YouTube or Self-Host? The Ongoing Video Debate

It’s really no secret at this point that online video is taking off – it’s very rare these days that you log on to a popular website and don’t see options to view some video content. And why wouldn’t it be popular? It’s fun, it’s engaging and it’s a whole lot better than reading through a bunch of

text on a page.

But if you’re a marketer or a business owner, did you know that the way in which you implement your videos can greatly impact the results that they achieve for your website? It’s true – and there are two main choices that you have based on what kind of results you are looking for: host the video on YouTube or Vimeo or another public video sharing site, or host the videos on your own domain.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of both these major Web video implementation tactics:

YouTube Pros

Of course, YouTube’s biggest pro is probably the fact that it’s owned by Google, so it’s naturally the second largest search engine in the world. This means that simply having a presence on this popular social media site can potentially put your brand and your content in front of the eyes of millions.

Secondly, since YouTube is Google-owned, Google, of course, prefers websites to have some sort of YouTube presence. The search engine favors its own products – sort of similar to the way they encourage all brands to utilize Google+.

Plus, You

Tube content is typically highly shareable, so you increase your likelihood of getting links to and views on your video content. To break it down even further, here’s a short list of some of the many pros to using YouTube for your video hosting needs:

  • Content gets in front of largest audience possible
  • Google favors its own products (YouTube)
  • Sharing is easy
  • Further branding is possible with custom channels
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched every month – chances of your video being seen are higher

Pros of Self-Hosting

On the other hand, there are some advantages to choosing the self-hosting route when it comes to the implementation of your videos on your website. To start, content on YouTube is meant for sharing, but each share doesn’t benefit your actual website – it only benefits your view count on YouTube itself. When you self-host, you’re putting yourself into a position to not only have your content shared directly from your website, but to build links for your site using those shares. These links will be natural and highly valuable, since they’ll be sending signals to the search engines that there is some piece of content on your website that’s worthy of sharing and linking to.

Additionally, self-hosting can help you in your search engine results positions for your top performing keywords. When optimized correctly, your video content will appear as a thumbnail in your search engine results directly beside your Web page. Since it’s your domain appearing with the video thumbnail, all click throughs will go directly to your website (if you were optimizing a YouTube video, you might still get the video thumbnail, but click throughs will direct to your YouTube channel rather than your website). So, here’s a breakdown of the top advantages to self-hosting:

  • Help with link building efforts
  • Can produce rich snippet search results for your domain
  • Rich search results lead to up to 80% increases in click through rates
  • Increased click through rates lead to increased keyword rankings

Know When to Use Each Option

Obviously, a lot of the way video is implemented on a website depends on the type of content that it is. Do you have a commercial for your company that you’re hoping to post somewhere? Or do you have a product video explaining the details of one of your most popular items?

Commercial videos tend to perform better on YouTube because the content was created with the brand in mind. And when you’re creating content as part of your overall branding efforts, obviously you want it to be seen by the largest audience possible. For this reason alone, YouTube is a great option, but your website itself may not benefit much from this tactic. YouTube is more about getting your name and your brand out there to as large of an audience as you possibly can.

On the other hand, if you have a somewhat dry video that maybe details the specifics of a given product that your ecommerce site sells, then the likelihood of that content “going viral” on YouTube is very low. For this reason, you will gain much more benefit from hosting this type of content on your own domain. Use a third party media server (we like Vimeo Pro) so you’re not using your site’s own bandwidth to run the video, and post it on your product page. Once it’s optimized correctly (see my February post on leveraging video content for SEO), your website will begin reaping the benefits of having this content of content right on your own domain.

Of course, if you’re ever in doubt, contact your favorite people at the marketing agency you’re working with and ask for their help. Make sure you know what your goal is with the video content that you have or are looking to create, and be able to communicate that clearly to your marketing team.

Before you just throw your videos up in any old place, make sure you take into account what goals you would like for the content to accomplish, and know at least the reasoning behind the different options for hosting the video. Your website, and your brand, will both thank you!

