13 Tips On How To Optimize Online Videos

More than ever, video search has grown in popularity and hence, importance. No wonder major search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo! have switched gears to support video, in addition to the most popular video site of all, YouTube. Google even incorporates videos on its mainstream search engine as it implements the Universal Search.

The rapid growth of videos posted online and use of video search engines highlight the fact that even if a big percentage of videos posted online are useless or uninteresting, the number of those in the opposite end is still huge. Which is why it’s unsurprising that US Internet users watched 12.7 billion videos in November 2008 alone.

The importance of incorporating videos with the mainstream web is an understatement. One can be creative in doing so. For example, property agent websites may want to enhance the appeal of flats they offer for sale or lease by including videos on top of text descriptions and photos.

I have a website, I have started uploading videos. What should I do to optimize them so they will easily be found by online users?

1 Create informative, unique videos
It always starts with a good video. This sounds similar to creating unique and informative text content. Naturally, users would like to view interesting videos and not those that they have already seen nor videos that don’t make sense to them. Think about “how-to” videos, clips of interesting/newsworthy events/incidents like the crash landing of a US Airways plane in Hudson River or the Obama inauguration, classic favorites like Shaquille O’Neal highlight dunks or Jerry Seinfeld interview with David Letterman. I know it’s hard to come up with videos of this quality but that’s the price to pay in order to attract thousands or millions of visitors.

2 Use desired keywords on video title
It is important that if someone looks for your video, the search keyword he/she will be using is included in the title of your video. Such keywords may also be used within the body of the page where the videos are placed. For example if you have a video about a flat in Causeway Bay, you may want to use “Video of flat for rent/lease in Causeway Bay” along with text content that includes “flat”, “video”, “rent” and “Causeway Bay” in the full description of the video. Let’s always consider ourselves as video searchers once in a while.

3 Make use of video portals
This is where people look for videos, so naturally it’s where you should find your intended audience. In addition to YouTube and the video sites of major search engines described above, Metacafe is popular with humor videos, Todou for Chinese videos, and Hulu for your favorite TV shows.

4 Keep an eye on length of video
I have heard from an ex-colleague that it takes seven minutes for audience to start feeling bored from someone presenting in front of them. That may well happen with visitors watching your videos. Before that happens, just stop the video. Ideally 5-7 minutes of maximum video time is recommended. Of course you don’t have to make that long if it’s core content only lasts for 50 seconds. Or if it’s a 20-minute sitcom.

5 Make use of social networks to spread the word about your video
Consider posting your videos in Digg, Facebook, MySpace and other sites that may spur massive link building consequences.

6 Provide text transcripts of your video
Search engines generally don’t crawl contents of the video. So if possible, create text transcripts of the video such as its important highlights (with which specific time to find them). We’re giving search engines chance to identify our video in another way.

7 Use .avi, .wmv, .mov, .mpg or .mp4 format
I am not sure how many video formats are there but it’s important to consider which one to use. It’s because certain users specify what file extension to look for in a video. And advanced video search engines allow users to choose which format to include in the search.

8 Put watermark on your videos
Not necessarily meant for ranking, but for branding purposes. Putting watermark on videos help get your brand out in the public and create brand awareness in the minds of the audience. Videohelp provides a tip on how to add custom watermark on videos.

9 Allow embedding of and linking directly to videos
Think of videos as similar as widgets that if people are interested, they have the ability to easily embed them (like currency converter, weather forecast or mortgage calculator). This is a popular feature found in most video sites, notably YouTube. And since you have watermark in place (see tip #8).

10 Allow visitors to rate videos
It’s one way to attract visitors (like me) who only want to watch videos with high ratings. Before achieving high ratings, we should have a good video in the first place. Refer to first tip above.

11 Syndicate your videos
Syndicate your videos with appropriate RSS or MRSS feeds. Google Video supports this form of syndication.

12 Tag your videos
It is a good practice to tag your videos with related terms associated with its content.

13 Make sure there is a designated URL for every video
This is to ensure that when someone prefers to link to the video instead of embedding it on his/her site, it points directly to the page containing the video.

Photo credit: mauidog