Has Your Site Gone Mobile Yet?

May 12th, 2011

Mobile search is exploding due to the growing popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Recent studies have shown there are currently 5.3 billion mobile subscribers worldwide, comprising 77 percent of the population. It has been predicted that within five years the mobile web will overtake the desktop computer, with the majority of people performing searches and accessing the Internet on a smartphone or other type of mobile device. Given these statistics, it is crucial for a company or brand to provide a mobile version of its website. Yet, most businesses still haven’t taken this important step and are losing out on reaching the huge number of people who are embracing mobile technology. If you still don’t offer a mobile website, it’s critical that you do so now to hold on to your existing customers and to reach out to new ones.

Smartphone Evolution

Why Going Mobile is So Vital

Maybe you have recently finished optimizing your website for search engines and don’t think it’s necessary to spend time, energy and resources for creating a mobile version of your site. Perhaps your SEO campaign is working well—your site is appearing at the top of the SERPs and you’ve even gained some new clients. But, more and more people are using their mobile devices to carry out searches and if you do not have a mobile site that is also optimized for search engines, you will be severely limiting your brand’s reach and effectiveness. Following are a few reasons why you must have an optimized mobile site to stay in the game:

1. SERPs on mobile devices vary greatly from the ones on desktop browsers. A recent study has determined that rankings differ between smartphone and desktop browsers by 86%. For one thing, local results are more prevalent in mobile, so often, Google Places listings appear higher in the SERPs on mobile, pushing down results that may appear higher on a desktop browser. Image results often appear higher in mobile search results with video results appearing on 2 lines instead of 1. So, if your business is local-centric or image or video heavy, a mobile site will put you at a definite advantage.

2. A staggering number of people own mobile devices and this figure grows by the day. It is projected that by the end of this year, 50% of mobile phone customers will own a smartphone. It has also been estimated that the mobile web will be bigger than the traditional desktop model by 2015. What these figures point to is a not-so-distant future where the majority of people are accessing the Internet through mobile devices, so you must act now to keep up with the change.

3. The percentage of people using a mobile device for making purchases is also on the rise. $1.6 billion people purchased from mobile devices in 2009 and this number is only going to get larger with the advent of emerging technology that will allow people to pay for things with a swipe of their phones. Another good indicator of mobile’s continued growth is the estimate that by 2012, mobile advertising will surpass $6.5 billion. If there are businesses out there that already have a budget for mobile and continue to increase the amount they spend, this is a fairly good indicator that the mobile industry is thriving.

4. While most websites look fine on a desktop computer, that same site on a mobile device, if not formatted, can be very confusing and frustrating. Because of its smaller screen size, a “normal” site on a smartphone can be impossible to navigate—the fonts are too small, images are too big, pages take forever to load, Flash doesn’t work—the list goes on and on. If your site is unformatted for mobile, some browsers such as Google Mobile, AOL, Windows Live will employ transcoding and user agent detection on your site and try to format your site for the mobile device that is accessing it. The result can be a very poor user experience with images being sliced in the wrong place, single pages being broke into multiple pages for faster downloads and broken navigation. If your site is transcoded, the links and URLs on your site won’t even belong to you—they will be designed and rendered by the search engines, thus draining most of your SEO value and link juice.

Google voice search for "eric schmidt"

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Now that the case has been made for going mobile, before diving headfirst into creating a mobile site, you must first determine who will be using your mobile site and why. In order to develop a mobile site that fulfills the needs of your particular users, it’s critical to identify what your site will be used for and by whom. Is your site used primarily for delivering content and information or are you selling products and services? Will your target audience most likely access your mobile site while on the go or when they are relaxing on the couch? Before getting into the technical aspects of building your mobile site, you have to put yourself into your user’s position and determine why, when and how they will be accessing your site on a mobile device and whether or not you need to offer everything that is on your desktop site. But, no matter what your niche may be, there are universal characteristics that all mobile sites need to possess:

1. Findability and usability are of paramount importance. More often than not, when someone is accessing a mobile site, they are searching for specific pieces of information and not simply browsing. Therefore, it’s crucial that mobile sites present the information that’s most important to users front and center where it’s easy to find and access.

