According to data released by Google, the number of “how to” related searches on YouTube is increasing at a rate of 70 percent year over year. And that’s not surprising. Video is infinitely more engaging than reading a page of text, which is a big reason for YouTube’s phenomenal success in recent years.
Video has gone (and continues to go) mainstream, with accessibility on mobile devices being a key driver. That’s why it’s more important than ever for B2B brands to build your presence and community using video as part of your overall marketing strategy. Think about all the different ways customers might use your products, and produce videos that help them do that more quickly, more effectively, and with better results. Don’t use video as a way to pump up your brand messaging, which is what all too many B2B brands try and do. Use video to do something novel, like actually help your customers, and you’ll find it can deliver some amazing returns for you.
When looking at effective optimization methods for your B2B YouTube channel, your strategy should include implementing a consistent production and publishing schedule. Here are some things to consider when optimizing your YouTube channel:
Name, Branding and Vanity URL
When creating your channel, establish a clear and consistent brand message. The name, your icon, channel art (the banner image seen across the top of your channel page,) and the vanity URL of your channel should be consistent with your brand. It goes without saying that you should use high-resolution images in your design to create a professional appearance.
If you’re ultimately interested in claiming a vanity URL for your B2B channel (and that really should be a goal), it’s important to note that Google recently amended the requirements that must be met in order to claim a vanity URL. Now, you must have at least 500 subscribers and your channel must be a minimum of 30 days old. Your channel must also have an uploaded avatar image and channel art. Bottom line? If you want to nab a vanity URL (which is a branded name for your channel), you need to show that you’re serious about it. And that? Not so difficult to do.
Here’s an example of a non-vanity YouTube URL: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzd6JWegwlYQaYW_t37v7jQ
And an example of a vanity URL:
Of course, a company like Apple has a vanity URL, but your company can as well—if you set your mind to making it happen. If you’re a B2B company not yet quite the size of Apple, an easy way to do this is to ask your employees to subscribe to your channel, and to regularly provide value to your customers via your channel, and give them a reason to want to subscribe. Ask them on a regular basis, through your email marketing, through your social media efforts, through your customer service connections with them. This is one of those things that won’t happen if you don’t work on it, but there are many creative ways you can do that and succeed.
Keywords, Target Country and Website
It’s important to optimize your B2B YouTube Channel from an SEO standpoint, and most businesses overlook this entirely, to their detriment. And it’s super easy to do. Write SEO optimized copy for your channel and for all the videos you upload that fully describes what you do and what the video delivers. Choose keywords forthat are closely related to your business and that have large search volume. Sometimes, choosing keywords that aren’t quite as popular but are a place you can dominate is also a smart strategy, so work with your SEO team or SEO vendor to get this right. It’s important! If you want to DIY, Google AdWords keyword planner is a great tool to help you choose the most effective keywords for your channel. Also, be sure to select the country you want to rank for in search results. Lastly, you’ll want to be sure and link your website to your channel to verify that your channel is officially associated with your brand and to improve the quality of search results.
Description and Links
As mentioned above, it’s very important to include descriptions, both of your channel in general, as well as complete descriptions of what each video does and/or the information or resources it contains. B2B YouTube videos should be all about delivering value to your customers, so think about this as you tackle your video production strategy and make sure you fully describe what viewers can expect as part of the process of uploading your videos. In the description section for your channel, write a keyword rich detailed story of what you channel is all about and the value it can be expected to deliver. Include in your description links to your website and various social network profiles, to help users learn more about you and your business. In your videos descriptions, also use keywords that are relevant, both in your video titles and in your descriptive content, and provide links to both your website and/or to other relevant content. Personally, I love descriptions that are also transcripts of the videos, as I’m not always interested in viewing the whole video in order to get to the heart of what I’m looking for. If your description content can entice me to want to view the video, that’s a good thing.
Customize The Look of Your Homepage
Customizing your B2B YouTube homepage is important. That’s like someone coming into the front door of your business, albeit on YouTube, so keep that in mind when you are designing the look and feel that seems right. On your channel, know that you can make use of the featured video section to have a selected video play automatically when someone visits your channel’s homepage. This can be cool, as new visitors to your channel will see your video when they first come to your page and can quickly learn more about your business. Don’t make it a boring ad for your business–make it something interesting that shows viewers what you can be expected to deliver if they hang around (and hopefully, subscribe) to your channel. Herman Miller has done an interesting job of this, as you can see in the example below:
You can also create curated playlists of your content to help guide visitors to additional content of interest to them. The more you can do to add value to your visitors, the more successful your channel will ultimately be.
