Google isn’t just one search engine. Google also operates a number of specialty search engines, one for news: Google News, one for images: Google Images, two for video: Google Video and YouTube, and many more. In this episode, we’re going to focus on optimizing two of these specialty engines, Google News and YouTube. One of your secret weapons for Google News optimization is press releases. If you think press releases aren’t news, I agree with you, yet for our guest, Greg Jarboe, he’s made plenty of money for his clients through the use of optimized press releases distributed via wire services such as Business Wire. Greg is President and Cofounder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency and he’s the author of YouTube and Video Marketing. He’s also contributed to four other books including the YouTube Optimization section of my book, The Art of SEO. If you’re interested in boosting your visibility in Google News or on YouTube, there are plenty of practical advice to sink your teeth into.
Greg, it’s great to have you on the show.
Thank you, Stephan. It’s good to be here.
Let’s start with something we have not covered on any episodes so far and we’re 180 episodes into this show. We’ve never gone deep into Google News. We’ll also cover video and YouTube optimization. I want to start with something we haven’t even covered and that’s Google News optimization, getting higher rankings and more traffic from Google News. What would be a good starting point for that?
It’s why my agency got founded. It’s called SEO-PR because one of the things we figured out early in 2003 was that Google News had an algorithm that was different than Google. If you could optimize content to be found in Google, you could optimize content to be found in Google News. Among the various content found there were not normal news stories from typical journalists. They were there in spades. For whatever bizarre reason, the people who had created Google News and launched it in September of 2002 decided among the news sources they would include press releases. I saw this. I’m an old PR guy. I got it nanoseconds later. I called up the fellow who we ended up co-founding SEO-PR and said, “Jamie, check this out. Press releases are in Google News. We can figure out how to optimize the content so they get a high ranking.” He said, “So what?” I said, “Visibility.” He said, “Greg, visibility? Does that pay the rent? I’m currently working at a direct marketing agency.” He was a CEO there. He said, “We’re tracking leads. If you could put a link in your press release and track the leads to a website, instead of measuring visibility and claiming there must be some hidden mystical benefit, you could measure traffic.” I said, “We got a business.”
In the early days of 2003 when we started experimenting with this, no client wanted to be the first to spend money sending out a test press release. We got two who took the plunge. I don’t even think it was Google Analytics. We were looking at web trends for the client. We saw we had driven traffic to the site from a link and a press release. We’re onto something. By 2004, we were doing work with Southwest Airlines optimizing a series of releases for them that ended up generating $2.5 million in ticket sales from four optimized press releases. When the CFO said, “There’s got to be a trick. You’re taking credit for something you haven’t done,” we said, “No, we used a unique tracking link in the press release. This link doesn’t exist anywhere else. It’s not on your website someplace. You’re not promoting it in your TV ads. This could only have come from one place and those are the links on these press releases.” He said, “Can you do this for anything?” He had us optimize the press release for a new airport manager in Saint Louis. Nothing happened. Early on in the game, we learned if you do not have legitimate news, nobody’s going to be interested in reading it, let alone clicking on your link for more information.
The magic was all made public back in 2004, 2005. I spoke at conferences about this. Unfortunately, at the time, a whole bunch of people got the idea that this is an illicit way of building backdoor lengths to increase SEO rankings. Spammers up the wazoo jumped on the trend for a year or two and like locusts made the whole process tawdry. I saw one press release that announced some guy’s cat had rolled over, but in the release were the lengths that he wanted to build. Google caught on. They devalued the lengths. They went so far as to approach the various major press release distribution services and said, “If you do not add nor follow to all of the links in your press releases, we’re going to kick you out of the Google News Index.” Every major legitimate press release service did that. The scammers moved on to other new tactics. We stuck at it. We kept using optimized press releases because they didn’t give us any SEO value, but the release we’ve done for Southwest Airlines hadn’t given them any SEO value. That wasn’t what we were trying to do. We were driving traffic to their site that went on to buy tickets. The value wasn’t a higher ranking. The value was $2.5 million in airline tickets sales. It still works.