2. Make sure it doesn’t take too long for your site to load. Mobile technology operates at lower bandwidth than desktop computer networks, so in order to make your mobile site faster, avoid unnecessary elements such as large graphics and huge file sizes that will slow it down. Keep it simple and sleek.

3. Limit your amount of content. Obviously, the screen on a smartphone is much smaller than that on a desktop computer, so you have to limit the amount of information you post. Concentrate on quality over quantity to engage your users and to whet their appetites for more.

4. Provide users with the option of accessing your full site. Some visitors to your mobile will want to access in-depth information that can only be found on your main site, so make sure to provide them a link to do so. Think of your mobile site as a gateway to your full site, which they can either access on their mobile device or visit later on their desktop. Giving your users this choice is very important.

5. Use short forms. Given the limitations of a mobile device, if you are asking your users to fill out information, restrict it to just the most critical information. Using a keyboard on a smartphone can be a challenging experience, so don’t frustrate your users by requiring them to fill out tons of fields of information. Instead, make it easy and convenient for visitors to convert to customers.

Don’t Forget About SEO!

Once you have figured out who will use your mobile site and why, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work on building an intuitive, user-friendly experience that will benefit users and garner you the rankings and relevance that’s desirable no matter what platform your site is being accessed from. Googlebot-Mobile is a web crawler for mobile sites and the biggest factor it takes into account when ranking sites is if they are able to render on any type of mobile device and how fast it takes to load. While optimizing a mobile site is pretty much the same, in theory, as optimizing a desktop site, there are a few fundamental differences:

1. There are fewer keywords in mobile search. When people are performing a search on their mobile devices, they use short phrases and lots of abbreviations. According to Google, the average search is 15 characters long, takes around 30 key presses to complete and approximately 40 seconds to carry out. So, it’s very important to choose keywords that are short and to the point. To rank well in mobile search, it’s a good idea to choose keywords that are common in predictive search phrases, which is the text that appears in a dropdown box on most search engines. This way, people will be able to find your site quickly and easily, without having to struggle with typing all the words out.

2. Context, not content, is king on the mobile web. Mobile search is very different from traditional desktop searches—people are searching for different things in a different way in a different language. Because a lot of people perform mobile searches while out and about, location emerges as a popular search factor. Perhaps someone is looking for a nearby pizza place and searches for one on her smartphone. Since the search is being done on a mobile device, local businesses will rank higher than they would on a desktop computer. Make sure, then, if you are a local business, you have fully optimized your site for local search, because it is doubly important in mobile! Real-time results are also more significant in mobile search; people are often looking for specific information that is changeable, such as the weather, breaking news and sports scores.

3. Real estate on mobile SERPs are very abbreviated. A computer screen can easily accommodate 10 listings on one page, but on the much smaller screen of a smartphone, only 3-4 listings can fit. Users on mobile devices aren’t fond of having to scroll through multiple pages, so the competition to rank on the first page in the SERPs is extra stiff.

4. Mobile search is a lot more interactive than its desktop counterpart. For example, Google has introduced “Click-to-call” ads where businesses can imbed their phone numbers within their ad text so interested parties can automatically call them simply by clicking on the ad. As more and more phones are incorporating GPS location technology, businesses are able to reach out to potential customers based on their location, which is a more direct method for targeting an audience than depending on Google rankings.

Future Texting

Best Practices

In order for your mobile site to function properly and to present the best user experience possible, there are some definite dos and don’ts to follow:

1. DO keep coding simple. The preferred coding for mobile sites is XHTML to ensure that content is rendered smoothly on a wide range of devices. DON’T use Javascript, Flash, frames or tables as these devices can make your site extremely cumbersome and difficult to navigate.

2. DO design a simple site structure; DON’T build your site past two or three layers. Remember, with your mobile site, usability and findability are key issues—you want to make sure that users are able to find what they want quickly without hassles.

3. DO keep your content short and sweet, limiting it to what you perceive users will want when accessing your site from a mobile device. Since mobile users often are paying for bandwidth, DON’T overload them with a bunch of extraneous content that will only cost them time and money. Always provide a link to your full site so users can choose to visit it if they want more information.

4. DO limit your image sizes and navigational elements; DON’T eat up the mobile user’s bandwidth with a complicated site structure that is not conducive to viewing on the smaller screen of a phone. The most important information on your site should be readily available once a user access logs on. If you do use navigational and call to action buttons, make sure they stand out for ease of use.

