FOUND Friday

A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.


Topic: Using video in search and marketing efforts. Optimizing video for SEO and content marketing.

Ray Grieselhuber, Founder & CEO at GinzaMetrics
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics

Kieran Farr, CEO and Founder at Vidcaster


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Erin: I want to welcome everybody to FOUND Friday, this Friday the 13th actually. Maybe I will blame all technical difficulties or weird instances on that. Today we are lucky to have with us Kieran Farr who is the CEO and founder of Vidcaster. As well as Ray Grieselhuber, the CEO and founder of GinzaMetrics, and me, your ever loyal and faithful hostess, Erin O’Brien, the COO and only non-founder of the show, GinzaMetrics.

I want to go ahead and say that today’s topic is going to be about video and SEO. We’re going to talk a little bit about the changing world of video in terms of findability for your site. We’ll also do our typical lightning round at the end.

I would like to kick it off with eight questions to Kieran. There are tons of channels available to marketers now. What’s going on with video? Why is video important? What type of content do you think is best for videos?

Kieran: That’s a great question. First of all, I think that the high level to confirm is that video is extremely successful as sales medium, if done in the right way. What we’re seeing in the market is that marketers are becoming more and more savvy to realize that it’s more than just getting a play counts with video, but it’s driving specific measurable actions where video can be some of the most effective mechanisms to drive sales or engagement.

What really has been missing from the market for a long time has been a way to measure and drive this conversion behavior. We’re seeing a lot of uptake in video, and really the question right now in the market is: how do I know if it’s effective or not and how do I measure that in the right way?

Erin: Definitely. Ray, in terms of building and operating an SEO platform that is working on helping brands gauge findability, would you say that at GinzaMetrics you’ve seen any increase in the types of content that include video recently?

Ray: Yeah, for sure. The larger trend that we’re seeing is that people are creating new types of content and that content lives both on their website and off their website. If you look at the content that’s most popular offsite for new creation or new campaigns, video is probably the top with the next one being something related to images or slides.

Video is one of the most popular forms that we’re seeing. And from an engagement standpoint, it’s pretty hard to beat. Especially, you’re able to create lots of experiences that you just can’t obviously recreate with text.

Kieran: We’re doing video now. We’re eating our own dog food.

Erin: Since we’re actually on video, are there types of content that you guys see that seems to work best for video from a brand and marketing standpoint? Are there any particular forms of content or formats that you think are really starting to shine?

Kieran: Yes. I think this is really important to identify that video can be used at very different parts of a funnel. This goes back to our history as human beings sort of raid in the air of television. We’re very used to think of video as being the top of the funnel or for brand awareness. And that’s okay. Video is very effective for that but I think that there is a really big sector of video that many B2B marketers forget and that is video in the middle of the funnel. This is video content that is not flashy or exciting or brand-specific, but it’s video content that is very functional.

It solves problems. It shows ways to accomplish some sort of objective or address a common concern for a specific vertical. We’re finding that that’s the sort of content that actually has the highest conversion rates when you’re trying to get somebody to give the generation information, to purchase a product or service.

I think that what we’re finally seeing because of the next generation of analytics platforms like what we do at Vidcaster, we’re finally seeing that that middle of the funnel content is really where companies should be investing a lot of their video content. That said, there’s still a place for brand marketing with video and that still can be very effective. But they should be viewed as very different things and for different businesses, they can be appropriate or not appropriate depending upon who you’re selling to and what is that selling cycle or what it takes to actually sell your product or service.

Erin: Maybe in the beginning a lot of viral video and flashing, more advertising-based stuff like a commercial-type content, and then once you’re deeper in the funnel, especially maybe B2B solutions, something like video case studies or deeper dives into the product and how to optimize it, things like that [5:23 inaudible] close?

Kieran: That’s exactly right. What I like to joke is that the video that actually works is really unsexy. So we’re not talking about the super high production value explainer videos. Believe it or not, that sort of stuff, it’s not really made to convert. It’s made to express or generate awareness and perhaps a latent desire. But if you want stuff that actually is going to convert, it’s not the sexy how-we-produce stuff.

Literally, if you have a SaaS product, it would be videos about how to use the product. Every single function or feature in that product, including mundane things like, how do you log in? How do you create an account? Making a video that is bite-size and answers each one of those dozens or hundreds of potential questions, that’s the way that we’re seeing the most successful video as a measured sales channel for products or services that can be bought online or at least the intention of the lead can be placed online.

