Monday, September 10, 2012

Creating a Video SEO Strategy Is Hard - But Worth It!

Why is Video SEO So Blasted Hard?

Sticks of dynamite strapped to a timer
Ever since I attended MozCon 2012 last July I have been on the video SEO warpath. It all started when Paddy Moogan uttered the words “Put an embed code in an embed code.” I felt like jumping up and down, shouting “Eureka!” and running around the room.  Aside from enthusiasm…perhaps one of my most valuable personality traits (although my kids would probably argue that it isn’t a virtue) is my tenacity. Right now, the focus of that tenacity is learning how to improve the SEO on the 100 or so videos produced by the company where I work as an in-house SEO strategist.

Here are the challenges: 

  1. All of our videos are posted on our YouTube channel first, then embedded in our site.
  2. Most of our videos are product promotion videos, not the best content for YouTube.
  3. None of our videos had transcripts (We began doing them 3 months ago).
  4. Video search results deliver visitors to our YouTube channel instead of our site.
  5. Visitors who grab our embed code are linking to our YouTube channel, not to our site.

Drawing of a lighbulb
Here’s a plan to make the most out of your Video SEO:

Step 1 – Transcribe Your Video

Thanks to some great blog posts by ReelSEO, I found a great site called where I could transcribe videos, including timings down to the millisecond. The site also functions as a video search engine “community” that allows members to add translations in any language to any video on the site. It’s free and easy to use.

While there are some good, low-cost transcription services available, you may decided to transcribe your videos in-house. Many of our products are highly technical in nature and services using speech-recognition software are usually not precise with the technical terms & that could make us look unprofessional. We probably would have had to spend a lot of time going back in and editing anything we’d gotten from a service, so in the long run this was more cost-effective.

DotSub makes it extremely easy to export the completed transcript and upload to YouTube. My biggest recommendation to anyone who’s created their own transcript is to disable the speech-recognition automated machine transcripts on YouTube once you’ve uploaded your “real”  transcription. “What machine transcriptions?” you ask? Trust me. Go to one of your videos right now and click on the “CC” icon in the lower left tray of the video screen and enable captions on a video with Google’s machine transcriptions.  Enough said…

Step 2 – Make sure the transcriptions are posted on your site, not just as captions on YouTube

Out of everything I tried to address, this was the hardest solution to find. What I wanted for our existing videos was the ability to publish an interactive transcript beneath the video window inside a scroll box that would follow along as the video played and highlight the line of text that was being spoken at any given time. I also wanted that content to be shareable and I wanted visitors who potentially found a relevant line of text from the video in a search engine result to be able to click on that and have it take them to exactly that spot in the video.
Man raising his arms to the sky
I asked everywhere. I got lots of suggestions for HTML scroll boxes and javascript solutions, but nothing that did everything I was wanting…until I found CaptionBox. The only caveat is that it's a legacy product owned by It isn’t supported except for their enterprise customers, for which we weren’t ever going to have enough transcriptions done in a month to qualify. However, I contacted them and asked them if we could download and use the software. They said “Yes, as long as you understand it’s not supported so if there are bugs or coding issues it’s on you to fix them.” Hallelujah! I’d found my solution! Even better, there was a free WordPress plug in!

Here is an example of SpeakerText in action:

Step 3 – Create an Embed code that links back to your site instead of your YouTube channel

When the company started doing YouTube videos a few years back, there was little thought given to SEO. There was more concern about getting viewers, a very valid concern. The decision was made to create a YouTube channel. It’s gone pretty well. The channel has over 750K views and 745 subscribers. What we didn’t know was that YouTube might be a great place for our instructional webinar videos, but it’s not the best choice for our product videos. We didn’t foresee handing over a click and delivering potential customers to YouTube instead of to our product pages.

What’s even worse?

When someone grabbed the embed code off of the embedded YouTube videos on our site, they too were delivering our potential visitors…that’s right…you guessed it…to YouTube.

Paddy Moogan’s blog post Getting Links and SEO Value from your YouTube Videos contains an update with a handy little tool created by Sean Lind that automatically creates an embed code in a video embed code. Ah, the magic of that phrase…”an embed code in an embed code.” Every time I think about it I get lost in a daydream of possibilities….Okay, back to the task at hand.

You can view an example of how the embed code looks in the screenshot below:

Picture of a Video Start Screen

It's not beautifully styled, but adding a nice looking button with expanding box for the script are easy to do. Here's an example of how the embed code renders on another Website when a visitor copies and pastes it into their source code:

Video by CCI Solutions

Still, a problem remains. If the visitor chooses, they can still opt to grab the YouTube Embed code, putting us right back at square 1 with all those visitors being directed back to YouTube instead of us.

Step 4 – Create a Plan that Secures Ownership of Yuur Future Video Content

The best solution moving forward will be to use a service like Wistia to privately host the videos. This way, we will get 100% credit for creating and posting the content and any shares or embeds will direct visitors back to our site instead of YouTube. The beauty of this is that even though our content is hosted by a 3rd party, for Google’s purposes the content is ours and coming from us. Now, you might ask the question “But what about the YouTube Channel that you’ve invested years and thousands of hours in building? Will it be abandoned? It’s got over 1 million views!” Sit tight. There’s an answer.

