YouTube, like all social media, can be an excellent channel for stirring up interest in your brand and keeping your followers up to date with company news, but only if it’s employed correctly. That’s why this ‘Best Practices’ guide was written, to instruct you on the basics of using YouTube as an effective business tool. This post is full of tips you can apply to videos you have already published as well as ones you’re going to publish in the future. I will also advise you on how to approach embedding videos on your website and why you should do so. So, let’s begin.
When uploading a video to YouTube, you will be presented with the following screen:
Please note: The following screenshots are taken from an example upload.
This is where you can take full advantage of all the options that YouTube gives you when uploading in both the Basic Info and Advanced Settings tabs.
• Your title needs to be concise but also engaging and, like any title, try to make it something that the user can’t help but click on. Yes, like ‘Hilarious Spinning Chair’.
•As shown in the picture above, the title gets cut off around the 53 character mark, so I would suggest keeping your title at that length or shorter. If your title needs to be longer that’s okay, just consider the wording so the most important information is within the first 53 characters. Users that are scanning may only look at your first 25 characters or so.
• Try to include keywords that you think users will be searching for in your category. There’s no point calling your video something that, while relevant, is incredibly long or complicated, as users will likely never find it! You should also check that the language you use is the type of language your user is going to be searching for. For instance, you might use language that an expert would understand but a normal user/customer might not.
• Whether you are a big or small company, I’d suggest dropping your brand name from your video. Why? If you’re a big brand, the likelihood is that users know your brand name so they don’t need it in the title. If you’re a small company, chances are a user won’t be searching for you by name. Stick your brand name in your description and tags, and use the free characters to make your title even more eye-catching.
Besides the video, this is the spot that you can really differentiate your video from your competition and, most importantly, drive users from YouTube to your website. Here are some essential tips for your description:
• Include various contact methods as you want viewers to use to get in touch and visit your website. Most importantly, you should include your website address, email, phone number and any other social media channels you have.
• If your video is about a product that you sell then include a link to that product page. Why make the user go out and try to find the item when you can serve it to them on a link? You can also link the user to any other part of your website but only do so if it is relevant.
• Include well-written copy that is informative, engaging and entertaining. It should also be unique. Don’t just paste in generic product information; write unique copy and link the user to the product page where they can find the item specifics. Remember, you want users to click through to your website so don’t just copy and paste your website content into YouTube, or Google will see less reason to rank your site as the information is now available on YouTube.
• As with on-page SEO, associating your video with far too many tags will get it nowhere, fast. I would recommend using between 3-10 keywords, as too many might make your video seem vague and not focused enough to a Search Engine.
• Just because ‘Cats in hats’ is super popular on YouTube right now does not mean it has a place in your list of tags. If you cram your list full of popular tags, YouTube and Google are going to have a very hard time figuring out what your video is actually about and it won’t show up where it should.
• Some experts believe your tags are taken in order of priority by Search Engines, so put your best tags first.
• Within YouTube you can add annotations/notes etc. into your video that can link to other videos, your channel, your Google+ account and other locations. While these can be useful in keeping your user on your channel, you want to avoid using too many or you risk diluting the user’s viewing experience.
• You can also add captions if they are relevant.
As it is, just making videos isn’t enough to get your brand noticed, unless you happen to get lucky and go viral. For those who don’t go viral, you need to employ all your social media channels and use them to your advantage. Here are some tips about being sociable:
• Encourage your viewers to like/share and comment on your video, as YouTube and Google see user engagement as a way to identify high-quality content. Don’t be afraid to engage with your users – everybody likes a company with a bit of personality. Note: Commenting on YouTube can either be set so it is automatically allowed or so that it must be moderated. What you definitely shouldn’t do is turn off comments because you don’t have the time or the resources to moderate them.
• Always promote your videos through your other social media channels. Posted a video? Then share it on Twitter, favourite it, retweet it, get your employees and your friends to retweet it! You can even choose to share an update immediately at the upload page for your video (as shown above), easy! The subscribers you have on YouTube are likely to be different from those you have on Twitter/Facebook etc. so utilise both sets of followers to promote your video.
When a user clicks through to your channel, they see your channel homepage. You’re going to want to make this look enticing and interesting. Granted, you don’t have loads of options but make sure you utilise the options you do have!
• Change your account picture to something relevant. Although you need to link to a Google+ account to do so, it’s well worthwhile. If you have a brand logo that will work best.
• You also have a channel banner in which you can add a nice large image (see above). Make sure your picture is:
- Good quality
• Within your banner you can add quick links to your social media channels (see above, to the bottom right of picture); you should definitely add those if you have them. Below is a link to a helpful site that walks you through doing it:
• There is also an ‘About’ tab; use this opportunity to write a couple of interesting paragraphs about your company. You should also include your website address and methods of contact again.
Embedding your Videos:
For all the good that YouTube can do for your website it does have a downside. As the videos are hosted on YouTube, you are not benefitting from any of the links that they acquire, and this won’t help your rank on Google. That is why throughout this post I have tried to reinforce using every way you can to drive users from YouTube to your site through links, social media and other methods (while not annoying the user with copious amounts of unwanted information). But don’t despair, there is a way to use your videos to the advantage of your website: embedding. YouTube allows you to take these videos and embed them into your site, which can result in users watching your YouTube video but not on YouTube.
If I could impress one thing onto you within the topic of embedding, it would be that simply embedding YouTube videos is not enough to drive users to your site. In most cases, Google will rank the YouTube version of the video higher than yours as the site has a higher domain authority. So here are a few tips for embedding YouTube videos:
• When you take your videos from YouTube to embed on your site, make sure you check the ‘Old embed code’ option. The ‘Old embed code’ option allows your video to be crawled naturally, whereas the new embed code puts your video into an iFrame, rendering it uncrawlable.
• Use your videos, and work your pages around them. What might be a dull category page could be ten times more interesting with the use of a relevant and interesting video. If you have an engaging landing site that offers a strong user-experience, your user is much more likely to continue browsing your site because you have interesting content.
• If you embed your video on your site and do not refer to it with any copy, Google won’t know the video is there and won’t rank you for it. By accompanying the video with engaging and keyword rich text, Google will rank you higher for it.
• You will also want to create a video sitemap, this is separate from your normal sitemap and, like most sitemaps, it’s easiest to use an online service (usually free) to create one. By creating a video sitemap you’re allowing Google to see your video title, description, tags and categories. This doesn’t mean you will always rank above YouTube, but it is one more way to help you raise your rankings. It enables users to be directed straight to your site for the videos, giving you the page views, not YouTube.
Do you use YouTube to promote your business? Has it increased the number of hits on your website? Do you have any tips or tricks you think we should know about? Let me know in the comments below or via twitter @robertjmcgill
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