With the exception of some SEO firms that are still using techniques from 5 years ago, like boring “SEO content,” links on crappy directories, and blogs that lack an audience, everybody who sells SEO today pitches the idea that they are capable of creating engaging content that people want to share. But what does that mean?
There are all kinds of content. Many people assume that content only refers to text content and keywords. If it’s written well, people will hopefully share it through social media or link to it from their own articles and content on other websites, and you’ll see increased traffic on Google and Bing as those links and keywords turn into higher rankings. This is a great strategy, but depending on how competitive your industry is, it may not be enough. You’re going up against other companies with deep pockets for advertising and engaging content like images and video that are more readily consumable. The only way to compete is to do the same thing; supplement your text content with images, video and possibly other creative tools of engagement. Below is my step-by-step guide for creating the right video content, and putting it in front of the right people.
Step 1: Making a Viral Video for SEO
Making a professional video takes a lot of thought and the right talent to execute it properly. Producing and syndicating a professional video that is also viral requires even more thought and talent. Taking that professional, viral video and turning it into something that results in traffic and links to your website requires a level of expertise that few people possess.
A Professional Video Isn’t Often a Viral Video
Take a look at these two videos. They’re both professionally done, and engaging. Can you guess which one was more viral than the other?
Magic Hat Mardi Gras Video
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Budweiser Superbowl Puppy Commercial
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While the Magic Hat Brewing Company video was well-done, it just wasn’t the sort of video that people would rush to post on their Facebook walls. It’s the kind of video that is great for providing background and depth for someone who’s already a fan of the brand (I know I am!), but in terms of viral sharing, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective as the Budweiser video. Naturally, the Budweiser video probably cost $50,000 – $100,000+ to produce, not to mention the prime real-estate during Superbowl XLIX. But, let’s deconstruct the components that make it viral.
- Cute Puppy Dog: According to the Humane Society, 47% of US households own at least one dog. Dog lovers just can’t resist a cute little puppy, and you can be sure that even a fraction of a percent of the 150,000,000 dog owners in this country will share anything dog-related. And although I much prefer to adopt a less sought-after shelter animal, one can’t ignore the fact that the dog happens to be a pure breed, creating yet another audience of owners who will want to share this video. He may not be as tough as his cousin, Spuds MacKenzie, the Bull Terrier from the 80s and 90s, but then cute probably evokes a much stronger emotional response than tough.
- Great Storyline: What better story to tell than one with a happy ending? Cute puppy gets lost, faces imminent danger while his All-American owner misses him, and gets rescued by his pack of Buds, the Budweiser Clydesdales who then escort him home to his owner who drinks his beer not out of despair, but to celebrate the return of his best friend. It’s worth mentioning that GoDaddy mocked the commercial with an online puppy mill video and certainly got a lot of exposure, albeit some negative press until they pulled the ad. But, when you can’t go cute, go edgy.
- Distribution: Great content is only great if people get to experience and share it. Budweiser spared no expense to get their ad in front of a wide audience. The takeaway here is that even if you don’t have the budget of a large public company, you should invest both time and money into the distribution of your content. Make the effort to distribute your amazing content to influencers who are likely to share it, and the rest will follow suit.
There are lots of concepts for viral videos that can work well. Parody videos, how-to videos for certain topics, funny videos, sad videos – you name it. You just need to think about what works well for your product and audience, and what you can afford. And of course, put lots of thought into whether it would be something that people would share with their friends on Facebook and other places.
Step 2: Put Your Video In Front of the Right Audience for SEO
Today, there are a lot of tools that will enable you to get your video in front of people. Some will provide wide exposure, while others will provide highly targeted exposure. Generally, you will get the greatest value from more targeted advertising, at the risk of having less exposure.
If you’ve got a national brand, then this pool of people can be quite large. Put your content in front of your loyal customers and employees and they’ll share with everyone they know, and then some. If you have a smaller company, then you might need to be a bit more creative.
Start by getting your content in front of people who buy into you. Friends, family and close colleagues are often more than willing to help out. Pass links to your content to your personal network and ask them to share it on Facebook and other social media. Post your video to your own wall and LinkedIn profile. Show people that you buy into your own product and they’ll buy into you even more.
