Q: Hi Steve: I have read your Top 10 Business Trends column for USA TODAY before and was wondering if you are dialed-in to anything new that I might be able to use to improve my Google search rankings? The same old things don't seem to work as well anymore. -- Melissa
A: It is indeed the Holy Grail, is it not â€"- getting a Page 1 Google search ranking? But it definitely can be done, and yes, there is indeed something new under the sun that can help you get there.
But before I tell you about it, let me first share a cautionary tale:
I am fortunate enough to get to do a lot of public speaking. Mostly, I speak to small business groups, offering strategies and tips for growing their businesses. But speaking isn't my main gig -â€" writing books and columns and making media appearances is -â€" so not long ago, my team and I decided to launch an SEO campaign to (hopefully!) increase the number of my speaking engagements.
We used all of the same strategies you probably use: identifying keywords and phrases, getting incoming links, linking key phrases, etc. We also launched a Google Adwords campaign. Our key words there were "small business speaker."
The result was, to say the least, not what we expected. Aside from the same ol', same ol' SEO tactics yielding mixed results, the Adwords campaign flopped. I paid a lot of money for clicks from people who were looking for a different sort of speaker, namely Bose, Harman Kardon, and other "speakers" for their small businesses.
But today, I am happy to report that there is in fact a new best practice that you can use to spectacularly increase your chances of getting your business a Page 1 Google ranking.
The answer is video.
But I am not talking about any online video. No, what I am talking about is video that has been optimized for search. A recent study by Forrester Research found that with SEO video, you stand a 53 times better chance of getting a Page 1 Google ranking.
Here's why video is the secret ingredient: When Google (or Bing or Yahoo) gives a search result, that listing is blended -- that is, it offers up not only articles, but also images, video, news, and shopping, among others.
But, while every article out there has been SEO'd to death, the same is not true for video. If you optimize your video, you suddenly become a big fish in a small pond, for two reasons:
- Most people don't do it, and
- There still is far less video online than articles
But note, what I am not talking about is simply posting videos or embedding a YouTube player on your site. That's not optimization and you're likely to give more SEO value to YouTube, not your business.
Instead, here's how to do it (and excuse me for getting a little geeky on you):
1. Shoot some great video: It could be a product demonstration, a how-to video, whatever. Make it useful, interesting, and not too long.
2. Post it on your site. There are all sorts of video players to choose from. A couple of the more popular ones are the JW Player and the VLC Player.
3. Optimize it. Just as you do with articles or blogs, make sure that keywords and key phrases are part of the file name, are used in the captions, are in the URL, and so on. So, for example, a bad title for a video would be "Great Pizza Today" (too generic.) Instead, a good title for that same video could be Seattle's Best Pizza Restaurant (with a corresponding URL: Seattle's-Best-Pizza-Restaurant.)
4. Submit it: Next, once you have posted the video on your site -â€" and here's the geeky part -â€" you need to submit it to the search engines using XML tools.
That last part may seem daunting, but actually it's not. There are various services that will index and submit your videos for you, for instance, Fliqz.com. If you have great video content and you've done your job to optimize it, it should end up at or near the top of search engine results.
Ready, set, optimize!
Flickr photo courtesy of Robert Scoble, CC 2.0