Oh, and one more thing. We just launched a free plan so it's now super easy to start putting the power of video to work for your business.
We Fired YouTube!
When I first suggested setting up a YouTube channel for our videos, I got a lot of sneers at the office. YouTube gets a bad rap around our office.
When I first suggested setting up a YouTube channel for our videos, I got a lot of sneers at the office. YouTube gets a bad rap around our office. It’s probably because we’ve been soured by the comparisons between it and Wistia for business video hosting.
But for now, let’s ignore the comparisons between the two and focus on this question: can YouTube be used in conjunction with a pro-hosting solution as part of a broad video marketing strategy?
The answer we have historically given to this question is, “Sure, what’s the harm? Host the videos on your site with a professional service, but also put them on the YouTube in the hopes that you’ll get some free traffic from there."
We honestly thought this strategy made a lot of sense (not to mention we didn’t want to force clients to have to choose between using Wistia and putting videos on YouTube) but we had never actually implemented the strategy for ourselves.
We set up a channel on YouTube, posted 11 of our more popular videos, and added titles, descriptions, and tags to make the videos findable. That was over two months ago and now we’re ready to share some results and explain what we’ve learned.
The short story:
This approach didn’t work for us and we’re taking the channel down.
The long story:
The views don’t just arrive on their own.
Perhaps the main reason it’s attractive to put videos on YouTube from a marketing perspective is the sheer volume of its audience. Earlier this year, YouTube surpassed 4 billion daily video views! It’s also the second largest search engine after Google itself. With so many views and searches, surely, we thought, we’ll be able to capture some attention.
So how’d our videos do? After two months, our 11 videos have a combined 202 views. Yikes. That’s an average of about 0.3 views per video per day. To be clear, we didn’t do active promotion of these videos on YouTube, but the result is telling in terms of the likelihood of our content being found on its own. This also helps us frame the cost-benefit discussion that continues below.
Which videos to promote?
As we thought about ways to get more views on YouTube, we had to stop and ask ourselves, “what’s the advantage of promoting these videos on YouTube when we could be promoting the version on our site?” Like most things, there is a trade-off here:
On the one hand, an advantage of getting more YouTube views is that your success can actually snowball. If your video gets a lot of views it will show up more often within YouTube searches and as “related video” – think of it as SEO exclusively for within YouTube. This is a clear advantage that you can’t get any other way besides putting your video on the Tube. For this to pay dividends, however, your video has to be good enough to get the process jump-started, and the content has to be something people are actually searching for on YouTube.
We consulted the YT Keyword Tool to help us evaluate how much searching is going on for content like ours. Here are the results we got for the terms video marketing, video hosting and video strategy.
The message here is that YouTube may be the second largest search engine, but we have to be realistic about what people are and are not searching for when they’re using YouTube.
On the other side of the promotion discussion, the advantage of getting views on our site rather than YouTube is that we have much more control over the experience and those viewers are one step closer to converting into a customer when on our site. It’s important to note here that there’s nothing more inherently shareable about a YouTube link than one from your site (especially if your video has social sharing buttons!). Posts to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all act the same regardless of where your video lives – you’re just sharing a link after all. For our video content, this argument generally wins out over promoting a video on YouTube, but it’s important to at least consider the trade-off.
SEO costs of putting videos on YouTube
In addition to the importance of where a viewer is watching your video, there are also SEO issues that need to be considered when evaluating where to place your videos:
1. Building domain strength via video links
Getting video links is a powerful way to build domain strength for SEO purposes, but getting links on a YouTube version of a video primarily helps the YouTube domain ranking and not the video creator/owner. On the other hand, if you self-host and build a video sitemap (or have a pro host like Wistia take care of it for you) your site gets credit for all of the domain strengthening link juice.
Because of this, when someone shares links for a YouTube version of a video that is also on our site, we're actually missing an opportunity to move up in the organic search results. (And for clarification, the domain benefit in this case comes from us being the video creator, rather than the video host -- if you use the exact same embed type your domain would receive the credit -- sorry, a bit confusing because we are both the creator and host in my tale!)
2. Video results in search engines
A YouTube copy of a video will also compete directly with a self-hosted or pro-hosted version in video search results (in Google, Bing, etc). If you are hoping to drive additional traffic to your website via video results, a YouTube version of a video that appears above the one on your site is not ideal.Building your own video sitemap (which is possible using Wistia’s tools) helps your website version appear in the results, but getting it to outrank a YouTube version is never a guarantee.
Also, Google generally frowns upon "duplicate content" (i.e. the exact same content appearing on multiple pages on multiple domains). Basically, showing the same content multiple times in the same search results isn't valuable and takes up space that could go to a piece of content that may be valuable. Having the same video both on YouTube and your website sets us up for a potential duplicate content battle with YouTube.
Let's just say it's not a battle that many can win.
And so, after a two month experiment, we will soon be taking down the Wistia YouTube channel and be heading back to the drawing board in terms of a YouTube strategy. For us, the benefit of a few extra video views doesn’t outweigh the SEO costs. And while we could definitely increase the views with active promotion, we would almost always prefer to drive traffic to the videos on our site.