The links may not give you any SEO juice, that’s fine. If you’ve got a compelling story with a reason to go to the website for more information or to order, whatever it is you’re trying to drive traffic to do, it works. It works for B2B or works for B2C. We are working with Rutgers University to help them launch a brand-new online course where you can get a degree in Master’s in Human Resource Management. This isn’t for everybody. How many people want to get a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management? It is a targeted niche program. You can optimize around targeted niche terms. We not only are driving traffic to their site because we’re using a URL campaign builder tool that Google offers. We’ve added tracking parameters to the link so we can see in Google Analytics not only how many people have come to the site. What percentage of them have become leads? This isn’t an impulse purchase. It’s a program somebody has to sign up for and spend eighteen months before they complete their degree.If you could optimize content to be found in Google, you could optimize content to be found in Google News. Click To Tweet
We are starting to see registrations. A single registration is roughly $38,000. The press release didn’t cost a fraction of that. We’re doing this for Rutgers University. We are using optimized press releases even as we speak not just to drive traffic to their website, but to send qualified perspective master’s degree students to a landing page where they can get more information. More importantly, they can also fill out lead generation forms and apply. There’s a big apply now button on the landing page for a program that doesn’t start until September. It goes through the application process. We’re driving traffic. We’re driving leads. We’ve started to see the first applications come in. We’re starting to calculate the return on investment.
It’s easy when a single registration generates $38,000 in revenue. You only need one to become a hero suddenly. We’ve already seen more than one. The program works. This was something trendy for a while. It became less trendy when the link spammers couldn’t abuse it. They moved off. We stuck to the fundamentals which are, “I’m not here to trick you. I’m here to share some interesting news.”
These press release services like PR Web, PR Newswire, it’s not necessarily the site that’s going to rank in Google News. The syndicated sites are the sites that are taking those press releases and syndicating them like Yahoo!. Yahoo! News has a lot of press releases on it that they pull from PR Newswire. There are a lot of TV station websites that pull press releases from the Newswire services.
We’re neutral if any of those ends up high in the rankings, as long as it gets our information out to our target audience and they find it. They click on the link and they come to our landing page. I don’t care where you saw the news on which site, “Please check out our course.” It turns out my client cares. They’d rather have the highest rank for their target term be their own website because they have other courses than the one we put in the press release. They would love it if students explored and maybe they sign up for something else. We have also taken the content of the press release and put it on a news page on the university’s website. What ranks number one for the term is the university site, not Yahoo News, not the wire service. We’re the most relevant and authoritative site on the programs that Rutgers is offering out there. It’s not a piece of content on a site about 97 gazillion things. It’s what Rutgers University is all about. We end up ranking, but not because of the release that went out on the wires or got picked up in a variety of places, but because we took an identical copy of the release word-for-word and put it on a news page on the website.
Between PR Web and PR Newswire, which one is your favorite?
I’m using Business Wire. Part of it has to do with some of the additional bells and whistles they offer the other wires don’t. They not only provide me with what they call a news track report so I know how many people have read the release and how many people have clicked on the links. I can report that to my client. They also have integrated into their system a social media tracking capability. A week after the release went out, we knew how many people had tweeted about the release, who they were, who the most influential of those Twitter users was? They also distribute the release if it includes multimedia. We included both a video and a photo in our press release. They will distribute the video through the Associated Press. We get some distribution you don’t normally get from some of the other wires.
What does that cost per press release?
It varies depending on whether you’re distributing it locally. We’ve done local releases. We’ve won some awards for a series of releases we did that were distributed in New Orleans. If you go local, you could put out a release for $600. We put this release out in five different countries. We put it out in the United States, Canada, Australia, India, and the UK. We included a video and a photo. We ended up paying about $5,000 for the release. $5,000 gets cost-justified within weeks when suddenly you see, “We got our first student at $38,000.”
What are some of the signals Google News is using to rank a press release or a news article? Perhaps even if it’s a blog, it might be considered a new source, you might be able to get that included in Google News. How does Google News determine what ranks at the top for a query in Google News?
