phil nottingham holding court

This month’s Social Media Meetup was “How To Master Online Video Marketing” with SEO expert and blogger Phil Nottingham.

Some background information

The meetup started with a brief introduction about Phil, an online video and SEO expert at Distilled, a London-based online marketing agency. He’s also a prolific blogger for one of the biggest SEO blogs, SEOmoz, as well as the Distilled blog.

In this meetup, Phil tackled YouTube, video marketing, optimisation, hosting, and a lot more.

What can video do for you?

Companies are so excited to start marketing with videos that they forget to ask this very important question – what can video do for them? As it seems to be the new trend, more and more businesses are contemplating using videos in their marketing approach. However, before jumping on board, what you need to ask yourself is: what do you want to get out of videos? Why do you want (or why do you feel the need) to use videos? Is it just to mark your presence on YouTube? Or is it just to get a wider engagement?

Phil takes a whole new approach to videos, looking at 3 main focuses for making videos:

  1. Notoriety and brand impressions
  2. Traffic and conversions
  3. Links

Those 3 factors aren’t completely independent of each other but it’s very difficult to achieve all those three successfully.

Going viral

Most people who say they want a viral aren’t really sure of what ‘viral’ actually means. Often what they really mean is that they want a video with tangible metrics to measure the video’s success.

Videos go viral when a key influencer (usually a celebrity) finds the content, and shares it with his/her audience. That doesn’t happen overnight: it often takes a long time for a video to be noted and go viral.

Video and content

It’s easy to think that video is content. However, video is just form. Video is the integration of different forms of content – text, music, and visuals, all put together for one purpose, content.

However, not all content is suitable for video: if you’re a very good blogger with a very good blog post but you’re not a good speaker, don’t turn that really good blog post into a really bad video.

  • Think of the implications of making a video and always think about the content first.
  • Make a video for the right reasons.
  • Remember: the content should define the form in which you present it.

Approach to videos

How can you know whether to turn a blog post into a video? Video is the appropriate form of content when it would lose something if it were just text and image.

Work out the following in this order:

  1. What you want to achieve with your content?
  2. What is the story and the hook?
  3. Who’s your audience?
  4. What is the appropriate form? (This will be clearer at this stage.)
  5. What are the technical implementations?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you can decide on the other details, such as pre-outreach, outreach, and content creation.

As you go through the content creation, remember that you need to be straight to the point with your video, as people can lose interest quite easily.

Not all videos are the same, and where you locate your videos is very crucial:

  • If your video is a promotional ad, it’s best if you put it on a paid display network, whether it’s TV or YouTube advertising.
  • If it’s some promotional content, such as a product review, then host it on your own website.
  • If the content of your video is non-promotional or simply narrative, you can either host it on your own site or on a social video site, such as YouTube.

Now, here’s a look at the three different approaches on video marketing we mentioned earlier.

APPROACH 1: Notoriety and brand impressions

If you want to get your content out there, YouTube is the best network: as it’s the world’s second biggest search engine, that’s the main place where videos get discovered. Make sure that there’s a clear F.A.C.E. value to your video: fun, aesthetic, creative and educational.

YouTube is not the only place to showcase your video content: there are several other websites (depending on your needs), such as Vimeo, Metacafe, Videojug, Dailymotion, WonderHowTo. Bear in mind that if you have promotional content, Vimeo isn’t the best place to showcase your material.

Technical information

Here are a few technical tips to bear in mind when creating videos with this first approach:

  • Always export your videos at full HD (1920 x 1080), YouTube ranks HD videos higher than the rest. Any major editing software can export in HD resolution, even if the video wasn’t originally shot in High Definition.
  • Export just under 5000kbps.
  • Include keywords in the filename , title, description, and tags as per traditional SEO.
  • Include a closed caption (transcript) file and don’t rely on the native YouTube closed caption, especially if your video contains music or noise. Always upload your own, as this is the narrative of what’s going on in the video.
  • Include a ‘no follow’ link to your video, to increase traffic to your main domain as well as to your YouTube profile.

Other practical tips

  • Consolidate your channels: having several YouTube channels isn’t bad practice per se, but it won’t help you with SEO. It’s much harder to see progress if you have your content spread on different platforms. However, if this is your case, feel free to link them to each other.
  • Associated website: YouTube has recently rolled out a new featured that lets you link your YouTube channel to your own website. This will allow Google to pass traffic to your website via YouTube more easily. This feature is currently available only to partners who enable ads.
  • Audience Engagement: regularly check the analytics page on your YouTube account to see your audience retention for your videos. This is an indication, for you and for Google, on how well your videos are doing and at what point your viewers engage the most/the least.audience in thrall
  • “As seen on…” attribution: this feature is very useful if you work in a business. This is a link that leads you to a curated page on YouTube with a list of videos that are related to yours. These videos are not necessarily YOUR videos, and they provide supporting content and context for your viewers.
  • YouTube 3D: even though the 3D videos on YouTube aren’t really high quality, millions of people watch these videos. It’s worth having a few of these videos to drive traffic as well.
  • Pre-roll ads: pre-roll ads are relatively cheap and it drives a lot of traffic to that specific video. As the viewer’s count increases, people who stumble across your page will see the number of viewers and it will encourage more organic subscribers. Invest in the YouTube ads systems, whereas they’re pre-roll ones or homepage takeovers.

