YouTube is the third most visited site on the Internet. It lags behind only Google and Facebook. With a day and a half’s worth of video uploaded every minute, the question becomes, “How do I use this monster to help me?” That’s what we’ll be looking at here.
1) It’s not just a site, it’s the software.
Adding a YouTube video to your website is as easy as putting a link into the text. The video is hosted by YouTube, but it runs right on your page. Alternatively, you can send viewers from your site to YouTube and let them comment, “like” your video, or subscribe to your channel. A channel is a collection of videos hosted under one user name – for commercial purposes, this can be related to your business name.
This method allows you to upload using YouTube’s software and functionality while still using the material where you want to with a link.
2) Google owns it.
That’s right; Google (the number one site on the Internet) owns YouTube (the number three site). The Google +1 feature has recently been added to YouTube videos. What this means is that someone who +1s your video also helps your page rank on Google. Offering links back to your main site from YouTube also helps – especially if viewers click through to your website.
Besides links, uploaded videos can have keywords, embedded (clickable) ads, and other goodies helpful for SEO and link building. YouTube videos also show up when Google video searches are conducted – if your competitors don’t have a video (informational or promotional), they’ve essentially shut themselves out of those searches, and you are in a much better position to compete.
3) Video captures attention in a way that text cannot.
Personalities and nuances come through in a video format, giving an intimacy and immediacy to your message. And many people have difficulty processing information with text alone. Showing is often more powerful than telling.
4) It grabs eyes that other media miss.
We’ve all heard the stories of the viral videos – exceptional footage that garners millions of views in a few days. Add quality content, and you attract other eyes as well. And the social media aspects (the share button and the comment feature) are natural business-builders.
5) The price is right.
Free is a nice price. And unlike television ads that run once or twice, your YouTube spot stays up forever (or until you take it down). The very first video uploaded to YouTube, back in 2005, is still up. It has been viewed more than 5 million times.
Your competitive edge on the Web is enhanced every time you place an additional weapon in your arsenal. Combining YouTube videos with your Facebook page, your website and your blog can all interact – each feeds the other. Content can be leveraged across multiple platforms and presented in different ways. This type of mini-network aids your overall SEO.
Quality and Content
It should come as no surprise that what you feature in your video matters a great deal. This doesn’t necessarily mean Oscar-quality performances or hiring Martin Scorsese to direct. It does mean that overt commercials usually won’t work unless you back them up with a strong promotion.
Useful content along with an element of entertainment is the proper combination. You can put a call to action in the text, or at the end if you like. Pay attention to the thumbnail too – this will appear with your listing in search engine results (on Google as well as YouTube). An interesting thumbnail pic, along with a good title can mean the difference between inspiring a click and getting ignored.
Consider making different versions targeted to different markets – usually separated by demographics, but you can play with lots of parameters to see what “hits.”
Finally, think informal but professional. Unless you are a professional entertainer (or hire one), stay away from comedy or other art forms outside your range. Stick with the “You” in YouTube. Short and sweet is better than long and boring. Offer something from your expertise, share an insider secret, or give a money-saving tip. And consider using your top keywords in the transcript associated with the piece.