Universal Search Paves the Way for Local Video

Most of the discussion on local video advertising has happened around IYPs and local search sites such as Citysearch. This is certainly where most of the activity is taking place as these companies are taking the guesswork out of video production and distribution for resource-constrained SMBs. This is of course happening with the help of a growing list of video vendors, such as TurnHere, whose services IYPs essentially resell.

But on the other side of this coin are SMBs that decide to go it alone. This is a rare breed among the ranks of resource-constrained and tech-illiterate small businesses that make up the universe. But this animal has proved to learn some clever tactics to get its branding “out there” via video. One way this has happened is simply through uploading new or existing creative to YouTube and making sure it is SEO friendly.

The reason this is an interesting approach has a lot to do with the universal search (or blended search) movement being pushed by Google, Yahoo! MSN and Ask.com (which is the unsung hero and most meaningful practitioner of the movement). For those who don’t know, universal search seeks to evolve the search engine result page from a series of text links to a more multimedia-rich blend of images, maps, local results and video. (Amazon’s A9 was an early pioneer of this, circa 2005).

The thought is that users’ expectations are evolving to want everything in one place online. Compare that with traditional media where everything is siloed in different buckets (television, radio, newspaper, classifieds, Yellow Pages). Rising broadband penetration has also helped to push this forward, at least where video comes into play.

precision-camera.jpg

So the point is, as search engine algorithms look more favorably on video content for the top spots on their results pages, opportunity for exposure increases for any video producer that is on top of his SEO game. Combine this with the dearth of video content (relative to the greater universe of text on the Web) and there is some prime real estate for the picking (above image of Austin, Texas-based Precision Camera’s spoof on Mac/PC ads in the second spot on Google).

In some ways, this could also represent a back door way into top spots in Google that are traditionally impossible to get because of popularity or bid pressure (keywords such as “restaurant, Manhattan”). Because some top spots are “saved” for video and because of, again, the relative dearth of video supply, optimized videos can essentially find a secret side door into these coveted spots (at least for now).

So what are these SEO tactics? One example some clever SMBs (and search engine marketers) have started to use is to have the video on their Web sites linked to the same video that has been uploaded to YouTube. When Google sees that the copy and tags surrounding the video are the same as the corresponding video on YouTube, it will rank the video highly as part of its general favorability of YouTube content. Clever.

Back to IYPs, they should see an opportunity in this trend. Instead of having video content buried within their own listings, is there an opportunity here to make videos more portable and optimized to live on in other places such as YouTube and Google results pages? This has the potential to not only drive traffic back to IYPs, but also carry their branding, which enhances exposure through viral distribution. Not to mention that IYPs can stake a claim in this universal search land grab.

Many more interesting SEO tactics are possible, and there is an announcement coming next week from a company that specializes in this very thing (can’t yet discuss). Stay tuned.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Mark Robertson

    Mike, this is exactly I do at ReelSEO, namely Video SEO for universal search. I would love to discuss with you at some point as I have been following your posts and have a strong idea that I would love to discuss with you. Please let me know if you have some time. Also, I would love to share this and other posts that you do about video with my readers if interested. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks

  2. Glenn Pingul

    Great post Mike. Video SEO is still very new but it’s implications for SMBs getting discovered online are tremendous. At Mixpo, we believe we are at the cutting edge of optimizing video for search. What we have found with small businesses is that they want a turnkey solution that is affordable, easy, AND, most importantly, effective at driving their online marketing efforts. It begs the question: beyond posting videos (a la Youtube) how can SMBs optimize VideoAds for action?

  3. Mike Boland

    Thanks Mark and Glenn. I agree that this is an area that will see an increasing amount of investment and attention. You both seem to be at the forefront and I’ll follow up offline to chat more.

  4. Mary Watkins

    Companies looking to maximize the time and money put into video for the Web should seriously consider captioning and/or subtitling (depending on U.S. vs. worldwide target audience). Yes, the content becomes accessible to people losing their hearing, or those in offices or settings where audio isn’t an option, but it also makes the content 100% searchable. Depending on the project or project, search optimization could be even more important that the “community good” that captioning achieves.

  5. SalesDrivenMarketing.com

    Great article. Is there any substance to the rumors that once Google roled out Google Universal, their pay per click revenue per screen went down, causing them to re-think even offering Google Universal?

    Thanks,

    http://www.SalesDrivenMarketing.com

  6. Dick Larkin

    Excellent thoughts and comments.

    Local video is only valuable if it is seen by local customers. At Weblistic, we’ve pioneered creating video that is locally targeted. Syndication to Google, YouTube, Yahoo, MySpace and dozens of sites has been HUGELY successful in terms of exposure.

    This all boils down to the goal of the campaign. If the publisher’s primary goal is control of data, they will fight syndication. If the publisher’s goal is ROI for their advertiser, they will embrace syndication.

    Several of our advertisers have received tens of thousands of views of their local videos that we could never have achieved had we fought syndication.

    Sometimes, you have to give away that which is good in order for it to become great.

  7. Mike Boland

    Very well said Dick. I’d be very interested to hear how you’re syndicating and targeting locally.

  8. Mark Alan Effinger

    Hi Mike,

    Excellent post, and your comment re: “When Google sees that the copy and tags surrounding the video are the same as the corresponding video on YouTube, it will rank the video highly as part of its general favorability of YouTube content. Clever.” is right on target.

    When we were part of PRWeb.com, we were seeing lots of “pre-Universal Search” hapening with news images, attachments and podcasts.

    Now that they gate has been opened for Web Search => Universal Search, we developed an engine specifically designed to optimize Video, Images, Articles, PR, Blog Posts, Social Bookmarks, mRSS and RSS to help escalate a company’s media assets into Universal Search results.

    If you’d like a test of our platform, let me know and we’ll walk you through the process.

    Again, excellent post. The only thing I could add would be that when we perform a multiple-media distribution tuned to Local Search, we often see a Google Map, and up to 10 links to the immediate right of the map. This is usually top of the page (some very prestigious search real estate).

    Great post, and you’re absolutely right about SMB’s: We work with many companies in the Inc 5,000 who are just now beginning to look at their web strategy.

    Better late than never, right?

    best,
    Mark Alan Effinger
    http://www.RichContent.com

  9. Sheila Clover English

    This is something we’ve been doing for a while now. We’ve even collected data and turned it into a white paper called The Residual Marketing Effect which you can find for free here-
    http://www.cosproductions.com/Resources/index.php

    We recently did a study where we outsources some video distribution with another company and then did our own in-house distribution of the same the video using the same tags, description, etc. Our SEO after upload hit the first page of search in Google where the other company’s work didn’t show up for pages after.

    I do believe that part of that is because we link our upload sites to our site and to each other in a number of ways. We’re still studying this effect and will send out a report in 2009.

    The white paper, which has been out for a few months, shows examples of video SEO pre and post uploads. But there are other residuals to online video that help SEO tied to current affairs and pop culture algorithms. It’s all very interesting!

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