Steffan Aquarone

Steff is a film producer and technology entrepreneur who speaks internationally on innovation, entrepreneurship and digital marketing

YouTube: where does it fit into online video strategy?


As I was cited by Econsultancy recently as saying, YouTube is owned by Google whose commercial interest is driving PPC revenue. Although YouTube is a great way of getting your video found online, it’s much more beneficial for companies to get people to watch video content on their own sites since this gives them greater control over the user experience. And yet YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world and is the number one most popular search engine for certain demographics.

They key to getting the ‘best of both worlds’ is a combined approach: making sure your site-hosted content is findable through video sitemaps (see recent blog post on how to do video sitemaps) to drive traffic direct to the videos on your site, but also making sure your content is hosted on YouTube so you’re findable there too.

As with SEO itself, there are several factors you can optimise that will determine where in the SERP your video will appear. These principles will determine the order of search engine results on YouTube:

  • Metadata – video title and description tags
  • Number of comments and shares
  • Backlinks
  • Date added
  • View count (and channel view count, number of subscribers and playlist adds for YouTube)
  • Rating and flagging (where applicable)
  • Incoming links (exposure on other sites, other embeds, RSS links

Because it’s so much harder to get viewers to take a related action on YouTube than it is on your own site, my advice would be to upload limited-length or ‘trailer’ style content to YouTube. If your content is interesting, useful or entertaining, a message during the YouTube video that says “visit ourcompany.com/tv to watch the full video” will likely be an acceptable ask. Of course, it’s important to test these theories in practice for your content and your customers.

Just remember: YouTube exists to drive clicks for Google’s Adwords customers, taking valuable viewers away from your content and off to someone else’s website – potentially your competitors. Driving customers to watch videos on your website, where you can control the experience including what happens after the video, will always lead to better results whatever your objectives.

Filed under: online video strategies, , , ,

Video SEO: it’s simple, here’s how


Google search engine results pages now contain a combination of types of media. Web page results still dominate but for a given search phrase, video, news, location and image results are mixed in together on top of pay-per-click links in a blended search engine results page.

Video is a key ingredient of blended search. Because there are far fewer videos competing for the top spots than there are web pages competing for top of text search, investing time in video SEO will deliver greater results. According to Forrester Research, optimizing video content to take advantage of blended search is by far the easiest way to get a first page organic ranking on Google.

Videos appear in the search engine results pages of the likes of Google and Yahoo via things called Video Sitemaps. Search engines aren’t smart enough to be able to see what’s in online videos in the way they can read text on web pages, so to add your videos to their video indexes you need to tell the search engines exactly where your videos are. Video sitemaps do this – they’re small files that contain information about where videos outside YouTube (which populates Google automatically) are located. Typically, these files include a title, description, URL of the page where the video can be watched, the location of a thumbnail image of the poster frame, and the location of the video file itself. You can upload your own sitemaps to Google, Yahoo and others or you can use an online video platform to do it for you. I don’t usually link to commercial products but I really like Buto’s simple video sitemaps feature – which will do all the above for you.

The best thing about video sitemaps is that when a user clicks on one of your videos in a search engine results page they‘re directed straight to the page where the content is hosted, as opposed to being directed to YouTube where it‘s considerably harder to get them to take a related action. So a small amount of time invested in putting together your video sitemap or listing automated video sitemaps as a priority feature could pay dividends. Because video sitemaps contain relatively little information, optimising your video for search is limited to the title, description and keyword fields.

Filed under: online video strategies, , , ,

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