The Technical Mechanics: Hosting, SEO, and Analytics
Video Distribution – An Ever-Changing Game
In Video Marketing, distribution is part hands-on technical stuff and part strategy.
The technical part deals with the mechanics of getting the finished video out into the world, which is video hosting. It also deals with SEO (search engine optimization) and with analytics.
As you can see below, video marketing is a circular affair: Strategy starts with being clear on distribution channels.
You might find in your analytics that your viewers jump ship at a certain spot in one of your videos and moving things around, or supplementing your video’s content with text, or a graphic is needed so the viewer doesn’t miss the most essential information.
Whatever the data may show you, the one thing that is certain is that video is no longer that one big investment asset that stays the same for a long time.
Video today is either built for a very short consumption time frame, or in constant flux. And this is especially true for small business, and even more so, for content produced for social media.
Here is what we’ll go over in Part One:
What is Video Hosting?
Best Platforms to Host Video for Small Business
Why Search Engine Optimization is Important for Video Marketing
A Guide to What You Can Do to Optimize your Video
What is Video Hosting?
Hosting a video means that you will upload videos directly to a site.
Native Hosting means that you upload the video onto the platform you want it to be played – for instance, Facebook. Just as you would typically upload images on your site.
Embedding is a two-step process where you upload a video on a third-party site (like YouTube), and then you copy a small bit of code that they furnish for you and paste that code into your post or page on your own site. That code allows the video to play directly from YouTube on your site or a social media platform (such as Facebook) as if it was hosted there.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of getting your videos online, the ONE big thing I learned early on is never self-host a video on your site. Use a third-party site and embed from there onto your website.
Why? Well, hosting platforms, such as YouTube, are built to take your video and automatically adjust (transcode) it to where it’s being played, making the video fully responsive to whatever environment it happens to be in.
Meaning, if I’m on a cell phone it will give me a much smaller video file, so it can start streaming immediately. But if I’m on a powerful desktop computer, YouTube adapts and I will get a much bigger file with better image quality that will still load and start playing immediately!
Using a hosting platform like YouTube allows the video to automatically respond to its environment and create the best playing experience for the viewer. Unless you really know how to write your own code, self-hosting on a site like WordPress will not give you that same service.
The Best Platforms to Host Video for Small Business – What I Learned the Hard Way
Last summer, I went to Wistia’s (a video hosting platform) two-day conference about all things business video. I came home with a notebook and head filled with a lot of insights about hosting!
One big takeaway from the conference also fed right into a pain point of mine: Replacing video content while keeping the same URL/link intact.
The day before I left for the conference, I had to take down two videos from YouTube – where I host all my videos. A client asked me to take them down, despite having a signed agreement (and he had a good reason), and I felt obliged to do so. He had switched job and the videos caused turmoil with his new bosses.
The ramifications were awkward, to say the least. Broken links mean SEO penalties and – far worse – potential clients with “oops – this video no longer exists” links.
You see, YouTube doesn’t allow for a video replacement under the same URL or embed code. And, this wasn’t a new problem.
I had faced this issue before in a different scenario: A few weeks after writing a guest blog, I created better versions of the explainer videos that I had originally, quickly thrown together. But, it turned out that blog site didn’t have the manpower to embed the newer versions.
Had I used a full-featured hosting-service like Vimeo or Wistia, I could have switched out the videos in both scenarios, without having to inconvenience anybody, or creating broken links.
I host videos on YouTube because it’s such a powerful search engine – and it’s free and easy to use. Turns out those are not good enough reasons when you use your videos for business!
I continue to host videos on YouTube, but solely as a social media platform.
For hosting my business’ videos that get embedded on my website or get sent to clients, I use a professional hosting platform.
Which hosting platform works best for you will be dependent on your needs for privacy, if you use pay-walls, and how interested you are in statistics and analytics.
There are many hosting platforms out there, but the biggest ones (and the ones I’ll be talking about here) are YouTube, Vimeo, and Wistia.
The three variables that should inform your decision on a hosting platform are:
- Are your videos private or public?
Public videos mean that they can be found organically, they are searchable, they can go viral, and you’d want them on social media.
For example: If you have a video you want to share with the world and it’s properly labeled so it doesn’t need your websites environment to make sense, then you can host it on YouTube and make it shareable, downloadable, and public. Also, embed the shortcode into your website.
