In my past columns, I’ve written a lot about strategies to get search engine spiders to index and rank video in the natural results. Often, this takes some work and some waiting for the crawlers to get around to your site. But what if you have a video that’s in high demand that needs to get in front of searchers as quickly as possible?
You may have noticed the McCain campaign bidding on the term “Joe Biden” in Google paid search. They have been doing this since Obama announced Biden as his running mate. McCain is using the spike in searches for “Joe Biden” as an opportunity to distribute a video of Biden criticizing Obama in the Democratic primaries:
This is a very effective way to take advantage of a sudden spike in search. The McCain campaign is bidding higher than Obama for the “Joe Biden” keyword and is linking the paid search ad directly to the video. This video is unlikely to rank well in natural search for “Joe Biden” unless the McCain campaign builds high-quality links to the video or it becomes very popular on YouTube. The McCain campaign doesn’t have time for that as they need to capitalize on the short window of opportunity surrounding the announcement Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate. The video is also a very effective way for McCain to get his point across by literally showing searchers what Joe Biden has said about Obama in the recent past.
In this case, it’s obvious to the McCain campaign that terms like “Joe Biden” will experience a large increase in traffic, thereby giving McCain the opportunity to get the exact video he wants on the top of the SERP through paid search. A quick look at Google Trends proves the spike in popularity for the “Joe Biden” keyword and even shows that “Joe Biden” is currently getting more search than “John McCain” himself:
So how can the average marketer identify and take advantage of time-sensitive opportunities and promote video via paid search?
The first step is accurately gauging demand for the term that you’re planning to target. This can be done with Google Trends, as we witnessed with the “Joe Biden” example. The new Google Insights for Search can also be an extremely effective tool for paid search marketers. Insights helps marketers determine search trends by geography (country, state, and city), so that marketers can better target ads, focus budget, and set bid strategies. Insights also shows seasonal trends within a certain week or month for different categories (such as automotive or computers and electronics) which helps marketers to forecast search volume. Let’s take a look at Google Insights for the search term “fuel economy car”:
In this example, I wanted to see the search volume for “fuel economy car” within the last 12 months broken out by each US state. As expected, the search volume for the keyword rises and falls pretty much proportionately to the price of gas. However, interest in the “fuel economy car” keyword does start to fall in July, when gas prices were still at peak levels. Insights also tells us that searchers in states like Michigan, Oregon, and Minnesota perform more searches for “fuel economy car” than searchers in states like Illinois. Overall, Insights provides actionable data to help optimize the “fuel economy car” paid search listing. As demand spikes into September, now is a great time to gain visibility in “fuel economy car” searches, especially within geographies like Michigan and Oregon.
Video as a marketing message
What factors contribute to the decision of whether to link a paid search listing to a regular landing page or directly to a video? In the case of the McCain campaign, sending searchers directly to the Biden video is a more effective strategy then sending them to a landing page where there’s some text about how Biden has criticized Obama in the past. In our “fuel economy car” example, video could help a marketer like Toyota illustrate the technology, ease of use, and roominess of the Prius to searchers in Michigan when “fuel economy car” searches are rising. That’s just one example. What if Speedo used video to show how their suit helped Michael Phelps glide through the water? Speedo will probably not rank organically for the term “Michael Phelps,” but they can distribute their video through paid search at a time when Google Trends shows search volume for “Michael Phelps” as volcanic. Distributors of the new iPhone could use a sudden spike in search volume, coupled with a paid search ad, to showcase a video about the features and benefits of the phone. Promoting video via paid search can also be an effective strategy for TV shows, movie trailers and news/sports publishers.
The point is that sometimes optimizing video for natural search is too slow to take advantage of sudden spikes in search volume. In some cases, video is the best way for a marketer to get a message across. When sudden searcher demand intersects with online video as a marketing vehicle, gaining visibility through paid search can be an extremely effective distribution strategy.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.