Ray: That’s really interesting. When you see a video on a site, I think that you tend to place a little bit more trust in the company. It’s probably related to the fact that video, even if you don’t do this for high production value videos, it’s a little bit harder to produce, it’s a little bit harder to publish than just text. You can always just write out the blog post, in some cases, very quickly.

Video takes a little bit more effort and people instinctively respond to that. There’s probably the holder from the TV era as well, where you see some video on TV, you think they’re more legit than something that they write about in a newspaper article, for example.

It’s interesting that you mentioned that the low value production videos actually tend to produce better results than the higher ones. That makes sense in a way too because they’ve done some similar display, analysis and display ads as well, or a lot of times the display ads that look like a 12-year-old kid rhythm get the most attention versus the one that are super polished.

Kieran: It’s surprising. To be clear, it’s not that it’s a bad thing to have high production values but those are not the critical elements of making a good video. Really, the most important thing is that you can be heard, and that you can be seen, and that you express a point that solves a problem within a short amount of time. You do that without spending a huge amount of money.

Erin: Interestingly, in a former position I had my marketing team actually make small 30-second videos of, like you mentioned, Kieran, every single thing about our product because it was a really big analytics platform. It was everything from how to log in and there was no human face on the screen. It was literally just a screencast with a little bit of voice over and there were over 100 videos at the end. I can tell you that the biggest hurdle that I had in getting that done was the initial hesitation that the marketing department had which was, “This sounds like it’s going to be super complicated to make all of these videos.”

My next question would be: how hard is it to make a decent video? Once you’re into it, is it something that’s a really repeatable process? Does it take a specialized person? Can anybody get by with something passable or do you need a special skill set? If you do, how would you recommend learning that?

Kieran: That’s a great question. I like to describe the sort of video production needs on a continuum. I’m going to see if I can pull up the slides because it would really help explain this.

I like to say that quality and output is a continuum. The things that you are going to be producing only once a year – and this would be the very highly produced sales pitch or some sort of customer case study. Those are things where it makes sense to put a lot of energy, effort and resources in the making of a really high quality production. But as you would probably agree with, frequency is really, really important for content marketing. It is unrealistic for most organizations to spend huge amount of resources every single week to make some sort of amazing feature film about their company.

So it’s okay and we need to get over the obsession with high production values for the sort of content that you should be producing on a regular basis. These are things like screencast tutorials or even just tips and tricks that you or your support team, or your marketing team can produce with their iPhone once a week. There is no exact rule but the more frequent you’re doing something, it’s okay to have relatively low production values.

But the key is that you want to create a repeatable, templatable process. That’s the part that takes a fair amount of thought at the beginning to make sure, “Are the videos that I’m producing going to accomplish the goals that I have for my company?” Then you can back-engineer to what are those videos that you’re producing? Then what is the process that I can create that has either a templatized structure or a checklist for your team that says – you open up your screen recorder, you record new feature X, you do the voice over (the last two minutes), you post it to YouTube channel, and then you’ve done that activity for the week.

Erin: Speaking of YouTube, is YouTube video SEO?

Kieran: That’s a good question. The quick answer is: no, if you’re goal is to drive an action on your own website. But it’s much more complicated. I think that the discussion we’re having just a few minutes ago about the position in the funnel and whether you’re trying to drive awareness or conversion is really the first question. If your goal is to purely drive awareness and have this many people as possible here about the existence of this video, then YouTube is perfectly appropriate and it’s a great place to put the top-of-the-funnel content.

However, if you are producing content that you know is only applicable to your target, or to potential people who are looking specifically for that sort of content (we’ll get to the SEO issues that come with that), then it makes way more sense to self-host that video content with a video platform that allows you to get that SEO juice onto your own site. We can talk about the details, but does that make sense at least to the high-level that sometimes YouTube is totally appropriate, but then when you want to drive users to your site to accomplish a certain action or objective, then it’s not appropriate and you really have to make sure that for different types of content and different types of businesses that you’re aware of that and you come up with your video strategy.

Ray: Does it make sense to host a content in both places, for example? I guess the question is: can YouTube give you some advantages for ranking better?

