Improve SEO with Online Video

Part 2: Video Commerce – Don’t Forget the Commerce Part!

Using video search engine optimization (SEO) to drive more customers to your web site.

As I sat down to write Part II in this series of blog posts on using video for e-commerce, I was quite surprised to find such a wealth of knowledge already on the Internet focused on best practices for implementing video SEO.  So, rather than introducing any “groundbreaking” video SEO techniques in this post, I will attempt to distill some of the top-level best practices already out there into an easily digestible format, link you to some other posts that elaborate on the details, and add some of my own commentary to color the discussion so video SEO is viewed through the lens of video commerce.

What in the heck is video SEO anyway?

I love Kieran Hawe’s definition: “Video SEO at its core is about the discoverability of video content via search engines like Google Video, Blinkx or any of 1000’s of Video Search Engines out there. The bottom line goal of Video SEO focuses on getting your video content to the top of search engine rankings – within both the standard search results page and video search results page.”  Kieran, by the way, is my new hero for maintaining such an awesome, information-rich blog (linked at the bottom of this post).

What do I need to do to help search engines find my videos?

Good question – but it’s not the right question for a video commerce professional to ask first.  In video commerce, driving traffic to your videos is only worthwhile if it drives customers closer to a sale or increases the number of transactions you are able to achieve.  I can not state this point strongly enough!  Eyeballs are great, but sales are what count in video commerce.  In a slowing economy, this is more important now than ever before.  Don’t fall prey to thinking that your video commerce initiative will be wildly successful just because some of your videos show up high in Google rankings.  Go talk to the CFO and see how much he cares that your videos are at the top of an organic search query while the whole company is wildly whiffing on its Q4 sales targets… point made!! ;-)

My number one rule of video SEO as applied to video commerce is:

Drive traffic to videos that are driving customers into your purchase process.  

If all you are doing is driving traffic to videos outside your site that don’t offer a clear way for users to get back onto your site (I see a lot of retailers do this with their YouTube channels, for example), or to videos on your own site that offer no clear path to a sale – then it is reasonable to question whether you are truly implementing video commerce or instead are just experimenting with video as an awareness tool.

I’ll get off the soapbox now and move onto some tactics you can use to boost video SEO:

1.  Use keyword-rich text on your video pages.  That includes things like descriptions of the video, tags of the video, and potentially even a transcript of the speech from the video on the page.  Related photos and news on a video page can also improve SEO, but one rule of thumb to be aware of is that when it comes to video SEO, the best practice is only to show one video per page.  Your video pages should ideally also use permalinks.  An example would be  The video itself should also include a descriptive name (e.g. cool-video-of-bob-barfing.flv).  The page title should be relevant to the video, and meta tags on the page should include relevant information to the video playing on the page.

2.  Use links within your video player.  Google now is indexing .SWF files.  This represents an enormous SEO opportunity for Flash files served outside your site or even within your site to appear in Google rankings.  Kieran wrote an excellent post about this recent development.  Keep in mind that Google is not indexing .FLVs (the actual Flash videos), but if your video player is a .SWF that uses embedded links, then those .SWF links may be indexable.

3.  Syndicate, syndicate, syndicate.  A staple of a successful SEO strategy is ensuring that relevant sites link back to your own site.  Let your users do some of the work for you by supporting blog embeds, social network embeds (e.g. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter) and embeds to sites like StumbleUpon and digg.  Also, push your videos out to video sharing services and affiliates (just remember to link back to your site whenever possible!).  The use of descriptive anchor text with your embeds can also help with SEO.  

4.  Use Google Video Sitemaps and mRSS.  Google Video Sitemaps let Google know that a video is playing on a page.  You can create one using Google’s webmaster tools interface, and there are also tools on the market that will create them for you automatically.  mRSS is supported by many video search engines and Yahoo.  It provides search engines with important information used to index your video files.

5.  Read more about Video SEO.

I mentioned Kieran’s blog several times here already and strongly encourage a read:

ReelSEO is a frequently updated site with many articles relating to video SEO:

This looks like a great resource – admittedly I didn’t make it all the way through:

This article is a bit more high-level and more specific to online video advertising:

You’ll have to be a MarketingSherpa member to read this article (they offer a free trial).  I have been pretty impressed by MarketingSherpa’s presentation of educational content along with real-world examples: