If you are involved in a ministry who utilizes media, there are two terms you need to know: VSEO and VSEM.
The first one is hugely important, but I’ll start with the latter, even though you’ll probably never pursue this avenue. VSEM is “video search engine marketing.” Like website marketing, this involves buying keywords on Google, Yahoo or MSN in order to draw people to your video content. Rarely will a church or ministry spend money on this, but if you’re interested, let us know and we can give you some guidelines.
VSEO is “video search engine optimization” and everyone with video content on the web should understand and implement it. Like normal site optimization, VSEO attracts people looking for content similar to yours. If your video is on teenage dating, for example, then it should be optimized so that people typing “teenagers” and/or “dating” should find your video in a search engine.
There are four major factors to consider with VSEO: metatags, context, frequency and URL.
The title of the video is by far the most important metatag. Make it relevant to the content. A cute title may work on the shelf of a bookstore, but it won’t always lead to search engine traffic. “Christian Dating” will bring more relevant traffic than something like “Don’t Be Unequally Yoked.” Make your title relevant to the subject and keep it fairly short. You may want to include the speaker, if he or she is somewhat known. “Ed Young on Christian Dating” is a great title for VSEO.
Keywords should be used, despite the lesser weight given to the keywords tag these days. Evidence shows that they are still relied upon for video content. Like the metatags on a webpage, your video can have embedded or related keywords associated with it. Most software programs that convert video to Flash or Quicktime files have the ability to embed keywords when converting the file. (On a side note, we’re seeing an 85/15 split between Flash and Quicktime usage when offered side-by-side. Flash is dominating the online video world for now.)
Use this feature, but use it wisely. Put the most specific and relevant keywords first and don’t overload it with broad phrases. For example, “dating” will probably put you in a category of video you don’t want to be in, but “godly dating” will separate you from eHarmony, match.com and the other dating websites. The more unique the keywords, the better. So if you’re doing a teaching on Old Testament minor prophets, don’t just use “prophets” as a keyword, use the ones you’re talking about, like “Obadiah” or “Haggai.” Also, avoid long phrases. List keywords like “old, testament, minor, prophets” instead of “old testament minor prophets.” Search engines will then index each word, not just the entire phrase. (There may be cases where you want an exact phrase, but be aware that the longer it is, the less likely it will be that someone will match it exactly.)
A few more tips on keywords: Don’t repeat the same word like “dating,dating,dating” and avoid using the same word in more than a few phrases. If a search engine thinks you’re spamming it, you will be ignored. Keep the tag under 250 characters and don’t waste characters on blank spaces after commas. Always include the speaker’s first name and last name. If you’re utilizing YouTube, Google Video, Tangle (formerly GodTube) or other commercial video sites, use the “tags” field they provide when uploading the video.
The last important metatag is the description. Again, this should be somewhat short and to the point. “Brian Houston explains the vision of Hillsong” is a good description. “Brian Houston, the senior pastor of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, preaches a sermon in which he talks about the vision of his church” is not a good description.
This is a big factor in VSEO. The primary page on which your video appears should have text relevant to the video. The text title of that page and the lead paragraph will be picked up by search engines and used to frame the relevance of the video. Cram, not spam, keywords on this page and do it early. The copy here should be the type of verbiage you would place on the front and back covers of a video package. Include the speaker’s name, topics, bullet points and anything else that summarizes the content of the video.
It’s a good VSEO practice to place your video on multiple pages. Whether those pages are the commercial video sites or paid video portals like Lightsource or Faith Highway, the more your video is “out there,” the more it will be seen. However, you shouldn’t rely solely on other websites for your video. If you have taken the time to upload it to another site, place it somewhere on your website, too. You may even experiment by placing the same video on multiple sites with various keywords, titles and context. By doing this, you can measure the traffic and hone your placement to improve performance.
Make sure your video has a permanent URL so it can always be found by search engines. If you move it around, you lose any previous placement. Also, a fixed URL allows people to place your video on their social networks, like Facebook and MySpace. In fact, it’s a good practice to announce your video through email and encourage people to link to it by providing the URL. Another good practice is to put the URL below the video on its homepage and tell people to link to it. Something like “Link to this video: http://www.website.com/VideoURL.flv” will help spark a viral campaign.
Online video is here to stay. About half of the U.S. population will be watching online video this year. That’s millions of viewers, so don’t miss out on the online video revolution by failing to optimize your video. Contact BMCFerrell for more advice and assistance with all of your video needs, both online and offline, to maximize your ministry’s impact.