At the same speed that internet technology is evolving, Search Engine Optimization Experts (SEOs) are learning new ways in which businesses like yours can achieve that much-coveted “top spot” in Google’s search results. Optimizing video is one of those ways.
Did you know?
→ “We watch more YouTube videos than we conduct Google searches!” → “Video SEO is 53 times more likely to produce a first-page search result than traditional techniques!”
Wrote Fliqz CEO Benjamin Wayne on techcrunch.com back in 2010: “…getting a first-page Google result is harder than ever. Not only do Google’s search and indexing algorithms continue to evolve in complexity, but Google has given over more and more of its search results real estate to “blended” search results, displaying videos and images towards the top of the first page, and pushing down—and sometimes off the page—traditional web results that would have otherwise competed for top rankings.
But where problems arise, so do opportunities. Although Google’s newfound enthusiasm for video has created more competition for fewer traditional search results, it has enabled sites with video assets—even sites that would otherwise score poorly in the Google index—to successfully achieve first-page rankings. In fact, Forrester Research found that videos were 53 times more likely than traditional web pages to receive an organic first-page ranking.”
There are two ways to attempt to get your business’ videos into those top spots:
→ Upload your video to YouTube. YouTube is a Google product, so you can be sure that Google will find your video content online. (You’re not guaranteed that top spot, but it’s a good start. → Video SEO. As per Wayne, “Video SEO is a set of techniques designed to make sure that: a) Google finds your video content, b) Google successfully indexes your video content, and c) Google will display your video content when specific keywords are entered as search terms.
Once you’ve learned how to optimize web content, optimizing video content is fairly easy. Below are the steps you should take:
Create a video. Your video can be a number of different things, including actual video footage (a commercial or a recorded web cast) or something simpler — a slideshow, stopmotion animation, a PowerPoint Presentation. Whatever your video is, make sure it gives viewers something of value and has a clear call to action. The better the video is and the more fun/valuable the content, the more likely people are to want to share it.
Put the video on your company’s website and upload a copy of it to YouTube. Note: Google and YouTube will find, accept, and play videos of a variety of file types.
Give your video a proper Title and Title Tags. Refer back to Stir’s “SEO 101: A beginners guide…” for information on titles, tags, and headings. SEO rules for your website and online content apply to Video SEO too. Make sure your video’s title includes your SEO keywords and is descriptive enough to tell people (and Google) what they’re going to see, what the video is about. Further, make the title of your video match the title of the webpage on which it appears.
Submit your video to Google using a video sitemap. Google’s set of Webmaster Tools provides good instructions on how to do this — to “give Google information about video content on your site”. Submit both the page and the video itself.
Promote your video - on your social media channels, on your blog, through word of mouth, in a press release, using Google Adwords, through bookmarking and tagging sites, and through RSS feeds . Collecting “video views” is to YouTube what “number of likes” is to Facebook. Encourage people to watch it, rank it, and share it.
Some of the language used by SEOs when it comes to optimizing video content for the web can be confusing, and optimizing your first video might seem challenging, stick with it. Soon, it will be second nature, and your company will be able to make use of great creative ideas to improve your search engine ranking.
In the simplest terms, Social SEO is “using social media — as part of an SEO campaign — mindfully, that is: putting what you know about SEO to work in Social Media with an eye towards driving traffic/visitors to your website or other online content…”
Further, now that Google has launched “Search Plus Your World” — a change to the way the search engine performs that promises to make internet search more personalized than ever, Social Media is now a crucial part of SEO:
“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience.
Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” (Google Blog).
“Since Google is the most influential search engine and they are clearly integrating and favouring results coming from people’s Google+ circles, this becomes the most important social outlet to focus on from a SEO-Social perspective. No more ignoring it” (www.agent-seo.com).
There are a variety of ways to optimize Social Media as part of your company’s SEO campaign, including:
> Creating a custom Facebook Page your business, and posting there regularly > Maintaining a Twitter Feed for your business, and tweeting to your followers > Adding Social Sharing to your business’ online marketing material
A secondary sort of optimization includes making use of social media activities being carried out by others. That is, participating in online conversations related to your industry or involving your target market, like, for example: commenting on other blogs, joining discussion and forum groups, and “liking” or sharing social media content (posts, links, tweets, and videos).
Really, in a nutshell, both direct and secondary optimized social media activities have to do with taking advantage of the existing and powerful word-of-mouth marketing happening on the internet to build your brand, increase brand, product, and service knowledge, engage clients, employees, and media, improving customer relations (and, in turn, customer sentiment);
…it’s taking everything you’ve learned about SEO and Social Media and putting the two together for the best chance at gaining good momentum online.So, what’s the first step?