Kieran: We’re finding that it can be actually be dangerous to host in both places if your long-term intention is to have the primary video search results in a Google search go to your website because typically what’s going to happen is that YouTube, since it’s owned by Google, has a very high site ranking. It will typically, for that exact same video that’s self-hosted, or that same video that’s on YouTube, that YouTube link is usually going to win. And so you’re then competing against yourself to have your website rank higher than a YouTube video.

That’s where you really have to understand for a given asset or for the given video: is this a top-of-funnel video? Or is this a video that only people who are searching for this problem (which is okay and that’s actually a good thing) would want to find? In that case, that’s something they’re going to find through Google search and they can then be directed to your website to drive that conversion a bit.

Erin: Ray, when we’re talking about offsite content effect on SEO, what are some things that you’re seeing? I know that that’s directly applicable to what Kieran is talking about here.

Ray: It’s interesting, too. There are lots of different aspects to the problem. There’s the question of your own content, there’s the question of competitive strategies with regards to offsite content, because YouTube ranks so well naturally in the result. And if you are targeting a specific set of keywords that happen to be competitive, and your competitors, for example, have their videos hosted on their own website, would it make sense then to host your content on YouTube?

Kieran: That’s a good question. We’ve actually been finding that if the search terms are properly captured and you can get good organic ranking, that kind of serve very well above and beyond YouTube in certain cases.

Ray: On your own site?

Kieran: Yeah. I’ll give you an example. One of my favorite examples is a customer of ours called Anybody who does AdWords work would realize that credit card search terms are extremely expensive to bid on for AdWords. There’s typically a very clear conversion of that that drives revenue for signups for credit cards, and so that really drives up AdWords phrase.

Here’s an example of a search term and this is through what’s called universal search. It’s just a Google search and this is a search for credit card superhero. What we’re showing here is the self-hosted which is a subdomain hosted on our platform. It then drives a search result that’s actually a video link that doesn’t cost them any special bids or money. Right here they’ve been able to get this organically ranked, whereas you see all around them, there are extremely expensive search terms that would’ve cost them $10 per click or something absurd to that effect.

Ray: I noticed that there’s a subdomain there as well, Have you seen any difference in hosting that content on a subdomain of a client site versus on your own main?

Kieran: Yeah. It depends on the goals. But we’ve been finding that there actually is not a difference between subdomains and subdirectories.

I know there are a lot of debates on the Internet about subdomains versus subdirectories, but with all of our clients we’ve been seeing excellent results with subdomains. Then what we’ll find is that there are certain times when they want to have a video ranked on their root domain because it’s linking to something specific to their application. So then they can use a video site map that points to those specific videos.

But when it comes to a very high frequency marketing workflow, they’ll need some sort of automated solution to generate those site maps and typically that would be a platform that’s on a subdomain. This is similar in concept to working for a third-party blog. The practicality of having a mechanism that automatically automates all of what the marketing team’s doing on video definitely overshadows any negative effect of subdirectory versus subdomain.

Erin: If someone started with video SEO, what would you suggest are a couple of best practices that they implement right off the bat?

Kieran: That’s a good question. Let me just explain what is video SEO and is it really different than regular SEO?

Video SEO is actually just like SEO. It is getting your pages ranked so that someone who’s legitimately searching for the content of that page is going to have the highest chance of finding it on a search engine. The only difference when we talk about video SEO is that we also need to tell the search engines with a separate site map, a different type of site map. We need to tell the search engines, “Hey, on this URL, there’s actually a video, not only text content. Here is the metadata or additional information about this video so that then the search engines such as Google and whole thing such as the thumbnail or the running time of that video and include that as a search result.”

It’s everything that you know about SEO, optimizing keywords, etc. It does apply to video SEO but we’re simply adding on an extra layer of data that we send – when I say “we” I mean a client needs to create a site map to send to Google. Services like Vidcaster send those things automatically on behalf of our customers. That way that video result will appear in a search engine listing even if it’s not a video-specific search. However, all of the same things apply so you need to do your work to make sure you’re getting backlinks. You need to make sure that your domain is ranked and that the response times on your pages are adequate and all the same rules apply.

We started to go on a long ramp but I just wanted to make sure that we understand that video SEO really is very similar to regular SEO. They’re just adding a couple of things onto it. So when you as a company are thinking about a strategy for video SEO, it goes back to: what are the goals you’re trying to accomplish.