Step 5 - Use YouTube as a syndication tool, not a content creation tool.

I noticed SEOMoz is doing a really good job at this. They publish new videos on their site first. Then, after they’re established as the original source for that great content, they republish the content on YouTube. Sometimes it’s 6 months or more later. For example, I went to YouTube to find the most recent WhiteBoard Friday, and the newest one there is from Thanksgiving of last year. This is a pretty effective compromise. It establishes them as the authority source of the original content, yet still shares with billions of eyeballs in the YouTube community.

I am pretty “service agnostic” when it comes to good 3rd-party private video hosting. Since we haven’t yet settled on one, and things change pretty fast, here’s a short list of video solutions you might consider as you tackle your own Video SEO project:

3rd Party Video Hosting

If you decide to host your videos yourself, here are some helpful links:
You’ll just need to be sure to embed your video in an HTML5 player with flash fallback. DO NOT use an iframe! Search engines cannot crawl the content enclosed within an iframe. Now, if you are like me, the last three sentences aren’t too far away from pure Greek. That’s why, for us, 3rd part video hosting is going to be the way to go. Still, should you adventure down the yellow brick road of hosting them yourself, here are some good, customizable video players:
I would be remiss if I didn’t credit some very helpful people who helped us make a plan and give direction to our Video SEO Strategy:

Getting Video Results in Google - Phil Nottingham, Distilled
Building Links with Video Content - Jacob Klein, Distilled
Getting Links and SEO Value from Your YouTube Videos - Paddy Moogan, Distilled
SEOMoz Q & A - A great community for SEOs

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Technical SEO Issues Holding Your Site Back?

The technical aspects of your Web site are similar to the foundation of a building. If they are well-made and implemented properly, you have a sound base for a beautiful structure. If your foundation sucks, it doesn't matter how pretty the house is you want to load on top of it. The end results won't be pretty.

Here are some tips on how to identify and plan improvements to your technical SEO.

1. Make sure you are set up and connected to Google Webmaster Tools.

Guys, there is so much free and great information on Google Webmaster Tools that you are really missing out if you aren't monitoring this at least once a week.  In fact, you could be making mistakes that are costing your business 10's to 100's thousands of dollars. Do you know what I found in the sites I manage?
  • Duplicate content, tons of it
  • Pages that should have 404s that don't
  • malfunctioning 301 redirects
  • malformed URLs  

2. Use's tool Open Site Explorer

Using this tool you can find out a whole heck of a lot about any page on the Internet. You can discover what other pages are linking to a page (both internal and external), how difficult it might be for that page to rank in the SERPs and how many of your site's internal pages link to that page.

3. Monitor your 404 errors

Okay people. Listen carefully. 404s aren't iinheritantly bad.  Sometimes a 404 is the most relevant result for a page, especially if you are a large e-commerce site and no product is closely equivalent to a product that's gone obsolete. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to put "catch alls" in place to mask your 404 errors so you are unable to see what content from your site is no longer desired or relevant to be indexed in the SERPs.

Why is that a problem?

Because there may be products or pages that you decide "Hey, there's an equivalent to that product. We need to redirect it to the new version!" Well, if you have catch-alls in place that prevent you from seeing where the true 404 pages are, you wouldn't ever know where those potentially relevant pages are.

Have more technical SEO questions for e-commerce sites?

Watch Everrett Sizemore's Great Webinar on the most common technical SEO mistakes for E-commerce sites at

P.S. Everett's webinar is about 90 minutes long and full of great specfics for e-commerce SEO. However, you need to be a Pro member of SEOMoz in order to view the webinar. I highly suggest you join if you aren't already a member. About 6 months ago I posted a question in "Which paid SEO service is worth the money?" The answer was unanimous...SEOMOz. Since then I attended MozCon. If you are an aspiring SEO and you aren't part of the SEOMoz community, people will suspect that you are either dishonest or you don't know what you are doing. I am not even an affiliate. I don't care about making money off of sign-ups. I just am telling you that you need to sign up and use their tools and be part of the community.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Only Google Could Remove “Exact” Matches from Adwords and Spin It as an Improvement!

Today in my Google Adwords account I was met with a notification that said:

New! Improvements coming to exact match and phrase match
Target your ads better. In mid-May, our improved exact match and phrase match options will include misspellings, plurals, and other close variants of your keywords.

My first thought was “How can targeting get any tighter than by using Exact matching on my Adwords keywords?” Well, apparently Google thought the way to make Exact matching better was to get rid of it. 

According to Google’s information in the “Learn More” article, "your ads may show for searches that include misspellings,  singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations and accents closely related to your “exact” match keyword." Hmmm, that just doesn’t sound very “exact” to me.

In the next paragraph, Google goes on to say, “This means you can broaden your reach to customers who search for close variants of your keywords, while still having more precise control over which search terms trigger your ads.”


