Optimizing video so it can be searched and found
Multimedia search, specifically video search, is one of the newest and hottest offerings of the major search engines. As broadband Internet access grows and multimedia content becomes ubiquitous, companies with large video archives and other multimedia content will want to leverage this opportunity. But how?
We spend a lot of time and effort putting the best search engine optimization (SEO) practices in place, but when we start talking about video optimization, the waters get muddy in a hurry. What do search engines look for in video content? There's no text to read, and existing software to transcribe the audio portion of multimedia content is much too slow for the volume of videos that a given search engine would need to index.
To get an idea of just how much of this content exists, we need only look to the example of Google, which recently announced it was out of space to store, among other things, all the video content it's been indexing. Can somebody please point Google to a local computer retailer? Hard drives are cheap these days!
Multimedia SEO is all about tagging and linking. Let's start with tagging. Multimedia files have a variety of tags that can be manipulated, starting with the old reliable title and description tags. Clearly, there's a place for traditional SEO techniques here, but they're only the beginning. There are several more fields that need to be filled out in a descriptive manner with appropriate keyword phrases.
The next task is linking. Again, basic SEO principles apply here. If a video is about skydiving, then "skydiving video" should be used in the link. And as usual, the more links the better.
Once a video file is optimized, the next step is figuring out how to upload it to Google and Yahoo. Each of the two major search engines takes a very different approach to video content. Google will be more than happy to host your video file (assuming they buy more hard drives soon), whereas Yahoo simply wants to know where a video is located, as the engine is quite content to let individuals host their own.
Google also allows uploads for full transcripts and annotations. The more it knows about a video, the higher the likelihood it will be listed correctly. It's important for users to take the time to annotate and transcribe videos when possible.
One point of interest here is that if a video is clearly annotated and time-coded, Google will actually begin playback at the specific point where the key phrase is located. To get started, just type in video.google.com and click the upload link next to the search box. One important note: Google does not crawl for video content. Users must upload it to them.
The folks at Yahoo are slightly less advanced at the moment, but certainly no less friendly. They prefer that video content be indexed, and they've created an RSS-based method for video submission. The submission page can be found at search.yahoo.com/mrss/submit. Yahoo is relying primarily on the encoded metadata in video and the data in an RSS feed.
As always, it's important to take the time to research keywords and use them appropriately. Since Yahoo does crawl for video content, it's a simple matter of patience to wait for the spider to show up after a feed is submitted.
The convergence of TV and the Internet is happening at an alarming speed even as I type this. As Internet users mature, we're seeing online video streaming becoming very commonplace. Just yesterday, I watched Pearl Jam's performance on a recent "Tonight Show." The quality of the stream was fantastic.
Certainly, some destination sites don't need to worry so much about video SEO. But for the vast majority of videographers out there, the only way viewers are going to find their content is by searching for it. The smart ones will realize this and make their content findable.
Todd Friesen is director, search engine optimization, Range Online Media. (firstname.lastname@example.org)