There are three primary factors and a whole bunch of minor ones. Let me go through the three big ones. One of them is going to be familiar to SEOs. It’s called relevance. Everything you learned in SEO, you can use to make your press release relevant. You’ve got to do your keyword research. You want to put those keywords in your title. You want to include them in your lead paragraph, the basics. It works. The second element is going to come as a shocker to people who’ve been in SEO for any length of time. Google News does not use inbound links to determine the authority of the source. They don’t think news works that way. Frankly, the news does not work that way. The whole link building process you would do for a website is moot when it comes to news. What you need instead is the authority of the website the content is on. If you’ve got a new story on the New York Times, you’re authoritative. You’re probably going to rank high.
We did a series of experiments for a number of clients on the authority of the various wire services. It turns out Business Wire, owned by Berkshire Hathaway, seems to have the highest authority. That can change. It’s a horse race with PR Newswire. PR Web has faded over time. Their authority has dropped off in years. Part of the reason I’m using Business Wire is it’s an authoritative source. It’s the second qualification. The third one should be a blinding flash of the obvious for anyone in the news business. The third element of the algorithm is recency. How recent is your news? Is it new news? Is it old news? We start off with a high ranking when the news is new. As it gets older, other stories come in ahead of us. When we look, “They’re a week newer than ours was where we held that ranking for a week or two.” You’re not going to hand that ranking over time. You’re going to get displaced by other new news.
There are a bunch of other factors that are lesser in importance, maybe news site maps. I’m curious what your thoughts are on meta keywords specifically for news because there are meta news keywords. I never took the meta keyword seriously. I’d love to hear what some of these other secondary factors are.
We haven’t seen anything from meta keywords either. We think Google News still ignores them. I’m willing to change my opinion the day I see some actual impact, but I haven’t seen it. What we see as the other hidden factors. This is going to be maybe not surprising to anyone who’s done on-page SEO is after the headline, the second most valuable content you’ve got is your subhead. It’s in a larger point size than your body copy. It’s right underneath the headline. It’s in bold or italic or whatever. There are a lot of people who will write a press release with a headline and no subhead. Subheads aren’t required. They’re optional. Many people will skip over that. We’ve found you’re skipping over one of the more interesting opportunities to optimize your release. Do not repeat the keywords in your subhead that you’ve got in your headline. It’s not going to get you anything. What we find is to use synonyms in your subhead. You’re going to say the same thing that was in your headline. By using synonyms, what you’ve now done is signal, “This is a sophisticated piece of writing.” It’s not keyword stuffing ad nauseam. You may get ranked well for some of those sentiments because you got one term in the headline and another one on the subheads. It’s useful.
In the case of Rutgers University, if the headlining has to do with a keyword phrase around Human Resource Management Master’s Degree, you might include like advanced diploma as a synonym for the Master’s Degree, right?
We happen to use a graduate program, but that’s exactly the concept. The other interesting thing that Business Wire enables you to do that the other wire services don’t yet, although it’s a competitive horse race and they’ll add this feature soon. One of the things that Business Wire lets you do is to use subheads in your body, a copy. They can be bold. They can be italic. They can be underlined. It turns out all of those are subtle little signals. You don’t want to keyword stuff at all. You can use those intelligently throughout the body of the copy to give not only the human reader a sense of, “Here’s another section,” but give the Google News search bot a signal that, “This is also a relevant topic for this content.”Do not repeat the keywords in your subhead that you've got in your headline. It’s not going to get you anything. Click To Tweet
They look at your links, which they should. They look at the context of your links, the words before and the words after it. Don’t get spammy there. Make sure there is a legitimate call to action. Describe it so the human being knows why they might want to click on your link. The least valuable words in your press release are at the bottom in the boilerplate. I can’t tell you how many clients we’ve worked with over the years that sweat over their boilerplate. It’s like, “It’s the way press releases have been distributed for 100 years.” The answer is yes when they were put in envelopes and mailed to reporters. It turns out it’s the least important stuff. Whatever you want to say down there, I don’t care because Google doesn’t care. It’s at the bottom of the release where it belongs because it’s the least important.
If there are two companies merging or doing some partnership and the boilerplate includes a write up of what each company does separately, that’s ignored by Google.
What a human being wants and what Google tends to reward is if you’re talking about company A and company B. When you mention company A, have a link to company A’s website. When you mention company B, have a link to company B’s website. Hyperlinking makes the boilerplate irrelevant. The reason why people put it in the release is that I’m of an age where I remember where we stuffed press releases in envelopes and mailed them out to the press. The reporter didn’t have access to the internet to look up your description of the company. Now they click and look.
