Video is generally accepted as having a greater effect on consumers than other, more outdated forms of media. Although well-made video is important, it is only a foundation on which to start building your marketing campaign; what is more important is knowing how to launch your video so that it gains maximum popularity and visibility. You need to know the ins and outs of promoting your content instead of leaving it to rot, unseen. Let’s look at four questions you must ask if you are planning to use video on your website.
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Question 1: Should I self-host my videos?
Self-hosting is a big decision, considering the comparative ease of third-party publishing. If your video content is not directly related to your website content, there is no point in self-hosting. However, assuming you’re posting videos that work with your site content, the four main advantages of self-hosting are:
1. You have absolute control over the content. There is no confusion over copyright or third-party rights, as you retain all rights to the work. No one (except your hosting provider) can ban, modify or delete your creations. You can also manage download options, limiting or allowing access as you see fit. Finally, you can easily incorporate analytics to get demographic and traffic statistics for each video.
2. You have absolute control over video traffic. Visitors viewing video on your site will never be redirected to related videos on a third-party host. You can instead direct them to more of your own content, on your site. Every time a viewer links your video, they also create a link to your website, instead of to a third-party host. The inverse applies if you embed videos from third-party sites: anyone linking to the embedded page sends visitors to your site, but those visitors may leave when they are shown related external content.
3. You only show the ads you want to show. You pay for your hosting, but you don’t have to add external links or adverts into your videos unless you want to. With YouTube, viewers are forced to see up to a minute of advertising before they access your video, which can be a serious cause of annoyance and early abandonment. When you self-host videos, your audience gets a smoother experience with fewer interruptions.
4. You can modify your videos in any way you please. This is critical for branding: not only can you use the latest formats and techniques, you can insert your brand and use your brand colors. These cool modifications give a more personal touch to your videos. Third-party hosting automatically brands everything you upload with their company name.
There are also four significant disadvantages to keep in mind when deciding whether to host your own videos:
1. Depending on your hosting plan, you may have to pay more to host your own video content. There are sites that don’t charge extra to host and stream videos, but you should ensure that their service is good enough to deliver smooth viewing. In contrast, third parties like YouTube allow free hosting, in exchange for their branding and adverts. You must decide whether the extra investment for self-hosting is justified by the benefits you could reap from offering video content.
2. You will need a basic knowledge of coding (or hire someone who does). YouTube and Vimeo are easy to use, but self-hosting is complicated. The level of coding skill required to host video will vary according to the video software that you use and your chosen delivery methods.
3. You must consider delivery and playback speed. This is generally not a problem if you have few viewers, but the demand on your bandwidth will quickly grow as your traffic increases. You may find that you need to upgrade your hosting plan at significant cost if your video delivery gets too slow. Third party sites such as YouTube do not have this problem, as they invest enormous amounts of money into ensuring sufficient bandwidth for quick delivery and smooth playback, regardless of the number of people viewing the content.
4. The last and perhaps biggest disadvantage of self-hosted videos is that you limit yourself to a relatively small audience. Only people who visit your personal website will discover your content, and many self-hosted videos do not appear on the first page of Google results, making them hard to find. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo allow all their visitors to search and find any type of video they want – including yours, if you publish there. With millions of visitors every day, that’s a significant potential audience.
To help you make a decision, there are some commonly accepted guidelines. Smaller videos are better hosted on a third-party site, but long videos are better on your own site. Since YouTube compresses most video content to inferior quality levels (to save space and improve delivery speed), you can host the high-definition version on your own site and attract interested viewers away from YouTube. Make sure that the videos on YouTube and your own site contain the same content, and that they are both tagged with priority keywords so they are easier to find in a search.
Question 2: YouTube or Vimeo?
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YouTube and Vimeo are the most popular third-party video hosts for different and specific reasons. Google’s YouTube is more popular across the board, and delivers content to a large contingent hailing from outside the United States. Every day, hundreds of hours of new video content is added to the site. YouTube has a very diverse audience, ranging from young kids through adults to seniors.
On the other hand, almost 60 million people visit Vimeo every month and more than 250,000 websites use the system. The topics on Vimeo are more limited and concentrate mainly on business, entertainment, religion, news and shopping.
When deciding which platform to use, you should take speed, professionalism, marketing and quality into account. YouTube is popular for its vast daily audience constantly in search of new content, but Vimeo has a more polished, professional look for a more serious audience. YouTube limits uploads to a maximum of 15 minutes until you have special permission, while Vimeo dictates limits by account type, file size and number of videos (e.g. basic membership allows 500Mb per week in up to 10 videos).
YouTube allows users to create channels for different videos, and actively encourages related, similar and popular content links to keep visitors on-site (and off your own website) for as long as possible. This allows you to target a variety of audiences, though the sometimes cluttered environment can make it difficult to prioritize your content above that offered automatically from other brands. Vimeo’s layout is comparatively much cleaner and more professional, as it is designed to enable publishers to promote themselves rather than highlighting the site or adverts.
Question 3: How do I optimize video for search?
The best way to make video persuasive and attractive to viewers is by creating the best content possible. Great content encourages viewers to share, link or even embed it, which are the best ways to increase your video’s visibility and attract more viewers.
Though you want to make a video that will suit the search engines, you must never forget to target content that the audience will like. Google has advanced enormously over the years and advises that only video with good content will earn success in terms of search engine rankings.
The most important steps of optimization are:
1. Your video title. The title must be attractive enough to make people want to watch the video.
2. On-page content. The content on the page containing your video is critical. If your video is part of an article, the article’s content will affect the video’s ranking. The video description, comments and transcript also play a major part in optimization.
3. Links and social media shares. Incoming links from other sites are important, but social sharing can exert a powerful influence on your search rankings. Social media sharing options are essential: even if the video doesn’t rank well on the search engines, social sharing can bring innumerable visitors to your site and dramatically boost visibility.
4. Video length. Time is always critical: few people have the leisure to watch long, complicated videos. Balance the importance of your message against the concentration span of your target demographic. Keep it short for new customers, allow longer content for established audiences. For longer videos, make sure your content retains the audience’s attention – they’re never more than one click away from leaving if it gets boring.
Question 4: How do I generate revenue with video?
You can get revenue out of your videos in two ways: directly and indirectly.
The direct route involves selling pre-roll adverts and pop-up banners that appear when the video is playing. For very popular content, you can also consider syndication and member subscriptions.
The indirect route uses your video content to attract more visitors to your website. either by video popularity or by creating brand awareness. You use website content to complete the sale in the normal fashion.
Your chosen revenue model will affect the type of video you make. For example, if you plan to make money through advertising then you need to produce popular content that attracts and satisfies a large audience. Since payment depends on traffic volume, your video must generate a lot of hits. Only through increasing traffic will you be able to gain more revenue.
Once you have answered these four questions, you can build a video strategy that suits your needs. Remember to include measurable goals and, once you’ve tried your strategy, revisit the statistics to ensure that your videos serve their purpose as part of your broader marketing plan.