the same way you would a meta description. Use keywords but don't over do it. Write a paragraph that will convince someone that this video is both relevant and something worth watching. Remember that these terms show up in bold on the SERP if the Googler uses the same terms found in your Meta Description.
 
As with images, the video file should have a keyword rich file name with hyphens in place of spaces. 
 
Implement Schema for Video - At the moment it is a bit unclear how Google will choose to use schema data for video. The protocol is in place but Google doesn't seem to take any of it into consideration as of yet. It couldn't hurt to future proof your site by deploying at least the very basics of schema.org's recommendations for video objects sooner rather than later.
 
Create a Video Sitemap - As your collection of videos continues to grow it is important that Google be able to crawl and index them all. This can be assured through the creation of a video sitemap. Much like a normal sitemap the video flavor mostly just points to the URL of each video with the addition of properties such as duration, family friendly (Yes/No) etc. Phil Nottingham has put together a couple of simple templates that can be used to get you started. Also be sure to check out Google's Video Sitemap Guide or grab a WordPress plugin if that would better suit your needs.

 
YouTube Video Sitemap Template
<urlsetxmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9”
xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1">
<url>
  <loc>http://www.yourdomain.com/page-containing-video</loc>
    <video:video>
     <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.yourdomain.com/thumbnail-image
     </video:thumbnail_loc>
     <video:title>Video Title</video:title>
     <video:description>Video Meta Description</video:description>
     <video:content_loc>http://www.youtube.com/v/VIDEOID</video:content_loc>               
     <video:duration>Length of Video in Seconds</video:duration>
     <video:publication_date>2012-02-29T18:30:15+00:00</video:publication_date>                                                                                 <video:family_friendly>yes</video:family_friendly>
<video:tag>Target Keyword 1</video:tag>
<video:uploaderinfo="https://plus.google.com/userid">Name</video:uploader>
<video:live>no</video:live>
</video:video>
</url>
</urlset>

 
Self-hosted Video Sitemap Template
<urlsetxmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9”
xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1">
<url>
  <loc>http://www.yourdomain.com/page-containing-video</loc>
    <video:video>
     <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.yourdomain.com/thumbnail-image
     </video:thumbnail_loc>
     <video:title>Video Title</video:title>
     <video:description>Video Meta Description</video:description>
     <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes" autoplay="ap=1">http://www.yourdomain.com/videoplayer.swf?video=url</video:player_loc>
     <video:content_loc>http://www.yourdomaincom/video-url.mp4</video:content_loc>
     <video:duration>Length of Video in Seconds</video:duration>
     <video:publication_date>2012-02-29T18:30:15+00:00</video:publication_date>                                                                                 <video:family_friendly>yes</video:family_friendly>
<video:tag>Target Keyword 1</video:tag>
<video:uploaderinfo="https://plus.google.com/userid">Name</video:uploader>
<video:live>no</video:live>
</video:video>
</url>
</urlset>

 
A video sitemap not only solidifies your inclusion in Google's index, they also help Google grab the video thumbnail to be utilized on the SERP page, which in turn should help boost click-through numbers.  It would also be prudent to include the following line in your robots.txt file pointing at your new video sitemap.
 
sitemap: http://yourdomaincom/video_sitemap.xml
 

Other Technical Considerations - However tempting it may be, avoid using iframes as Google likely won't crawl them. If possible, use an HTML5 video player with a flash video as a fallback. No one likes a video that starts blaring audio when they enter a site. Give users more control over their experience (and ear drums) by disabling autoplay. And finally if you've decided to give your users a choice between HD and standard video quality be sure to set the default play setting to HD. Users may not know they even have the option to upgrade so why not give them the best you've got up front?
 
Brainstorm to Understand Your Audience - A piece of marketing content is only as valuable as the amount of exposure, attention and hopefully links that it ultimately commands. Spend some time brainstorming a list of the people and publications who might be interested in your video so that all of your hard work isn't for naught!  Get a handful of the smartest people you can find (willing or unwilling) into a room and hammer out a list of potential targets. Understanding your audience and what might appeal to key influencers will benefit your entire outreach campaign. (image right)
 
Make it Sharable - Implementation of social media icons on the video page in question should go without saying but if you're using WordPress I'd recommend the plugins Digg Digg (which gives you a floating social bar similar to Mashable's) or Shareaholic (which gives you the 'Sharing is Sexy' banner you've probably seen before). If you're just looking for the basics I'd recommend just grabbing the appropriate code from TwitterFacebook and Google directly or throwing the AddThis widget on any page.
 
