You’ve no doubt heard that YouTube is now the number two search engine after Google. This is an incredible ascendancy and marks a turning point that anyone using the web to reach customers will have to take note of.
It means, in terms of SEO, video is fast becoming the best method to drive traffic to your website. Embracing video and learning how to get the most from it will pay big dividends down the road. Thankfully, video doesn’t need to be hard. Or expensive.
Here are a few thoughts about how to approach video to drive traffic to your site.
First, it’s often said, “Content is king”. Boy, is it ever. But what exactly does this mean? It means your videos need to provide useful information or be incredibly entertaining, or both. We’re not talking viral video here — the kind with surfing kittens or infant gymnasts — we’re talking about video related to your business or service that you could actually imagine watching yourself.
To start, you will need a camcorder. Inexpensive high-def models make getting started easy. You will also need video editing software, which you can download for free from the internet.
Three things to be mindful of when shooting your videos are lighting, sound and camera movement. In terms of lighting, if you’re not a Hollywood cinematographer, just strive to shoot an image that is not under or over exposed. Sound is probably the most important of these three because bad audio is not tolerable to viewers. Make sure you record clean sound (getting the mic as close to the subject as possible is key) with no over-modulation. Finally, don’t move the camera a lot. Cut, if you want to show something new. The web delivers still video much more cleanly than video with tons of movement. With these basic technical hurdles surmounted, you can produce video people will watch.
As for content, here’s where you need to expend your creativity. Consider who you’re trying to reach and tailor your video for them. If you’re making how-to videos, organize them so they are as simple and informative as possible. This also applies for product demonstrations. Useful videos will get used. There’s no need to crack jokes while you’re teaching folks how to repair a broken compressor. If you’re naturally funny so be it, but don’t force it. Be yourself. Be useful.
The same is true if the purpose of your video is to entertain. Craft concise, organized content that expresses one simple idea and does it well.
And, most importantly for web video… keep it short. Anything over three minutes is death. One to one and a half minutes is probably the ideal length. If you absolutely can’t keep your content shorter than ten minutes, try dividing it up in to shorter two minute chapters so it’s easier to digest.
Think of video as a long term proposal. It takes a while to build traffic. You have to get noticed, word has to spread and you have to continually feed the kitty with new content so you can retain the users you attract.
As for distributing your content, if you don’t have a lot of money, park your videos on YouTube or Vimeo along with any other video sharing site you like and link to them from your site. This is a good, cheap way to get started, get instant feedback and hone your skills to craft better and better videos.
Once you get a following, you will want to consider embedding a video player in your website. It costs money for the bandwidth and the player, but the advantage is that you keep people on your site and you can embed paid advertising into your videos, which can be a source of considerable revenue.
We’ll follow up on that idea in another posting. Good luck and get started!