Mashable says: “Making the most out of combining SEO insights with social media marketing tactics can be accomplished with a roadmap that identifies the audience you’re after, the goals you’re trying to reach (and can measure) as well as a strategy that sets the stage for the tactics you’ll use to execute your game plan” (mashable.com).
Stir, for example, works with new SEO and Social Media clients to create a Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan at the beginning of each project. This plan includes defining the audience, clarifying goals and objectives, outlining a plan (tactics), and measuring success and redefining goals.
More from Mashable: “From a marketing standpoint, you can look at the benefits of SEO and social media two different ways. First, implementing a social media marketing program without optimizing content is leaving money on the table. Useful social content (blog, video, images, audio) that cannot be discovered via search is a lost opportunity to reach an audience that is looking.On the flip side, implementing SEO programs without leveraging the content distribution and linking benefits of social web participation makes link building for SEO an uphill battle. The nature of the social web encourages participation: sharing, voting, commenting and linking. Popular social content gets exposure, traffic and can result in a substantial number of relevant inbound links.However you look at it, SEO and social media work well together as long as there is a framework for doing so. One way to build SEO and social media programs efficiently is to follow a social media roadmap:
By involving SEO insight in a social media marketing effort and vice versa, marketers, public relations professionals and advertisers can extend the value of their investment. Well optimized social media content marketing efforts can attract new network participants via search. News content that experiences distribution via social news and bookmarking channels can facilitate links to company website content directly and indirectly. Advertisers that fund social media campaigns can continue to realize the traffic benefit from keyword-optimized interactive content long after the campaign has ended” (Mashable.com).
Below are some tips and tricks to make the most of your Social Media SEO efforts:
> Start with a comprehensive Road Map (Strategic Internet / Social Media Marketing Plan) > Consider audience, goals, tactics, analytics (how you’re going to measure success) > Remember the rules for online content - post interesting, timely, relevant, and actionable content > On your social networking sites, build, engage, and follow-up > Encourage people to share your content > Make sharing easy by providing clear calls-to-action > Optimizing your sites for social media sharing (consider Sharebar) > Continue traditional SEO tactics > Support all efforts with Local SEO and Video SEO
Most business owners today lack the time, staff, and resources (budget) to carry out a thorough and successful Social Media and Search Engine Optimization campaign, so consider hiring a professional internet marketing agency, like Stir, to help. Contact us today.
At the beginning of 2012, Google launched “Search Plus Your World” — a change to the way the search engine performs that promises to make internet search more personalized than ever.
“Google Search has always been about finding the best results for you. Sometimes that means results from the public web, but sometimes it means your personal content or things shared with you by people you care about. These wonderful people and this rich personal content is currently missing from your search experience. Search is still limited to a universe of webpages created publicly, mostly by people you’ve never met. Today, we’re changing that by bringing your world, rich with people and information, into search” (Google Blog).
This development follows the launch last year of Google+ – Google’s own social network that turns the whole search engine into one giant social network, and makes connecting online more like connecting in the real world. Now, your personal Google+ platform will be integrated with Google Search.
That means that when you perform a search, not only will Google search the world wide web for results, it’ll search your Google+ world — drawing on content from inside your Google+ social network for incredibly personalized results. Exciting? Sure. But it changes Search Engine Optimization (SEO)quite a bit.
Up until recently, Social Media was an important part of any good Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign. Now, with the launch of Search Plus Your World, it’s an absolute essential.
“Since Google is the most influential search engine and they are clearly integrating and favouring results coming from people’s Google+ circles, this becomes the most important social outlet to focus on from a SEO-Social perspective. No more ignoring it” (www.agent-seo.com).
Further, during these early days, some people have expressed concern about security and privacy now that personal content is going to show up in search results. Google assures us that we needn’t worry:
“Unprecedented security, transparency and control — When it comes to security and privacy, we set a high bar for Search plus Your World. Since some of the information you’ll now find in search results, including Google+ posts and private photos, is already secured by SSL encryption on Google+, we have decided that the results page should also have the same level of security and privacy protection. That’s part of why we were the first major search engine to turn on search via SSL by default for signed-in users last year. This means when you’re signed in to Google, your search results—including your private content—are protected by the same high standards of encryption as your messages in Gmail” (Google Blog).
