I attended the eTail in Baltimore conference last week. In addition to a great after hours tour of the Baltimore Aquarium and my first Brazilian Churrascaria dinner at Fogo de Chao, I had a chance to listen to some great sessions.

Prior to attending, I had been thinking about the state of video for both search optimization and website conversion for the last few months. I was drawn to a session on Monday that covered video for SEO.

I took notes and assembled the following:

  • Host your video with your own player using a 3rd party service with an edge network delivery service. Edge networks are setup to eliminate lag and latency for your end customer viewing the video. According to the panel, YouTube is a great free service but the lack of control of the player and the fact that the video really isn't on your website (it is embedded via a JavaScript widget). Invodo and Brightcove were mentioned as the premier hosting providers. Viddler was also mentioned.
  • Tag your videos. I learned that tagging covers a lot of areas. You need to tag your website so that you can track video views (more of an analytics issue). More importantly, the video themselves can be tagged with your own descriptive data. This allows people to more quickly skip ahead to the content that they want to view. Search engines can also uses these tags to better index your content.
  • Ideally you should include a transcript of the video inline below the video to get the text seo benefit of the content.
  • Use YouTube in addition to your own viewer. Google still seems to heavily weight its video results to content on YouTube. Do not, however, post the same video on Google as the video you host in bullet 1. Use the YouTube video as a teaser that points your viewers to your website. The benefit is that you are getting unique video content on your site as well as content on YouTube.
  • Create a video sitemap and reference it in your robots.txt.
  • Make sure your video host support analytics like number of views, amount of video viewed and other stats.

And if you follow all of the steps above? Conference attendees claimed that they were seeing 200% improvements in conversion rates. Do I believe that? Probably not... but we have plenty of clients that would be happy with a 50% bump in conversion rate.