How to drive traffic to your website from YouTube

Video

Kevin Partner reveals how you can boost your SEO by using Google's video service, YouTube

Ask 100 people to list the main social networks and very few would include YouTube; yet just like Facebook, it provides a way to view, recommend and share content (although YouTube users share video rather than text and humorous photos).

Despite Google’s reluctance to reveal precise user numbers, YouTube’s active audience runs into the hundreds of millions, placing it alongside Twitter and Google+, but it has a lower profile.

Most people see YouTube as a video library, or end point for search engine queries, but I believe Google’s ambition to own a social network will make YouTube increasingly social and collaborative.

YouTube will play an increasingly important role in driving traffic to websites

Unlike many commentators (even some on PC Pro) I don’t believe Google+ will sink like its half-baked predecessors Wave and Buzz, because Google is integrating it into so many of its other services. For example, whenever you comment on a post, all further interactions can take place within a single Gmail thread, and it’s becoming hard to get the most out of a Google account without using Google+. If you have a YouTube account, you’ll be invited to merge it with your Google+ account when you next log in, and it’s likely that at some point in the future the two services will effectively become one.

In my view, video is a critical part of Google’s vision of the future, so YouTube will play an increasingly important role in driving traffic to websites. It’s possible to achieve front-page position for a sufficiently precise key phrase using a video – whether it’s easier in practice than using standard SEO techniques is beside the point, since a video thumbnail is more likely to catch the eye than a line of text. The biggest advantage of video, however, is that it can be used to generate traffic from multiple sources.

Say, for example, you run a laptop repair business and a customer brings in his Samsung Series 3 to have its screen replaced. Record the technician at work, edit it down to a sequence of steps, and embellish them with voiceover and captions (no more than a couple of hours of work). Upload the finished video to YouTube under the title "How to replace the screen on a Samsung Series 3 laptop", and repeat for every major laptop model repair.

Google will index your videos automatically, and they can also be embedded into your firm’s website, its Facebook page and Google+ stream. This will drive traffic both from YouTube itself and from standard Google searches, where I’d expect it to appear on the front page.

What’s that I hear you cry? You didn’t learn to repair laptops only to give away your trade secrets in a video? Won’t it reduce business if potential customers learn to do it themselves? No, because most users will be searching for those phrases in case it turns out to be very easy, but also to find practitioners if it isn’t. Look at it from their point of view: they typed "how to repair an HP dv6 keyboard" and up pops your video. They’ll take that as a recommendation from Google that you’re an expert. They may watch your video and are likely to conclude that they’d rather have you deal with it than try it themselves. Either way, you’ve become visible to them in a way that your competitors aren’t.

That’s all very well if they’re using Google Search, but what if they’re looking on YouTube? If they find your video, and you’ve included your branding and a URL prominently, they’ll very likely click the link through to your website. The likelihood of them coming across your video in the first place, however, depends on how high YouTube ranks it, so it’s essential to understand the factors that contribute to this before you upload it. My research suggests that YouTube relies on four main criteria to decide where your production appears in search results.