XML site maps are a standard thing to do for SEO for a website. There are separate news XML site maps you can reproduce if your site is included in Google News. Is that something that is important or at least worth filling?
It’s important if you’re the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune or CNN. We’ve done work with The Christian Science Monitor. It is important if you are a daily medium that is putting out tens to hundreds of stories a day because you want to get a shot at ranking for those. That makes you a general interest site on no particular topic. We all know it’s better to have your information themed if you’re a regular website. The XML markup helps if you are a news site. It doesn’t mean bupkis if you’re not generating news.
You can have your blog included in Google News. It has to be a multi-authored blog. It can’t be some solo author blog. It’s a high bar to hit to get your multi-author blog included.
You need at least three writers. That’s the magic number. That’s the threshold. Google got burned years ago by a whole lot of blogs that got created overnight to push one political point of view or another. It was mostly political blogs that abuse the system. As a result, they’ve tightened it up. When they evaluate you for inclusion, we’ve had blogs from legitimate news sources turned down because your news source is in here. Why should we let your blog in too? We’ll go say, “Excuse me, the New York Times is in there. They have 100 blogs.” You’ve got 100 blogs from the New York Times in your index too. It’s like, “You’re not the New York Times.” It’s a little hard. The minimum number of writers is three.
What would be some other things we haven’t talked about regarding Google News that our audience need to know?
The biggest underleveraged opportunity is video. Google owns YouTube. They love video from news sources. If you are a newspaper and you’re not used to creating video and attaching them to your stories, God help you. If you are CNN and you live and die with video, God bless you. They’ve done well in Google News. That’s also one of the reasons why even in the press release we put out, we make sure to include a video element. Google loves it.
Is that a YouTube video embed you’ve included in the news release or is it Vimeo? How are you including video in your news releases?
We’re using YouTube. You can use a few other sites. 80% to 90% of the content we see surface is from YouTube. Why try to get lucky using something else?
What outside of press releases can a company, a publisher of content do to improve their Google News rankings if they are already in there? They’ve been accepted. They’re not going to be optimizing press releases, but they’re taking the new stories that they’re already publishing, that are already making it into Google News. What do they need to do to improve those rankings? Is it the exact same thing of improving the titles? Improve the presence of the keyword phrases you’re targeting high up in the body copy, the first paragraph or two? Make sure your website as the content source is authoritative.
I will defer to some of my colleagues who do this at some of those new services who I’ve interviewed over the years, I’ve spoken with on panels. One of the techniques they swear by and still works is if you’ve got a breaking news story, issue a new version. You’ve got a new version of the story you put out earlier. Here’s the update. You might tweak the headlines using a synonym. You might discover that between this morning and this afternoon, people have gone beyond searching for the news. One of the things we see is the people are starting to search for photos that were in the news or videos that were in the news. If your initial breaking story didn’t have that element, make sure your follow-up story does. One of the things Google rewards is the breaking news story that is frequently updated. This plays to the strength of the big news media that won’t throw one story over the fence and call it a day. If it’s a breaking news story, they’ll have six versions of it. I saw one example out of CNN where they had 32 versions of a story over a space of three days to show they were still on it. This was the right place to go for the freshest, latest news. All of it was optimized. All of it had video, but there were lots of updates.
Why don’t we move completely to another side of optimization and talk about video? You’re bullish about YouTube. It is after all the number two search engine. We have had a couple of YouTube SEO experts previously, Jeff Martin for example. Jeff Martin is an example of one that was specific to organic YouTube. I’d love to delve deep into that also in this episode. For context for our audience, Greg contributed a section to my book, The Art Of SEO, in regard to this topic of YouTube SEO, which was a great little section. I’d love to delve deep into this topic.The biggest under-leveraged opportunity is video. Click To Tweet
I used to believe that YouTube’s algorithm was less mature than Google’s. There are more searches on Google. Its search algorithm had been around longer. There’s been enough cross-fertilization between the YouTube people down in San Bruno and all the people at the Googleplex. It turns out that YouTube’s algorithm has gotten a lot more sophisticated. For example, when a new video is uploaded, the algorithm will treat it one way for the first three to six weeks, and a different way after six weeks. That’s a new concept. What do you mean recency is part of YouTube’s algorithm? The answer is it is to a limited extent. What somehow somebody over at YouTube discovered was if the only videos that are ranking for particular terms are the ones with the most views. We got a lot of old videos ranking high for a long time. There’s still reason to come back and do that search again because I saw the same stuff yesterday.