Try some remarketing / retargeting ads. Depending on how much traffic you drive to your website through other channels, this may or may not be effective. If you have very little traffic to your website, then remarketing probably won’t work very well and your time would be better spent on something else. However if you have some traffic volume, then remarketing can work very well. For a campaign like this, I might opt to run a PPC campaign temporarily as well. Just be sure to keep the data for any budget spent on branding and SEO separate from budget spent on driving sales. However if the budget is there, then it is absolutely worth it to supplement your existing traffic with ads targeted to a relevant audience, and to then further enhance that campaign with a remarketing campaign to bring those people back. Youtube remarketing is a great place to start and it can be done through Google Adwords. You can also run remarketing / retargeting ads on Twitter and Facebook. Adroll is generally a good way to do this.
Buy video advertising. Supplement your free postings to Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook and other platforms with paid video spots on all of these networks. Target your ads as best as you can. Remember, your goal is purely SEO in this scenario, so think about what audiences are most likely to share your content when they see it. Most of these people probably have little to no interest in your product. But present them with a great video that has all of the right components, and they’ll surely share it with someone who will be more likely to link to your pages and buy your products.
Consider a press release. Depending on the subject and newsworthiness of your content, it may be worth investing in a service like PR Newswire or PR Web. Make sure your press release follows best-practices and includes all relevant contact and other information. If you’re lucky, a few publications will pick up your story and link to your website.
Link to your video from your website content. Remember, the goal here is to produce links to your website. Accept the fact that you might lose some sales and conversion in the short term by pulling people away from your product pages to watch a video. Once you get over this, you can capitalize further on your existing traffic by putting your video in front of people as soon as they get to your website, in the hopes that they’ll share your content with others and you’ll probably earn more than a few customers in the long term for every sale you lose today.
Step 3: Using the Right Call-to-Action for SEO
This is where the magic happens. You can produce the most shared video in the world, but without the right Call-to-Action (CTA), you won’t maximize the residual benefit of lots of links pointing to your website as a result.
Create a landing page. Put a landing page on your website that is specific to the video you’ve just created and started to syndicate to your audience. Most people will probably share your video directly on Youtube or Facebook. This is great, but the more people you can get to share an actual page of your website instead, the better. On your landing page, make sure you have social sharing buttons and an email-a-friend link. Anything that will facilitate sharing will help generate more shares. Try not to make the webpage look too commercial. Don’t paste ads all over it. We want people to share it with their friends, so give them something shareable.
Link to your landing page. Wherever possible, put a link to your landing page on any shared content. Drive people there instead of to your Youtube channel.
Give them something to do. Besides the obvious social sharing, give your audience something to do once they land on your landing page. Create a compelling reason for going to that page and post this reason and a link on your Youtube video and pages. Make it easy for people to leave comments if possible. Generally, the more conversation, the better. I wouldn’t recommend trying to sell a product on this page – that’s not what the user is there for. Instead, you might promoting a contest or giveaway on the page as a way to further entice people to share it, and to sign up for your newsletter and social media.
Follow up. Sometimes, a good friend just needs a friendly, non-spammy reminder to help out. If you don’t get a response from someone like this then contact them again. Alternatively, most people won’t share your content in the most optimal way. For example, Facebook Shares are much more valuable than Facebook Likes because they get you a lot more exposure on people’s walls. So, when a friend “likes” your video, ask them to also share it. On the opposite end, you might have a publication that prints your story but does not include a link. For example, we got exposure in a NY Post article about Promposals for one of our clients during prom season last year (it’s coming up again!). The writer included a mention of our client’s website, but did not link back to it. We followed up and asked her nicely to update the content, and she obliged. With a little work, we turned a nice result into a great result, and you can do the same.
Ideas are easy to come by. There are lots of theorists out there, but few people who can execute. Take your idea, and turn it into a reality, today. The only way to succeed is to try, and sometimes the shortest path to success is a whole lot of failure. But don’t fail in the worst way by not trying. If you need help, find it. Figure out what you can do yourself, and do well, and do that part. Then figure out what you really can’t do on your own, or don’t have time for, and find a solution. After reading this guide you’ve probably come to the conclusion that a lot of the information I’ve shared is just common sense, and you’d be partially right. But the real value I’m hoping to bring is that getting started is really not as hard as it looks, and I’ve provided a roadmap that shouldn’t be too hard to follow.