5. DO remember to implement traditional SEO practices such as meta data, title tag and alt image text. While there are a lot of special considerations when dealing with mobile SEO, DON’T forget to address the basics!

The above guidelines are only a few recommendations; the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has put together an in-depth best practices document that goes into much more detail about how to structure a mobile site.


The mobile Internet is still in its infancy and will only continue to grow and evolve as more mobile devices are developed and introduced to the market. Thus, if you aren’t factoring the exploding mobile environment into your strategy, you are putting yourself at a great disadvantage. The single most important thing to keep in mind when going mobile is to continually put yourself into your customers’ shoes and make sure that with your mobile site you are offering them the information that is most important to them with a simple, elegant site they can use while on the go. By positioning yourself within the mobile sphere, you are opening up your business to a whole new way of reaching and engaging with your audience.

Google Instant Everything – Much Ado About Nothing?

December 6th, 2010

Recently, Google rolled out a couple of new updates to their search functionality. In an effort to speed up searches and enhance user experience, Google has changed the way searches take place. “Google Instant,” as they dubbed it, delivers search results even as you type. The results are dynamic and change based on each character typed, regardless of whether the user presses the “return” key. Just a couple short weeks later, Google released Instant Previews, which show a graphical preview of the search results.

These interface changes, especially Google Instant search, put the SEO community into an uproar. Speculation ran rampant as to how it would affect tracking, PPC, searcher click-through behavior, and SEO as a whole. Some even claimed Instant would be the death of SEO itself!  It’s been a few weeks now, so it’s a good time to look over the data and see how much, if anything, has really changed for SEO.

Instant Google (Coffee)

Sounds Great. So… What’s Google Instant Again?

By now, everyone in the US using one of the four major browsers should have noticed a change in the way Google presents search results. Google promises it’s rolling out Instant in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia as well, with more to come in the future. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, or perhaps just aren’t quite clear what you’re looking at, here’s a brief explanation.

Using a technology called AJAX, Google Instant begins showing results for queries without waiting for users to press enter or even finish a word. Everything on the results page is affected by the continuously updating Instant results, including the PPC ads. It’s important to note that the results are not showing up simply for unfinished bits of words, but rather for the first Google Suggest result. This shows up in faint gray text to the right of your cursor, while the full array of the usual Suggest options dynamically appear and evolve below the search box.

Google Instant Screenshot

What Does Instant Change?

Google claims these changes will have a vast cumulative effect on search speed, saving an average of 2-5 seconds per search. Taken as a whole, the global searching community is expected to save 11 hours every second! That’s a nice chunk of time shaved off from something as simple as skipping a few key strokes.

Google also expects the Instant suggestions to help people narrow down their search phrases more quickly and easily, since they are able to see right away the results of a variety of search phrases without having to type them out or even hit “enter.” As a result, one big question SEOs are all asking is, “How will this affect long tail search targeting?” There are those who speculated it would will either kill off the long tail or cause it to thrive even more than before.

In fact, after all the hubbub, it appears there has been less effect on SEO than the average algorithm update, something which Google does hundreds of times each year. According to data collected by Conductor covering over 880,000 visits, search traffic distribution by query length was “virtually identical” the weeks prior to and post launch of Google Instant. A study by MEC had similar results.

So why didn’t Instant make as big a splash on the metrics as many search marketers expected? For one thing, long tail didn’t die because people still need to narrow their queries to the right phrases in order to get the right results. Although some results are shown when they type the first letter of their query, they aren’t necessarily the right ones. Additionally, many people do not even look at their screens while they type, “hunting-and-pecking” for their keys. These people probably neither notice nor use the Instant results.

It is also worth noting how easy it is to turn off Instant. Next to the search button is a link which lets users toggle the feature quickly and easily if the constantly updating results are distracting or unwanted for any reason. I haven’t been able to find any solid usage statistics, but I know of two people at SEO Worldwide alone who have turned it off simply because they found it annoying, and they’re not the only ones.

First Instant Results, Then Instant Preview

Shortly after launching Instant, Google rolled out the new Instant Preview feature. Despite also having “instant” in the name, the two features are not strictly related. Both services theoretically speed up search time, but the similarity ends there. While Instant search updates results in real time, Instant Preview lets users get a preview of the listed websites without having to leave the SERP.