One of the things YouTube did several years ago included this recency element to its algorithm and new videos will get a boost in the rankings. The boost comes in two phases. You get a good boost in the first three weeks. You get a moderate boost in the next three weeks. I hope you’ve done well in your debut because then you’ve got to compete with everybody else on a level playing field in the seventh week and beyond. That was a surprise, a change and that was different. The other big factor, YouTube has been public about. From the fall of 2012, they replaced views as an element of their algorithm with watch time. In other words, if somebody clicks on your video, watches it for eight seconds and goes, “This is corporate propaganda. I’m out of here.” That visitor sends a signal to YouTube that said, “This video sucks. Don’t rank it high.”
On the other hand, if a person watches your video all the way to the bitter end, that’s a different signal, that’s higher, longer watch time. What YouTube is clever about is watch time goes beyond your video. After watching your video, if they watch the second one of your videos, that then counts in the watch time algorithm. Even if they stay on YouTube and watch a third video that isn’t yours, but they stay on YouTube and they’re looking for more content in the same genre or around the same topic. That then gives your video credit for being the one that brought them in, kept them going, passed them along to other videos. YouTube can monetize all of that watch time. They are no longer putting one pre-roll ad up in front of the video. They are now also including mid-roll and post-roll ads. The longer people watch longer content, YouTube makes more money. If that was YouTube making more money, aren’t the users annoyed? The answer is no. The users are now spending an average of 40 minutes a session. They are spending an average of three to four sessions a week. They are spending a long time when they go into YouTube watching lots of videos. Therefore, the ones that get rewarded are the ones that are in that sequence. Your video may be two minutes long and my video may be seven minutes long, but if they’re watching yours first, mine second, somebody else’s third, we all benefit.
Watch time is probably, if not the most important factor, one of the most important factors.
It is the most important factor after you’re six weeks old. You haven’t accumulated enough watch time for YouTube to use it as a factor in your first three to six weeks. As a result, YouTube’s algorithm treats new videos differently than older videos. You don’t have enough of a track record for watch time for me to use that as the major way of figuring out where you rank.
Let’s say you publish a video on YouTube, you don’t do much promotion of it. It languishes for days or even weeks. Do you delete the video and start over again re-uploading it? You go, “I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know how important it was to come out of the gate strong and make the YouTube algorithm. Consider me important.” There are some factors here that come into play that could work against you if you do that.
That is an option. I rarely, if ever, recommend it. You can do that. What we do instead is not foolproof either, but more often than not what we will do is go back into that video and you can edit your headline even after you’ve put the video up. You can edit the description. You can edit the tags. If you’re doing the editing intelligently, the video is not treated as if it’s new, but it’s in a strange rejuvenated phase where it gets a second shot. That’s a much better way. I’ve gone into a lot of old videos and made edits and they do a lot better in the following couple of weeks.
You can edit the video itself too. You could say, “There are ten seconds that are boring at the end. I’m going to lop that off of the existing video.” You don’t re-upload it or anything. You go into the video editor and do that.
You could. What I’d rather do with the dull, boring part at the end is add an end cap with links to other videos I’ve got to drive traffic from one of my videos to another. It’s to get into that sweet spot of people watching more than one video.
When you go in and edit an old video’s title, description or tags, do you also go in and change the thumbnail?
Sometimes, you certainly can. It turns out the thumbnail has zero impact on ranking. However, it has a huge impact on whether somebody clicks on your video wherever it’s ranked. It’s incredibly important in getting the click, even if you happen to be ranked number three. If your thumbnail is more compelling than the videos ranked number one and two, somebody may look at the search results and say, “This video number three is the one I want.” It doesn’t improve or change your ranking, but it can get you the click.
It’s more compelling in terms of getting the click than the title.
