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The New Frontier: YouTube Optimization

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Search engines have been around long enough for traffic-minded marketers to whittle down SEO and SEM to a near science – okay, an exact science sans the key algorithm variable. But what is known about optimizing video content on YouTube? Next to nothing, that’s what.

That doesn’t stop the especially enterprising from trying to figure it out before the traditional advertising companies do, though. As far as the SEM community goes, they may soon claim YouTube optimization (or video optimization if you prefer) as their inherent turf.

The thought behind this is that search engine marketers already have the experience with "relevance-driven cost-per-action models," and with bringing content to the forefront. Critics say this will give online marketers a leg-up on Madison Avenue.

"Let’s face it," writes Otto Digital‘s Jonathan Mendez, "traditional agencies, the IAB, et al, have not figured out what to do with video ads over the past few years."

If you follow Mendez’ line of thought, another hurdle for traditional agencies will be transition of mindset when it comes to video. Television ads are thought to be passive branding vehicles where messages are watched, and if lucky, catalogued for later action.

It is the assumption that this passivity will translate to online video that could keep the larger industry from fully capitalizing on a meme.

[I]t’s likely if the user has time to watch a video they have time to do something else immediately afterwards that would be of interest to them. So while the act is passive there is a forward driving goal-based event that precedes it and some user action that will occur after it.

If so, then conversion rates go up, and SEMs are in a prime position to make something of video ads. So how exactly, especially at a time when YouTube search stinks, can this burgeoning market be tested? The answer, for now, may be in tagging.

Mendez continues his thoughts a few weeks later with some advice about how to optimize tags for YouTube. And seeing as how an H&R Block YouTube video is the most linked-to video in the site’s history with about 1.2 million links and 1.7 million views, it might be something to think about.

Jonathan provides seven guidelines for optimizing video tags. In a nutshell, they are:

1. Relevant keywords (from the user side, not submitter’s)

2. As many tags as will fit

3. Change them up for each video

4. Use adjectives

5. Category descriptor tags

6. Match title and descriptor tags

7. No natural language (i.e., get rid of "and" and "to")

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  • kinlane

    Thanks for this great detail going beyond just a presence at online video sharing web sites.

    Definitely a few optimization areas I had not thought of.

    This is definitely a open playing field.

    Kin Lane
    Video Squad
    www.videosquad.us
    info@videosquad.us

  • Justin Frost

    Hi Jason,

    Great article, we are truly on the forefront of this new technology.

    I have heard predictions [and I believe them] that say the internet will be 90% video content within 10 years.

    This makes sense to me especially when in the real estate industry technologies such as ‘V360′ or ‘QTVR’ are quickly being replaced by videos…

    As the ease of uploading and capturing video content increases this is sure to continue.

    Video enabled phones will soon be standard issue from the major providers and this is sure to fuel the power of video.

    Voice recognition software will index the words within the video and allow the search engines to index them like text based web pages..

    Interesting times!~

    Cheers,
    Justin Frost
    http://www.realstock.ca

  • http://www.town-court.com County Court

    Has anyone researched the effect of video length on clickthrough rates? If I see a video is 10 minutes I may be hesistant to put the time in. If the video is 30 seconds I’m more likely to give it a shot, though at 30 seconds maybe it’s too short?

    Any thoughts on that?