These developments might seem scary for businesses just trying to get a feel for social media and search engine optimization. But they shouldn’t. The internet is always changing, and — once we all get our head’s around this new search style — the results will be exciting.
At the beginning of the year, Google changed the face of “internet search”, and made search engine optimization (SEO) just a bit more ponderous. How? They launched Search Plus your World, which makes searching the internet more personalized than ever: your personal Google+ platform will now be integrated with Google Search.
For SEOs, that means that while Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+) used to be complements to a good SEO campaign, they’re now essential components.
Google+, launched last year, is Google’s own social network, one that claims to “turn the whole search engine into one giant social network”, and makes connecting online more like connecting in the real world.
“At its core, Google+ is a social network” (B. Parr, 2011, Mashable.com), and its “stream” feature is a lot like Facebook’s News Feed feature: it allows users to share status updates, news and views, photos, videos, and links. But that’s where the similarities sort of stop and Google+ starts to look quite different from its counterparts.
Here’s what Google said: “Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world. Share your thoughts, links and photos with the right circles. Use easy, spontaneous video chat to strike up conversations with as many as nine people at once. Get everyone on the same page with fast, simple group chat. We’re very excited about the new approach to sharing we’ve created through Google+, but this is really just the beginning.”
Google+ is a “project” that will be rolled-out/revealed in stages, but here’s what we’ve been introduced to so far: Circles (which allow you to group your connections and communicate with them as specific targeted groups); Huddle (which is a group chat feature); Sparks (which allow for “accurate and personalized content discovery”), Hangouts, Games, Search, and more! If Google+’s goal was to “topple” Facebook, it might have a shot: “[Google} certainly has a lot to work with, including Picasa, Gmail and Google Maps and information and functions from all of these will be integrated into the Google+ experience” (B. Parr).
But only time will tell. In the meantime, as a business owner looking to leverage the power of social media to build brand awareness and brand loyalty, network, benefit from powerful word-of-mouth advertising, increase sales, and garner support, is Google+ something you should consider devoting time, staff, and resources to?
Should business owners join Google+?
Hot on the heels of the Google+ launch, Google announced the release of Google+ Pages (like Facebook’s Pages feature): “So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about—from local businesses to global brands—so today we’re rolling out Google+ Pages worldwide” (Google Blog).
To get your feet wet (before creating your own business page), consider signing up for an individual/personal account and learn the ins-and-outs of what’s poised to become the next big thing in social networking.
Do you participate in social media marketing as a way to grow your business and increase sales? If so, do you have a social media marketing strategy? Have you ever considered creating a social media marketing architecture? Do you know what “social media marketing architecture” means? If not, you’re not alone.
Many businesses (even big ones who are actively marketing themselves through social media marketing channels) don’t. Which is a problem: All the time, energy, and money in the world spent on social media marketing won’t produce valuable results if it’s done in the absence of a solid plan and clear strategy (architecture).
A good social media marketing strategy (architecture) involves first deciding what your business’ goal is — drive traffic to your corporate site? increase sales? gather new leads? lead conversion? more or better press? The next step is to decide who your audience is (your ideal customers/clients) and to figure out where they are online (what channels) and how best to reach them.With those things in mind (what you want, who you want it from, how you’re going to reach them, and how you’re going to motivate them to do what you want), dedicate some resources (time, staff, and budget; determined as part of your strategy creation) to those channels.
As you move forward, ensure that you stick to your plan (strategy) and have monitoring tools in place to that you can measure the efficacy of each effort (on each channel) and make changes to your architecture as needed. There are countless channels online today. Deciding which ones you’re going to work in (access) can be overwhelming. And depending on how they’re used, combined, and leveraged can be the difference between quick and measureable success or wasted time and money. But this needn’t be daunting; you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, you can (and should) start small and simple: Choose the channel where most of the population (and, as such, probably a big cross-section of your audience) is already active!
And whether or not you think Facebook is necessarily the right fit for your company or brand isn’t really the point. If that’s where your audience is, that’s where you need to be — interacting with them on their level and in the place most comfortable and convenient for them. (This can be a great testing ground too. From here, you can learn where else your audience is online.)
So, if you agree (you should) and decide that Facebook is one of the channels you’ll explore, here are a few key things to consider:
Quality of conversations (and, ultimately, conversations) over content. That’s not to say you don’t have to post things that are relevant, timely, and of value to your audience, but getting them to interact with you in a meaningful way is definitely the most important factor.
