Here’s a one-question quiz to determine whether your e-business is a serious, viable enterprise:
Q: Do you have video on your website?
A: The only right answers are, “yes” or “we will soon.”
Not so long ago, videos were nice to have on a website. They were a frill. They were something fancy to attract a visitor, not an integral part of an e-business’ plan for effective SEO and increased conversions. Today, video is a necessity, and e-businesses that fail to implement multimedia and to do it well will soon find themselves falling far behind competitors.
We can trace this new reality back to a decision Google made in 2007. That was the year when the search engine giant integrated video into its universal search offering. Since then, websites featuring video have gained a significant SEO advantage. When a company integrates relevant videos that match the content of its website, search engines find and index the video within the site’s context. This improves overall website and video search ranking as it relates to a business’ keywords, and also allows search results to be presented with matching videos, making them more appealing, thereby increasing search-based traffic.
Clearly, e-businesses have gotten the message and are serving up video. In the e-retail space, for example, 68 percent of the top 50 retailers were using videos in 2009, a surge from 18 percent in 2008 according to a recent eMarketer report. Now, almost 40 percent of users who search Google see video options in their results. Additionally, search appears to be the way most Internet users are finding video today and will continue to do so in the future. Furthermore, video has passed the test when it comes to overall conversion. According to customer feedback, approximately 80 percent of online users view an entire video, and 25 percent click to purchase products, which drives an overall revenue lift of 10 to 15 percent.
At this point, it’s possible to create endless numbers of professional videos with no human intervention, and the SEO implications make it too appealing to ignore. Any e-business that cares about SEO needs to know six things about video:
- Video creation is not the resource-intensive activity it once was. Today, e-businesses can create high-quality video that is automatically updated across their websites on the fly, using existing web content.
- Merely embedding videos on a website is not enough to significantly affect SEO, user engagement or conversion rates. To harvest the full potential of videos, e-businesses should deploy these resources across the entire site. Retailers need to cover the complete online catalog with video on each product page. This way, those videos match keywords that are specific to each and every product, targeting consumers that are more likely to search for products using those keywords.
- Video should not be a static element on your site. Videos need to be as dynamic as your product offerings. Keep the video catalog up to date so products that are added to the catalog (and possibly to your competitors’ catalogs, as well) will be displayed as video results on universal search engines.
- Videos need sitemaps, too. Like the standard sitemaps used by almost every site today, these XML-based video versions actively publish video information from one central location to make it easier for search engines to discover and thereby increase its potential exposure. A lot of the above recommendations regarding pages with video apply here as well: having proper titles and descriptions, choice of keywords and providing metadata about each video should all be part of a company video SEO strategy. The more that is exposed, the easier it is for search engines to index the content.
- YouTube isn’t just for funny pet videos. A company can significantly boost website traffic by distributing videos to websites such as YouTube and Facebook. Again, businesses, not just individuals, have tapped into YouTube as a traffic booster. Every minute, 15 hours worth of video is uploaded to YouTube. Some of that should be coming from your business. When you start, pay attention to your video formats, choice of keywords and mix of social and personal appeal in order to stand out from the growing crowd.
The era in which we looked at video as a pleasant “extra” is over. For serious e-businesses, this multimedia offering is now a necessity, one that can drive search rankings, visitor engagement and sales. By following the same SEO rules applied to textual content, and by incorporating a few additional strategies, e-tailers can use video to bolster market position and grow revenues.