Exploiting Universal Search – Part 2

This month the focus is on how to optimise your video content so that you can get the best possible visibility in Natural Search for that content.

There are typically three ways a consumer will use a search engine to find your video content:

i. By adding the word 'video' or 'videos' to their search query,
ii. By undertaking a regular search and finding a video within the search results page (Universal Search),
iii. By using a video search engine, such as Youtube.com

Each of these types of search can be influenced by the following ten factors, which are our Top Ten Tips:

1. Use the word 'video' on the page: People are increasingly using search engines to search for videos. It is imperative that the actual page your video resides on is optimised for the word 'video' so it will stand the best chance of ranking if a searcher uses a search query that includes that word.

2. Optimise your Page Meta Tags: As with the above tip, you should ensure that your meta title, description, and keywords  include the word 'video', 'videos', and any other important search terms that describe that video.

3. Optimise your URLs: All video content should be placed in their own folder named 'videos' and you should ensure you have one video per URL. The URLs themselves should include the appropriate keywords to communicate to the search engines what the video is about.

4. Video Sitemaps: Create video-specific sitemaps that link to all your videos. This will ensure that the search engines can find all your video content and that there is a permanent link to that content at all times.

5. Links! Internal and external linking should promote the videos and the pages that the videos reside on.  Anchor text, as ever, is incredibly powerful and should be manipulated internally and externally to confirm the worthiness of the video to rank. If a video is about 'Michael Jackson's Thriller' it should be linked to with those words by you and ideally by other webmasters.

6. Optimise your In-format Meta data: Video files typically allow data about them to be stored within the video file itself. This is called In-format meta data. In-format meta data is typically stripped out of the file if the file is converted or edited so it is important to ensure that you operate a strict process of video tagging so that video files have optimised and descriptive meta data embedded within them before they are published and promoted.

This in-format meta data is also useful as it can be used to build page-level meta data and on-page optimisation dynamically and quickly.

Future in-format meta data will allow a user to add tags to different parts of a video and not just to the file as a whole. That way a search engine could index 'scenes' within a video file and then allow a searcher to search for, retrieve, and automatically play a specific part of a larger video file.

7. Use Media RSS (MRSS): In a similar fashion to conventional RSS, MRSS allows you to create an XML feed that specifically details the key information and location for your video files. Yahoo has been one of the key proponents of the format - the full specification can be found here: http://search.yahoo.com/mrss.

MRSS is important as the resultant feed can be submitted to any video search engine that accepts the feeds; Blinkx and Truveo are good examples.

8. Video Format Governance: Use conventional video formats, such as MPEG and AVI, for your videos as opposed to file formats that require specific video players or operating systems.

9. Branding: You should consider adding your brand name, URL, and/or logo to your video files as a discrete watermark on the bottom right of your video content. This ensures a degree of brand visibility when the video is syndicated across video search engines, such as YouTube or Blinkx.

10. Make them Compelling: Ensure that any video content you are creating and promoting is compelling and that people will want to watch them!

Next Month: Exploiting Universal Search - Part 3:  Google Base

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