Customer service is still paramount. You should treat your friends, fans, and followers as you would a real-live/real-time customer (in your store, for example). Customer service is as important here as anywhere else. In fact, perhaps it’s even more important, thanks to the speed at which news and views are shared online (read: like wildfire). Sentiment about your business can change in the blink of an eye. So following up with customers’ questions and concerns quickly is key.
Listen. Let friends, fan, and followers (your audience/customers) drive the conversation. Post/promote things you’re confident they’re interested in reading/receiving. Customers (like everyone) want to feel heard.
Keep your corporate/brand identity in mind. Remember that even if you don’t advertise or optimize your Facebook page, it’s searchable. People will find it. So while it’s totally appropriate to have a far less formal presence on Facebook than on your corporate website, and real-time interactions/conversations can be a bit harder to manage, make sure that your Facebook activity is in line with your corporate image/mandate, and that if people find your Facebook page before they find your corporate website (in a search for information about your business or your industry), they won’t be mislead, misinformed, or turned off.
Twitter and YouTube are some of the other most popular social networking sites today — though not nearly as popular as Facebook (Some sites indicate that as many as 50% of Americans, for example, are on Facebook, while as few as 13% are on Twitter (and 1% are on location-based sites like Foursquare and Gowalla).) Most importantly, whatever channel (site) you choose to pursue (there are literally hundreds and hundreds to consider), choose carefully. Choose to be active on sites where you know your audience is, and on sites that will encourage interaction and, ultimately, drive them to your corporate website (or your store or your service as the case may be).
And make sure that you have the strategy/architecture/plan in place (the time, staff, and budget) to do it properly (read: frequently) — to respond to activity (questions, concerns, and conversations) quickly, and that you have something meaningful to say and something valuable to impart. And remember: social networking through channels like these is about building your customer base (making friends, fans, and followers) and building brand loyalty (good-will). If you do it with the right attitude, the right plan, and the right goal, the result will be valuable word-of-mouth advertising that will increase sales, and customer loyalty that will keep sales growing.
Last month Stir Communications Group CEO Brent Purves provided insights on Social Media Marketing best practices to the Financial Post for a Canadian business case study called “Focused Messaging: Social media helps us stand out in a noisy new market with many competitors” (Denise Deveau, Financial Post, Mar. 5, 2012).
* * *
Excerpt: “When considering a social media strategy to build buzz around a new business, it’s easy to go wrong if you don’t follow some best practices. Hear are some basic things to consider when targeting a niche market:
Stay engaged with customers. “Anyone who downloads our product or is even remotely interested gets one-to-one support,” says Andi Wilson of MyVoice. “Follow up with anyone who talks to you, and remain active on your feeds. Spend every day searching out people, groups, keywords and hash tags that could bring people to your community.”
Make good use of search terms. For MyVoice, that meant understanding the vernacular of the speech language pathology community among other words (e.g. #SIpeeps - a term for speech language pathologists or #AAC - augmentative and alternative communication).
Use multiple forms of social media. Link videos, photos and tutorials to your site. Add this type of content to Facebook and Twitter to create a richer experience. Don’t forget to tweet new posts.
Be aware. The more you follow people and access their posts, the more posts will appear in your home feed. Make the most of your connections with big users.
Keep it going and current. “Don’t start unless you have a plan in place or you might bite off more than you can chew,” says Brent Purves of Stir Media. Post items daily, then listen and engage. “Wait for opportunities to join conversations rather than just pushing information out,” he advises.
[And] use analytics to track conversations, time spent in conversations, pathways, etc. Don’t discount negative feedback Use those comments as opportunities to directly answer questions or concerns.”
From the Online Marketing Solutions Blog, Stir Communications Group. Stir is a Vancouver BC-based full service internet marketing and web solutions agency. We provide marketing and communications strategy and consulting specializing in internet marketing, social media and business web solutions. Parent company of Twitter Marketing Agency, 11Marketing, and Stir Movies.
In today’s competitive business landscape, being “on top” when people search for businesses like yours using search engines like Google is critical. 86% of online searches in Canada are performed using Google, and research consistently proves that “the top listing gets the most attention” (capturecommerce.com).
In fact, one study showed that “the top spot drove 34.35% of all traffic in the sample, almost as much as the numbers 2 through 5 slots combined, and more than the numbers 5 through 20 (the end of page 2) put together…The biggest jump, percentage-wise, is from the top of page 2 to the bottom of page 1. Going from the 11th spot to 10th sees a 143% jump in traffic…As you go up the top page, the raw jumps get bigger and bigger, culminating in that desired top position” (insights.chitika.com).
