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Online video is becoming more and more popular these days. Every year it seems it’s the “year of the video” – and with greater connectivity it’s just a matter of time.
But what are the best strategies to optimize your Youtube videos, so that they can be found more easily?
Youtube has its own internal SEO, which serves videos based on its own ranking.
Below, I’m going to break down the key elements Youtube factors in when serving suggested videos and some tips on how to optimize your channel.
POLISH IT UP
Some basic sprucing needs to be done with all channels to make them fit for an audience.
Ensure the About Us page is up to date with relevant content and links, have a clear avatar (aka profile pic) and ensure your channel name is clearly representative of your brand.
Have a background image that is set to be visible across all devices. (I recommended a template for social media backgrounds in a blog post I wrote recently).
Set up a few playlists to share your content, and set up a “featured video” as a trailer.
Remember that you can set separate trailers for both subscribers (for example, the latest video) and non-subscribers (like an ‘about us’ video).
TEXT, TITLE, TAGS AND THUMBNAILS
Google Search has always downranked blackhat SEO strategies, like using keywords or tags that don’t have anything to do with your content. Ensure your titles, tags and description copy is representative of your content.
Titles – ensure your keywords are first, and then your descriptions later, e.g., “How to Cook An Omelette – Mary’s Cooking Show”.
Descriptions – Have two sentences that describe your video (keeping in mind anything over this length will get cut off unless a user expands it).
YouTube recommends you also include hyperlinks back to your channel and subscribe URLs. You could also link to other playlists.
Some channels also include a default “About This Channel” paragraph at the bottom or a copy of your video transcript for SEO.
Tags – Start with the most specific tags you want to use first, then keep going til you run out of ideas!
It’s useful to include words from your title or channel name.
Some sites suggest using Google Keyword Planner to help come up with keywords for this purpose.
Thumbnails – while the featured thumbnail isn’t explicitly something to help SEO when your video is served as a related video you want your thumbnail looking ace, so people click through.
Take a specific photo for this purpose when creating content and upload a custom image.
Keep in mind that the thumbnails are seen in varying sizes, so ensure it’s effective even when small. Use bright colours and close-ups where possible.
TIME ON SITE
The longer people watch your individual videos and stay on your channel is important to Youtube.
You will want to consider using all the tools available to make that easier for audiences to find your content and stick with it. Annotations are a helpful way to do this.
It can be a good idea to add a closing slide that highlights things like your channel name, encouraging your audience to subscribe and some related videos so people will stay on your channel rather than being directed straight to another video Youtube serves up.
Review your analytics to see which videos are most popular in relation to your watch time. To put your best foot forward, you might want to consider “Featuring” these as your trailer, or promoting these via social media or ads.
Annotations – These are the little text links that appear on youtube videos. These are useful for pushing people to “subscribe” or watch another video or playlist. Don’t have these set to open in a new window, because that will reduce your time on site.
Put these in the middle of the video frame, not the top or bottom so they aren’t interrupted by ads or titles when embedded on external sites.
Featured Content annotations – these are little invisible squares you can draw over content in your video.
The Featured Content could be a thumbnail, or a video promoting another video you’ve got. Using this technique is how Youtubers create those clickable previews of another video.
Playlists – These are a great way to surface more of your content. Playlists don’t just need to be “latest” content.
Consider how to surface your content around themes or seasonally, e.g., “Recipes for Mums or “Egg-based Recipes”.
Street Cred is all about how people interact with your content (this is my term, obviously, not Youtube’s!).
I’ve already mentioned how long a viewer watches your content is counted, but things like if they “like” or “dislike” your content or if viewers write comments. Encouraging viewers to like or comments is useful both in annotations and in videos using verbal callouts.
Social sharing is a factor in Youtube SEO and if other websites mention or embed your videos.
Consider your marketing plan and how you’re sharing your content. Google Plus is an easy way to get your content shared, and it is said to prioritise content that has a Google Plus presence.
How are you going to optimise your Youtube channel?
Polish up the basic channel design – About Us, Title, Background Image, Avatar.
Look at your Description Text, Title, Tags and Thumbnails.
Increase your viewer’s time on site by using things like title slides and annotations
Make it social and sharable. Interactions on your video increase it’s Youtube search ranking.
In October and November, I made a shortlist of the key dates, quirky holidays and special days to keep in mind as a go-to list for social media community managers looking for ideas for content.
This month, I’ve noted down the special days coming up in December. Believe it or not, Christmas isn’t the only thing happening this month!
Hopefully, these days will give you some inspiration when coming up with your content calendar for next month!
