If you haven’t heard, the news regarding online video is good. Our friend Matt McGee informed us  yesterday about the Pew Research Center report that found the number of adults watching online video has doubled since 2006. What does that mean? It means that now 2 out of every 3 adults online are spending time watching video. Those are some pretty convincing numbers.
As a small business owner, online video is a great way to stand out, to bring qualified traffic to your site and to get your videos into the engine’s Universal Search results. With all the talk about the online video gold rush, I thought it may be timely to take a look at how SMB owners can optimize their YouTube accounts to receive even more traffic and rankings.
Optimizing Your Account
Your first step is to obviously create a YouTube account if you don’t already have one. Assuming this is going to be a business account, do your best to secure the name of your company as the username. If you can’t, find something else that will be easy to brand. The URL for your YouTube account will look something like [youtube.com/profilename]. That means getting your brand in there, will almost ensure that users will find it when they perform a search for you. Once you decide on a username, you’ll also need to give up the goods – telling YouTube your country of residence, your zip code and birth date.
With your account created, go ahead completely fill out your profile. Upload an avatar, give yourself a keyword-rich description, link back to your site in the Website section, share your hometown and dig into the hobbies, focusing on activities that complement your business or line of work.
Optimizing Your Video Content
Obviously, the bulk of your optimization efforts will focus on the actual video themselves. Here are some of the most important areas you’ll want to spend time on.
Video File Name: By default, your video will probably have an awesomely lame file name like “vid012912”. This will not help people find you. Instead, rename the video to give it a more descriptive, keyword-rich title. For example, if your video shows how to arrange a floral bouquet, a good name may be “how to arrange a bouquet”. Do your best to be as descriptive as you can in 4-5 words.
Title: One of the biggest missteps we see with clients is that they want to give all their videos the same title – their business name. Problem is, this doesn’t tell users or the search engines what this video is about and it certainly won’t help people find it. When thinking up a good title, try and think of what a normal searcher would type into YouTube. Often your title will be a slightly extended version of your file name.
Description: Take some time to write a video description that accurately depicts what’s being demonstration or talked about in the video. A good description should build upon what you’ve already said in your Title and give people a reason to continue on and watch the video. I’d also recommend dropping a link to your Web site into the video description to help drive people back to your Web site. YouTube gets a lot of traffic. Capitalize on that.
Tags: The tags you associate with your video are going to be really important because they dictate what “related videos” yours will be paired up with. Your tags should be individual words, not long phrases, and should include all the keywords you used in the file name/title/descriptions, as well as anything else that may be relevant. There’s no limit to how many tags you can add to a video, so as long as they’re relevant, have at it.
Optimize Your Video Channel
Many small business owners don’t realize that they can also optimize their video channel. To do this, visit your profile page and click the link to edit your channel. From there, you’ll be able to edit the title of your channel, write a keyword-rich description (and include a link to your Web site), assign tags, and set whether or not you’ll allow comments (you should). You can also set the type of channel you’re running to help identify if you’re a director, a musician, comedian, reporter or a guru. I’m not exactly sure what qualifies someone as a “guru”, but welcome to the Internet. 😉
To help your page stand out, you should also upload a branded background to help people associate your company with the video’s they’re seeing on your channel.
We know that at least some of YouTube’s ranking algorithm is dependent on community factors like the number of views you have, comments, rating, etc. To help your video earn these cred points, you want to become part of the YouTube community.
Find friends on YouTube by searching for your own keywords and checking out the profiles of the folks who show up. Look for people who are not only in your industry, but in parallel industries, as well. Search for you location and find users who are local to you. Not only will this find you new friends to network with, but you may find some real life customers, too.
Once you have friends, interact with their videos. One of the best ways to gain traffic to your YouTube videos is to post a video response to other people’s video. This puts your video in their comment section so that everyone who views it will see your video right below. You’ll want to target not only your friends’ videos, but also other related videos with very high popularity numbers.
Online video and small businesses are a match made in heaven. Make sure you’re taking advantage.