The Instant Preview goes beyond traditional ideas of a thumbnail. When a searcher clicks the little magnifying glass next to the search listing, a pre-rendered image of varying length is displayed in the right sidebar (over the advertisements area). If the Web page is long, the image may be truncated with a jagged break in the middle so the bottom of the page can be shown as well, or it may cut off at the bottom. The majority of the text in the preview is too small to read, except for large headers; however, the search term is often called out with a magnified portion of text overlayed across the image and highlighted with a yellow border.

Instant Preview Screenshot

Slow loading images will not appear in the pre-rendered preview, and neither will Flash objects. Any websites still using the outmoded convention of a “splash” gateway page built in Flash will now not only be irritating their customers, but showing them a blank box in Google’s preview. Instant Preview just adds to the reasons to do away with this ancient design practice.

Ironically, Instant Preview has a greater potential impact on SEO than Instant results, despite greater interest shown by the search marketing community to the latter. Although it doesn’t affect ranking, it is likely to affect user behavior. People are less likely to click on the first result and bounce back immediately after they discover a website is of poor quality. Instead, they can get a quick preview of all the results on the first page and make quality judgements based on design and layout without ever having to leave the SERP. That means design just became a direct part of SEO, because the design is displayed right on the SERP.

Should SEOs Be Concerned?

SEO as a whole remains unchanged in light of Google’s adjustments. While there may be a few minor fluctuations in searcher behavior as they become accustomed to Instant search, overall this is not a game changer. Instant Preview is something to be aware of when designing a site, especially in light of the Flash limitations (check out this great article for more on designing for Instant Preview). However, as a general rule if a site is designed well overall it is likely to look attractive in Instant Preview as well.

In short, as far as Google Instant Everything goes, SEOs should keep our eyes open, but for the most part it seems we can “move along; nothing to see here.”

SEO for Facebook

August 6th, 2010
Essy on Facebook

How Do You Optimize Facebook for Search?

With over 500 million active users, Facebook has established itself as the social media giant of today. Friends and family use it to stay in touch, while businesses use it to reach out to their customers and target demographic. Allegedly accounting for 44% of social sharing and receiving more unique page views than the online giant, Yahoo, Facebook clearly presents potential for online marketing and brand outreach. The question becomes not whether to connect to Facebook as a business, but how best to go about it to achieve the greatest ROI (return on investment).

While there are numerous articles explaining best practices for social engagement, an equally important consideration is how to ensure all your hard work is noticed. After all, social media is worthless unless you socialize, and it’s hard to socialize if no one can find you. In other words, you need SEO for Facebook.

Facebook Pages, Better Than Profiles

The first step in optimizing Facebook for business (after signing up, of course) is to leave behind your user profile and make a business Page. While profiles are designed for individuals, Pages are designed specifically for entities, whether those be businesses, non-profits, or causes. As such, Pages have many advantages over user profiles:

1. Pages Are Indexed by Search Engines
Unlike user profiles, Facebook Pages can be viewed by anyone, even if they do not have a Facebook account. Therefore, search engines crawl and index them, allowing them to appear on SERPs (search engine results pages) just like any other website. Make sure you fill out everything on the Info tab with targeted, well-written content that the search engines (and users) will appreciate.

2. Pages Allow for a Targeted URL
Where user profiles are assigned a URL related to a user ID number, Facebook Pages take on a URL based on the name of the Page. Once you have 25 fans, you can also choose a vanity URL. Not only does this look more appealing to users than a random number string, but it also allows for stronger keyword targeting. Name your page something brand or keyword oriented for best results.

3. Pages Are Good Platforms for Discussion
While it’s possible to have discussions on profile walls, it’s far more professional to hold discussions on a business Page in the Discussions tab.

4. Pages Allow FBML
Facebook Markup Language is a subset of HTML for use on Facebook. Static FBML is an app which can only be used on Pages, not profiles. With FBML, you can create custom tabs for stunning branding effect.