Make it Embeddable - If you're hosting your video on YouTube, check out Paddy Moogan's guide to assuring that you still get a few links from that proprietary embed code. If hosting video yourself ensure that the embed code is available to users and includes a link back to the original video page. This code should be placed into an iframe so that users can easily find and copy your embed code. Geoff over at Distilled recently posted some tips for manipulating the embed code.  
 
Double and triple check that these embed codes work on various platforms before launching. If you've ever had that sinking feeling a web marketer gets when he or she realizes that the embed code on an expensive infographic hasn't worked for three days you'll know what I'm talking about… not that it's ever happened to me, of course! Some webmasters and bloggers are more willing to embed a video than they are to directly link to your page so make sure you've got a link back to the source inside of that embed code!
 
Enable Comments - Comments are a great way to build up keyword rich, user-generated content on a page and nothing starts up a conversation like a good video! They also keep visitors returning to your domain if only to see if anyone has responded to their witty, hilarious, totally original comment. This is particularly effective if you set up a system whereby users receive an email when their comment has been replied to. Comment Reply Notification will do that for you're running a WordPress CMS. Even if a user doesn't participate in the conversation the presence of real user interaction on a page adds stickiness and authority to the page much the same way YouTube star ratings and comments help keep a video popular. Users often love when the video creators jump into the conversation themselves so don't be afraid to join in on the conversation. You may have a few reservations and I'm certainly an avid subscriber to the 'Internet Dickwad Theory', but I believe the content creation, user engagement and stickiness benefits outweigh the unpleasentries that come along with the responsibility of moderating an open forum.
 
If a video is controversial, generating unsavory responses or you simply don't want comments on your video for whatever reason this is always an option but I've often found comments to be a great way to keep people coming back for a second look.
 
Consider Releasing a Several Videos in a Series - If you've got a video that's been doing well and it allows for further development or spin-offs don't hesitate to make a similar video and/or start a series of videos in the same vein. The original Shit Girls Say video spawned an innumerable number of copycat videos with the same theme, some of the best coming from the same producers of the original. Other sites break their videos down into several 'chapters'. Video series' are a great way to encourage users to continue exploring your site for related video content.
 
Put Video Behind an Email or Social Wall - If you're just starting out with video marketing this may not be the best idea for building a loyal following. But if you're an established site with thousands of viewers who just can't wait for your next installment consider asking users for an email address before viewing your content. You could give the user Part 1 in a series and ask for an email address to view Part 2. You can choose to provide a "Skip This" button to avoid frustration. This well can be an effective way to build an email list for future marketing wins. You could also employ something similar where you'd instead ask for a Facebook Like or Twitter Follow before allowing the user to continue on.  Whether or not you make this optional will depend on the relationship you've built with your community.
 
Be sure that your marketing wall isn't interfering with Google's ability to index the page.  It should not be a URL redirect or anything of that nature. Take a look at Easy Video Player, a program that lets you embed buttons and links directly into your self hosted videos much like YouTube already allows. Overlay.tv also promises something similar without affecting a search engine's ability to crawl your video page.
 
Add Video to Old and New Content - Videos can and should be reused within other content on your domain. If you have an older post that might be supported by your new video, go back and enhance that content with a link to the new video. Likewise, in future posts you can always refer to your older videos as you would with any other piece of content. Try not to embed the video on more than one page as you want to make sure the original video page is seen by Google as canonical. As with duplicate images or text on multiple pages– it's best to avoid it at all costs.
 
Consider Submitting Video to Myriad Video Services - If you're going the YouTube route then there's no reason not to submit your video to the other video hosting sites that might get your creation some much needed exposure. After some time, if your self hosted video isn't gaining any traction you may want to consider submitting to YouTube as well as other outlets such as listed below. Distilled actually did a case study following the submission of a YouTube video over a period of time and came up with some great tips so be sure to give that a read.  
 
