In a recent webinar sponsored by Act-On, Thorin McGee, Editor in Chief of Target Marketing Magazine sat down with search engine marketing guru Kevin Lee to talk about how marketers can improve SEO for alternative content types. That includes video, infographics, images, PDFs, and more. In this five-part blog series, you’ll get expert insights and best practices for developing the right types of content for your brand and making sure they get discovered by your target audiences. In part three, Kevin talks about how to create the best content for your brand.
KEVIN LEE: With regards to your content mix, you may want to think about making it funny because funny tends to go viral much more. But not every brand can pull off funny. You may know of the viral successes of certain videos on YouTube and the fact that then lots of people link to them and they rank really high in search as a result. That’s all well and good. But if your brand can’t pull off funny or you just can’t imagine getting sign-off from your VP of marketing or CMO, don’t do it. Worst case, you actually produce it and then afterwards they decide funny doesn’t go with your brand. That’s like pink slip territory. You don’t want to have that happen.
So I can’t see a brand like Tiffany pulling off funny. I may be wrong. Maybe the new CMO of Tiffany will prove me wrong and decide to come out with a really funny set of videos about super-expensive high-end jewelry. But not everybody can pull that off. So think about whether you make it funny because funny does have a lot of advantages from an SEO perspective because it gets both viral buzz as well as inbound links to it.
From High-Budget to Low-Budget
I will mention some of the funny videos I think you should take a look at, if funny could work for your brand. And you can do funny at different budget levels. So for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you go out and look at Orabrush’s YouTube channel, and then go into the videos tab and sort it by oldest to newest so you can see their early videos which were extremely low budget, where they were producing videos for considerably less than $1,000 each, with props like a pair of construction eye protection goggles, just to create a fun video.
And they just went completely crazy eventually, creating hundreds of videos, some of which are good, some of which are not so good. But when you think about their original funny video having been watched 21 million times, that’s a pretty high number. And they’ve built quite a business off of that.
Higher budget levels are things that you might see coming out of high end agencies. So when Proctor and Gamble decided to re-launch Old Spice and they wanted to make it a humorous take on Old Spice, they did a great job obviously with their agency’s help in creating a video series around a guy who had sort of this really great humorous delivery of the content. So they did a really great job casting it. And the production values were extremely high. They actually have stunts and things going on within the videos, which of course made them even more interesting to watch. But you probably don’t have the budget that a Proctor and Gamble has or an Old Spice does. But it just shows you the contrast.
A sort of middle-of-the-road approach (that’s also pretty cheap) is the Blendtech “will it blend?” YouTube channel. They’ll take suggestions from the audience and they’ll blend them in a Blendtech blender. And they’ll blend pretty much everything. So this is actually the guy blending an iPad after using the iPad in the earlier portion of the video. He snaps it in half against the base of the blender, throws it into the blender, and pulverizes it. And then at the end of the video you get to find out that yes you can actually blend an iPad in a Blendtech blender.
So the product is the star here. Because the product, it’s all about illustrating a specific benefit to the product, but doing it in such a way that it’s humorous. So for those of you who are in the product business or the service business, if you can figure out how to stay true to your product or service and think about attributes you want to get across and do it in a humorous way, I think that creates a win-win situation.
Make Sure it Has a Purpose
What do you want people to do as a result of this video? Before you go out and create the video, think about what your objectives are, should you be successful and get it to rank highly or have it go viral in social media. Once they go ahead and watch the video, what would you like them to do? What’s the leave behind or the best set of behaviors that the individual could engage in as a result? If you want to just promote brand recall and it’s just visibility metrics you’re trying to improve, that’s very different from trying to create some kind of a call to action. And we’ll talk a little bit later about the kinds of call to action that you can embed within videos effectively without sort of damaging the way the video rolls.
Be sure to create an editorial calendar, not just as to when you’re releasing everything, but put in the production stages ahead of time. Because some of the video that you’ll be creating doesn’t get done overnight. So you have to leave some time in there for video editing, and a couple of rounds of revision, and the titling of videos, and so on.
If you can get some kind of a viral uptick in your videos that you’re creating, that’s great because when you do get buzz, it’s more likely that you’ll get linked to organically. And those will be a combination of what are called hard links or soft links. There are “no follow” links, which don’t (at least theoretically) pass any page rank along to you, as Google puts it. And then there are hard links, which do pass page rank. And obviously hard links are great. But the best links in general to get are links that are spontaneous as a result of your content being seen. So the more it’s seen, the more likely it is to get linked. So you should be using everything from old school publicity and PR to your own email marketing lists to let people know what you’ve created.
Pay Attention to the Details
As you’re creating this content, think about the naming conventions that you’re using for your various videos. Usually the platform will leave the file name somewhere in the metadata that’s used within the page that is created. And when it comes to understanding everything about a video, Google and Bing don’t have a lot of data to go from. So the file name may actually be quite descriptive and important.
The title is really important. It’s the strongest signal that Google has with regards to understanding what the video is about. And this is also why we want to slice up videos into smaller chunks, because each of them gets its own title, and each of them is its own unique piece of content. So make sure your videos are properly titled regardless of which venue you’re using them in.
You may be tempted to try to keyword cram a title and get it really, really long. But it’s most important that the title really does describe what the content is about, the same way as a headline in a magazine or a newspaper really describes what the story is about.
The titles get used in the search engine results page along with the thumbnails. So when you’ve got different titles or different situations where you sliced up the same longer video interview into multiple pieces, you’re now going have each of those titles used if you happen to rank. So that makes again the titles really important in conjunction with the thumbnail.
So the description is the second strongest signal that the search engine uses to try to understand what the video is about. So for those of you who ever took a journalism class, and I certainly know Thorin has, journalists write typically in an inverted pyramid style. So that means the opposite of a mystery novel, you don’t wait for the end to find out what happened, you find out what the most important thing is first.
So you lead with everything that’s most important to say and then with regards to having the right names in there and the right brands and the right keywords, right there in the first couple of sentences. So when you write your video description, think inverted pyramid style. And if you want learn what that is, you can use your favorite search engine to learn all about inverted pyramid writing style.
Some platforms allow for tags. So you can tag videos with keywords. So there’s some overlap between the tags and the titles. But they shouldn’t be mirror images of each other. Some platforms allow for annotations like YouTube. And some of the annotations are pretty powerful because you can have clickable calls to action, you can cross-promote videos, or deep link into your own site. It’s really effective for you to be able to use the video annotations,as long as you don’t go too overboard.
There’s a really great annotation section within the YouTube help area. And I recommend you do read it, because the annotation doesn’t actually help it rank. At least not to my knowledge. But the annotation, if you do happen to rank, can end up being an extremely important element to accomplish your marketing goals. Annotations always had a difficult time showing up in mobile. So there’s a new concept called cards around videos that is being rolled out on Google and YouTube within mobile devices – here’s where you can read more about interactive cards.
So there’s sort of a circular pattern of refinement that happens where you’re developing things, and you’re trying things, and you’re learning about what’s working and what’s not working, you’re prioritizing and working your way down your priority list. And then based on the feedback that you get, you may end up changing your priority of things. Because certain things that you didn’t anticipate would work are working better than you thought. And then certain things you were really gung ho on may be falling flat. For example, sometimes you think it’s funny and no one else does. Sort of like being a standup comic, it could be a really tough time to continue to be funny indefinitely.
Stay tuned for part four of this series, where you’ll get best practices for infographics and PDFs. Be sure to watch the webinar to get the whole story. Ready to get started with video marketing? Don’t be afraid to take a do-it-yourself approach. Get tips for shooting and distributing your own videos.