Using YouTube for SEO and Branding- The Absolute Essentials

YouTube is a daunting proposition for a lot of businesses. Everyone has an idea that Google loves video; but how do you use YouTube effectively? While this article doesn’t address how to create content that will go viral, for example, which is the golden goose these days, it does talk about how to use the mechanical back end to ensure that your content is set up for success as it relates to digital marketing.  First, a word on YouTube vs. traditional TV advertising from Jack:

Kinda says it all, doesn’t it?

Why is it important to be on YouTube?

  • Every minute of every day more than 24 hours of video are uploaded there.
  • More than 2 billion videos a day are viewed on YouTube
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world by volume of queries.
  • The U.S. accounts for 70% of all YouTube viewers.
  • Over half of YouTube’s viewers are under 20 years old.
  • More than half of smartphone users shoot video at least once per week.

Basic vs. Branded vs. Custom YouTube channels

A Basic channel  is what every User starts with, Branded is what you get at a certain level of ad spend and comes with benefits like creating a custom banner for your videos that sits on top of the player even if people aren’t on your channel, the ability to add longer videos and get better analytics, mobile branding and additional Channel modules that will let you for example, upload graphics. There is also the YouTube Custom channel, which only comes with a $200,000 ad spend in each of three consecutive months and is beyond the reach of most people reading this blog. I’d love the opportunity to work on a Custom channel, such as the custom channel put together for Kung Fu Panda 2. That is seriously creative and amazing- and expensive, too.

The SEO benefits of Youtube:

  • User engagement- Users stay on the site longer when they view embedded video content. Watching video on the web accounted for 37% of all web traffic in November 2010. Peak usage stats show that 30% or more of peak-hour traffic is Netflix  usage, about 10% is YouTube- Users want to consume video content.
  • Real Estate- the opportunity to own 2 positions on the SERP- the page hosting/serving the video AND the YouTube listing.
  • Visibility- get your site and content into the world’s 2nd largest search engine! Google loves video and gives it preference on the SERP over other types of content.
  •  Videos are up to 50 times as likely to rank on the front page of Google than static html pages are.
  • Channel perfect- it’s hard to read text on a smart phone but video is a lot easier to use.

Marketing benefits of YouTube (using some statistics taken from this study on why to use video for marketing):

Valuable and meaningful interactions are impactful on YouTube because engagement drives:

  • Intent: purchase intent was 76% higher among people watching video content compared to those that hadn’t.
  • Inclusion of video led to a 62& increase in daily sales volume.
  • Awareness increased by 205%

According to a recent Nielsen study on recall:

  • Online video spots have a 65% recall, compared to only 46% recall for general ads- likely due to the interactive nature of the Internet, Users were more likely than not to have been searching the content out and therefore more likely to remember it.
  • Brand Recall: Online video outperformed TV by 50% as compared to 28% for TV.
  • Messaging: the 14,000 survey respondents had higher messaging recall from online video as compared to TV.

Optimizing your Branded channel

Tags- channel tags should include all of your top branded and non branded keywords

Profile setup: Provide the User as much information as you can. Include a business overview and include lots of keywords. Update frequently and make sure you use the “About Me” field to build a robust description of the channel and business.

Mobile Branded Banner- this is a way to provide a banner that brands the page as yours when the User visits your channel from a mobile device.

Video Page Banner- a banner that sits on top of your videos as they play on other channels for additional branding and clicks back to your channel page.

Side Brand Banner- the opportunity to upload an image file underneath your “About Me” module- this could be a current special, information about other social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter- whatever you want! Unfortunately, this piece is not interactive. Gotta spend the big bucks to get that one.

Custom Background- your background should speak for your channel, with shots of a storefront or product or person. In addition, why not put up themed backgrounds for holidays? It shows you’re paying attention!

Titles: Titles should be descriptive, keyword rich, and include a call to action. The main keyword for which you want the video to be found should be located as close to the front of the tag as possible, and the title should also compel the User to act by using words such as “click now” or “watch now”. Make sure you align your titles with existing keyword research!

Descriptions: Descriptions should include links to specific products at the top of the field so they are above the fold for easy viewing and potential click throughs. Descriptions should also include optimized keywords and product details.

Tags and Closed Captioning: Tags should be descriptive of the video but should also include optimized keywords. Avoid overstuffing the tag and make sure you separate entries with commas. Closed Captioning also gives the bots a text file to index along with the video content- an investment in software like Dragon might help create transcripts in case your videos aren’t scripted or you don’t have anything written down to upload.

YouTube Community Management

Comment Moderation: Don’t whitewash negative comments (though profanity-laden rants are probably not helping anyone, go ahead and get rid of those); instead, use negative comments as a chance to address complaints. It shows authenticity and a willingness to engage with the community and provide customer service. Do however, delete posts that are spammy or contain outbound links to competing sites.

Interaction with Users: Thank those that make positive comments and work with those that make negative comments. When responding to a comment , ask a  question or provide some useful information that will compel Users to interact with you more.

Be a Resource: Respond to User questions in a timely manner and encourage discussion. Your channel should be the best source of information available about your product or service, and this goes to the authority that Google loves for you to have.

Use Analytics (Branded level channel and above) to drive decisions about what content is working and what isn’t. Analytics drive the channels’ continuous development.




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