Check out OneLoad (formerly TubeMogul) as a simple way to hit all of the major outlets at once. Do what you can to assure that a link back to your domain is included within the video itself, the description and wherever else is possible as options vary from site to site.
 
Sites to Submit Video to:
Reach Out -  Think of video marketing the same way you would any other piece of original content. Many of the same strategies you've applied to your infographics and epic blog posts apply here. Grab your rolodex and do what it takes to get your content in front of as many web influencers as possible.  
 
Here are just some of the places you might consider pitching your video content:
  • Blogs whose audience might be interested in your video
  • Email Lists
  • Your own Social Media Accounts
  • Powerful, on-topic Twitter accounts found via services such as FollowerWonkKlout or MuckRack
  • Learn how to Market to Reddit and then post to http://Reddit.com/r/Videos
  • Thinking Local? Target local newspapers, radio stations and magazines
  • On-Topic Community Forums
  • Target blogs who often post video to their homepage
  • StumbleUpon
  • Got a funny video? Submit to 'bored' sites such as Bored At Work, At Work and Bored, or Bored.com
  • Leverage current relationships with bloggers, influencers, community leaders and other affiliates
  • If you've used YouTube and someone's linked to the YT version, contact them and ask for a link to your domain.
  • Depending on the nature of your video; consider utilizing paid video advertising on FacebookGoogle, etc.
  • Physically meet with contacts who might be willing to promote your content (do what it takes!)
  • Submit to a Video Directory (Blip.tvVideoJugWonderHowToIMBroadcastBizuns.com/videosDailyMotion etc)
  • Send personal, genuine emails to publications and influencers that might post your videos
In a recent expert video series on Grovo, VP at Distilled Tom Critchlow (one of the many speakers at LinkLove Boston) explains that businesses using video in 2012 may be considered slightly 'ahead of the curve' but if by the end of this year you're still resisting, you'll be behind. I hope you've found some of the above to helpful in your quest to build links, bolster social media metrics and future-proof your domain through the production and marketing of incredible video content.

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Why You May Need To Hide Your Google Places Address ASAP

Posted by polarweb

Last month, the inglorious septic system at my little old home in the country backed up and my washing machine erupted, drowning my laundry room and kitchen in two inches of water. I waded right into the flood at 9 o'clock at night with my arms full of grocery bags, shouted some colorful words and then went online. Nota Bene: do not operate a computer while standing ankle deep in water. Find a dry spot to crouch in first and then use Google Places to find a 24 hour plumber. This is what I did, and because I live in a rural area, Google showed me a set of plumbers within a radius of about 50 miles. Naturally, I looked for the closest one to home so that I might not be charged extra for the plumber having to take a long drive to get to me.

I was successful in finding someone to help me, but if my septic system goes wild in the future, I may not be able to select the business address closest to me because Google has just made a major policy change in their handling of go-to-client business models such as plumbers, maintenance men, carpet cleaners and the like. From now on, Google wants this type of business to use the 'Hide Address' function in Google Places. If you operate a business like these ones or are handling the Local SEO for clients who do, you need to know about this change because failure to get with the program on this could result in your listing dropping out of sight. Here's the story:

A Curious Little History

  • On February 24, 2012, Andrew Shotland of LocalSEOGuide.com received a phone call from a Google employee who asked him if served clients at his listed address. He answered that he had both local and national clientele. The call ended, and the next time Andrew Shotland looked, his A-listing had vanished from Google Maps.
  • Around this time, Google Places Help Forum Top Contributor, Linda Buquet, (Catalyst eMarketing) noticed that some posts were coming into the forum from business owners whose experience of a phone call followed by disappearance of their listing matched Andrew Shotland's, or who had simply had their listings disappear without any preceding phone call.
  • Andrew Shotland started pinging the Places Troubleshooter and received a prompt email from a Google employee quoting an extremely obscure passage in the Google Places Help Files:

What are my options when defining a service area?
Don’t receive customers at your location? Serve customers at their location? Select the “Do not show my business address on my Maps listing” option within your dashboard — if you don’t hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.

Not one Local SEO I know who has written about this incident had ever drilled down to a place in the files where this information lay buried. After receiving this email, Andrew set his address to hidden, and his listing popped right back.