It’s about the same. People will scan both. We’ve done some experiments around, “Let’s change the title but not the thumbnail. Let’s change the thumbnail and not to title.” What we tend to discover is that people are scanning both. They may not read the little snippet of description that also shows, but they do scan the title as they’re glancing at the thumbnail to make sure they’re not bait-and-switched. There are too many people who did that with their thumbnails. People check both.
If you did upload a video twice, you deleted the original version and you re-uploaded it or you upload that same video to multiple channels, there’s a risk involved in that. YouTube is assigning a content ID to your video. They’re doing an analysis of the content coming up with a unique code. If the content is the same and you re-uploaded again, it’s going to come up with the same content ID and they’re going to say, “You’re using the same video on multiple channels. We don’t like that.”People's search behaviors change depending on whether they're in Google News or on YouTube or Google Web Search. Click To Tweet
Not much. Google certainly does that more than YouTube does. What the content ID will do is if you’ve taken a Disney flick and you’ve uploaded the highlight for Let It Go to your channel, they know that’s from Frozen. They know you’ve ripped it off. What the content ID enables Disney to do is to say, “You don’t have to make him take that video down as long as we can monetize the video on his channel.” A whole lot of duplicate content you will find in YouTube is monetized by the creator, but you’ll find multiple versions. This happens when you start looking for movie trailers. You’ll find a movie trailer on half-a-dozen different channels. It’s the same trailer, but whatever movie studio that put it out there basically says, “We own the content. We’re allowing multiple people to put it up because I don’t care where they see my trailer as long as they come to see my movie. If they come to see my movie, that’s where I make my money.”
If you upload a video that has a music track and that music track is copyrighted, you don’t have permission to use it?
They won’t make you take it down or if the music company has chosen this option with their content ID program which says, “That’s my music. You can let him keep it up but I get credit for it.” Any ads that are run on that video go to the music company, not you.
Speaking of ads and how related videos also show up with a video, if you embed a YouTube video on your website, there are oftentimes related videos that will be recommended at the end. That is a feature of YouTube and you can shut that off so that competitors don’t have an opportunity to market to your audience on your website through that video embed. There’s a related equals zero flag.
It takes a little time to do that. If you want to put one video up and you don’t want the related videos to be from somebody else, then that justifies the time. What we tend to do instead is we’ll embed a playlist and then all of a sudden the “related videos” are the second, third and fourth video that you put in your playlist. You can embed videos, but you can also embed playlist and that may then also be a solution to your problem.
What would be some best practices or tips and tricks for playlist optimization? That’s an underutilized opportunity for a lot of folks who have YouTube channels and they are uploading videos. They’re optimizing the videos, but they’re not putting a lot of time and thought into their playlists.
One of the questions I used to get in the early days was how long a video should be? I’ve seen high-ranking videos that are two to three minutes long. I’ve seen high-ranking videos that are eleven to fifteen minutes long. Watch time these days isn’t a question of longer is better or shorter is better. If you’ve got good content and you keep people to the end, or if you can only hold them for three minutes then end it at three minute and one second. That’s one element, but we do know that the session averages around 40 minutes. When I sit down to create a playlist, how many videos do I have to put together to hit 40 minutes? I want to be that person’s session. If I program it correctly, some of the videos are a little shorter, some are a little longer. If I can hold their attention for their entire session, I don’t win on one video. I win on every video in that playlist. It is an underleveraged opportunity. The game shifted from the viral video. I’ve got this one hit wonder I can never repeat. These days, what you want to do is create series or multiple videos and get people to go, “I want to binge watch all of them.”
You can have behind the scenes type videos that take the next step.
You can have, “The making of.” I’ve seen all the variations that work well. The people who have done it have thought beyond, “This is my primary video” to “ what’s the backstory?” “What should people do next?” “Let’s spin out this character and take them down that rabbit hole, whatever.” Build on your anchor video a whole series, a reason for people to watch longer.
Let’s say that anchor video is a funny commercial or it’s a spoof of a music video or something, you want to create a whole series around that, essentially sidekick videos for your anchor video.
