Video Optimization – The Show Starts In 3, 2, 1 …

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While search engine optimization continues to change at the speed of light, there are a few areas where very little progress seems to be made. We hear about new ways to use social media daily (if not hourly), new takes on link building strategies constantly and are inundated with oceans of advice about new on-page optimization techniques.

However, optimization for multimedia formats such as video and images seems to develop at a much slower rate, making it difficult for those with very visual products or services to truly optimize what may just be their most valuable form of content. While the written word is a powerful SEO tool, pictures of things such as art, jewelry, handmade furniture, exhibition stands or business card designs are much likely to convey a message to a potential purchaser than reams of text. Fortunately, Google has recently updated its best practice video optimization advice and has handed out a few nuggets of information previously kept a little closer to its chest…

1. Restrict Access Where Appropriate

It’s a bit of a misnomer but restricting access to some videos can actually enhance your online presence. If your video is in English and you have a separate Spanish version for example, you may wish to restrict access to the video so that it is shown in Spain and Spanish-speaking nations only. Or, if you have two versions of your products for different markets, with different prices or features – say for the UK and USA – you’ll only want the appropriate video to show to the individual target market. This can help you maximize your online presence by avoiding online publication of conflicting messages. This feature is easy to implement by using the <video:restriction> tag within the sitemap.

2. Check Robots Text For Crawlable URLS

If you’ve spent time and money planning your video marketing, the last thing you’ll want to happen is to upload the file to your site and then spend ages wondering why your video hits haven’t increased. The problem could be that the URL is disallowed by your robots.txt file – not performing this check means any input in to the video is wasted as the search engines can’t access and crawl the page in order to index it. This effectively drops a dark veil across the content, meaning only those following a link from a site such as a social media post will be able to find, watch and enjoy. This may happen if you have content behind secure areas of the site or password protect some pages for members only.

To avoid having your new video plummet immediately into obscurity, create a list of the URLs hosting the videos on your site and then cross-reference for robot no follow instructions on your robots.txt file. If the videos aren’t accessible, they’ll need to be moved to a different page within the site.

3. Specify Expiration Dates If Your Video Is To Be Removed From Site

Sometimes you’ll need to remove a video from your site, either because you plan to replace it with new content, it’s no longer relevant or because it’s out of date – for example if you run a promotional video about a conference you’re attending or a summer sale / holiday offers. Simply deleting the page from your site will cause problems for the search engine indexing and your visitors, particularly if your video ranks reasonably well in the SERPs. Simply deleting will result in a “404 page not found” error for visitors following a search result through to your page. Adding a redirect is a better option, but visitors will be sent through to a different page to the one they were expecting, which makes the user experience frustrating and could lead to a higher bounce rate or loss of confidence in your site.

To specify an expiration date for your videos, make use of the <video:expiration_date>  tag of the video sitemap protocol. Alternatively, you can use a mRSS feed’s <dcterms:valid> tag  and then submit to Google.

Of course, there’s a lot more to video optimization than just these three tips. They are easy to implement, however, and are a great way to ensure that your video is going to be shown when you want it, where you want it, and that Google will be able to index it appropriately.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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