VW's Custom Static FBML Facebook Page

VW Uses FBML to Brand Their Facebook Page

Understanding How Your Facebook Page interacts With Search

Because Facebook Pages are able to be indexed by search engines, you’re already off to a good start in your Facebook SEO by creating a Page. In addition, your page will get a little extra boost over external Web pages due to the extremely high Domain Authority possessed by Facebook itself. There are a few more things you should know about SEO for Facebook, however.

1. More Connections Boost Your Page’s Perceived Importance

SEO Side: Throughout Facebook, nearly all Internal links are “followed” and therefore influence how important your site appears to search engines. The more connections you have, the more user profiles and Pages will point to your page. Internal linking is an important practice in all forms of SEO, and connections are how you do it on Facebook.

Social Side: Of course, getting more connections also means you’re reaching more people, and you’re also more likely to reach further people through them. This is truly the crux of social and viral marketing.

Best Practice: Be careful not to be spammy in your attempts to build a fan base. Rather than blanketing users with requests, market your page, incentivise it, and build your fans naturally. Consider purchasing Facebook Ads to gain exposure, and place links to your Page on your other online assets such as your blog and homepage.

Hardcover Book and Pages

Connections Help Your Page Rank

2. Google Loves Regular, Fresh Updates

SEO Side: Google’s QDF (quality deserves freshness) algorithm eats up regular updates, whether on a blog, a Twitter feed, or a Facebook Page. For this reason, it’s important to keep your page updated with relevant information, thoughts, links, and replies to your fans.

Social Side: Regular updates are important from a social perspective, as well, since they keep you interacting with your followers. Never forget that every social media campaign should always be focused on interaction first!

Best Practice: It is becoming more popular to use Static FBML to set a custom landing tab instead of using the traditional Wall or Information tabs. Since a static landing tab doesn’t update with each post, it won’t be feeding QDF. Although we haven’t tested the full implications, I recommend carefully balancing the potential conversion improvements with the SEO implications. Either choice involves a tradeoff, so do what is best for your particular campaign.

Fresh Fruit Bowl

Google Loves Fresh Updates

3. External Links Are No-Follow

SEO Side: While internal links are followed, external links are not. Therefore, although you could post links on your wall to your blog and homepage all day long, you won’t get any direct link value.

Social Side: Facebook is still a great place to share links about your company or industry. Post things which are of interest to your fan base and you’ll establish yourself as an industry leader and increase exposure for your own assets.

Best Practice: You may tick people off and possibly get banned for spamming if you overdo link posting. Fortunately, by making all external links no-follow, Facebook has reduced the temptation to spam your followers. Post things of interest to your followers such as industry news, relevant contests, or tips and tricks, even if those don’t point directly to your business.

Puppy Following

External Links Won't Be Followed

What About Facebook’s Internal Search?

Facebook has its own internal search engine, as well. Unfortunately, when compared to the search engine giants, Google, Yahoo, and Bing, Facebook’s search algorithm looks simplistic and unenlightened. Community Pages tend to trump any other pages, and SERPs for any given individual are heavily influenced by that user’s historic activities, preferences, and connections. At this stage in Facebook’s internal search development, I would not recommend relying on it as a traffic-driving factor but would focus on traditional search, instead.

Summing It All Up

Getting your business found on Facebook is key to maximizing your presence on the biggest social networking site on the Web. Fortunately, most activities which are best practice in the social space are also helpful for SEO. If you start up a Page for your business with a relevant and targeted name, keep it updated with interesting content, and build up your followers, you’ll be well on your way to high visibility in search.

Literal Facebook

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SEO for Low-Copy Sites: Part 2, Image SEO

July 23rd, 2010
Essy O'Jellyfish Taking Pictures

Essy Enjoys Taking Pictures

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the value of optimizing video for search engines, and the best ways to do so. We briefly discussed the way search engines view a Web page — namely, as text and code only — and why it’s so important for sites to optimize their non-text content.

In this post, we’ll talk about optimizing the images on a site. This is especially important for sites which feature images as their primary content, such as portfolio sites.

Image Optimization

1. Quality counts. If you want people to notice your images among thousands of results, make sure they are high quality, clear images. Once you’ve taken or purchased a high-quality photo, be careful when editing the image not to over-compress it, leading to pixelation. A blurry, grainy, or poorly composed image won’t be given a second thought; no one will click on it, even if it’s the first result for their query.

