There’s been a good amount of discussion in the Search Engine marketing community about protecting your online reputation. However, little has been discussed around the effect of video in the search results, and even much less on video solutions. That’s surprising considering not only that video online has been proven to have the highest engagement level with views, but also because it can have the greatest opportunity for showing up prominently in the search results – with the least amount of effort by comparison to other SEO tactics.
Why video SEO is important for reputation management
Why is Video SEO important for reputation management? Here are a few reasons:
- People are searching more often for video. While “video” is becoming a more common term of inclusion in a search, as video search specialists like Gregory Markel of Infuse Creative has pointed out in past search marketing conferences. However, video has enough effect to even appear at the top of search results without even requiring the word “video” attached to the search.
- Video is given more prominent display in the search results. A fully saturated graphic icon next can appear next to a text link, and clicking on the video can even play the embedded video (right in the same page) without having to click to the original source.
- Video is viral. Heavier consumers of video tend to be younger, and the younger crowd is more likely to be active and share that video, rather than just passively watch. (See the recent study, Kids and Teens Consume Most Online Video Content). Even if this is not your target audience, its important to understand that they the younger generation has great potential to distribute any and all video content.
- No authority. The search engines won’t necessarily give the names of your company, staff members, brands, copyrights, patents, other intellectual property items, and any marketing activities of yours top listing to you just because you legally own them or produced them.
- First come, first served. If you don’t do it, you’re leaving it wide open for someone else to do it and get ahead of you in the search listings.
The celebrity test – Sex and the City and the “video SEO hack”
While my video partner Mark Robertson from ReelSEO.com and I were doing reporting coverage at the recent Streaming Media East conference in New York, we happened to pass by the David Letterman Studios, and out popped Kristen Davis (Charlotte) of HBO’s Sex and the City, there to promote her movie. Since we had a portable camcorder on us and sensed an opportunity, we did a very impromptu video of us shouting questions at her while she signed autographs, until she sped away in her limo.
After some quick editing and basic video optimization, that video now rotates between #1 and #2 in Yahoo for the search “kristen davis video” – pointing back to the ReelSEO.com site – ahead in the search results in all but one of the major search providers of video, including YouTube!
The politics test
With 2008 being an election year, political races from the Presidency all the way down to the municipal level have very much to stake on their online reputation. Those who choose to ignore it can wind up with having some very embarrassing situations being displayed for all the world to see.
Case in point: My former town of residence, Carpentersville, Illinois, has received some national news for how poorly the elected board officials have handled controversial issues and their own controversial behavior. Back in 2005, when I was still a resident, I had successfully lobbied for the town to have their board meetings taped and broadcast on Comcast Cable. However, since then, they have shown no interest in having the meetings available for online viewing.
What I did was take interesting snippets of their previous board meetings, tag them based on their issues and the speaker names, and do nothing more than submit them to YouTube – a very basic SEO strategy. I then checked to see how the results might appear in the mainstream web search engine, Google. (Keep in mind, we’re not even talking about going to YouTube or Google Video, just the Google Web Results, which is what most people would visit to start with.) Here are the result of the 4 individuals on the municipal board I had singled out:
- President Bill Sarto – search term “bill sarto” – Videos from YouTube results appear at the top of the search engine listings for his name within a few days, with image icons.
- Trustee Paul Humpher – #1 result in Google with a video icon. Further down the list but still above the fold, even my own name appears with a video icon of myself!)
- Trustee Judy Sigwalt – 4 video clips all appear in succession on the first page of search results.
- Trustee Linda Sliwinski – 1 video clip appears in #2 result, featuring her political competitor!
When it comes to search engine results, these videos appear higher than major newspaper publications and prolific political bloggers – even higher than the news sites doing their own video content (but which clearly don’t do any optimization of that content in the search results).
Evidence like this shows that video can have an almost “unfair” advantage to how easily and quickly it can show up in the search results, even without major SEO work, link building, or even viral marketing. The search engines just “like” video, regardless of whether the content may be to the liking of who is being shown.
Solutions for video SEO reputation management
You don’t need any more reason that to see how reputation management needs to include a video SEO strategy. Here are some quick starting tips to set you on the right path with a video SEO reputation management plan:
- Have a plan. You can start by crating simple video profile, but don’t make it look like its you on a webcam in your home. Be in an environment that can give you clean audio without much background noise, and have a camcorder that as a good quality mic (yes, audio is often overlooked by marketers who do their own video). Even better, have at least one person – preferably a production professional – who can assume the role of videographer, post-production editor, scriptwriter and interviewer). If you want to do some quick research on your own, I recommend the book, Producing Video Podcasts – A Guide for Media Professionals by Richard Harrington.
- Use what’s lying around. Promote any video clips of yourself already available. If you only have audio, then have still photos of yourself and your topic be your video footage, and have it run alongside your audio track.
- Use what’s free. Subscribe to TubeMogul, which has a free version for submitting your video to YouTube and other video search engines, and includes batch tagging resources.
- Domains, domains, domains. Purchase a domain name around your own personal name, your company, and any important brands, copyrights, patents, or other intellectual property. Remember, the search engines won’t necessarily give these items top listing to you just because you legally own them!
- Brand your videos before you syndicate them. I recommend doing a watermark or a URL within the video, and ideally an intro and an outro with your brand name and contact info. To quote Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strauss from their book Radically Transparent – Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online, “Not only will this help you manage copyright control of any video you create, but the video wil promote your brand no matter where its viewed.”