Private videos would be behind a paywall or part of a private subscription channel. They are not publicly searchable, downloadable, or shareable.For example: If you have a video you want to show on your website only because it only makes sense within the environment of your site, then you should host it on Vimeo or Wistia and use their privacy setting so that no one can find it somewhere else. Then embed the code on your website.
- Are your videos free or do people pay for them?
If you need a pay-wall or strict privacy settings, you’ll want to invest in a paid platform like VimeoPro, VimeoBusiness, or Wistia.
- Do you need tons for statistics of how your videos are being viewed?
Statistics and analytics are useful for sales videos when you want to know exactly who watches them, how far into the video they get before you lose them, who your demographic watching is, etc.
Lastly, here are the questions to ask of any hosting service sorted by importance. (Cost is last because the answers to the previous questions will inform the overall cost.)
- Is there automatic optimization of your video (encoding, resolution, responsiveness)?
- What are the options for privacy and sharing?
- What statistics and analytics are available?
- For SEO: Is there a keyword integration option?
- Are pre-rolls or advertising used by hosting service (see YouTube) and can they be controlled, if so at what cost?
- Is there a social media integration?
- How responsive is customer support?
- How are costs broken down: number of videos allowed, megabytes of storage per month, user traffic, etc.
Still not sure which of the big three would be best for you? Here is a pro/con list for each:
|Free||Terms and conditions (read them!)|
|2nd largest search engine||Other people’s content auto plays after your video|
|Owned by Google (SEO preference)||Comments: they can be awful/mean|
|Pretty good statistic tools||Every video is downloadable of YouTube (thanks to sites like convyoutube.com)|
|Subscription possible||It is hard to control|
|Automatic optimization of your video (encoding, resolution, etc.) for all sorts of devices|
VIMEO (Basic, Plus, PRO, Business)
|Fee structure is fairly price
(3 paid tiers with various benefits)
|The only free level (Basic) offers 500MB/week upload, but very few features and only basic stats|
|Nothing shows before or after your video||Not searchable|
|Superior player that looks amazing||Needs a good internet connection to play videos|
|Great for showcasing creative professionals work (i.e. artists, filmmakers, animators, etc.)||User interface not easy to understand for the regular viewer|
|Very good in-house Video School|
The free package very limited (Plus is about $10 a month/5GB and statistics. Pro is about $200 a month/50 GB, sell on-demand, statistics)
WISTIA (Free, Pro, Advanced)
|Serious analytics and stats||More expensive: $0 for three videos maximum and then rates begin at $99/month for paid tiers|
|Searchable||Very small audience|
|More comprehensive API (application program interface)||No promotional help – it’s strictly hosting|
|Great SEO: you can embed keywords into your videos|
|CTAs and lead capture forms can be directly integrated into videos|
|Great educational videos and learning center|
|Good user interface|
|Social Media sharing options built-in|
|Great for backups of your video library|
|Great customer support|
Once you’ve picked your hosting platform, then you want people to see your videos! That’s when Search Engine Optimization comes in….
Why Search Engine Optimization is Important for Video Marketing
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results. SEO optimizes a set of signals (keywords, tags, descriptions, etc.) that tell search engines whether a video is sufficiently relevant and important to get a spot in the search ranking.
Often SEO systems (most popularly, Google Analytics) comes with an analysis report that details how a website owner can improve his or her ranking on popular search engine.
Basically, SEO helps rank and find your video. Analytics tells you if it’s working. And with 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every MINUTE, that comes in handy.
SEO and analytics are the math side of all things and although it might be a bit intimidating especially to the more creative types out there, it’s actually a blessing because we CAN final;y make the point that there is an actual Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to spending money and time on video marketing!
The factors that determine how “important” your video is to any given online query are listed below. No one seems to know EXACTLY how the factor-cocktail is being mixed, but we have a pretty good idea what helps with rankings.
SEO ranking factors in order of importance (more or less):
Factors that have to do with RELEVANCE: Classification and qualification
- KEY WORDS:
Need to be in the title of the video
- LOCATION DIVERSITY:
The more places a video is embedded the more ‘important’ it must be. (Also, the authority of a location is also important: the New York Times is more reputable than your friend’s Facebook stream.)
- LOCATION DISTANCE:
How far away from the home page is the video embedded?
- HOSTING CHANNEL:
- How important is your channel?