The Value of Google Result Positioning
Excerpt: “How much is the top spot on Google actually worth? According to data from the Chitika network, it’s worth a ton – double the traffic of the #2 spot, to be precise. In order to find out the [real]…we looked at a sample of traffic coming into our advertising network from Google and broke it down by Google results placement. The top spot drove 34.35% of all traffic in the sample, almost as much as the numbers 2 through 5 slots combined, and more than the numbers 5 through 20 (the end of page 2) put together…”
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Getting that top spot in search engine results pages involves Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of creating or modifying a website and its content for the purpose of improving its visibility to search engines (and therefore its ranking on search results pages). SEO includes a combination of internal and external (on-page and off-page (ie: behind-the-scenes)) strategies like:
URL structures; keyword/keyphrase research and implementation; site design; HTML; site navigation; link quality; menu items; title tags, metatags, and meta descriptions; navigation; directory and search engine submissions, and content writing. And, recently, social media marketing went from being an important aspect of SEO to a crucial one.
Achieving that “top spot status in Google requires working with the confines of Google’s algorithm. (Definition, Algorithm: “A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end especially by a computer” (www.merriam-webster.com). In the case of Google search results, it means “how Google uses the search criteria you enter to find the best, most appropriate results”.
In the early days of Google, understanding and working with algorithms was something only the most experienced web programmers and internet (SEO) experts could do. Today, Google’s algorithm is much more refined, and there are now some clear industry standards to help those of us who aren’t experienced programmers, SEOs, and Google engineers to compete.
Some of the (many and varied) things Google and the SEO experts at Stir suggest doing to make your site more search engine friendly are as follows:
Give website visitors what they’re looking for; provide interesting, valuable, timely, and accessible information on your site
Make your site easy to navigate (including considering mobile users’ experience) with a logical link structure; include a sitemap
Use proper headings (title tags, meta tags, and meta descriptions), and include images, tables, and lists
Properly tag yours pages and online content Optimize your site’s text (keywords/keyphrases) and use good anchor text
Make sure that other sites link to yours Support your website optimization efforts with Social Media Marketing and submit your site to Google
Remember, though, that at the end of the day, your website (or business’ online content) should serve human visitors before search engines. Again, make your site’s design and content interesting, valuable, timely, and accessible. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. (Google is smart enough today to tell when you’re stuffing content with keywords willy-nilly or participating in link schemes designed to increase ranking.)
Display advertising is growing faster than search advertising. Estimates suggest that display will be a bigger ad category by 2015.
Mobile search is still relatively small compared to traditional search marketing. This provides opportunity to advertise cheaper until smartphone penetration further increases and mobile advertising rates increase.
Mobile advertising isn’t ideal for every business. It’s better suited, for example, for a restaurant where potential customers are on the go and making last minute decisions via their smartphones vs auto marketers whose potential customers make slower decisions and do more research
Keywords cost more now than they did only a few years ago, so with the same budget you can now purchase fewer keywords. The good news, however, is that the technology is getting more sophisticated. Google can serve better performing search ads higher in paid rankings potentially enabling you to get more leads
Business is all about people. Understanding people. Helping people. Connecting with people.
Sometimes, those of us who work in the online world get so caught up tracking followers, retweets, likes, page views and conversion rates that we forget something very important for social media success – engagement.
How to Engage Using Social Media Want to start connecting with people in your social networks? Try these four simple rules of social media engagement:
1. Initiate contact. Make connections. Focus on quality over quantity. 2. Creativity: Break through the wall. Think outside the box for ways to start conversations, to stand out from the crowd, to help people want to connect with you. 3. Be consistent. Establish trust by building consistent presence and positive interactions 4. Be authentic. Share real stories and facts, don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Focus on making real connections with real people and provide great information and resources
Sharing with your circles on Google+ Clicking the +1 button is a great way to highlight content for others when they search on Google. But sometimes you want to start a conversation right away—at least with certain groups of friends. So beginning today, we’re making it easy for Google+ users to share webpages with their circles, directly from the +1 button. Just +1 a page as usual and look for the new “Share on Google+” option. From there you can comment, choose a circle and share.
+Snippets When you share content from the +1 button, you’ll notice that we automatically include a link, an image and a description in the sharebox. We call these “+snippets,” and they’re a great way to jumpstart conversations with the people you care about.
Of course: publishers can benefit from +snippets as well. With just a few changes to their webpages, publishers can actually customize their +snippets and encourage more sharing of their content on Google+. More details are available on the Google Webmaster blog.