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Day of the Ninja
Tropfest | Supergirl premieres FOX8
Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day
AACTA Awards 8:30pm Seven
Chocolate Covered Anything Day
Carols in the Domain on Seven
International Dalek Remembrance Day
Date Nut Bread Day
Festivus (for the Seinfeld fans in the room! ;))
Eggnog Day | Christmas Eve
Boxing Day | Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
New Years Eve
Any extras to add? Let me know in the comments!
It’s coming up to November – and that means NaNoWriMo is fast approaching! It’s the month where you turn up the fan to beat the heat, shut down Facebook and commit to writing a 50,000-word novel.
The NaNoWriMo site has plenty of resources to get you started, but here are a few bits and pieces I’ve found on the internet which might help motivate you.
1. Plan it
This scrap of paper outlining JK Rowling’s Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix plotline emerged in 2014.
It cemented the fact that the Harry Potter series came from the mind of a person who scribbled, swore and reworked her plot details until they were solidified. The hard work of mere Muggles can create some pretty incredible pieces of magic – and gives us a bit of inspiration that our coffee-stained napkins with plot outlines might actually be worth something.
2. Do it in 30 days
This Reddit thread recently asked the question “Writing is usually a slow and careful process, but do you know of any authors who wrote decent work in a very short space of time?”.
The answers are pretty interesting and remind us that yes, we actually can move a mountain (of words) in 30 days!
Some standouts are:
– Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days.
– Stephen King wrote The Running Man in one week. A 104,000-word book.
– Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying over the course of 6 weeks, writing from midnight to 4 am while we worked at a power plant. He didn’t change a word of it.
And, admittedly, many classic writers were allegedly fuelled by substances much harder to acquire these days.As to whether they are fact or fiction, it’s a bit harder to tell.
However, apparently Ray Bradbury was using the library typewriter, for which he was charged every hour – so he HAD to work quickly!
3. Google Doc it
If you’re working on Google Docs irrespectively, why not start with a fresh manuscript layout from the beginning to get you in the zone?
This Google Doc template is formatted to be double-spaced, with some tips for how to structure a manuscript for editors. Get the template here.
4. Keep quiet
While it’s tempting to tell the world that you’re getting involved in NaNoWriMo, so your friends hold you to it, psychology suggests that you’re less likely to complete a task if you tell people about it.
There’s research – from back in the 1920s – that suggests that telling people your goals gives you the warm and fuzzies that you would usually get when you complete the project … which means that you don’t push yourself to finish it because you’ve already got the warm-fuzzy reward by telling people.
Here’s a rad TED talk about it with some ideas on how to talk about it, without shooting yourself in the foot.
5. Stop the noise
Keep getting sucked into the Facebook vortex? Add this nifty little extension to your Chrome browser to block every social media site so you can get writing!
Need more? Check out the NaNoWriMo site and get involved in the awesomeness!
Good luck on your NaNoWriMo-ing!
Many smaller businesses struggle with finding free image libraries that look good. Creating content is a challenge when you don’t have the budget for stock library subscription and don’t have the time to ask permission to use photos.
Many small businesses need to wade in the waters of relying on free Creative Commons content – but never fear. Just because it’s free, it doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.
For those new to it, Creative Commons is the opposite of copyright. Images under the Creative Commons license means that anyone can use the images for free. However, there are six creative commons licenses which outline additional rules for how you can use every specific image: whether you need to attribute it, whether you must use it non-commercially, or whether you are not allowed to create a derivative work.
However, there is one killer license under Creative Commons which is useful if your job requires you create a lot of content in a hurry. That is the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. It means that you can use the content for free, including commercially, and not attribute it.
Here’s my list of sites that have stunning images, all of which are licensed under CC0 which means they are totally legal to use for whatever you want.
I’ve put them into categories to make it a bit easier to find what you’re after and I’ve put a ‘fave’ next to the sites I particularly love.
Straight Up Stock Photo Libraries
Start Up Stock Photos
Need some pictures of some cool kids with laptops in a warehouse doing some crazy Silicon Valley-style tech stuff? This site nails it, with loads of photos of tech start-ups. It’s in the name!
An iWatch, corn, a snowy wood. This site is beautiful site getting stock photos of thing you’d need fairly often.
Just watch out for the sneaky site design. Scroll down to get to the free pics as the ones at the top need to be bought.
Check out StokPic.com
This site is the arm of a web design site, where there is a wide variety of high-quality stock photos in categories like business, health, tech, food, sport, fitness. They’ve also got templates and icons too.
Check out I’m Creator
Plixs is a stunning stock photo site that you should totally bookmark. Beautiful shots of cities, surfers, snoozy dogs, cautious debutants and carefree goats. Get it in on it.
U Pic M
“U Pic M” is a CC0 site with a good variety of stock photos covering urban, landscapes, food and people looking into the distance.
This site is a good stock library for your day-to-day stock photo needs – ice-cream, a path in the woods, a garage, a photographer.