- How fresh is it (i.e. how recently have you posted)?
- How often do you post?
- How many subscribers do you have?
- How often and/or how much do you use annotations and tagging?
- Are your videos part of a playlist?
Factors that have to do with ENGAGEMENT: Both quantity and quality
- VIEW VELOCITY:
This is about viewing volume over time. Has viewing picked up and KEPT its viewership, or is it in a decline, or has it flat lined?
Are people watching to the end?
Do people share, ‘like’, comment, favorite it?
SEO is a powerful tool in targeting, attracting, and properly routing web visitors, and it can also be a rabbit hole of information overload.
A Guide to What You Can Do to Optimize your Video
You can control the Relevance factors, you cannot (and shouldn’t pay to) control the Engagement factors.
Here is what to keep in mind as you try and reach peak SEO:
RELEVANCE FACTORS (You control this and they affect your video)
Key Words & Key Phrases:
Finding the right key phrases and key words for your video title, description, and tagging, is a science in itself.
The Title of Video is your TOPIC, and it should contain your Key Word.
Your Key Phrase is a bit more specific and is the DESCRIPTION of your video.
To get to your Key Word and your Key Phrase ask yourself:
- How will your audience search for the answers to their questions?
- What are their questions?
- What terminology are they using?
It’s important to remember to use only one, at most two, keywords that your target audience will actually type into a search engine.
A Tag is an informal and non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information. It helps describe an item and allows for it to be found again by browsing or searching.
For tagging use:
- Your Key Words
- Your Key Phrases
- At least one very general tag
- Get very specific and don’t be shy to use a lot of tags
- Don’t use ‘stop’ words like: And, the, a, or
- Do use “mood” tags that your audience might look for, like: Funny, sad
- Tag PLURAL rather than singular
- Don’t spam-tag. You might get some backlash from unhappy viewers.
- Keep it authentic, but also go as deep as you can and stay relevant.
- They are still very helpful. Most crawlers are still mostly text-based
- Put the video’s transcription on the hosting platform AND on the embed page on your website
- Use it if people are watching your videos on mobile and not listening to the audio
- They are time-based as they “move with the video”
- Be cautious: automatic captions are not very accurate
They do not get ranked, but they are very helpful tools because they get people to take ACTIONS.
- Great for Call to Actions
- Great for linking to your website or specific content
- Include one video per page (does not apply to courses, etc.)
- Use transcripts
- Have social media sharing buttons on those pages
- Optimize the webpage title tag
- Create a link to the page the video lives on from a prominent page on your site
- If you REALLY need to have all the traffic of viewing the video on your own website, then don’t host on YouTube. Host on Vimeo and block the video so Google can’t crawl it.
- Have a launch plan
- Keep announcements short
- Embed only, don’t upload
- Share to: FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Use Google+: even if you have zero friends, Google search favors it
- Monitor feedback and answer/engage with your audience
Playlists on Hosting Platforms:
- Help with ranking because they aggregate views from within
- Viewers might watch the entire list
- 2ndchance to optimize for titles and tags
- Users can like and share an entire list
- You can link channels
- You can link them to your website
- Link them to Google+
- Create two welcome videos: One for peeps who are new, and one for returning visitors. It’s like your channel’s trailer
ENGAGEMENT FACTORS (You can’t control these, but they affect your video)
DON’T: buy views. You won’t be able to keep up viewing velocity and you might actually get found out and penalized for it with no or lower rankings.
DO: ask people to share with their friends; embed the video in different places; and share it yourself. Remember, SEO picks up on the number of places that something is shared as a way to value the video.
Ratings are ranked by quantity and velocity.
- Good or bad ratings DO NOT matter – as long as there’s a slight balance towards positive.
- Ask for a thumbs up (or just a ‘rating’) in the description of your video. i.e.: “Please rate this video below”
The Quality of the comments DO matter for rankings:
- It’s an indirect social proof
- Friends and followers might see if someone they know left a comment
- Always answer all comments
- Block bullies, or false advertisers
- Don’t remove criticism – gracefully answer those too
- Don’t feed the trolls
It’s a lot of information, but if you take it step-by-step then all the hard work that you put into creating your video will actually be seen by your target audience.
In our next blog post, DIY Video Distribution – Part Two, we’ll talk about how social media has influenced Video Marketing as a whole and how it will affect your strategy.