How to Boost Sales with SEO Video

Thursday Feb 4th 2010 by Jennifer Schiff
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Adding search-engine optimized videos to your Web site not only helps you stand out from the crowd, it can increase traffic and drive sales.

Can adding a video to your e-commerce site really boost traffic and sales? Absolutely — as long as your video is relevant, entertaining and/or informative and optimized for search engines. According to studies conducted by Forrester Research, having a search-engine optimized video on your e-commerce site increases your odds of showing up on the first page of Google in an organic search dramatically — more than 50 times greater than if you just had text on the page.

Not only can a good product or promotional video increase your Google ranking, it can increase your sales. Just ask Zappos, which recently revealed that it typically sells between six and 30 percent more merchandise when a product also includes a descriptive video.

But it’s not just large companies that are benefiting from video. HudsonGoods.com, an online furniture store that specializes in vintage-style, environmentally friendly pieces, saw a 25 percent increase in sales after owner Karl Miller added videos to the site (and to the Hudson Goods blog).

Simply embedding a video on your e-commerce site is no guarantee of success, however. Indeed, a bad video (one that bores viewers, has bad production values or is unrelated to your products or company) can do more harm than good. To help ensure that your video gets positive reviews from your customers and the major search engines, we interviewed several small business owners who shared their tips for creating great video on a small budget.

Three Reasons to Add Video to Your Web Site

If you are selling a product online, especially something that is best experienced in three dimensions, like furniture or clothing, it helps to include a video.

“I compete with retail giants such as Pottery Barn, so I wanted my products to stand out,” explained HudsonGoods owner, Karl Miller. “So I decided to add videos of me and my dog, Buddy, to the blog and online store to help demonstrate the products. Since I don’t have a brick-and-mortar store where consumers can go and touch the products. It’s also hard to get a feel for the size and weight of a product through a photograph. Video is a better way to achieve that.”

Five Tips for Video SEO
• Upload your video to YouTube. Then embed it on your Web site.
• Add SEO keywords in the video title, description and tags. Use the same keywords you used on the Web page where you plan to show the video. If you’re not sure what keywords to use, find popular videos similar to yours and use their keywords (or similar ones).
• In addition to uploading your video to YouTube, consider uploading your video to sites that are specific to your industry, e.g., Zipvo.com for realtors.
• Create an XML video site map on your Web site. Then submit it to Google.
• Encourage users to post comments on your video (e.g., in the comments section on YouTube) to increase your rankings.

Everyday Oasis LLC is an e-commerce site that specializes in relaxation and stress relief for busy people. According to founder and CEO Lora Canary, a video on the home page helps visitors easily get a sense of who they are and what they do.

“Our Web site is a bit of a different concept, so having a video that spoke right to the heart of the matter was important to us,” she said.

Video can also be a powerful marketing and social networking tool, especially for businesses with a younger clientele, say in the 18 - 34 age range. Indeed, young consumers have come to expect it when they shop online.

That’s why Greg Selkoe, the founder and CEO of Karmaloop, a go-to site for cutting edge urban fashion and street wear, created KarmaloopTV. He recently added clickable videos (from Klickable.tv), where you can click to see which clothes are featured and buy them on the spot. “Lots of people come to KarmaloopTV.com every day to see new videos, and our sales and traffic have definitely increased since we added video,” said Selkoe.

How to Create a Video That Customers and Search Engines Love

You don’t have to pay a professional thousands of dollars to create a video consumers will enjoy and remember. In fact, many consumers say that slick, overproduced videos are a turn off.

“Content and authenticity are far more important [to consumers],” said Bettina Hein, the founder and CEO of Pixability, a Cambridge-based startup whose mission is to make professional-quality video available and affordable to small business owners. “It’s about showing passion for your business.” And passion, as well as a YouTube account, costs nothing (though a Flip video camera will set you back $150).

Miller shoots all of HudsonGoods.com’s videos himself, using a Samsung video camera set on a tripod. After taking a few minutes to set the scene, he simply lets the camera roll as he and his Jack Russell terriers, Buddy and Nellie, demonstrate the product.

“It usually requires only one or two takes, depending on whether the dogs see a cat out the window or something,” he noted wryly. The whole process of shooting, uploading and editing the video, and then posting it on his e-commerce site and/or blog takes Miller about an hour. Though he admitted it took him a little while to get comfortable in front of the camera and to learn that it’s better to physically bring products closer to the camera for viewer inspection than to zoom in on them.

But it’s that authenticity and simplicity — and, okay, his two dogs — that keep customers coming back to the site and buying his products. Since adding video to the site, Miller said sales have increased 25 percent for those products with related videos.

For small business owners who have the passion but not necessarily the time or expertise to create a promotional video — like Everyday Oasis’s Canary — there is Pixability. The video editing service charges $595 for a professionally edited video — and gives you a camcorder and instructions for shooting your video. (To learn more about how Pixability works, visit its FAQ Page.)

After spending at least a month trying to put together a video for her home page on her own, Canary was on the verge of giving up when she came across Pixability. After looking at videos on the Pixability Web site and speaking with Pixability staff, Canary decided to give the service a try.

“Pixability was extremely helpful,” said Canary. “They worked with me every step of the way, allowing me creative freedom yet giving me suggestions and tips so we could make the video the very best it could be.”

Since featuring the video right on the home page, Canary said traffic has increased by at least 300 percent and sales have likewise increased, with the new site generating more sales in its first four months than it did the previous 12.

Another option for small business owners trying to keep costs as low as possible yet still produce a good video: find a colleague, a friend, a family member, or a film student (one who actually knows what he or she is doing), who will shoot and edit or help you with your video for free or for a reasonable price, or in exchange for merchandise. That’s what Karmaloop’s Greg Selkoe did.

“We felt we could produce good video because we are creative and have access to a lot of cool, creative people, as well as celebrities and musicians who are fans of the site,” said Selkoe. Using your fans and customers in your videos is a great way to build or reinforce customer loyalty. And the practice has definitely paid off for Karmaloop.

Six Tips for Creating Great DIY Videos

  • Imagine you are the customer. That means think about what it is you would want to know or see about the business or product or service – and plan your video accordingly. That will save you time in both the shooting and in the editing process.
  • Let there be light. If you can’t shoot outdoors/get a lot of natural light make sure to turn on all the lights in the area you are shooting – even bring in extra lighting to show your product(s) off to its best advantage. Good lighting = good video.
  • Hold still. Shaky camera work may build suspense in the movies but doesn’t work so well when people are trying to evaluate a product, so consider using a tripod or make sure to hold the camera as steady as possible. Additionally, try to hold a shot for at least 10 seconds, so customers can get a good look.
  • Zoom with your feet, not your camera. If you need to zoom in on a product, move closer, i.e., use your feet, instead of your camera’s digital zoom feature.
  • Can you hear me now? Always try to get as close as possible to the speaker when recording sound – and have your subjects speak louder than normal (without screaming). For testimonials, make sure you have quiet room with little or no background noise.
  • Have fun – and tell a story. If your video isn’t fun or informative, no one will watch it. “I saw videos on the Pottery Barn Web site about how some products were made, and I was bored to death,” said Miller. “That’s why I use the dogs, to entertain people, so viewers stay tuned and remember you.”

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a regular contributor to SmallBusinessComputing.com and runs a blog for and about small businesses.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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