With Bodybuilding.com and Internet Retailer, we hosted The Rise of Video and Mobile: Design Considerations for Search, an insight-packed webinar on using video and mobile to earn improved visibility and conversions.
During the Q&A portion, we received an influx of questions that we didn’t have time to fully cover in the hour. Derrick Hicks (Sr. Acquisition Marketing Manager at Bodybuilding.com) and James Petzke (SEO Specialist at BodyBuilding.com) tackle the unanswered questions below.
1. Is anything specifically done to YouTube videos to increase their performance either in YouTube itself or for Google SERPs?
Derrick Hicks: Our social media and creative team works on crafting enticing titles and images that captivate people.
In my opinion, its just like other pieces of content except it just doesn’t live on your site. Create content that people love and use the words they use to search for that content. Then, do that 100+ times. You typically can’t “get it right” one time and be successful. Be committed to the process and do it over and over again. Find your voice.
2. What metrics or tools do you look at when building a landing page to determine if you should go with an article vs list vs video etc?
Derrick Hicks: Empathy. In my opinion, Empathy is one of the most undervalued skills (tools) an SEO can have. The more you can step outside of your view of the world and try to truly understand the perspective someone might have when they are searching for a topic you are trying to rank for, the better your content will resonate with that person… and rank.
As far as actual software/tools to use to try and understand what content formats you should use:
- AdWords Keyword planner: Don’t just use this tool to find individual keywords. Use this tool to find all of the keywords of a topic. Download everything the tool recommends and sort and group the keywords into topics. The better you understand a topic and how it is connected to other topics, the more dialed in your content will be. Here is a great moz article on this: http://moz.com/blog/keywords-to-concepts
- Conductor: We currently use Conductor to track how well we rank for the keywords/topics we identify.
- SEMrush: Spy on your competitors to find topics and content formats that do well for them.
- Google search results: Go Google the topics you are going to target and see what is currently ranking. Look at everything on the first page and see if you can see a pattern or theme. Now that you see what is ranking well, ask yourself how you can create an even better experience.
James Petzke: The metrics can’t tell you which content asset will be best, it’s more of a psychology thing. You have to think like a user and say, “If I was asking this question, how would I want it to be answered? What format would meet my needs?” It really isn’t something that numbers can tell you.
Another really effective way to determine what format to use is just to look at what is already ranking. Google understands user psychology in search better than anyone, so you can bet that the top ranking results are determined to be the best ways to answer the question. If you see a bunch of videos on top, then video is probably the answer.
Example of a Bodybuilding.com page with multiple content formats:
3. Is there a correlation between content assets and sales? Did content assets allow for a decrease in traditional SEO budget for the company?
Derrick Hicks: There is a very strong correlation between content assets and sales. The more quality traffic we get, the higher the chance we have to earn another long term customer.
James Petzke: It can be really hard to prove causation with content marketing, but our company is the perfect example of EXTREMELY strong correlation. As we get more traffic to our forum and content, our business grows, and it has been that way from the beginning.
Another thing that I think about is how much it would cost to get that kind of targeted exposure. Our content gets millions of visits just from organic search, and it is all perfectly targeted. If we had to pay for that traffic, it would never be economically feasible. Not to mention the fact that once you set up content, it earns traffic passively for years. We have articles that were written in 2001 that still bring in a ton of traffic consistently.
4. Speaking of YouTube and video views on site, how do you see branded video players working for SEO, versus embedding YouTube players?
Derrick Hicks: We have hosted our own video content in the past. We recently decided to switch to hosting on YouTube (for the most part). There were a number of reasons we made the switch, but some of the biggest reasons were increased exposure/reach, cost savings, and higher quality video player technology.
James Petzke: I’m a big fan of Youtube videos on the page for SEO benefits. Google understands Youtube videos better than any other video option, so I think that they are the best bet when trying to rank. With that said, branded videos have some really powerful uses in specific cases (think sales pages).
5. Where do you focus your efforts, on organic content or paid media? How do they work together?
Derrick Hicks: We focus on both. The DNA of our company is built on organic content and is a core foundation of why we even exist. We use paid media to help support the end of the sales funnel. We are currently working on and testing cost effective ways to use paid media for increased exposure and reach of our content.
James Petzke: We only used paid advertising on the commerce side of our business. We are totally sold out on organic content growth and marketing, and we’ve been very successful with it. It has helped us build up a recognizable brand within our industry and authority in the search engines. Then the commerce side takes over with both organic and paid ads to convert visitors into customers.
6. Does using schema.org tags help in boosting SEO rankings?
Derrick Hicks: I can’t say for sure if it directly affects rankings, but we have experienced a massive correlation to turning on or turning off structured data (schema.org). For example, we added the markup for reviews (stars) and saw a large increase in organic search traffic. On the flip side, we turned off video rich snippets because we believed it wasn’t what our customers wanted for a certain section of our site. Doing this doubled our organic search traffic (50k/weekly visits to +100k) to one section of our site.
7. Facebook Video is gaining momentum. Do you see it becoming a more popular option in the future?
Derrick Hicks: No clue! It’s probably just serving a different need. I really don’t see them taking a big chunk out of YouTube.
James Petzke: Facebook Video is an entirely different animal than Youtube because of the nature of social media. Just like there will always be a need for both sedans and trucks in the automobile industry, there will always be a need for both long and short form content online. Facebook video is great for some things and will probably own the short and funny side of the video coin. But Youtube is still going to own longer form, more informative content. When you want to watch a video on a specific topic, that’s where you go.
8. Have you reached the tipping point for mobile vs. desktop with your consumers? How does mobile affect your content strategy?
Derrick Hicks: Yes, we did last year. We now receive more mobile traffic than desktop to our content.
We are still trying to figure this out. At a minimum, it means we need to have a fast mobile view of our content. A bigger picture, however, takes into perspective how big of a change mobile actually is. It’s not just small computers people take with them on the go. It’s a new platform to connect with your customers and audience.
Most people would never take a laptop to the gym or for a run around a track. They do take their phones though! What does that mean for our content? What does that mean for the technology we need to be building that can help them achieve their goals? It’s literally a new platform that has never existed before. It’s a massively big deal.
James Petzke: We get over half of our traffic from mobile devices, and honestly we are not doing a great job with our mobile experience yet. I personally feel that it is the biggest threat to our business, especially to our content (which lacks any sort of mobile view). My biggest fear right now is that Google will release the oft rumored separate mobile algorithm. We are currently working on it and I expect it to be a huge focus going forward.