The other site I also want to highlight is Wikimedia – the media arm of Wikipedia. Now, not every photo is CC0, but it’s a great place to find very specific shots of obscure things.
Need a shot of a cat yawning or stretching? Or playing with yarn? It’s got it! Just check the attribution in the corner of each image to see if it’s CC0 or requires attribution.
Daily Life Shots
These beautiful photos cover urban life: whether ti’s a train tunnel, street art or a person wandering on a beach at dusk.
Skitterphoto is a stock image library that focuses more on daily life. Bicyclists, boxers, coffee and ducks are the essentials you’ll find here.
Snapwire Snapsis another beautiful Tumblr, with photos attributed via CC0. The shots are urban life – close up of flowers, a bored girl on a car trip, a lemon dissected on a bench, or a man tipping his toes in the water at dawn.
Je Shoots is a site from a photographer who wants photos to be free. This site is a sweet resource for urban environments and daily life shots.
MoveEast is a Portuguese photographer taking photos of his travels. Many of his photos are of urban crowds like music festivals, cycling races, sports crowds or magic shows. Ace shots if you’re looking for shots to show a city alive.
Pexels is great stock image library for beautiful landscapes, cityscapes, and animals.
Jay Mantri is a photographer taking incredible landscape shots and close-up shots of objects like wood, bedsheets and elephants, kindly releasing his work as CC0.
Unsplash is a site with series of very captivating photos of landscapes and nature. These would be beautiful for inspirational posters – or your computer desktop!
Little Visuals is a site that no longer updates, but is a stunning selection of landscapes and macro shots.
This site is a Tumblr of stunning landscapes and textures with high exposure.
Travel Coffee Book
Travel Coffee Book is a site documenting travel photos. Covering a wide variety of locations, which is a good site that might be of use if you need pictures of a particular place – but, sorry, it’s not searchable.
Life Of Pix
A man holding a firecracker, the mountains outside the view of a train dining car or the view over a foreign city. Life Of Pix is a stunning collection of urban and landscape photos that are a unique take on the world.
SplitShire is a collection of photos that fall more into the category of ‘art’. These would accompany beautiful powerpoints or ad campaigns – but cover a rich variety of areas, from automotive, technology, fashion to interiors.
This site would fall into the category of ‘art’ more than generic stock photos. Beautiful shots of a man eating fistfuls of cheezels, a set of torn up jeans or an old, tired security guard at the end of his shift. These are stunning shots – but might not be for your everyday post!
This site is a collection of stunning food based stock photos. This photographer and his girlfriend cook and take snaps of these mouth-watering meals and categorize them for you to use for free.
Any others I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!
The automation of social media has a bit of a bad rep. We’ve seen a lot of small businesses and overworked social media peeps just cross-post content between social networks. They do this hoping that if they get their message out on every social network, it will result in more business.
The classic case of this is “push my Facebook posts to Twitter” or “push my Instagram to Twitter”. We know this is bad practice because it neglects the audience on the “automated” social channel (looking at you, Twitter.)
The reality is that different types of people use specific social media platforms. If an audience is on Facebook, it’s possible they’re not on Twitter. If an audience is on Linked In, they might not be on Facebook. It’s about knowing who uses your business, and which social network they are on. Just manage a few social networks and nail it.
It’s just not even worth setting up an automated feed if that community isn’t going to be engaged (and it’s possible that that community isn’t even there.)
The other risk of automation is when things auto-post beyond our control. There’s nothing worse than posting a Facebook post that has a typo or incorrect info – only to discover it was already sent out to Twitter and Linked In too. Damage control can be tough when you don’t remember to pull it down fast enough.
Now that we’ve moved on and tackled the bad boy side of automation of social networks – let’s look at it the way how automation can be a kickass tool to help manage social media more effectively.
Recipes For Awesomeness
IFTTT is a user-friendly site that connect the APIs of various sites together in ‘recipes’, so that “if” a certain task happens “then” this action happens. IFTTT stands for “If This Then That” – so it’s kind of in the name!
Now, each recipe does just one thing – so if you want many things to happen, you will probably need to set up multiple recipes.
The other thing is that you can create your own recipes. If these aren’t quite what you’re after, they’re pretty easy to set up and customise.
Below are a few recipes that might be useful in helping you manage your social media!
DIY Social Media Monitoring
Want to see if someone mentions your business or account across social media? Pull that into a Google Doc. You could then do an audit of seeing how often people are posting, the kind of comments, the frequency and to what kind of things people respond.
