The good old days of driving traffic to a website quickly and easily are pretty much gone. In the past I was amongst the many that relied on Google alone for traffic… I remember making sales with startup ecommerce sites within 2 weeks of launching them thanks to the traffic that I would get from Google… I did this without doing any marketing whatsoever! I remember how my sites would practically market themselves because news reporters, bloggers, forum users and other active internet users would find my site via Google and spread the word about my site in no time at all — and my site would climb further up the SERPs and I would receive more and more traffic… but unfortunately, those days are gone.
Why? well in short, it’s due to major Google search algorithm updates which have been making it harder and harder to rank brand new websites these days. In the past newer sites would get some exposure but these days you have to be extremely popular to get any type of exposure from Google. To summarize for you, Google expects a site to be “popular” or “established” prior to giving the site any traffic. I would go deeper into this, but I would prefer to go over how I drive traffic to my startup sites rather than what Google wants.So how did I do it? Well, first I would like to say that I prefer to put most of my effort into my sites rather than online marketing. In addition to this, I don’t really like buying traffic or relying solely on paid traffic because that type of traffic only comes while you can afford to spend money. Your site also has to convert well in order for it to be worth paying for traffic. As for “typical” social marketing (like through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+), you have to have a bit of an established social presence in order to benefit from it. So after taking all this into consideration, I decided to look into the power of video — Youtube to be a bit more specific.
Why? Well, mainly because this type of marketing works well with just about any business model. In fact, I gave an example of how Youtube can be used to sell products in this article, so I have mentioned it before but never really went into detail and I figured I should now.
Keep this in mind when it comes to Youtube
First, I want everyone to realize that in order to succeed with Youtube, a bit of effort is necessary and unlike with SEO, there are no loop holes. Luckily, most of the effort needs to go “into” your videos rather than marketing — which is why I like Youtube so much. Do keep in mind that when I refer to effort, I’m referring to making the video captivating. To be captivating you don’t necessarily need to be amazing and your videos don’t have to look amazing — they basically just need to be useful.
Getting more people to view your videos
If you’re asking yourself why your videos need to be useful, it’s because of how Youtube works… You see, Youtube ranking factors focus on user engagement so if you want to get traffic flowing to your videos, make sure that your viewers are actually watching them.
Now you might be asking yourself how will you get people to watch them, if the videos are not ranking well initially? Well, from my experience, it’s easier to rank in Youtube than it is in Google due to there not being as much competition and due to Youtube search algorithms being a bit more welcoming to new users.
So while your videos might not rank well initially, there is a good chance that people will find them if you target the right keywords. By right keywords, I mean by making sure that the title, description and tags are relevant to what the video is about and that they are not targeting keywords which are highly competitive. You can tell if a keyword is too competitive by doing a search in Youtube and seeing how many results are returned. So if there isn’t much competition, you will likely be able to rank well from the start.
Now if your keywords are highly competitive, you can always target other keywords which don’t return as many videos or you can focus on long tail keywords until your video gains some views and proves to Youtube that it is worthy of being ranked well. Of course, once your video has proven to be worthy, your video will also be recommend to viewers at the end of videos which are similar to yours and in the recommendation column on video pages so it’s not like Youtube search is the only way that your video will gain viewers, but it is where I like to focus my efforts in the beginning.
So before I go over tips on how to make your videos gain popularity, I want to also explain that the popularity of your channel plays a role in rankings as well. For example, if you have some popular videos uploaded to your Youtube channel, newer videos which are uploaded get a slight boast in rankings because Youtube algorithms see you as a trustworthy source.
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Making sure that your video is worthy of views
So when you make your first video, you need to ask yourself what you would expect to see in a video that was focusing on your niche. For example, I think it’s safe to say that you wouldn’t want to watch a video that simply advertises a product that you are trying to sell? I mean who searches Youtube for commercials? Instead, focus on showing people how to do something, do comparisons, release new casts etc. — basically, just make videos that people are willing to watch.