  • Googler Vanessa Schneider began responding to Google Places Help Forum posts about some listing problems with the advice that certain business owners should hide their address.
  • On March 22nd the official Google Places Quality Guidelines were updated to include the following language:

If you don't receive customers at your location, you must select the "Do not show my business address on my Maps listing" option within your dashboard. If you don't hide your address, your listing may be removed from Google Maps.

Top Contributor Linda Buquet let me know that she was instrumental in requesting that this language be moved from the old help file out front to the actual guidelines.

The Upshot: If your business doesn't serve customers at your own location, you've got to edit your Google Place Page ASAP to hide the address.

Why People May Panic Over This Guideline Change

Back in early 2010, Mike Ramsey of NiftyMarketing.com published his results of an experiment with the then-new 'Hide Address' function in Places. He documented an immediate drop in rankings after choosing to hide his address. Others reported similar incidents, and it became standard knowledge in the Local SEO community that hiding your address was almost certain to result in invisibility. Business owners and SEOs who read about this at the time may now be concerned that Google's new policy will solicit the demise of their local rankings.

In November of that same year, Mike Blumenthal reported that the 'Hide Address' function no longer appeared to be negatively impacting the newer blended local/organic results, but that it still appeared to be affecting the 7-pack and Maps-based results.

Today, Mike Blumenthal left the following comment on my own company's blog:

"Before Venice, the hiding of your address punished your listing. Now that virtually all displays are blended and there is no longer a ranking disincentive, Google is attempting to clean up their approach to businesses based on whether a user should/could use Maps to find them."

The Upshot: It is now believed that choosing the Hide Address feature will not negatively impact any type of local-focused rankings. So don't panic!

Clarifying Your Business Model, According To Google

Thanks to Google Places Help Forum Top Contributor, Mike Blumenthal, I feel that I have arrived at a fairly clear understanding of how Google is now classifying different business models. I'd like to pass this information on in hopes that it will help you determine whether your business needs to hide its address on its Place Page.

Type A
Your business is brick-and-mortar and serves all customers at its location. Show your address.

Type B
Your business is home-based and serves some customers at your home and some on the road. Show your address and use the Service Radius tool.

Type C
Your business is home-based and does not serve any customers at your home. Hide your address.

I believe these are the parameters in a nutshell.

Why I'm Not Personally A Fan Of This Policy Change

There are two main reasons that I am not jumping out of my seat to applaud this policy change. The first hearkens back to my experience with needing to find a local 24 hour plumber. If the addresses were all hidden in the local results, I would have no way of knowing which of the plumbers was closest to me. I don't want to be charged extra for a service person having to drive for an hour to get to my house because I didn't know he was 40 miles away. Instead of being able to tell, at a glance, that Plumber A is downtown and Plumber B is two cities away, I'm actually going to have to click through to their website to find their addresses. Thus, Google's change of policy has just made their local results less useful.

My second objection runs deeper. I've been studying Local for about half a decade, now, and it's my considered opinion that Google just makes the whole thing too hard for busy local business owners. I've compared Google before to a circus ringmaster, requiring local business owners to jump through a series of flaming hoops if they want to participate – and, in fact, even if they don't want to participate. Remember that Google started their local business index by creating listings of businesses without any permission from the business owners, themselves. Suddenly, the average local business owner began to become aware that there was a giant, visible advertisement of his company on the web that he hadn't authorized and that was very likely to contain incorrect data about his business. The hoop jumping began.

Over the years, business owners have had to stretch and squish themselves into a variety of odd postures to adhere to Google's ever-changing guidelines, partly out of a wish to be visible, but also out of fear that if they don't get it right, their businesses will surely suffer. While the benefits of visibility in Google's local results are tremendous, you don't have to dig deep to encounter strong, negative sentiment about their manner of interacting with the local business community.

I find it unacceptable that business owners like Andrew Shotland and others apparently had their listings zapped over a policy that wasn't even listed in the official guidelines. Wouldn't it have been more helpful if the Google employees making the phone calls had been instructed to let the business owners know they needed to hide their addresses from now own? Why punish first and then make people scurry around trying to figure out how they had given offense? There are better ways to communicate, and I feel that Google still has a lot to learn about this if they ever hope to win participation in their products that stems from love rather than the disquietude of fear.

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