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The Logic Gap with YouTube

July 13, 2011 3 comments

We often get questions about video SEO and YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet by search query volume, but what exactly does that mean for your business? Let’s evaluate this 3 ways, 1) by comparing a search on YouTube to a search on Google, 2) by reviewing comments by a Professor from Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab, and 3) by looking at the “big picture.”

1. Searching in Google versus searching in YouTube. Is there a difference? Absolutely. And it’s quite simple – a search engine query leads to engagement with your website, a YouTube query leads to more engagement with YouTube. For example:

Search Term What happens in Google What happens in YouTube
“Your Company Name” A series of the most relevant (paid and organic) results appear that link to various websites. If your company is ranked high this is a great way to drive traffic to your website. Your website is most likely designed to lead the visitor through much of the buying process, from research to purchase. A series of the most relevant (paid and organic) results appear that link to videos on YouTube. If your company is ranked high this is a great way to drive traffic to your YouTube Channel. If you have a YouTube Channel, it is most likely designed to match your company branding and provide videos about your company. The conversion goal is a subscription to your channel. Your YouTube Channel is thus limited to the top end of your funnel (building credibility and nurturing your  subscribers) as YouTube tries to keep your visitor on YouTube.

This difference is significant. The effort you put into your website is enhanced by Google helping you drive traffic to it. However, the effort you put into creating your videos, if you only use YouTube, is limited to the benefits a Channel subscriber can gain – brand awareness and credibility.

What’s Missing? Conversion to a lead or sale! All of the product demos, customer testimonials, company announcements and more that are proven to be engaging, are not being used to convert when they are on YouTube.

2. What does Dr. BJ Fogg, Director of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University have to say about video?

ReelSEO.com interviewed him and he mentioned two things that are worth copying here:

  1. “Video has become one of the most effective ways to motivate people towards certain behaviors.”
  2. “There is this natural inclination in video [towards wanting to go viral]. I don’t know either of any solid data that says this viral video about this product led to more sales. It may exist, but I haven’t seen it. Did the viral videos for Old Spice help that business? It certainly has changed the brand perception. Yes, its clever and funny, but at the end of the day, there’s no evidence yet to show that those actual videos boosted sales…”

So it’s not even clear that a high volume of views of your videos will increase sales. There is a gap in this logic: Videos are incredibly motivating, but having lots of people watch them hasn’t proven to increase sales. What gives?

3. Let’s take a look at the big picture.

The cost of operating a business now includes efforts to maintain a presence online beyond a website and in popular online communities like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc. As the buyer does more and more online research before purchasing, they are not only evaluating the quality and relevance of your product on your website, they are not evaluating how “contemporary” your business is based on your social media presence.

Most everyone will agree that an organization should at a minimum “check the box” and setup a social media presence.

Video, however, is an X factor. Its popularity was driven by social consumers. Their growing accustom to video has brought the medium into business communications like never before. However, there is clearly a logic gap in how YouTube is used for video in business communications. Furthermore, having a YouTube video show up in Google search results means the person will go to YouTube and NOT your website if they click on the video (that means YouTube has the potential to drive traffic away from your website).

The punchline: as you define your newest sales and marketing efforts, think through the “devil” in the details. You should most likely check the YouTube box, but if you are creating videos, there are much better ways to use them to actually drive results to your bottom line (e.g. With videos proven to be so effective at motivating behavior, consider putting them on a landing page with an action item to capture that behavior).

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