Dark Blurry Photo

Quality Is Important

2. Name the image something relevant, working in a keyword where reasonable. Avoid giving your images meaningless names like “photo1.jpg” or “123ch-2.png.” Be careful, however, not to simply stuff the image name with keywords; Google is smart enough to recognize that. Give your image a descriptive, relevant name, then replace all spaces in the image name with dashes. Dashes are more readable to robots, software, and across operating systems than are spaces, but search engines understand the meaning to be the same.

3. Host the image yourself, and pay attention to your directory structure. In order to draw ranks to your own site, you should avoid hosting your images on a site such as Flickr or Photobucket. Upload the images to your own site in a directory other than the root (such as one named “Images”), and make sure the directory is not blocked from search engines by your robots.txt file.

File Folders

File Structure Matters

4. Surround the image with related content when possible. Google takes context into account when calculating image relevancy. This post is aimed primarily at low-copy sites, but do what you can. If the site is a portfolio site, perhaps you can give an explanation of the project near the image or include a list of tags. As with video SEO, allowing comments can assist in targeting long-tail keywords.

5. Use alt tags and title tags strategically and appropriately. Both tags are read by search engines, so they are an optimal place for keyword inclusion. However, alt tags are also used by the visually impaired, so only include a keyword where it actually makes sense; anything else is considered spammy. Likewise with the title tag, as this becomes visible when a user hovers over an image.

Pen with Tags

Use Relevant Keywords and Tags

Closing Thoughts

Remember, search engine spiders can’t see images the way we do, so if you don’t optimize your images, they may never be indexed at all. For image-centric sites, image SEO is essential for visibility. Be sure you don’t neglect this important step in your site’s SEO.

Don’t forget to read Part 1 to learn all about video SEO, and subscribe to our RSS so you don’t miss another SEO tip!

SEO for Low-Copy Sites: Part 1, Video SEO

July 6th, 2010

In the world of search engine optimization (SEO), we often say “content is king”, referring to the importance of having high-quality, highly relevant text content on a site. Search engines are “blind” to images, Flash, and video the way we experience them; they can only understand text and markup. When crawling Flash and video, they see only a black box. This can be particularly troubling for a Web site which exists primarily to showcase images or video, such as a photography portfolio or a video blog. These challenges make it especially important for such highly visual sites to give extra care to SEO.

This post focuses on video optimization; check back soon for Part 2, which will cover optimization of image-centric sites.

Vimeo Cat Video Still

SEO for Video Helps Make LOL Cats Findable

Video Optimization

Despite the challenges, videos have a couple of advantages over other content. First, because Google thinks it’s important to return a mix of content types in its results, it actually gives extra weight to videos. Second, although there are hundreds of thousands of hours of video online, many of these are not indexed because they are self-hosted and were never properly submitted to the search engines. Finally, videos have a stronger tendency to go viral than other media types, increasing their potential for back-linking. Take care to optimize your videos and submit them properly and their full potential may surprise you.

1. Make your video engaging. When creating your video, remember your ultimate goal is to capture and hold the attention of your viewers. If they like it enough, they may explore the rest of your Web site, subscribe to future content, and share with others. Give special care to length; as soon as people get bored, they move on without sharing the video or checking out your site.

2. Hosting choice is important. When posting a video online, your first decision is whether to host the video yourself or on a third party site (such as YouTube or Vimeo). Third party sites have a couple of advantages. For one thing, they handle the bandwidth issues of hundreds or thousands of viewers watching your video so you don’t have to. In addition, hosting with them makes it unnecessary to submit your video to search engines directly. Finally, they have the advantage of pre-established high domain authority and a wide viewership; however, these sites also have the potential to suck link juice away from your site.

YouTube Search Bar

YouTube Search Bar

Hosting a video on your own site will keep all the juice internal, and you can also include custom metadata in your video files. Unfortunately, it will also reach fewer viewers and will be fighting an uphill battle to go viral, not to mention bandwidth constraints. SEOmoz suggests leveraging the strengths of both by hosting in both places if you have the bandwidth, with titles tailored to each.

3. Funnel people to your site, then give them a reason to link there directly. Assuming you choose to host your video with a third party, place a link early in the video description. In addition, if you have a large blog readership which follows your video to YouTube, YouTube may include an “As Seen On” link to your blog. Although neither will be followed by search engines, they will make viewers likely to visit your site themselves and look around.