IF someone uses a Twitter hashtag, THEN pull it into a Google Doc | Check it out
IF someone mentions you on Twitter, THEN pull it into a Google Doc | Check it out
IF someone mentions you on Instagram, THEN pull it into a Google Doc | Check it out
IF someone mentions your site on Reddit THEN push it onto Slack | Check it out
Find Your Super Fans And Build Community
It’s essential to get to know your loyal customers and engage with them. Building a relationship with them is Marketing 101 to increase their likelihood of returning. These tools will help you find your community.
IF someone sends you a Twitter @mention, THEN add them to a Twitter list. | Check it out
IF people follow you on Twitter, THEN add them to a Google Doc | Check it out
Archiving Your Gold
Don’t trust the intern and want to keep an eye on what they’re posting? Pull all your social media posts into Google Docs to you can look like you’re working on spreadsheets but you’re really stalking them. Just kidding – as if we have interns!
But seriously, though, this is a useful set of tools for archiving your content. If you have evergreen content, you could even consider re-serving the content later.
If you are posting content for a sales client, and you need proof of posting, this can be a convenient, great way to record your activity.
IF my brand Twitter account posts something, THEN archive to Google Docs | Check it out
IF my brand Instagram account posts something, THEN archive to Google Drive| Check it out
IF my brand Facebook page posts something, THEN archive to Google Docs | Check it out
IF my WordPress blog posts a new blog, THEN create a backup in Google Drive | Check it out
IF my bit.ly account created a Bitly link, THEN record all the details in a Google Doc | Check it out
This one might not be for everyone. With the flexibility of tools like Hootsuite, which can manage multiple social media accounts, using Google Calendar to do it might be a bit redundant. However, I can totally see how someone creating a content calendar THEN copying and pasting content to schedule it can be exhausting and a bit of a time suck, so this might be the perfect set up for some.
Obligatory warning: beware the typos and sending out automated content if you’re not sure exactly when and where it’s going out. You need to be active to monitor the responses.
IF post is in Google calendar, THEN post to Twitter. | Check it out
IF post is in Google calendar, THEN post to Facebook. | Check it out
This isn’t for the faint-hearted or pages with a lot of traffic. But if you’ve got a small business and wanted to respond to customer comments or queries on the go, you can get notified via SMS when someone gets in touch.
If you run a big page or community – don’t to this. Switch off your computer, have a bath and some downtime!
IF someone sends a message on Facebook, THEN get an SMS | Check it out
IF someone sends a message on Twitter, THEN get an SMS | Check it out
Update profile pics across your network
If you’re the kind of person who creates novelty avatars for Halloween and Christmas (I secretly am!), then this is one which might be handy. Update all your social network profile pictures in one go, based off what your Facebook page has. Just remember to save a copy of the original! ;)
IF my Facebook Page profile picture changes, THEN update my Twitter Profile | Check it out
IF my Facebook Page profile picture changes, THEN update my Google Plus Profile | Check it out
Boost your SEO
Let’s be honest – the only reason people use Google Plus is to help increase their SEO, not as a social network. For this reason, I’ll let this auto-posting recipe slide! ;)
IF you post to Facebook, THEN post to Google Plus | Check it out
IF you post a WordPress blog, THEN post to Google Plus | Check it out
Pin your Instagram photos to a board
If you’re a big Pinterester, it’s pretty likely you post the photos you Instagram to a Pinterest board manually as it is.
This recipe just pops those shots straight on Pinterest. Use this recipe if you actively maintain other Pinterest boards and this saves you posting things you’d manually upload anyway!
IF you post to Instagram, THEN post to Pinterest | Check it out
Are there any additional recipes you’ve created? Share them in the comments – I’d love to check them out!
In September, Facebook announced that they are creating animated profile pictures to personal accounts. It will be launching very soon. And while it’s met with some excitement, I think we can agree that it might soon become a bit of an animation overload. Let’s face it – if we can remember the lessons of websites from the 90s, it’s that things shouldn’t animated ev-er-y-where!
What do we know so far?
The first thing to keep in mind is that this is from your mobile device only. It’s a small looping video that you can take live, or select from your library. Videos are likely to be quite short, around 1 or 2 seconds.
How do you set it?
For those who don’t want to sit through Facebook’s promo video, here’s the rundown with screengrabs from it:
On your mobile, head to your profile, then select your profile picture to edit it.
Select upload a video or take a video.
If you’re recording the video – it’s lights, camera, action!
That’s it! Done! Your profile pic will now animate!
However, because it looks like you can also upload pre-recorded videos, there’s no reason you can’t have some fun and create an animated profile picture using stop-motion wizardry.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration for how you can make some killer stop-motion profile pics, you’ll want to look at Vine, the six-second video platform.
People have been creating some pretty incredible videos for a while there. These might give you some sweet-as cool ideas of what you could do with your Facebook profile pics!
Inspired by these selfies? What are you going to create?
To start with, I think I’m going to go for something a little more subtle!