You’re trying to generate conversions or you’re trying to generate awareness. And then that gets in to: which platform should you use? If you try into generate just awareness and consumption of that video content as the end-all, be-all objective in life, then you should use a social platform like YouTube or Facebook or even the newer platforms like Twitter’s Vine, to get that viewership on top of funnel.

If your objectives are conversion and content marketing that drives lead generation or interest, that’s a very, very, very different goal. And the types of content you’re going to produce and the sort of platform that you’re going to host it on is very different, and that’s the scenario where you’d want to look at some sort of platform that you can tell the search engines the video content is available on your own website to drive those viewers through that funnel that eventually results in that objective.

Erin: Ray, in terms of the overall SEO implications that we see moving forward, do you have any thoughts on how video and conversion content, when you’re really building something for SEO – we talk about this a lot internally in with clients – is that bringing great content continues to provide value long after you’ve generated it as opposed to paid advertising and marketing efforts that stop as soon as you stop adding budget to them. What are your thoughts on the video side of what this can continue to add for people in terms of SEO value?

Ray: I think there are a lot of similarities. The reason that SEO is such an effective way of reaching people – and it’s the reason that content marketing is becoming as big of a thing as it is – it allows you to create new genres and subgenres of content all the time.

Every time you have an idea, every time you publish it, you’re going to spark an interest in somebody’s mind, and they’re going to go back and search for it later, they’re going to tell their friends about it, they’re going to go search for it. It’s the reason the Internet keeps growing and it’s the reason that Google index keeps growing, and so that is truth to pretty much every type of content you’re dealing with.

Video is even more powerful in that regard because its visual, it’s audio, and you can automatically transcribe a lot of the content in some cases too, so you can get that text benefit too. It’s one of the most powerful ways of reaching people now and if you take the time to ensure that it’s optimized for search, you’re going to get that much more benefit in long run.

Erin: What I’m going to let everybody do is get their quick last 30-60 second “this is what’s awesome about video and video SEO” thoughts or recap and then we’re going to move in to our lightning round. Kieran, I will let you start out.

Kieran: Awesome. I’m going to try using another visual on this last 30 seconds here. I think that one of the reasons that video SEO is so powerful is that this is the time when somebody is searching for a problem or a solution to their problem. They’re willing to type it into a search engine. They’re literally telling you, “I want your help.” The value of that is so high.

In this example here, I’m showing a search result for sales force integration which then leads to a video that uses a lead generation widget at a certain time when the video wants you cross a certain threshold. And it works. I get really excited about that because it’s the sort of marketing that’s measurable and it drives sales.

Erin: Alright, Ray, onto you.

Ray: I’ve been thinking a lot about publishing over the last couple of weeks. It seems like a lot of the tools that we find ourselves forced to deal with from a publishing perspective are becoming really outdated. They’re very difficult to work with. If you look at what’s happened with cloud technology over the last couple of years, there have been so many new evolutions, entirely new platforms out there like GitHub that enable you to do things in a collaborative environment that, until very recently, have been relegated to the text savvy audience. But GitHub and other companies in that area are doing a lot more innovation where they’re bringing more collaboration workflow tools that have very strong technology behind them to less technical people. What that’s enabling is an entire new generation of publishing tools out there.

I read an interesting article by a company called Development Seed. They’re based in D.C. They do a lot of government and non-profit related work, and large website development. They’ve switched over all of their projects to building on what they call a CMS-less environment where essentially they’re using static site generators to create their content. They moved entirely away from solutions by Drupal and WordPress, and other database backed systems.

Those were not practical for large installations until very recently because of the lack of editing tools in that environment for non-technical people. Basically, recently those tools are starting to become more prevalent. What companies have done have really enabled something that wasn’t possible before.

It’s something that we’re doing a lot of research on, and we’re probably going to start switching a lot of our content over to something like that because WordPress is very challenging for a small company to deal with. I think that large organizations have much more opportunity now to embrace these sorts of technologies where they weren’t able to even short time ago.

Erin: We’ve actually got a couple of audience questions, so we might be foregoing the lightning round today in favor of some audience participation.

Kieran, I have to say, I love that you truly do believe in the mantra of the video because all of your visual aids are proving what I think my wrapping-up point would be which is, if a picture is worth a thousand words then a picture with sound and a picture with movement is the best way to explain things. From a marketing perspective, we find that anecdotal explanations are really the best way to not only make somebody comprehend a point of view or a topic, but it’s a way to get them remember it as well. I think that video does such a uniquely great job in accomplishing that.