When you build a playlist, most of the videos in the playlist you want to be your own because you want to benefit from it. We’ve included videos from other people who are around the same theme. If you’re a spoof, that’s great. Put it in there. Put the original in your playlist too because you begin thinking like a publisher. If you’ve got the best story to tell, tell it. If your story is a variation on a classic, show the classic. You can build a playlist around more than your own content.
If you’re the source and everybody else is spoofing you, you can do the same thing too. The ten hours of walking in New York City as a woman viral video where it takes ten hours and condenses it down into two minutes. It’s showing what it’s like for a woman to walk the streets of Manhattan and get catcalled and harassed and stalked and everything. It’s enlightening for us men to get a sense for what a day in the life of a woman is. There were all these spoofs like ten minutes walking in New York City wearing a hijab, ten minutes walking in New York City wearing a romper. That was a funny spoof where this guy’s wearing a romper. You can include all those in a playlist.
You have created a spoof playlist that if somebody is into that theme that you put together, maybe only one of the videos in that spoof playlist is yours. Here’s the real secret. If you want, you can put together a playlist of my favorite funny videos and none of them are mine. Why would I want to do that? “I don’t know. I’m a fan.” Does that help me at all? “Not really because none of my videos are getting any views.” If you want, you could build a playlist out of everybody else’s content. The only time I might use that tactic is if I’m trying to make a lot of interesting friends in a lot of interesting places. I might compile the best tips from the SEO gurus in the industry. The benefit isn’t any of my videos are going to get a view here, but I made a dozen powerful new friends. That’s got to be worth something if you’re launching an influencer relations program later on. There is no yes and no, right or wrong. Think through your strategy and more often than not you want to benefit somehow from being in the playlist. There can be rational exceptions to that rule.
I like that thought process you walked us through. Essentially, it’s the expert roundup applied to YouTube.YouTube is no slowpoke. It also changes rapidly like Google. Click To Tweet
How many blog posts have we seen where that’s it? I interviewed 27 different experts and here’s what 27 different experts said. “What did you write?” “I wrote the headline and the lead paragraph.” “Fine.” If you leave the 28th expert out, they want to be in your next roundup.
Which is easily solved if you’ve got a playlist because you dropped a video of there’s an expert roundup playlist. Another little secret that isn’t so secret, but a lot of people don’t realize it is how valuable Google Trends is. Do you want to share a bit on that?
Everyone goes into Google Trends, they type in some words and the default in Google Trends is Google Trends. Right above your results where you’ve typed in the keywords you want to see the trend for is a dropdown menu. They call Google Trends, Web Trends. If you click on that, you will discover underneath web trends are image trends, shopping trends, news trends, and YouTube search trends. It’s good for Google News keyword research as well as YouTube research. Here’s the fun part. Take a term you think is trending on Google. Go do the same term but do it on YouTube. You will find more often than not different trends. Don’t assume the trend in Google is being replicated magically over in the news or on YouTube or in shopping or image search. There are different trends in each of those different avenues.
People’s search behaviors change depending on whether they’re in Google News or on YouTube or Google Web Search.
In the United States, they are a leading cookie manufacturer. In the UK, they are a leading biscuit manufacturer because the Brits call cookies, biscuits. They wanted some help with optimizing their videos in India. We went, “Let’s go use Google Trends,” because you can also then pick countries. “Let’s look at the Google Trends in India and let’s look at whether cookie is bigger than biscuit.” What we found was biscuit was bigger several years ago, but cookie is climbing fast. What is interesting that’s happening is the American influence on language in India is having an impact. The British influence on language in India is receding. That left the client with this conundrum of, “What do we do?” We said, “You’re going to have to create two pieces of video content, one optimized for biscuit and a second one optimized for cookie.”
Is there one tactic, one tip or trick we didn’t discuss already YouTube SEO that you want to share as a parting gift?
Here are ones we haven’t talked about that I’ve chronicled a couple of times over the years that it’s worth filing away. YouTube changes its algorithm regularly. At the end of a year, about a third of whatever the best practice was a year ago is out-of-date. At the end of two years, two-thirds of whatever it was you knew was a best practice is probably out-of-date. At the end of three years, everything you knew about the YouTube algorithm is out-of-date. My book was published in November 2011. Do not buy my book. It is woefully out-of-date unless you’re trying to optimize your videos for 2011, which you can’t do. Don’t read the book because YouTube changes and it changes at a remarkably rapid rate. We all focus on Google and we know how rapidly it changes. YouTube is no slowpoke. It changes rapidly too.
