Can creating video really help your SEO? I've been training budget video production online for a few years and that's one of the most frequent questions I get asked from SEOs and small businesses alike.
The answer is definitely 'yes ' and that’s because of the fantastic number of links that good video can generate when used effectively in SEO or link building campaigns.
In this post, I’ll look at 5 fantastic examples of where companies have used video and earned links as a result. And I’ll share 6 important takeaways for any SEOs considering video production.
5 case studies of videos that attract high quality links
1. Warby Parker's total eclipse of the heart
Eyeglass company, WarbyParker.com created a parody of the popular song, total eclipse of the heart. Their version was timed to piggyback on the huge media attention that would be drawn to the total eclipse of the sun in August of this year.
WarbyParker.com created the video for a relatively low budget and then tied it into a clever promotion in all of their branches. Everyone who called in to one of the shops could claim a free eclipse viewer so they could watch it in safety - a highly relevant promotion for an eye care company.
The initiative attracted lots of media coverage and links including this story from Space.com:
Anyone reading the story could then click through and download a safety pack from the company's blog (or of course, become a customer):
This was a great initiative because:
the video was fun to watch
it piggybacked perfectly on a news event that was certain to be a big deal
many journalists look for a new angle on a big story like this - and Warby Parker provided it
The downloadable resource was relevant to the company’s customer base and was worth linking to.
2. PerformanceBike.com attracts links with training videos
Training and ‘How-to’ videos that are done well can also be powerful link magnets.
Take this blog post from FitAfterFifty.com, “Be a Safer Cyclist”. The author wants to teach readers how to be safer cyclists and in doing so, links to and quotes from a wide range of authoritative sources:
The link in the copy links directly to this video page on the bike company’s website. Unlike the WarbyParker.com parody video, this is a straightforward, simple, but useful video:
Exploring the Performance Bike.com further shows that they have a whole education section on their website that attracts many links. Now, I’d be pretty sure this content wasn't designed specifically to generate links, but because of the educational material’s range and usefulness, the content earns PerformanceBike.com many links.
And that includes being quoted by Barbara Koch, head of Microsoft in Germany in this interview:
Here are some important points from this example:
PerformanceBike.com invest a lot of effort in educating cyclists and providing video content that is eminently linkable
This creates happy customers and also creates a lot of links without having to ask for them
And of course, link builders should note that an active link building effort on all of this content would probably reap rich rewards.
3. Shopify's resident entrepreneur makes video look so easy
This is another initiative that was designed to educate customers, not actively generate links.
Yet it managed to attract numerous links including this one on the Globe and Mail, Shopify’s resident entrepreneur makes ecommerce easy :
The press article links to a whole collection of videos from a staff member, Jane Lee, who was appointed to the role of ‘resident entrepreneur’.
She uses the company's own products to set up a store and sell goods in a real entrepreneurial effort - and every week publishes a video of here experiences.
The videos which were published on YouTube.com offer real value to the company's customers and also attract their own share of inbound links:
Even though the videos were published on Shopify’s YouTube Channel, the journalists linked to the company website. It’s almost as a reward for creating great content.
What I really liked about this initiative is that it was done completely in-house and showed Lee’s real experiences, difficult or otherwise.
Watch the videos online and you’ll see that the production values, while basic are engaging. Scan through the back catalog of videos and you can see how Lee’s competent and confidence on video grows with practice
The series of videos have been a tremendous success and Jane has been joined by two other staff members.
Another great lesson is that you don’t have to be perfect to start making video - jump in and you'll acquire the skills.
4. BrewDog.com tempts Homebrewers Association to share a link
Now why would a homebrewers association link to a commercial brewery?
Well, for free beer recipes of course - all 215 of them! In this post, BrewDog Releases All Beer Recipes for Homebrewers, embeds a BrewDog videos and links to the download page:
Scan the text in the article above and you can see that BrewDog uses ‘homebrewing language’ when they are quoted in the post. For me, that’s a clear signal that BrewDog were targeting homebrewers.
Click through to the download page, and not only do you get the recipes for free, but you can also invest in the company! Very clever marketing.
BrewDog is another company that uses a ton of video - and again their production values are not super slick. The quality is something many of us could managing with just a bit of training.
Some key points from this video:
there’s a lot of video content on the site and it’s clear the company’s skills have developed over time
BrewDog have a strong business focus - yes, they’re having fun, but they’re not wasting their time
analysing the company’s link profile will show that their overall approach has generated a lot of media coverage and links
video is well integrated into their strategy - they certainly don’t have a sole one for video and one for marketing.
This is a terrific case study.
5. DollarShaveClub.com launch a business with clever video
You’ve all probably heard of this video from DollarShaveClub.com - it’s funny, irreverent and tells the company story with aplomb! The CEO himself is featured in the video and his comic timing is superb.
I first came across this example on Mashable, Is This the Best Startup Launch Video Ever? - I find it hard to believe that was back in 2012!
Many top publications embedded the video and at the same time linked to the company. Some standout points from this video are:
the production values were high, even though the budget was relatively small
the video featured not only the CEO himself, but other staff in a hugely entertaining video
this is video marketing at it’s best - pure, simple and hugely effective.
Since publishing the article in 2012, Mashable have now added a compilation of other startup videos - a sure sign that the Dollar Shave Club sign has been a terrific success for them too!
6 important takeaways for SEOs considering video
1. Use video to lift the quality of your content by increasing value – because it’s the value that’s added, not just the video itself that attracts links.
I like to think of this as a ‘value matrix’ that has 3 elements:
the value you give the reader who reads your post or watches your video
the value you give the publisher who gives you a link
the value you bring to your client or company.
So for BrewDog, the value matrix would look like this:
This is a useful model to apply when you’re thinking of your own link campaigns.
2. Start watching lots of video and see how they’ve generated links for the companies behind them. What inspiration can you get from what others have created.
3. It’s not having the best video technology that matters. Many of the examples I’ve used, are created with the minimum of equipment. So don’t invest in technology until you’ve got some experience under your belt. You don’t have to be a genius.
4. Watch what other SEOs are doing. This is a tremendous case study from Andrew Dennis of Siege Media, where he recommends ‘Using video to enhance and promote content that is already successful on it’s own’ - this is an inspirational and practical post - a must-read if you’re interested in using video for SEO.
5. Writing for video simplifies your language. Speaking direct to camera or writing video scripts demands that you use everyday language - it can be a tremendous discipline that removes jargon and waffle from your content.
6. Repurpose video content in other types of content. Video helps you think in a visual way. A ‘talking head’ video can become boring quickly, no matter how good the information may be. So you’ve got to add visuals in the form of diagrams and subtitles. these video assets can be repurposed into other types of content - infographics, ebooks, presentations, etc.
YouTube is now the second biggest search engine on the planet so it’s an outlet you can’t ignore. But if you don’t make videos you’ll not get in!