Back to Basics: A Look at Video Search and SMBs
Like many of you, I’ve attended lots of industry shows and events during the past several months related to search and directional marketing. What is especially amazing to me is how frequently I am asked about the ‘secret sauce’ behind optimizing online videos for search success, especially with regard to organic search. Truth is, we’ve found no single element or silver bullet that can catapult a business to the top of SERP. In fact, a big part of the trick is to stick with the basics, adjust a bit and apply them to video.
While online video advertising platforms provide the capabilities for SMBs to automatically syndicate video ads to the major video search engines, and automatically submit them to some of the major video sharing sites like YouTube, it is ultimately up to the SMB to define who they are, how they are different, and to think through the words and phrases they think prospective customers would use to find them. Here are some of the considerations that I have seen SMBs use effectively:
Understand your customers. This means both demographically and geographically. A lot has been written and said about SMBs being primarily locally focused. And I agree. However, there are situations in which highly specialized SMBs are offering goods and services that can attract prospective customers from all over the US and beyond. For example, a local winery in Washington state we have worked with has found that their prospective customers have viewed their video ad from all over the country. However, they initially had been running a video ad with a locally focused free wine tasting offer. Understanding the up-front is vital, as it will steer how you tailor your message, promotions, and any keywords to reach your prospective customers in the ways they most commonly search. As in the case of the winery, it will enable your SMB to develop content and search keywords that are more relevant and effective as it relates to your potential customer base.
Really define yourself and how customers may find you. Seems obvious enough, but when I evaluate some of the keywords SMBs associate with their videos, it seems more like a random shopping list rather than a thoughtful assessment of words and phrases that define how customers may find you. Would people find you based on your business category? Geography? Is your business name “top of mind” enough that you should secure it, or probably not something anyone would search for? Video technology is great, but there’s no substitute for taking this step seriously and doing it right.
Understand your competitive set. How do you leverage knowledge of your competitors for search? Where do you feel you are losing prospective customers? For example, a local photographer felt he was losing business to a big franchise photography studio chain. Included in his SEM efforts was to bid (high) on keywords that included that competitor’s name. His rationale, and a good one, was that the big business was being used generically by consumers looking for a photographer. This SMB also illustrates another lesson from the front very effectively.
Garbage in; bounce rates up. Really tied to the earlier point about defining business, also think about what your business is not and weed out negative keywords. Looking again at the local photographer, his core business is as a local studio photographer. When he first applied keywords to his videos, he used a broad list of keywords that included photographer, photography, art photography, studio photographer. Seems like a cohesive group of keywords, but what he found was that photography and art photography caused high bounce rates because people were looking for art photography (finished photos) not someone to shoot for them.
Relevance, relevance, relevance Video search offers nuances from text based search, such as the fact that it is the metadata around the video (not the video) that is indexed, so it is critical to stay clean and not include keywords that may be popular but have no relevance to the contents of the video. As I’ve mentioned in this column before, the video search engines are unkind to businesses that try to game the system just as they are to businesses submitting the same video content in a scattershot approach – thinking it will drive higher rankings.
These basics are well known by many of you but, for some reason, seem to be ignored by a lot of SMBs when they start using online video. My meta-point: don’t get caught up in technology, thinking it is the silver bullet that takes care of the basic blocking and tackling many businesses already do — and remember the basics when optimizing video for your search marketing efforts.
Glenn Pingul is VP of marketing for Mixpo an online video advertising company dedicated to serving the small- and medium-sized businesses market. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.