Is there anything around transcripts you want to share? What would be a good tip or trick around transcripts or foreign language translations?
There are a lot of cheap services that will give you a transcript. YouTube has a default transcript you can turn on and will give you its take. What we have found is transcripts are nice, but they’re not optimized. One of the things we’ll do is we’ll take the transcript, particularly if somebody is reading from a script. It’s easy like, “Give me the script,” and we’ll take a look at it. We will add a lead-in, which is an optimized lead paragraph. We will add some subheads that are optimized like the tags are. We’re not going to change what people said in the video, but we’re going to add some extra content around it. It’s that extra content that helps optimize that transcript.
Is that in the SRT file that you re-upload or is it in the description of the video? Where does that go?
It’s in both places. You can optimize your description. You can write anything in your description you want, but we’re talking about the transcript part. For the transcript, you can upload your own transcript as opposed to using the default one that YouTube will create.
You’re keeping the integrity of the content there. If they said in some news broadcast like, “Breaking news,” and it’s the newscaster, you’re not changing the words they’re saying. It’s inaccurate if somebody turned on closed captioning, but you are adding section headings or something.
Section headings and a lead paragraph that describes the context to what’s going to follow and those are all fair game for optimization without changing what the transcript says. When it comes to the transcript, what YouTube will give you is a guess of what the person was saying and oftentimes they get it wrong. I don’t think I’m tinkering with anything to take the transcript that YouTube gave me. Recognize that’s not the word they used and put in the word they used. I’m making an editorial decision that if any listener listened to the video, they wouldn’t say, “You changed something.” It’s like, “I fixed the bad transcript that YouTube cranked out automatically.” It’s more than adding subheads and a lead paragraph. Occasionally, it’s also fixing the bad transcript.
If folks wanted to talk with you further, work with your company, get some press release optimization done and get some leads coming in the door, how would they get in touch?
We have a website, SEO-PR.com. You can look for Greg Jarboe and if somebody else comes up, I haven’t done my job right. I think I’m deleting Greg Jarboe in Google. You’ll find my LinkedIn account. You’ll find my Twitter account. If you find my Pinterest account, please come check that out. I’m out there. I’m speaking at the Content Marketing Conference in Boston. Come see me at the conference. I’m out and about.
Thank you, Greg. Thank you to our audience. Take some action. Go out there and optimize for YouTube, optimize for Google News. Have a great rest of your week.
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Learn more about Google News and how I could optimize it to get higher rankings and more traffic.
☑ Put out legitimate news or compelling stories so people are going to be interested in reading my releases and click on my link for more information.
☑ Make my press releases relevant by using what I know about SEO like putting keywords in my title and lead paragraph, and all the other basics.
☑ Create compelling and fascinating subheads, realizing that subheads are the second most valuable content after the headline. Refrain from repeating words in my subheads that I have in my headlines. Use synonyms instead.
☑ Utilize Business Wire in creating subheads for the body of my copy. It lets me bold, italicize, or underline my subheads, giving my readers a sense of the different sections of the body as well as give the Google News search bot a signal of the relevant topics for my content.
☑ Make sure I have a legitimate call to action and describe it so the readers will know why they might want to click on my link.
☑ Issue a new version or an update of a breaking news story that I put out at an earlier date. Google rewards breaking news stories that are frequently updated.
☑ Update my thumbnails. It may not improve or change my ranking, but it’s incredibly important in getting the click.
☑ Build a playlist around my anchor video, including videos from other people around the same theme. That way, I can make powerful new friends that will help me later on when launching an influencer relations program.
☑ Check out SEO-PR.com for help with press release optimization and getting some leads coming in the door, as well as read Greg Jarboe’s book YouTube and Video Marketing and The Art of SEO by Stephan Spencer.
About Greg Jarboe
Greg Jarboe is president and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency. He is also the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and a contributor to four other books. In addition, he is also an instructor at Coursera, Rutgers Business School Executive Education, Simplilearn, and Udemy.