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Video Search Engine Optimization: Catering To The Masses

Video is easier to digest than ever before. High speed wired and wi-fi services, iPhones and other video-enabled mobile devices are helping hungry users scarf down a smorgasbord of video treats.

And publishers are going back to the kitchen to serve up more and more. So how do publishers scale their operations to meet this seemingly insatiable appetite? And, how do they bake search engine friendliness into every serving?

A common approach for large publishers is to purchase or license an enterprise-level video publishing and distribution platform. Publishers can chose from well-regarded solutions like Brightcove, Anystream, The Platform, and Flip Factory. These tools provide scale to publishing, delivering, and monetizing video assets; however, they provide only limited assistance to search engine optimization.

One of the major national news networks has put an effective process in place to address the issue of scale. A project manager I spoke with said, “We looked at turnkey platforms, but in the end we chose to build our own proprietary solutions on top of our existing CMS.” This includes a clever application that accesses the Yahoo! keyword suggestion tool via its API and returns relevant meta keywords to the file. They also automate the creation of a Google video sitemap that ensures the engine knows the location of their entire video inventory.

Josh Hawkins, director of corporate communications for Brightcove, encourages video publishers to follow SEO best practices when implementing their platform. This includes using targeted keywords in the title and metadata of each video, which Brightcove exposes to text-based search engines for indexing. To help scale these efforts, Brightcove’s platform, and many others like it, also provide the ability to easily syndicate MRSS feeds with the videos’ metadata into major video portals like AOL Video and Blinkx.

While optimized metadata can boost your video’s chances of being found on video sites like YouTube, it may not be enough to capture the attention of the major search engines like Google. While the traditional engines have been incorporating some videos into their search results, they primarily return full Web pages in their listings. Their algorithms continue to love the tried and true SEO best practices of good page titles, relevant html content and inbound links.

Hawkins feels one of the biggest missed opportunities for publishers is serving all of their videos in massive aggregated players buried in internal landing pages. He refers to this approach as creating a type of video wasteland. Instead, he recommends placing videos across a number of different webpages, each with unique URLs and metadata, and in the context of related text and hyperlinks, which together help search engines understand the video content and provide more favorable rankings in search results. A prime example of this approach is YouTube, whose search engine visibility has helped it become the most popular site for viewing video.

Anystream, an “end-to-end video life cycle platform”, provides tools to make it easier for producers to include metadata along with their videos sent to distribution partners and search engines. Russell Zack, Anystream’s Vice President of Product Management, feels that “search engines are still in the indexing phase with video” and that next-generation video search technologies like Blinkx and Nexidia will lead us into the next phase: large scale cataloging of video content. The search engines produced by these companies use speech recognition, phonetics and other advanced and more scalable processes.

But until popular search engines start using similar technologies, producers will need to be trained on how to encode and attach the necessary metadata to their files and create search-friendly pages for each of the videos. Why? Consumers are hungry for content, and there’s plenty to consume if they can’t find yours.