That said, I would urge you to try the experiment for yourself because your videos might get a tons of views on YouTube in which case the calculus is very different. There’s also a case to be made for producing content specifically for YouTube, taking into account what people are looking for, as opposed to just posting videos that were made for an entirely different purpose. That’s something we didn’t do for this first try, and it will be on our brainstorming list for potential next approaches.
This was our experience – yours may differ, and if it does we’d love to hear about it!
Oh, one more thing....we made this cool video just for Biznik members. And there's a special offer at the end! We hope you like it. (think free!)
Editor's note: Biznik and Wistia have been working togheter for a few months to bring this special offer to the Biznik membership. We hope you take advantage of hosting the videos you produce for your business on Wistia - and then pubish them on your Biznik profile!
Learn more about the author, Christopher Savage.
Comment on this article
Posted by Christopher Savage, Cambridge, Massachusetts |
Jun 13, 2012
Posted by Matt Lawrence, Seattle, Washington |
Jun 21, 2012
Thanks Chris for your analysis on publishing videos.
I studied film/video in college, not marketing, though at times I wish I had because it's difficult for me to pop out a marketing video any ol time I need one.
The stats tools on Wistia have been hugely helpful for Biznik to see what works and what doesn't work.
For us, some of the video's we've produced have a place on YouTube, but by and large, we want the community to watch videos on Biznik, and stay on Biznik as opposed to bouncing to YouTube.
As you said, each bushiness needs to examine what kind of experience they want their user to have with a video they've made; keeping a watchful eye on engagement and listening to what customers say will help determine where a video should be hosted, and why.
Posted by Rosemary Levesque, Portland, Oregon |
Jun 21, 2012
Thanks Chris. I'm giving Wistia a try based on your recommendation. I have just a few videos on you tube now. I also have a couple of videos I found on youtube that I embedded in my site. Looks like I need to rethink what I'm doing to get better results. I'll let you know how it goes. Oh, one question... if I already have a video on youtube, is it worth while to move it to wistia?
Posted by Dave Rider, Kirkland, Washington |
Jun 21, 2012
I find your article interesting. As an internet marketer for small businesses - including search engine optimization and video marketing, I see the value of having marketing videos hosted on a separate video hosting service such as Wistia, for embedding on a website or for video promotion.
YouTube promotes related videos (ie: competitors videos) so you dont want to send people to Youtube from your website or marketing efforts, you want to use Youtube as a lead generator to bring people to your website and for SEO value.
I understand the value of having the videos on YouTube. YouTube as you say is the second largest search engine and is owned by Google. Google loves YouTube and I wouldn't underestimate the SEO value of YouTube embedded videos on a website or blogsite as well as website backlinks from YouTube videos.
I have a recent Search Engine Optimization client that is in a very competitive market for their industry in regards to keyword search terms. They had 60 existing videos on YouTube. The videos were optimized incorrectly as far as Title, content and tags.
We revised their videos properly and they now dominate youtube searches and some of their videos come up in google generic searches as well.
After properly optimizing their website and blog site including embedding videos, the end result is we've double their website traffic in one month.
They had previously received no clickthroughs from their YouTube videos and in the last 30 days have had 1.5 Million additional video views and over 5000 clickthroughs to their website from YouTube.
My opinion is that if you are going to host videos on a service like Wistia which can be very valuable as a marketing and presentation medium to integrate into your website and marketing promotion (Remember - YouTube promotes related videos ie: competitors videos) so you dont want to send people to YouTube, you want to use YouTube as a lead generator to bring people to your website and for SEO value.
Thanks for your article Christopher - I always appreciate info and opinions on video marketing. I will check out your service and see if it is a fit for some of my clients for hosting videos for marketing but I would recommend against deleting the YouTube channels.
It's FREE advertising and provides significant SEO value if set up correctly.
Posted by Steve Faber, Kent, Washington |
Jun 21, 2012
Chris, nice article. You have to really go the extra Mile to get good YouTube traffic, unless you can get your vid to go viral. I've discovered it takes about 6 months for the "snowball" effect to really kick in.
Regarding the Google duplicate content penalty. That is primarily for duplicate content hosted on the same domain. There are many other factors that come into play for duplicate content hosted on different domains. You'll find many instances of duplicate syndicated content ranking for the same keyword. News stories are a great example of this. Another is scraped blog posts appearing immediately below the original in search results.
Great article and thanks for the info.
Posted by Jim Dickeson, Mercer Island, Washington |
Jun 25, 2012
I like to maintain the HD quality that is only a viewer option when hosted at YouTube. I don't like providing an open door away from my site to YouTube. So I host my own video at my own site with my own player. But I also want my videos to be found, so I will also put them on YouTube. This way, the video on YouTube links back to me, but the video on my site does not link to YouTube.
For YouTube videos that are not your own that you want on your site, you almost have to embed the YouTube player. But you can avoid the YouTube "suggested" videos that are your competition, or otherwise inappropriate to your audience. Just insert the code “rel=0” (without the quote marks) right after the "?" in the video source URL of the embed code. It’s basically saying, “Show related videos? No.” If this is one of multiple bits of code after the ?, be sure to separate them with a semicolon ";".
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