APPROACH 2: Traffic and conversions

Videos are not just about viewers, brand impressions and YouTube. They’re also about metrics, sales, traffic, and the SEO value. This approach is very different from the first approach.

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  • If you’d like to publish product videos, consider using rich snippets: these stand out in search results, and generate more clicks and revenue than other SEO methods. All of this is easily measurable as well.
  • If you’re planning to take this approach, don’t post on YouTube, mostly because you need to keep your content secure, and so that others can’t embed it elsewhere. Consider using paid secure hosting solutions such as Wistia, Vzaar, Brightcove, and if you have limited budget, consider using VimeoPRO.
  • Once you’ve found the right hosting provider that suits your needs (and your budget), embed your content in Flash or HTML5 but NOT in iFrame, as Google doesn’t really understand content in iFrame unless it’s a YouTube video. iFrame seems to be the default format for most of the hosting solutions mentioned above, but this is because of the format’s flexibility (e.g. you can play it on mobile devices and tablets) and it’s ease of implementation. However, you can change the settings and embed your content in Flash or HTML5.
  • Restrict your content to your site, so if other people steal it and embed it on their websites, people won’t be able to play that video.
  • Don’t hide video files behind Javascript: Google can index and crawl some Javascript but not all.
  • Add supporting text (in HTML) to your video, just like closed captions in YouTube.
  • Submit a Video XML Sitemap, which tells Google what image to display  in the rich snippets, as well as other information (e.g. metadata, links).


This is a SEO-powered approach. You can get links to your video in 3 ways:

  • Embedding content: this doesn’t happen often, and it only occurs when it’s social media londondirectly relevant and valuable
  • Links to video files
  • General domain links

If you choose this approach, you still need to secure your own content with third-party of self-hosting solutions.

A great way to create great videos is by using infographics: use a motion or other editing software to turn an infographic that didn’t do quite well into a great video.

Question Time 

To conclude, Phil answered some of the questions he was asked on Twitter, as well as some from the audience.

Q. I’ve made quite a few videos on YouTube and people have embedded them, but I have no links since they all link back to YouTube. How do I fix that?

A. Go back to everyone who’s embedded that content with a secure hosted service and get them to add a link to the relevant page on your site.

Q. I have no budget and I’m not sure if YouTube is the best option for me. What can I do?

A. Consider embedding custom YouTube playlists on your site. You can curate a playlist of any video, add some supporting text, and embed it on your site.

Q. How can I promote a music band using YouTube?

A. Create a YouTube channel and become a YouTube partner. Once you’ve set yourself up on iTunes, Amazon, and created some merchandise on Cafepress, set up a YouTube “merch store” and upload all your songs and music videos. By doing so, your viewers will see a link to your iTunes single or even a link to buy the tickets to your next gig. If you don’t have music videos for your songs, use a static image and still

Q. I like the idea of video marketing but I have very limited budget. How can I get a promo video done for my startup?

A. First of all, think about who your audience is, then work out what other people in the industry have done, just as a guidance. If you do decide to create a promo video, you can get a media student to do this for you. A good place to find them is on forums – animation forums, design forums etc.

Q. Aside from YouTube, what are the best places to post your videos to get brand impressions?

A. YouTube is not the only place to showcase your video content: there are several other websites (depending on your needs), such as Vimeo (not great for promotional content), Metacafe, Videojug, Dailymotion, WonderHowTo.

Q. Is there a link between the three approaches?

A. Yes, but it’s hard to achieve the three together as there is not a clear link between the three. The main thing is finding out what you’re trying to achieve from video marketing, and then you’ll see how to achieve the right approach you really need.

My Views

This meetup was definitely useful in a lot of ways and it had something for everyone, even those who never thought of using videos as part of their strategy. The meetup covered the various aspects of video marketing and how it can appeal to bloggers, startups, big companies and small businesses. At the moment I don’t think I’m going to use videos for my blog, though it’s definitely something that I would consider in future, for product reviews or interviews for instance.

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About Ben Donkor

Ben Donkor is a Social Media Analyst at Link Humans and Microsoft. He blogs about social media, technology and startups ( He can be contacted on Twitter at @FR314.