YouTube: The Monster Search Engine You Can't Ignore

by , Dec 5, 2011, 10:32 AM
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You probably already know this: YouTube is now the second largest search engine, having displaced Yahoo Search earlier this year. So, that’s big. And now that YouTube has a spiffy new interface, it’s a good time to think about (or rethink) your video content and promotion strategies.

As I’ve discussed before, video is an increasingly potent and effective way to drive leads, demand generation and sales, both for B2B and B2C companies of all sizes. Setting up and managing an effective YouTube channel has gotten a little easier with the new YouTube design. Moreover, Promoted Video Ads in YouTube search results pages, which are a lot like AdWords ads in Google SRPs (surprise, surprise), can be a very effective way to drive traffic to your video content and YouTube Channel. (More about that in a moment.)

While there are a few new things in the YouTube design (most notably better social sharing and customizable channels), all the features you’re accustomed to are still there. Which means there’s more opportunity than ever to leverage your YouTube channel to meet key objectives. Be sure you learn about how best to set up and optimize your YouTube channel, including the new search and social features, and be sure you’ve properly branded and organized your channel with links to your website, Facebook Page and Twitter channel.

Once this is accomplished, given the range of features now available, you should be asking yourself these questions for each video you upload to your channel:

1.  Did my audience watch it? Track how many views each of your videos has gotten.  Critically review your most popular videos to learn from your successes and to apply those lessons to future projects.

2.   Did my audience click? In the video description field, use opportunities to add links to your website, and include special offers with links to dedicated landing pages. Track clicks on those links and see how  well they convert.

3.   Did my audience share it? YouTube audiences can now share videos they like instantly across their Google+ Circles, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, among others. So you’ll want to track the number of times any given video has been shared.

4.  Did my audience subscribe? The new interface makes organizing and checking in on all your channel subscriptions a lot easier, and, overall, it’s more intuitive now. As a result, more people than ever will be subscribing to channels they want to follow, so be sure you’re optimizing for and tracking subscriptions.

Remember, it’s critically important that you’re using Descriptions, Tags and Categories to their fullest advantage when publishing a new video to your channel. It will optimize your content and channel for organic search results on YouTube and Google.  Also, where possible, enable comments in order to fully engaged your community. Finally, be helpful to your community. Use the new Feed feature to provide updates to them, highlight videos you like and to impart information about your company.

And about that advertising I was talking about? Promoted Video Ads help to drive traffic to video content and your channel. In the same way that Google highlights text ads at the top of search results, YouTube features promoted videos at the top of a list of video search results. Promoted Video Ads also enable the addition of overlays to videos that include links back to your website, microsite or dedicated landing page.  It’s the perfect way to “embed” a clickable link on your own videos.

As always, organizing your keyword lists, bidding strategy, budget and click goals are all critical. If you’re already using a third-party search marketing tool like Marin Software or Kenshoo, you should be able to organize your YouTube campaigns using it.

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