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What NOT to do When Writing a Press Release

The quickest way to kill a relationship with the news media is by sending a bad press release. In addition to good grammar, a press release should be newsworthy and pique a reporter’s interest. Keep in mind, that a reporter’s mailbox is flooded with press releases from other companies and non-profits on a daily basis. Therefore, you want your release to stand out from the bunch.

Here are five things NOT to do when writing a press release:

Write a boring headline

It’s true, first impressions really do last a lifetime. Because the headline is the first thing reporters will read, it’s the most important. If you do not start out with a strong, attention-grabbing headline, your release will mostly get thrown into the recycle bin.

Drag out the story

Like most of us, reporters are busy people. The last thing they want to do is read the entire release to get to the story. Reporters should be able to read the first sentence of the release and know exactly what it is about. Get to the point!

Lack of structure

A press release that lacks structure will not be taken seriously. Here’s a little bit of housekeeping: a press release should be no longer than a page. If you have babbled into the second page, start over. The words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” should be at the top of every page. And while some like to write the headline in bold or capital letters, I try to stick to the AP Style guide. I capitalize the first word and nouns, but no bold. Underneath the headline you should include a catchy subhead. This is often italicized.

No coherent message

One of the most common press release writing mistakes is not including a message. Before you even begin typing, ask yourself what are you trying to get across. It can be hard for a PR professional to put their ego aside and write something the news media will actually care about. For example, your company is launching a new product, who cares? Explain how this new product is going to benefit the consumer. Think like a journalist.

Make grammatical errors

This, I cannot emphasize enough. Proofread your release a couple times and let a co-worker look it over too. One single mistake can deter a reporter from publishing your release. More important, a grammatically correct press release will make a good impression of you and your company (recall what I said about impressions).

The purpose of a press release is to inform the news media and the industry-at-large of your company’s latest developments. This includes product launches, new hires, announcements, you name it. The press release has many benefits. But, remember, what may be newsworthy to you may not be newsworthy to the reporter. Always avoid wordy sentences and corporate jargon. Be succinct, and get to the point!

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Technology Then and Now – A Look Back at The 90′s

Believe it or not, there was a time before the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter existed. In fact, there was even a time before YouTube, Instagram and even Pinterest! As hard as it is to remember what it was like 15-20 years ago, each of these technologies and social media networks we use every day were something else in our lives. Since I love the 90′s (as everyone else should) and love to reminisce, I think it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and remember what life and social media was like back then!

Before YouTube…

ha ha ARGHCan you remember what you used to watch for entertainment before YouTube? If you guessed TV programs such as America’s Funniest Home Videos, you were right! This television show from the 90′s had everything that YouTube has, well except for an awesomely geeky host – Bob Saget. Whether it was a funny home video of babies, puppies falling asleep on camera or grandparents falling down, you could always count on this show for a good laugh, very much like you can now count on YouTube for one.

Before Facebook…

el camino highschool reunion (rented Lambo in foreground)Long before Facebook existed, people had to connect and reconnect on a different level. This was generally in person, at reunions or school, or anywhere else in public. In the 90′s, we didn’t have the distractions of constant Facebook updates to look at, we received a phone call if someone wanted to tell us they got engaged and everyone’s lives were far more private than they are today.

Before the iPhone…

payphoneLong before the iPhone was mainstream and even before cellphones were a must have for every age, young and old, people communicated in different ways. Yes, that’s right, people used their house phones and pay phones to make calls. I would have to admit this is among the most challenging technologies to remember life without – mainly because people, including myself, have grown to be so attached to their cellphones that living without one again is not even an option.

Before Instagram…

Disposable Camera SwapI’m going to take a trip down my very own personal memory lane, to the times when I used to be obsessed with taking photographs at school – on field trips, during school lunch and whenever else I could sneak pictures in with my friends. Rather than snapping a picture and uploading it to Instagram for the world to see, I would have to take my film out of my awesome camera (not even digital yet, mind you) and bring it to the local store to get developed. After an hour wait, I would finally get to look back at my pictures and decide whether or not they were worth scanning to put in an online photo album for friends to see. Growing up to see the world of photography be transformed into something so quick and instant has really been among my favorite changes to see, especially with the quality of photography changing dramatically as well. But to think… an hour wait to get pictures developed? Ha!