For example, I have found ‘how to videos’ to be a very good way to get people to watch your videos. I know that my channel became a huge hit with Youtube users and it has really helped me drive traffic to my site… When I first launched my site my videos were the best source of targeted traffic. You can check out my channel here and view a video of mine below:
Of course there are other online marketers that use the power of Youtube to drive traffic to their sites. Below are some other channels that have really impressed me and inspired me to focus on Youtube.For example, JewelrySupply.com offers quite a bit of jewelry how to videos that are very useful and really help them cross promote their site and the products that they sell. See a video of theirs below:
News anyone? Barry Schwartz is a very well know search engine news reporter that manages to promote both Seroundtable.com as well as Rustybrick.com through his videos. To learn a thing or two about shooting news casts, check a video of his below:
Everyone is comedian these days and so are the folks at Woot. Their crew manages to make people laugh and drive traffic to their store with some really creative videos — see an example below:
The guys at MetalRescue really know how to advertise a product by demonstrating how the product works while keeping their viewers watching their videos. You see, these videos remind me of those as seen on tv infomercials that we see so often… Well, who said they won’t work on Youtube? See for yourself:
Taking full advantage of Youtube
Whenever I use a website, I always do my best to take full advantage of all the features available and with Youtube, things are no different. When I first started I verified my Youtube account because this was the only way that I could upload videos that were longer than 15 minutes and since many of my videos are longer, this was necessary. So if your videos are longer than 15 minutes, it’s way better than splitting your videos and uploading them separately.
While writing about verification, I’d also like to mention that a Youtube account which has been verified and is in good standing, may have the ability to upload custom thumbnails. While I have gotten lucky on some videos where the auto-generated thumbnails looked great, there were some videos that had awful auto-generated thumbnails… On these videos, the custom thumbnail option really came in handy. So keep this in mind and use it to upload a relevant and attention grabbing thumbnail.
While I have already mentioned that the title, description and tags should be relevant because they play a role in rankings, I haven’t mention how important closed captioning is…. While I have yet to transcribe all of the videos that I have uploaded to Youtube because I have personally found this to be a time consuming task, I do believe that it’s worth doing if you have the time because as it has been said, the Youtube transcription plays a role in rankings so transcribing is something that may pay off. In addition to this, a little CC icon is displayed in search results next to videos which can grab a little more attention. Additionally, this may even play a role in Google search rankings since Googlebot may be able to better understand what the video is about.
HD quality, is something that I also like to shoot for since I am able to show my viewers detailed closeups of what I am doing on my computer which is especially important when doing screencasts as I do. A nice little advantage to this is that I get an HD icon next to my video in Youtube search results which is a nice attention grabber.
Why stop at Youtube?
- In addition to Youtube, I have been seeing a lot of Vimeo embedded videos on websites nowadays so it definitely seems like it’s worth the time to upload your videos there and other video sites as well.
- Podcasts are also a hit and it’s pretty easy converting your videos into audio files once you have them ready. If you cover the news or shoot tutorials, the audio files can also work great as giveaways (a free download) on your site which is sure to come in handy to people that would rather listen offline.
- Writing up articles which go over what you talk about in your videos is a great way to attract readers. In addition to this, it’s a great way to build your own web property and fill it will high quality and unique content.
How Youtube has helped my SEO
So did I forget about SEO? Well, basically I did, but of course I didn’t forget what I have learned about SEO over the years… It’s just that I have decided not to do things can eventually get me in trouble with Google and hurt my rankings. Instead, I have decided to focus my efforts on videos. You see, these days natural links are the kind of links that you want pointing at your site and from my experience, I can tell you that my videos have helped me get some high quality, natural links pointing at my site that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise. For example, since I mention my site in all of my videos, I have received many links from my viewers! In addition to my site getting ranked, my videos have seen some nice rankings in Google, Bing and Yahoo as well.
As for the social part of SEO, I am pleased to say that I have received many social shares on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc. So if you’re looking for a way to generate some real buzz, Youtube is definitely the way to go.