Once you have them there, provide content around the video to make your site more valuable to viewers than the third party site. For instance, include a second part or a transcription of the video, or perhaps add your own commentary. If your site provides more value than the third party, viewers will be more likely to link directly to your site, building you links and a potential readership.

Chain Link

Give People a Reason to Link to You

4. Title is a big deal. For potential viewers, the title is the first selling point of a video. For search engines, it is possibly the single most important item. Search engines give video title tags a great deal of weight over other meta information. That being said, don’t neglect other metadata such as tags and categories.

5. Give the search engines something to crawl. When practical, get a transcript of the audio and place it near your video. You can use a speech-recognition service to speed up the process, though you will want to clean it up manually with a human touch. You can also use paid human transcription services such as the one offered by SpeakerText along with their transcription embedding tool. YouTube recently began offering a captioning service and appears to index the content it generates. There is as yet no indication whether other search engines crawl these captions as well.

Digital Bug Crawling

Give the Engines Something to Crawl

Well-written video descriptions are also vital but are often neglected. Remember, this is the one place on a third party site where you can provide specially crafted content for search engines to digest. Instead of writing a sentence or two, write a few hundred words.

On your own site, make sure the surrounding content is well written, targeted, and clearly coded. Search engines take context into account when considering videos.

YouTube Thumbs Rating

YouTube Rating

6. Encourage comments and ratings. There is some speculation Google understands a highly rated video on a site like YouTube is also a highly authoritative video, so encourage viewers to rate. Meanwhile, comments show interaction with your video, something which looks good to viewers and search engines alike. They also provide a bit more content, often targeting long tail search terms. Add an annotation at the end of your video reminding viewers to rate and comment if they enjoyed the video.

7. Link internally using playlists and video responses. As with any Web site, building links internally strengthens SEO and has the potential to lower bounce rate. In addition, your video will be seen by a wider audience as viewers browse for related content.

8. Don’t forget to make a Google video site map. A video site map follows the site map protocol and includes a few video specific tags. Check out this video site map guide for some specifics, or read the article in Google’s Webmaster Help.

9. Submit to all the right places, in all the right ways. YouTube and other major video hosting sites are crawled and indexed regularly by the major search engines, but if you choose to host the video yourself you will want to submit it manually. Most search engines provide a way to submit video as an XML feed. Be sure to track down and read the specific guidelines of each, as they are not all equal. See this post over on SearchEngineWatch for a few more specifics.

Arrow Graphic

Submit to All the Right Places

Closing Thoughts

Online video can be a powerful form of marketing if you know how to leverage it. Careful SEO of video pages and sites will make a world of difference to the return you see on your video investment.

Check out the next installment of this series, “Part 2, Image SEO.” Subscribe to our RSS so you never miss a post!

How Important is Social Media for a Business?

January 11th, 2010

Social Media Business MarketingSocial media took the Internet by storm a few years ago, and it’s still gaining ground at a rapid pace. If you plan on having a business that’s in touch with your customer base and takes advantage of marketing in every way possible, you better know how to handle your social media reputation.

Of course a business can survive without taking advantage of social media, but it’s a great opportunity to expand your business while getting free advertising, improving customer service and possibly getting more leads than you would have otherwise. Just look at what Sky News ended up doing to increase exposure.

A lot of businesses think creating a Twitter account and Facebook page are all that’s required in order to be a part of the social media trend, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Social media provides new opportunities to businesses, which allow them to reach out to new people and provide another level of customer service to their existing customers.

Getting followers, fans and friends shouldn’t be the main goal of your business’ social media accounts. It’s more important to interact with the community and make customers feel like you’re there to provide them with excellent service. If you try to get tons of followers, you’ll find it’s pretty easy, but the quality of your followers will suffer. You’ll end up getting a lot of bots and humans who try to be bots, neither of which have good conversion rates.

The amount of followers you have doesn’t matter, this is a quality over quantity situation. If you’re able to create a buzz and interact with a few people by having a quality social media profile, the followers will naturally show up.

If you want to take social media one step further, cover the big social medai sites now, but also also look into what might be big in the future. Something like Google Wave might be a good thing to look into a start mastering, as it might be the next big thing and give you a leg up on the competition.