Video marketers are well aware that great content can increase a brand's online reach - but what happens when search engine optimization can actually harm those marketing efforts? We asked Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and author of ”Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing” to guide us through the recent changes Google have made to the ranking algorithms.
How 'Panda' and 'Penguin' have changed the SEO landscape
Contrary to popular believe, the two most significant algorithmic updates rolled out by Google over the past 18 months have far from killed off SEO, but they have clearly defined what it takes to rank in the search engine these days. 'Panda' and 'Penguin' (the deceptively disingenuous names given to the algo updates) focus, respectively, on penalising low quality sites and over-optimisation. We asked Lee how he sees the current landscape now these changes have taken effect:
Lee: "The concept for 'Optimize' was to look at digital marketing and understand what the word “optimize” really meant. That is, to make things better, to make a continuous effort to make something as perfect as possible. As marketers, we need to make relevant connections between brand content and consumers who are looking for stuff and if we optimize for that process we find a correlation between content and the ease of which it can be shared. These should be meaningful, win-win-win behaviors that work all on their own in a post Panda- Penguin world, but at the same time I think that they do result in the kind of signals that search engines are really starting to favour."
What Video Marketers Need To Think About in 2012
So how can video content producers and marketers ensure that they are using the right strategies to reach their target audience?
Lee: "Well, it's all about understanding how the audience you’re after discovers content. If a brand finds that video is a substantial opportunity, because their audience really does engage with video, then it makes sense to use that kind of content throughout the customer life-cycle. But the brand needs to do their homework to confirm how their content is or could discovered (i.e. through social connections, a dedicated subscription or a trusted feed) and maximise the opportunities.
And of course, the consumption of video continues to change at a rapid rate;
Lee: "Absolutely, whether it’s long or short video, the style of video, the device used - we need to optimize for better discovery based on what our target audience prefers. We also need to optimize to inspire people to take action - at the end of the day my goal is not to get a site to rank well, my goal is to get people to buy stuff. The beauty of video is that can motivate people to actually click through to another video we've produced or to a client's site. Video content can actually help your target audience or people who influence your target audience feel a certain way that’s meaningful in the customer journey - there’s an expression, “facts tell, stories sell.” And producers or marketers that can tell a great story have the tools they need to connect brands to customers. I think that’s another huge competitive advantage for video"
But it's not just brands that are publishing content these days, look at the phenomenal rise of user generated video content that's coming through at an extraordinary pace;
Lee: "Well, the bar has raised and the ease of publishing has brought a lot of nonprofessional publishers of content online, very creative people that are doing amazing things with just a Smart-phone. We know that it’s not just brands but consumers that are publishing content and so as a marketer, our competition isn’t just other companies that are publishing information relevant to our clients or to our company, but also consumers that are publishing content!
The Future of Video Marketing
So where does Lee see the future of video marketing - for the rest of 2012 and beyond?;
Lee: "It’s got to be a customer-centric approach, an end-user centric approach. We know that customers come in at different levels, and you need to optimize content all along the way for search discovery so you capture that customer’s attention. And it doesn't take a Hollywood budget to really create a meaningful video, it takes knowledge of who your audience is.
Search plays a role here, absolutely, and it would be silly for companies to ignore the value of search when they’re doing other stuff like PPC or social media. To create really good video content but not even think about optimizing for discovery through search is crazy. At the same time, video marketing professionals need to expand their range of disciplines – to become more creative AND technical at the same time. We need to understand that it’s no longer SEO versus advertising; it’s not PR versus marketing, these things are really starting to converge in some interesting ways
Because we are essentially competing for time it’s vitally important to have empathy with the customer journey, including how they discover things. In ‘Optimize,’ I explain in great detail how to execute customer segmentation tactics, to understand the common characteristics about groups of customers and how do they discover, consume and act on information so that we can actually create an approach that is meaningful for them"
You can pick up a copy of Lee's book, "Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing" at Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It's a great read and currently a great deal at just under $15. Also, be sure to check out his site at Top Rank Blog (BTW - we're on TopRank's BIG LIST of search engine marketing and optimization blogs ;-) - Thanks Lee) and follow him on Google+ and Twitter.