7 Steps to Sexier Online Video Optimization


Online video is about as sexy as it gets on the Internet. And I’m not even talking about the porn. You love online video, your mother loves it, your customers love it and, better yet, Google the search engines love it. In a world where we talk about creating linkable content that users like to share, video is that content. It’s easy to spread, easy to digest and it doesn’t require people to actually read anything. Video is the pretty, vapid girl everyone had a crush on in high school. And they’re still stalking her.

With video showing up more in the search results and users still going bananas over it, it’s important that you’re wooing online video as effectively as you can. It’s not enough to simply create a video here and there; there should be a larger online video strategy that makes it look like you know what you’re doing. Below are seven tips to help you create sultrier video this year.

1. Have an end goal

Knowing that you want to create online video doesn’t exactly tell you what you want to do with it or how you’ll use video to reach your larger goals. If you take a look at the video content being put out by brands you’ll see that it spans a variety of different content types. There’s God-awful promotional videos that highlight how awesome a company thinks it is (please avoid this), how-to videos that walk viewers through a specific process, news videos that keeps them up-to-date on the latest happenings, entertainment videos where we watch people fall down, etc. You’re putting out video for a reason, right? What is it and what type of video is going to help you get there? You should know this before you spend the time and resources staging Fluffy getting stuck in the dryer.

2. Master the production process

Just because you don’t need a $50,000 camera to produce online video (and you don’t) doesn’t mean it’s any less serious of a marketing investment. The same time and effort that you put into everything else, you want to put that here, as well. It’s pretty obvious to a user when a company simply “wings” their online video strategy. It’s also off-putting. To create online videos your customers will connect with, dedicate time to coming up with interesting concepts, storyboarding your videos, writing scripts, figuring out production, shooting them, editing them, and getting them ready to go live. The more time you spend producing them, the smoother they’ll be when in the hands of your customers. Remember, you want them to be passing these around. Make sure you’re proud of the end result.

3. Pick a good thumbnail

Your thumbnail still is one the most critical parts of the video process because it’s what determines whether or not someone clicks on your video. And yet, far too often companies completely forget to optimize them. Depending on which third-party video site you’re using, you’ll be given several thumbnail options after you upload your video. Take care to pick the most engaging one. Typically, this means choosing the option where there’s a(n attractive) human face present, instead of a text slide or a random building, as people tend to connect more with people and faces. However, you may want to experiment with different types of thumbnails to see which one converts the best for you. More on that in a bit.

4. …and end slate

Your end slate is the last frame of your video. Essentially, it’s your money shot. If someone has stuck around to watch the entire length of your video, you want to make sure you’re giving them a good call to action to get up and DO something. Whether you’re telling them to visit your Web site, to subscribe to your video channel, to like you on Facebook, make sure you give them some way to follow up with you. In that moment you have their full attention and they’re waiting for you to tell them to do something. Don’t leave them hanging.

5. Put videos on YouTube…and your Web site

By putting videos on multiple different outlets, it allows you to get the same video in the search results. Sure, that’s great for branding purposes, but more important than that, it means you’ll be able to compare clickthrough data for the different videos. You’ll be able to see what thumbnail gets the most clicks, which end slates have the best calls to action, what length gets the best result, etc. By leveraging multiple different video outlets, it also allows you to cater to that particular demographic. The customers who view your video via your site probably aren’t the same audience as the ones who stumble upon it on YouTube. Now you can account for that and market to both.

6. Include video on site pages that convert

Just because YouTube is doing the dirty work by hosting your videos, doesn’t mean you should leave that content off on an island by itself. Bring it back into your site and use it to attract potential customers. Because video is the exact type of content that users like to share, it’s a natural link builder and can even help increase sales. Last year Rico Nasol, Content Team Manager at Zappos, revealed that putting video demos on their product pages helped to increase sales 6 to 30 percent. That’s a stat worth knowing.