Before Twitter…

Newspaper sea blueBefore Twitter existed and everyone received their news in 140 character tweets, the world had to wait until journalists published stories in the paper to hear about what was happening in the news. While now most of us jump on Twitter and keep pressing refresh for constant updates on an event, tragedy or disaster, prior to Twitter and social media sites, TV, radio and newspapers were the only three outlets to receive news, which made it difficult to get frequent updates on what was happening in the world.

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Announcing Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper Tool

Just when we marketers and online businesses alike think that Google just hates us and has forgotten all about our hard-working existence, they go and release something like they did yesterday – the Structured Data Markup Helper Tool.

You’ve probably seen search results that look a little something like this:

Complete with a yummy-looking image of some ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies and a 5-star recipe rating, along with the first several ingredients needed to make these little delights. Or you might have seen something like this:

How convenient – a list of events happening in the city of Philadelphia this weekend, all from the same website, appearing naturally in my Google search results.

These kind of search results are considered rich snippets, meaning these websites are returning query results that contain additional information rather than just the title and meta description of the page that ranks for the query. The results with all of this additional information tend to stand out from the rest of the “normal” organic search results, meaning they can help a website increase click through rates and keyword rankings in the long run.

So, how do you get all of this additional information that appears on your website to actually start appearing in organic search results? Well, thanks to Google’s new tool, it’s actually pretty easy. These kind of search results are accomplished using Schema.org structured data markup – which is basically just a fancy term for feeding the search engines (namely Google) additional information about any given page that you want them to see.

For example, if you are working with a product page, you have the ability to tell Google additional information about the product using structured data markup, and the new Google tool helps automate all of that markup for you, so even if you’re not familiar with HTML5 or Schema.org, you can still begin sending this additional information to Google.

Say you want to tell the search engines how many of the particular product you have in stock, or what the brand name is, or what the price is or even what customers are saying about your product. It’s all possible, and now, it’s all pretty simple to automate.

So here’s how Google’s new Structured Data Markup Helper Tool actually works:

This is where you start. Choose what type of page you’re working on marking up, and enter the page’s URL. For example purposes, I’m going to use a wonderful seafood restaurant I visited recently with my family while visiting Houston, Texas, the Goode Company.

Once I’ve entered the URL for the webpage I’m looking to markup (in this case, I’ll be using the page on this company’s site that focuses specifically on their seafood branches), I can start assigning “tags” by highlighting information that’s actually found on the page itself. In this example below, I’m telling the Google tool what I want the name of the page to be in my structured data markup:

On the right side, I can see the tags that I’ve assigned to the page so far just by highlighting the information that I want to enter. Here’s what the right sidebar should look like once I’ve entered all of the information that applies. If there is any information missing at the end, you can either enter it manually, or skip over it, but know that skipped information will result in a less thorough rich snippet in the search results. In this case, I’ll be skipping over the “Review” information, as there are no customer reviews listed on the page itself:

You can see the information that I’ve highlighted on the page, and if you notice, the right sidebar is, for the most part, filled. When you’ve finished entering your page’s information, click the red “Create HTML” button. You’ll then see something like this:

The tool shows you an example of the HTML for the page in its entirety with the addition of the automatically generated structured data markup. If you scroll down through all of the HTML, you’ll see that the additional markup that’s been added is highlighted in yellow. You’ll find this markup in two sections – the first is before the closing </head> tag. All you have to do is replace the HTML that’s already there on your page with the HTML that this tool generates for you:

If you continue to scroll down, you’ll see more highlighted HTML that is embedded within the page content itself:

Again, you can copy and paste all of this HTML into the page content to fully markup the page that you are working with. Remember that anything in the content field that you mark up will be visible to viewers, while the markup that goes in the <head> of the page is just that – markup, not content.

Then just make sure your page is included in your website’s sitemap that is sent to Google, and keep an eye on your search results. With the video rich snippets that we’ve seen here at Mountain Media, we have found that results can take anywhere between 1 and about 6 weeks to begin to show in organic search results.

So with the help of the new Google tool and some patience, you, too, can have rich snippet results for your website that can help increase your click through rates and keyword rankings, resulting in more overall search engine traffic to your website!

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