Massive increases in the availability of Internet bandwidth, along with realistic pricing, have made video one of the most popular forms of content online – at least for anyone in a first-world country. Here in Johannesburg, we still struggle with high prices and slow speeds. But things are steadily getting better. I look forward to the time when we can get a decent, fast, unthrottled and uncapped Internet connection for R200 a month or so (including the line rental!).
Even so, video marketing is slowly making inroads in the South African market.
YouTube is the third most popular website in the world, after Google and Facebook. Because there are videos on YouTube about practically every topic imaginable, many people use it as a search engine. You could say that it’s the second biggest search engine in the world – and since Google owns it, it’s another element in their relentless march towards total domination of Internet search.
YouTube gets a ridiculous amount of traffic. 100 million unique users visit the website every month. Some of those are in South Africa – in fact, amazingly enough, YouTube is the 4th most popular website in South Africa.
So how can YouTube help business owners in Johannesburg?
Since around 2007, Google has been displaying thumbnails of relevant YouTube videos, along with links, in their search results – even in South Africa. Even with 25 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute, there are still far more web pages on the Internet than there are videos.
If you create a YouTube video and optimize it properly, you can get it to appear on the first page of the Google results for your chosen keyword phrase quite quickly.
Your keyword phrase should be carefully chosen, based on the number of searches a month and the amount of competition. Don’t expect to get on the first page of the Google results for something like “mortgage.” You might get there for “mortgage broker in Johannesburg.”
Your keyword phrase should be at the beginning of the video title, and should appear in the description.
Here’s an example of a YouTube video which appears on the first page of the Google results for the keyword phrase “johannesburg bass guitar lessons.” I’ve highlighted the YouTube listing, as well as the Google Places listing for the same person. 2 page one listings, effectively for free…
One issue with YouTube videos is that clicking on the link in the search results takes the visitor to YouTube, and not to your website. This is OK if your objective is to get views for your video – in other words, for branding. If you’re looking for visitors to your website, there are a few things you can do.
1. Make sure that your URL appears at the beginning of the description on YouTube, and if possible draw attention to it in the video.
2. Use your URL in the video and have a strong call to action – “Go to our website and grab a free whatever.”
3. Host the video somewhere other than YouTube – e.g. on your website – and use video SEO techniques to let Google know about it.
The other issue is, of course, what video do you use?
There are basically three ways to create videos for YouTube.
- Using a video camera. This is very easy these days. The webcam built into your cellphone or laptop provides reasonably good quality, provided that there is reasonably even lighting. You can get a HD quality camcorder for under R2000.00. Just set it up and talk directly to the camera, or point it at your products. You can edit it with Microsoft’s free Windows Live Movie Maker or on the Mac with iMovie.
- Using still pictures. Get half a dozen still pictures of you, your products, happy clients and so on, and use software like iMovie or Microsoft Photo Story (also free) to create simple videos. Photo Story even generates music for you. Or try Animoto, an online video creation service which generates amazing videos from your images, and uploads them directly to YouTube.
- Using screen capture software. If you want to demonstrate a software product or show a Powerpoint presentation, you can capture it directly from your computer screen with Camtasia Studio ($299) or Techsmith’s Jing Project.
Your video doesn’t have to be long – in fact, it shouldn’t be. Two minutes is a good maximum for promotional videos (as opposed to educational videos, which can be as long as you like, up to YouTube’s limit of 15 minutes.) In fact, it’s better to make 2 one-minute videos? rather than one two-minute video. Use a different keyword phrase for the second video.