Video is a great way for any business, online or bricks-and-mortar, to get its message to both potential and current customers. However, like any Web content, you need to make sure that your small business videos get picked up by the search engines so that people who are searching for a business like yours can find them.
The good news for small business owners: online to potential customers is a fairly simple and straightforward process. Here are some tips to help you maximize the impact of your small business videos.
Harness the Power of YouTube
YouTube is the second-largest search engine on the Web after Google, and it is owned by Google. If you want people to find your content, then YouTube is an obvious place to start. Creating a YouTube channel is simple, you can upload videos using a range of formats, and you can upload HD videos too.
Figure 1: When you set up your YouTube channel, it's vital that you brand it and add a detailed title, description and tags.
You can, and should, customize your YouTube channel(s) to brand it for your business. You can do this if you log in, view your channel Yby selecting My Channel, and then click Channel Settings. Upload a background image or select a background color that matches your small business logo or website, and then add an avatar, such as your business logo.
In the Info and Settings tab, type your Channel Title, Description and Tags -- all of which should be should be search engine optimized (SEO)for your business. Make sure to include your website URL in the description and, if you are a bricks-and-motor business, add your city and business specialty in the Title, the Description, and in your Tags.
When you upload videos make sure to include relevant details in the Title, Description and Tags for every single video. Again, if you're trying to attract clients to a local business these details should include mention of your city and service or business details.
Make sure your videos contain branding, such as introductory screens and watermarks that identify your business. Include your business logo and contact details too, so that an interested viewer can easily find and contact you.
Closed Captions for Video
Google will now convert your video's audio stream to text so you can include it as closed captioning for your videos. This is great news, because closed captioning content is searchable, and Google's search engine will index the content.
In the past you had to write your own captions, but it's now a lot easier even if YouTube doesn't get it right all the time. If you plan to let YouTube handle the captioning, let it convert the audio and then download the caption file. Check the captioning for errors, correct any words it may have translated incorrectly, and then upload it back to YouTube. Make sure to change only words; it's critical that you leave the timing information in place. YouTube exports captions in .sbv files, which is a plain text file that just about any editing software can open.
While YouTube is the biggest video-sharing site, it is far from the only one. You can upload to a number of different sites at once using a site like Oneload.com. You type in your video details, upload the video, and Oneload posts it to multiple sites at once -- saving you the time and effort of doing it each time yourself.
Figure 2: When you upload a video at OneLoad.com, the site sends it to your choice of other websites, including YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter, Metacafe and DailyMotion.
If you are a bricks-and-mortar store and you're on Google Places, then you can upload up to 10 images and five videos to your page. These five videos give you a great chance to sell your skills to potential clients, making it yet another place that your videos should appear.
Link to Videos
No matter where you host your videos, if you want people to find them, be sure to embed them in your website, or link from your site back to the videos. Add plenty of good descriptive content around the video link on your site to help it rank well in search engines for that topic.
Also link to the video from other social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as from your blog. If you send out a regular email newsletter, make sure to include links to your videos in the newsletter, too.
Video production shouldn't be a do-it-once-and-done task. To maximize the video benefits for your site, launch new videos regularly -- say a two per month. Then follow up each video launch with a social media campaign to build traffic to that video and to your various channels.
Figure 3: This plumbing company has a great video title and a well-branded video; it will be easy for customers to find it.
The exception to this is Google Places where you really should make use of the option to include five videos on your page from the outset.
Track and Evaluate
You need to track the site statistics for your videos as you would with any small business marketing tool. Learn which video sites and which types of videos get the best reception from your audience. Determine which videos drive traffic back to your site, so you can learn what works and what doesn't.
For the time and effort it takes you to create a video, you owe it to your business to make sure that the video can be found and that your business gets maximum impact from it.
Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com
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