Youtube, SEO, search, and conversion

A graphic showing how to align your business systems to get more value out Youtube.

Align your business systems with the way YouTube and Google work in order to increase the return on your video efforts. Yep, you can click it.

A client of mine was wondering how best make use of Youtube in their thought leadership initiatives. This is something I’ve worked on for clients in several industries. There are several things at play: first  there’s getting it right on your own site in terms of conversion, then there’s getting the content together, and then finally it’s about the search engine optimization.

The tendency that I see is for people to go to a conference or read a blog post and learn that YouTube is the second most used search engine etc etc and then freak out about making a YouTube “strategy.” This increases chaos in the organization and unwinds poorly.

Let’s examine the elements one at a time.

Make your site work first

This is what always needs doing. The good thing about starting here is that it benefits not just the tactics involved with YouTube, but everything else as well.

Whether you’re pursuing a thought leadership strategy (and thereby gathering up your “thought followers” in an email list) or a more product-driven approach (and thereby gathering up your customers in an email list) you’ll want a similar thing: More people in general to see your YouTube hosted content.

This is why you need a call to action:

If people can’t sign up to get notified of the next bit of content, then you’re trusting them to subscribe on YouTube? Or hear about it from a friend? Or be one of the 6% of your Facebook followers who get notified that you have a new post? Or click a paid ad somewhere? Who knows. Those are all good things, but the email list has and remains the most direct and reliable way to reach your audience. Hard to sell conference seats on that message, but anyone looking at data comes to this conclusion sooner or later.

People want to hear more of what you’re doing. Give them an option to do that.

Here’s why you need to treat your email audience well:

When you post new YouTube content you want those list members to know and go watch that content. YouTube likes it when people see content. People like it when they see good content. So make amazing content, be good about how you encourage your audience to get to the new YouTube content. Then everyone’s happy.

How do you “be good about how you encourage your audience to get to the new YouTube content?” Align your messaging with values that you and your audience share. If you don’t know what your values are or what the values of your audience are then you have something to work on before YouTube is going to be useful for you.


Make YouTube work

Once your site, values and all that are in line, then make great content. There’s a lot of content out there. Don’t make the garbage content. Make the good stuff.

How do you tell the difference between good content and garbage content? You know it when you see it. But here are some general guidelines:

Garbage content is made to fit a specific time slot, good content is made to solve a specific problem

There are all sorts of bullshit marketing wonks out there who will tell you how long a YouTube video should be. None of those wonks know you, your audience, or the problems you and your audience are trying to solve together (for my entertainment/arts readers when you read “problem you and your audience are trying to solve together” just replace that with “meaning you and your audience are trying to make together”).

30 seconds comes from TV. 2 Minutes comes from animation segments in a half-hour TV time block. 10 Minutes and 20 minutes also come from TV. Know what industry is looking down the same barrel that the newsprint industry faced a few years ago? TV. Know who doesn’t know how to make good content and therefore has to rely on all sorts of cable bundling to survive? You get the picture.

Make the content that solves the problem, don’t worry how long it is. The more meaningful the problem you are solving, the longer the attention span of a reasonable customer will be. If you are pursuing the unreasonable customers then you have something to work on before YouTube is going to be useful for you.

Garbage content first looks good then shoehorns the content into the look, good content builds the best look possible around the content itself

A great camera, lights, and makeup won’t help if your content isn’t helping the audience. They’ll figure it out. Or worse, they won’t figure it out and will just be vaguely dissatisfied with you and after repeat exposure to your content you’ll achieve vague dissatisfaction with your brand.

Do good content, then look at formats and budgets that help make that content the clearest it can possibly be. Lots of talking? Get a great mic and work on the voice sound. Lot’s of charts/graphs? Solve how that’s going to look on screen. Great personality and charisma in a presenter? Maximize it. Personality of a wet dishrag? Get a new person to do the delivery or develop what charisma you can in your presenter.

These are all easy enough to do if you start from your strengths and the strengths of your content. Work to amplify them. If there are weaknesses, work to minimize them. This is focusing on the things well within your control.

Someone selling you lights, gear, editing services etc might advise a different approach. You’ll need their services eventually, but only when you’ve got the other part settled. You’ll be a better customer for their professional services and you’ll make your audience happier.

Make search engines work

Search engines really want to show good content. They have to. All the money that Google makes to do things like gmail and Google Glass and self-driving cars or whatever are the result of the ads sprinkled around the margins of search results.

If they don’t show great content then people won’t search. They’ll get their answers some other way. So Google takes this seriously. So should you if you want to help people solve problems.

Get your content searchable. Use text. Name files appropriately. All the basic on-page technical things about SEO still hold for your work on YouTube. Just you don’t get as much control on the page itself.

Simply use the words that are genuinely relevant and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

This is a system for using YouTube and your own site to help people.

The point is to have a nice rotation in effect: people find you, you have great content, they want more of your great content so they sign up for notification, then you notify them of your great content. More people watching your videos helps YouTube and Google determine whether your content is great or not which then increases more people entering your rotation.

But remember the things to get in order first: how is your messaging reflecting the values that you and your audience share? How is your content best served in a video format? Worry about these things. Improve them always. This is where the leadership happens.

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