About a few years back, I asked a friend who is an SEO expert on how I could improve my YouTube ranking for the videos I posted. His eyes immediately widened as he stared blankly back at me. It took him awhile before he responded with a simple question, “Yeah, how do you really optimize video on YouTube?”
I figured if I can’t get an answer from an SEO expert, I could at least research and learn on my own. And I did for the next few years, delving into whitepapers, reports, and research I could find on the internet. I attended courses in digital marketing, SEO and analytics as I continued to discover and learn more about the subject. Eventually, the question grew bigger into how to optimize video on the internet.
Today, as a digital specialist in video marketing solutions, I can proudly and satisfyingly answer the question but then again it may not be sufficient anymore. You see, Google, in particular, changes its algorithm
as much as 500-600 times in a year. That works up to 1.4 times a day. Facebook makes algorithm changes
almost on a monthly basis with 3 major changes till date in 2018 at time of this writing (early Apr). YouTube, on the other hand, makes major changes on its algorithm almost every year although I suspect they made more than they’d announced.
Making videos for business and making it viewed is not simple because it is competing with every cats and dogs videos you could think of on the internet. There are 5 billion videos watched on YouTube every single day and 300 hours videos are uploaded every minute. Your one single corporate video isn’t going to make a nano-impact to the community or your business for that matter. Worst still, if you think it is going to help you build your brand only to realized it didn’t add anything to your ROI and brushed off the real value of video marketing in building a holistic brand for your company.
Video Marketing is Part of A Holistic Marketing Strategy
According to Forrester Research, ranking video on Google search results is easier than to rank a webpage by 53x and it would be a pity and an absolute waste of opportunity not to optimize video for the video content-hungry audience. Many medium and smaller enterprises especially, in Southeast Asia has yet to fully utilize video marketing solutions as part of their larger marketing strategy. All the talk on omni-channel marketing, 360 or through-the-line marketing—video marketing and optimization must play a critical role in the digitally savvy and engaged generations of mobile internet users. No business would want to be left out in the cold where conversations are happening and your brand isn’t part of that engagement. Would you prefer to follow your competitors after they started or are your brand thriving at the center of that community? Technology evolving, trends are changing and ways of engaging with audience are in the state of flux. Acknowledging and adapting to the demands of time, in this case video content as a part of the larger marketing strategy can only get your brand closer to your consumers.
Why is Video optimization so important?
With 67% of all online searches and 94% of all mobile searches, Google is the largest search engine while YouTube commands more than 91% of all videos search and is the second most popular search engine. YouTube is owned by Google which means any searches would eventually come back to Google. Video watch time on YouTube has increased 60% y-o-y has the fastest growth in the last 2 years and 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV. A similar trend could be seen across various social media platforms with 82% of Twitter users watch video content, and 45% of people watching the video more than an hour on Facebook a week.
Having a clearer understanding of the statistics is all good and well but thinking that your business may already have a corporate video in your marketing ‘arsenal’ is a flawed thinking. There’s a big difference though between doing video and doing it well. Many decision makers and business owners could have been confused with the difference between a video production and a video marketing solutions
service provider. Having just another corporate video or social sharing video isn’t a strategy. You actually need to make it as part of an ongoing and holistic marketing plan incorporated with your larger marketing strategy. One that has the brand DNA, marketing objectives and the overall business goals all evaluated and built into the video assets.
The best strategy, of course, is to ensure your business is found on the search engine with the right keywords associated with your business naturally with videos that are fully optimized. Notice the intentional plural noun here as business needs to create video assets to keep the audience connected, coming back more and has a higher awareness of conversations associated with your expertise.
At the most basic level, video optimization allows business to make an informed and educated guess at every level of the marketing funnel opening many opportunities to connect and build a relationship, finally closing the deal. Knowing who watched your video is just the starter. Creating more conversations that actually make a certain audience tick, getting more of look-alike target groups to expand its current base and continuously keeping them coming back for more so your brand would turn up more frequently in their minds are the goals of optimization. For instance, YouTube is not about view anymore beginning 2018 as it were just a few months back. Total minutes watched are now the key ingredient towards a meaningful value. YouTube’s new algorithm wants you to keep coming back over a period of time, interacting and connecting with the brand. That’s gold in Youtube’s term.
What optimization are we talking about?
Optimization is about analyzing key metrics, learning, testing and making all these work better to achieve your video strategy and business goals. There are a few key pointers that we would keep an eye on to ensure a successful SEO.
1. Views – all your hard work would come to naught if no one watches your video. So the first and foremost metrics is obviously the number of people watched your videos. Each video platform either Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc has their own criteria and analyses to measure views and everyone has a common benchmark that is about the times and duration the video was watched. Usually the longer, higher engagement and more it is watched, the higher value is inferred to that video. YouTube, in particular, changed its algorithm this year from numbers of people viewed to total minutes it was viewed.
2. Engagement – are your audience actively participating in your video one way or the other? Are they clicking the video to access your website or are they commenting, liking or sharing the video with their community? The more interaction your video gets, the better is would be ranked on SEO.
3. Drop-off – how long are your viewers watching the video. At which point in time are they exiting your video. The longer they stay on it, the better it means to the audience as it is connecting or entertaining viewer enough for them to stay. This gives content creator better information on which particular message actually resonates better and which doesn’t.
4. Demographics – is about identifying your target audience, gaining a new audience and re-targeting similar ones. It helps the business to delve into who, where, when and why one video works better than the other and how to say differently to different demographics.
5. Traffic source – where and how your traffic comes from allows business to learn how to connect better with its consumers. Which platform was the referral, direct or were they organic. Which particular platforms isn’t connecting to the right consumers could help to develop better distribution techniques overall.
The learning from the combination of these key metrics would allow business to create a better SEO plan and continue to learn more about what triggers an engagement, a purchase and ultimately build a substantial profile of its consumers and their behaviors.
A video that is not fully optimized is practically worthless to search engines. Regardless of how much production dollar you have spent, what equipment you’ve used or how great your sales offering is, if it isn’t optimized, it won’t be found. If you are happy spending tens of thousands of dollars in creating a masterpiece and hoping that it may go viral or make it residing on your website but isolated to the world, you may not have made a wise choice. Imagine the same video is now leveraged through data analytics, proper strategic planning and fully optimized, working in tandem with a great integrated video strategy that links content data, and viewer engagement with the intention to build conversations for your brand.
Until recently, it is inconceivable for marketers to have so much control over their marketing but technology indeed has leapfrogged entire generations of marketers slash content creators slash analytic practitioners. Despite the technology, Google, Youtube, Facebook and any other platforms cannot truly read or watch video content like a human could. They do rely on data and information we feed it with, in order to be found and being found is just half the battle won. Video optimization, in our book is more than SEO or feeding the right kind of data at the right point but runs across the gamut of strategies in engaging with the audience in which case includes planning, creative, and value of production. While technology does indeed fulfilled a big part of this journey, optimizing video requires more than ever a great dollop of creativity in ensuring content we make are meaningful, relevant and engaging with our target audience. So why isn’t video optimization important?