Market Your YouTube Channel
As with anything, just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. And you can tell that by going to just about any B2B company’s YouTube page, where you’ll find videos with lackluster views and a channel that it’s obvious not a lot of thought went into. If you’re going to build a YouTube channel and a presence that you can be proud of and, more importantly, which will deliver value to your audience, you’ve got to tell people about it. That means you’ve got to market it. You can use your other marketing materials and channels to do this, including email, what you’re doing in social media, your corporate blog, your LinkedIn company page – so many options to cross-promote your channel exist. And you should make sure that your corporate website features your YouTube channel front and center, not just rely on one tiny YouTube icon tucked at the bottom of the page to do the trick.
Also, explore search engine marketing on YouTube. It’s amazingly inexpensive and amazingly effective. One of my favorite examples of creative search engine advertising I discovered when I was doing some research for a project I was doing with Herman Miller. Look what I saw, from a competitor, while visiting a YouTube video that used the words “Herman Miller.” Kind of brilliant, isn’t it? And for the record, when I showed this during a training session on the power of search engine marketing, and YouTube advertising in general, folks at Herman Miller were not amused. But, it got their attention.
Factors That Contribute to Better Video Ranking
So, now that you’re convinced that optimizing your B2B YouTube channel, and the video content that lives there is important, here’s how to do it. Much like optimizing text-based content for the web, if you want your video content to rank, it needs to be SEO optimized. When it comes to ranking high in YouTube search results, some of the key factors include: video quality, meta data, the number of likes, views and shares, as well as use of subtitles and closed captions. Let’s take a deeper look into each one.
Video Quality. When it comes to rich media content, quality always matters. Videos that are HD (720p or better resolution) will rank higher than lower quality videos. A good viewer experience is important and Google knows this, and it rewards publishers who post HD quality videos. Higher quality videos will also attract more people to watch your videos longer and entice them to like them as well. The search engine that is YouTube knows when this behavior happens, and it very definitely impacts search results.
META Descriptions. META descriptions are tremendously important, yet most B2B companies posting videos on their YouTube page completely overlook this. And it drives me crazy! The same is true of corporate blog posts, which also often lack META data. META descriptions tell a search engine what your content contains – it they are equally as important, if not MORE important – than the content itself. As such, including descriptive and detailed META descriptions in your titles, description and tags is central to YouTube’s ranking system. You need to include relevant keywords in the first couple of lines of the description, as well as your video titles. Make sure the keywords used in your title are also mirrored in your META description. Also, don’t forget to include links to your website and social media profiles right there in the description section of your videos.
Views, Shares, and Likes. As mentioned earlier, search engines know what’s working and what’s not. So it’s important to understand that things like total views, shares, and likes contribute to your YouTube search ranking. As such, it’s important to actually have a strategy in place when it comes to the B2B videos you are producing, how you’re going to drive traffic to them, and how you can use them as part of your integrated marketing strategy. Don’t overlook the power of your internal advocates, as something as simple as communicating to your team that a new video has been created and shared, and asking them to pop over and “like” and share it can go a long way toward helping your video gain traction. Once again, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come, so be prepared to market the video content you create and share on YouTube.
Closed Captioning. I love closed captioning! This is because many times I’m looking at videos and want the sound turned way down (perhaps because I’m on a conference call or something), so I like it when closed captioning is included as part of the optimization of a video. Not only will you be appealing to someone like me, you’ll be appealing to those who are hearing impaired. Even better? The automatically generated captions can also be crawled and indexed by the search engines, which will absolutely help your search ranking. Since the captions are automated, you may have to make a correction here or there, but it’s still worth implementing for the search benefits alone.
Cover Image and Annotation. Always remember that the devil is in the details. When it comes to your individual videos, consider uploading a custom cover image for each video you post. Your images should be at least 640 x 360 resolution, although higher is better. The images should convey a visual description of what the video is about, which will of course hopefully encourage viewers to click and watch. You can also use “Annotations” to add notes or clickable calls to action right on videos to encourage people to share, like and subscribe. The better, more enticing your B2B videos look (and just because it’s B2B doesn’t mean they can’t be all kinds of awesome), the more likely you’ll attract viewers and compel them to action.
Video Branding. Last, but not least, while branding does not directly affect your search ranking, it does help increase your authority and the overall engagement with your videos and channel. Again, it’s all about the details and the brand image you want to convey. Consider adding a branded open and close to your videos to better identify you and your brand to your viewers. Your video close should direct viewers to subscribe and to watch other related content on your channel. This is super easy to do and goes a long way toward making your video content the best it can possibly be.
There you have it. Every reason to start using YouTube video as part of your B2B marketing efforts, and easy, step-by-step instructions on how to do it, and do it in a way that’s going to deliver the most bang for your buck. Where are you on the video-as-marketing-tool spectrum? Have you started using video yet? If not, are you seeing any benefits as a result? If not, is video part of your game plan for the future? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this.
More resources on the topic:
5 Advanced YouTube SEO Tactics to Drive More Traffic to Your Videos & Website
YouTube “How To” Video Searches Up 70%, With Over 100 Million Hours Watched In 2015
SEO: The New Way Must Replace the Old Way