Online shopping continues to nurture the increasingly symbiotic relationship with online video content. This relationship has been largely fueled by the proliferation of Internet-ready smartphones, tablets and laptops that hit the market in 2012. In the month of July alone, comScore reported that 85.5 percent of the U.S. Internet audience viewed almost 37 billion online videos and over 9 billion video ads.
Shoppers armed with instant accessibility to both multimedia content and virtual stock rooms are demanding online shopping experiences that combine ecommerce opportunities and high quality video content. A recent study by Google and Compete found that 40 percent of apparel shoppers visited a store or retailer website as a direct result of watching an online product video and that online video ads have more purchase persuasion power than radio, newspaper or brochure promotions. Video-viewing shoppers even drive higher revenue with 25 percent purchasing more than six times from apparel retailers in six months, and 28 percent spending over $500 on clothing over the same time period.
These numbers, in addition to Google’s and other search engines’ push to prioritize video links in query results, dictate an obvious need for online retailers to embrace new media – and more importantly, to incorporate video into their search engine optimization plans.
Fortunately, most ecommerce merchants already have video content at their disposal; from product commercials, manufacturer videos, promotional clips and filmed customer testimonials, the building blocks for an enhanced video content strategy are in place. By taking a few extra steps pre- and post-video production, e-retailers can transform their portfolio of clips into an SEO monolith.
1. It’s about relevancy, not quantity.
Some vendors err on the side of mass-producing video content to generate more backlinks and keywords. This strategy rarely has the intended effect and ultimately detracts from the retailer’s online reputation. When shoppers turn to the web for a new book or DVD, they don’t want to be greeted with clips for home décor. They want fast and easy access to video content that directly enhances their online shopping experience.
Treat online video just as you would email newsletters, social media campaigns or holiday promotions: by identifying your target audience and then catering the content to their behaviors, preferences and buying requirements. Although you don’t have to strive for Academy Award recognition (luckily, most search engines even qualify presentations and animated Slideshares as video content), there is no reason to post video content simply to increase the volume of video that is available to online consumers.
And if you’re concerned about producing feature-length footage – don’t be. The average length of most Internet clips is 6.7 minutes. For retailers, best practices dictate a maximum clip length of 10 minutes. If your video content goes longer than ten minutes, you run the risk of boring viewers and potential customers, most of who are conditioned to digest online video in short bursts. If you have lengthy clips, divide them into shorter episodes that can be posted over multiple weeks or months. Serialized video content also creates opportunities for more detailed tags and annotations, which boost search relevancy and total viewership.
2. Host or post?
Brands that attempt to leverage video content as an SEO strategy are inevitably forced to address the hypermodern “hosting or posting” debate. Is it better to house video content on the company website, or is the brand’s marketing agenda better served by farming video footage out to a third-party site like Vimeo or YouTube?
If the primary goal of the video initiative is to drive traffic to the company’s ecommerce site, then hosting is clearly the right choice. However, if the primary motivation behind the creation and distribution of video content is to boost viewership and social media shares, then a combined posting and hosting approach may be the best option.
It’s also important to keep in mind that each uploading process is unique. Third party sites don’t require you to include “video” in the title or add a description – steps that are necessary when hosting and indexing clips on your own site.
3. Use keywords strategically.
Google is smart, but it’s not a mind reader or a video decoder. Like nearly every other search engine, Google relies on videos tags and keywords to understand your clip’s content and promote it to users who are conducting targeted online searches. So deciding on a name for your video should be a serious, thoughtful process. Since the video title accounts for half of its Google ranking (along with keywords), the naming process should leverage a string of terms that fully encompasses the video’s content and connects with its intended search audience.
But naming isn’t the only place where keywords come into play. In addition to including strategic keywords in the video title, you will also need to dedicate time to other backend video details (e.g. video tags, brief descriptions, URL creation) to optimize the search presence of you company’s video content. The more time you devote to the planning process, the more likely it is that your video will be seen by the right eyes (e.g., the musicians watching your promo clip for your store’s selection of rare guitars).
Another way to leverage keywords to improve the visibility of video content for third party sites and search engines is to attach a text transcript to your videos. Transcripts not only provide added value for special needs audiences, but also offer Google, YouTube and other sites better access to the video’s content.
4. Update sitemaps to maximize search visibility.
Tagging, keywords and a well-crafted title are all important steps in the process of maximizing the SEO potential of video content. But what many marketers and content creators don’t realize is that, uploading a video to your ecommerce site does not automatically link and index the clip. To maximize the visibility of your newly posted video content to search engines, you may need to perform an additional step.
Sitemaps are the tools that ultimately lead the Google spider to discover your video URLs. If you don’t have one in place already, create a video sitemap to allow Google to spider the content throughout search. When adding video URLs to your sitemap, include the title, description, play page URL, thumbnail URL and location of the raw video file.
5. Share video content with friends and followers.
After you have completed all the technical “housekeeping” tasks needed to optimize your video, it’s time to shift your efforts to social media. Don’t be shy – Take advantage of any and all social media accounts your business maintains to promote your brand’s video content. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, the company blog and even Pinterest – video content should be promoted wherever shoppers interact with your brand.
When sharing video opportunities with friends and follower, be vocal about your new content and encourage followers to comment,
retweet and forward your clips. By aggressively promoting fresh video content via social media, you’ll give your video messaging the promotion it deserves, driving potential customers to your site and ultimately, improving conversions.
Although video content offers important SEO opportunities for all retail brands, a video SEO strategy can be especially useful for small retailers and ecommerce providers that struggle to compete against large, global chains. Unlike traditional SEO, website age is not a significant factor in the SEO value of video content, enabling newer and smaller retailers to effectively compete against entrenched brands.
In many ways, video SEO is still in its infancy. As more and more brands discover how video can increase site traffic while creating deeper and richer customer experiences, it’s likely that Google and other major search engines will develop more sophisticated ways of ranking video content for their users. Over time, the sheer volume of online video content will make it more difficult for retailers to achieve front page search results, creating opportunities for even more advanced video SEO techniques to emerge.
But for now, video SEO clearly deserves a larger role in most retailers’ online marketing mix. By recognizing consumers’ preference for video-based content and then carefully crafting content to leverage video SEO best practices, your retail brand can capture a larger share of the online marketplace and become more effective at transforming online viewers into committed brand advocates.