7. Don’t forget your video search engine optimization

Hi. If you’re going through all this trouble to create and test your videos, make sure you’re SEOing them, as well. It absolutely puzzles me the number of businesses that produce video content with no regard to basic video search engine optimization. When you create your videos, you want to be optimizing your title, description, any associated tags, creating captions, and adding transcripts to your videos. While there are lots of videos on the Web right now, most of them are very poorly optimized for search. Optimizing yours will give you a big step up.

Those are my seven tips for creating sexier online video, while still holding on to your shirt. Anything you want to add to my list or good examples of successful online video?

Your Comments

  • netmeg



    I [b]hate[/b] when people forget this. I have clients with videos hijacked by competitors and embedded into competitor sites because there’s no branding on them. And it happens ALL the time. Given my druthers, I’d use titles at the beginning AND the end. But if you can’t do that, at least do one or the other. And if title screens are beyond you, then shoot the video with a catalog, or a tee shirt, or some letterhead plainly visible – ANYTHING that indicates that the video is yours. Because if you think someone won’t swipe it for their own purposes, you’re fooling yourself.


  • Debra Gaynor

    Great tips. Especially transcribing videos. We’re just starting to use video this year and it never occurred to me to transcribe them. Thanks!

  • Jen Sable Lopez

    I just want to add the importance of producing a video XML sitemap for your video content separate from your main XML sitemap. We’ve found this is a great way to get your videos to start showing up in the SERPs. You can host your video on Youtube and still reap the SEO benefits from the video sitemap. Google itself has some great information on creating one.

  • Chris Theisen

    Great post and tips. I take slight issue with #2 however. In my experience and in my personal preference the higher the production the less real the video comes across as. Basic editing, whether it be audio or title screens is key but over editing and over producing works against you in my opinion. It is good to get general ideas down of where you are going with a video but when you start storyboarding and scripting stuff you better have actors that know how to act while filming. Get a general idea together and let the video go where it may and edit as necessary after that. You will connect better with your audience. Even big brands would be wise to stick to this setup I think.

  • Sheila Scarborough

    I learned from Glenda Watson Hyatt that when you craft your content to meet Web accessibility standards, you are also helping your SEO – she says, “Remember; the bots are blind, too.”

    Transcriptions of your videos help your deaf and hard of hearing customers and viewers, in addition to giving bots something to chew and index. YouTube’s auto-transcription service is far from perfect, but at least it gives you a rough draft to edit and match to the dialog, and it’s free.

  • Ivan Walsh

    Tip when shooting the video: don’t look at the camera – look slightly over the camera into the middle distance… and glance back at the camera every now and then.

    It creates more tension…

    Staring at the camera does not work. Study how the pros/models do it and see how they control their line of vision by shifting their attention.

  • Sage Lewis

    Yet more awesome content, Lisa!

    Here’s my video response:

    I talk about a video transcription service I’ve had experience using… Verbal Ink.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Dhananjayan Sekar

    Promoting Videos online is the great idea for doing online marketing. It’s the most important thing that the video should have end slate with the product details.
    Very useful seo tips..

  • Val @ Web Tracking Guide

    Very practical advice, one of the best posts I’ve read on video marketing so far. Thank you!

    I need to get up to speed and try creating some video for my blog, if only as an experiment. It’s so difficult to make the first step!

  • nandoism

    Keep in mind that when you are SEO’ing your videos–on any page other than the actual watch page, only the first 32 characters of the title will be displayed –which roughly translate to your the first 5 words of your title — so make them count.

    Also to consider:

    Do a casting call on yourself–meaning, “Are you the right person for the video?” even if it’s about you, your good or services. You might have the brain power to create excellent content–but you might not have the ability to deliver it. Video is different that copy–I’ve seen so many great bloggers fizzle when they take to video because I expect the same punch as in their written posts. There are so many angles/concepts that you can shoot–even if the video is about you. If you come across like a wet penny–no one will share, comment, rate or tune back in.