I’m going to read out a couple of questions that we have from the audience. One that comes from Mark asks if private YouTube videos hosted on your blog will accomplish the same thing as self-hosted videos in terms of conversions.

Kieran: Good question. There are actually two questions that are mixed in there. The first question is about the video SEO effect of that and the second question is about conversion. Let’s tackle those separate things.

For video SEO, unfortunately, even they privately host a YouTube video, it’s not going to have as much search engine juice as opposed to self-hosting. There are a couple of reasons for this and they’re somewhat technical. One of them is that, Google does not have access to the MP4 file. Because you’ve set that video is private, the search engines finder is obligated to not introspect that object. You are basically telling the search engine, “Don’t index this thing,” but then you want it to be indexed.

You’re asking it to do two different things. In that scenario, you really should self-host. And when I say “self-host,” I mean use a platform like Vidcaster. Wistia is another good alternative. There are some really good self-hosted platforms out there that can help you with those goals.

The second question is around conversion. It is totally okay to use YouTube on your own website and you can put JavaScript-based or HTML-based conversion tools on top of that, and that will work okay. But it’s up to you to take those things yourself and assemble those things together, but they’re still faced with a critical issue of, number one, that it’s going to be tough to be ranked with a privately hidden unlisted YouTube video even if it’s a post on your site.

Erin: That’s an awesome answer. Mark, I hope that helps and if not, in the show notes we will have everybody’s information so you can follow up with Kieran, Ray, or myself if you want a little bit more in depth help on that. Kieran seems like a nice guy who would help you out afterwards as well.

Our next question is actually interesting and it comes from a viewer in Europe. I guess it just goes to show that we don’t use the same terminology all the time, but they want to understand a little more about what “top of the funnel” means. Kieran, with marketing perspective with video, do you want to talk a little bit about what you mean by “top of the funnel” versus ”mid funnel”?

Kieran: Absolutely. I’m going to do another screen share here. I have a good picture of this. This is from a presentation I did. I hope you can see this.

This is the visualization I have of a sales funnel and at the top level of the funnel is generating awareness and consideration. In this example on the screen that you see here, I’m showing that awareness and consideration can be a good use of video. But often, B2B marketers over obsess with the top of the funnel at the expense of the middle of the funnel.

I’m going to fast-forward here to show what I mean by the middle of the funnel. The middle of the funnel is somebody who has already expressed that they have a problem. They are aware of that problem already. And they may even be aware of your brand already, but really what they’re in the stage of is they’re considering, “Should I use your solution and should I actually convert to let your company know that I’m interested in your solution?” That’s what I mean by middle of the funnel.

To repeat it really quickly, at the top of the funnel is awareness. Somebody doesn’t know they have a problem or they don’t know that your company exists. In the middle of the funnel is, they know they have a problem and, you as the company, your goal is to get them to identify, raise their hand and say, “I could use your help.” I hope that helps a bit.

Erin: The visual aid is awesome, Kieran. I will now be preparing visual aids for every topic, moving forward. In terms of marketing things, typically top of the funnel is all the stuff that, as Kieran mentioned, you’re doing it to create awareness. You don’t exactly know who all might be a catch-all in that bucket. But you have a general idea for your target audience or desired people would be and you’re hoping that they could come in from there.

That includes everything from social media, paid advertising, blog posts, things like that that people may stumble across. As you move further and further down what you’re helping is that you’re getting more and more qualified towards the kind of people that would use your service are right for it and ideally, if you’re a paid service, pay for it as well.

I would say that that’s where you go. Of course, mid funnels typically where we see things like what Kieran was talking about earlier which is really specific feature videos, how to use white papers, case studies, more specific things like that.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do our lightning round, but I’ll let everybody that is participating today, Kieran, Ray, and myself, we will all maybe do a one or two sentence quick follow up with a link or something that we think is interesting and awesome this week.

As always, you can read the show notes on the GinzaMetrics blog. The content for this will be everywhere. I’m sure that I will not be relying on Kieran to optimize where everybody had gone out. Thank you so much for being on the show today. I’m sure that we are going to be hearing and seeing a lot more of you.

Ray, as always, a pleasure. I’ll see you in two seconds. Welcome home!

Ray: Alright, sounds good.

Kieran: Thanks, guys.

Erin: Thanks, guys. Bye.

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