This isn’t “more precise control.” This is complete loss of control. If I want to target a misspelling, then I target a misspelling…well, at least I used to. Now I apparently have no choice and Google has taken that over for me.

Experienced Adwords campaign managers know full well that a searcher’s intent can be quite different based on things as simple as singular or plural keywords. For example, a searcher typing in “video camera” most likely has a quite different intent than a searcher that types “video cameras.”

And what about those misspellings? A lot of smaller companies have found the one way the can compete with big companies is by bidding on misspellings that their competitors ignore. Generally those misspellings are extremely inexpensive clicks because there’s so much less competition. Well, guess what? Not only will the big companies ads be showing for those misspellings, the cost-per-click for what used to be affordable terms will skyrocket to 3-4, maybe even 10 times higher in price.

How many of you Adwords campaign managers out there think that Google’s removal of “Exact” matching is a good idea? How many of you have used "exact" match to target valuable, low-cost and low competition misspellings? Sound off in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Best Web Directories Additional

Web Directories for Site Submission Sorted by PageRank - Update February 15, 2013

*This is an addendum containing even more high PageRank Web Directories in addition to my earlier post 100+ High PageRank Web Directories for Site Submission [This post was updated on 2/15/13].

Save yourself the time and agony of weeding through old, inaccurate, unmaintained lists of Web Directories that no longer have accurate PageRank or cost information. I personally went through every one of these directories and checked PageRank, cost information, and made sure the Directory was still "alive" and functioning. Look for a soon-to-be published future post on how to properly submit your Web site to a Web directory and why every Webmaster needs to be disciplined about submitting and maintaining those submissions. You will notice a Weblog and a few RSS Directories thrown into the mix. They had really high PageRank so I felt it was important to include them as possibilities.

DirectoryPageRank     Cost
metafilter.com7$5.00 One Time
pioneerdir.com7$34.95 One Time
specialdir.com6$18.95 One Time
alivedirectory.com6$34.95 One Time
supremedir.com6$24.95 One Time
webmaster-directory.org4$29.99 One Time
earthwebdirectory.com5$45.00 One Time
iozoo.com5€ 29.90 One Time
yalwa.com5Free (yearly)
dirbuzz.com5$59.99 One Time
ubublu.com5$58.99 One Time
top5jamaica.com4$5.00 One Time
linkcentre.biz4$5.00 One Time
humanediteddirectory.net4$5.00 One Time
hivethrive.com4$10.95 One Time
baminfo.com4$30.00 One Time
dirmania.org4$10.00 One Time
cdhnow.com4$49.95 One Time
directory.v7n.com4$49.95 One Time
dirranks.com3$30.00 One Time
ukzone.info3£ 29.50 One Time
directorydean.com3$39.95 One Time
submit-link.org3$19.00 One Time [broken]3Free

Many of the directories listed here as "Free" also have paid upgraded submissions that include faster review times or even upgraded or premium listings. Depending on your specific business model and budget, some of these may be more right for you than others. Keep in mind that just because the directory's home page might have a decent PageRank, the page your listing ends up on might not. If you can pay a little bit of money to be listed in a top tier category, it might be worth it.

Have additional suggestions or notice any errors in my information? Please let me know in the open comments and I will update this page with your information.

Happy submitting!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day Parting Reports-Google Analytics & Ad Scheduling in Google Adwords

How to Use Day Parting Reports in Google Analytics to Set Up Ad Scheduling in Google Adwords

Are you using Ad Scheduling in your Adwords Campaigns? 

Setting up Ad Scheduling can save you up to 75% on your Adwords costs. Here's a tutorial... 

  1. Log in to Google Analytics and click Standard Reporting in the Top Nav Menu

  2. Click "Advertising" in the left nav menu.

  3. Click "Adwords" (this appears when you click "Advertising")

  4. Click "Day Parts"

  5. In the upper right of the resulting screen - set your date range to cover your website's complete history

  6. Click "Day of Week" [Screenshot 1] 

  7. Google Analytics > Advertising > Day Parts
    Screenshot 1 - Google Analytics - Advertising > Day Parts
  8. Click "0" which represents Sunday [Screenshot 2]

  9. Screenshot 2 - Google Analytics Advertising>Day Parts>Day of Week>Day 0
    Important Note: You need to know that "0" is Sunday. This is absolutely crucial to understand. If you don't take this into account, your ad scheduling could end up by being off an entire day.

  10. In the resulting screen [Screenshot 3], make a note of what hours during the day you got sales or leads. Hours are listed in military time (or a 24 hour clock)

  11. Screenshot 3 - Google Analytics - Advertising > Day Parting > Day of Week > Hour of Day
  12. Click the "back" button to go back to the list of days and click "1" which is Monday

  13. Again, in the resulting screen, make a note of what hours during Mondays you got sales or leads

  14. Repeat this process for every day, through Day 6 - which is Saturday

  15. Now Log in to Google Adwords and click the "Campaigns" tab

  16. Click your first campaign and click the "Settings" tab

  17. Scroll down to "Advanced Settings" and click on  "Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling" [Screenshot 4]

  18. Screenshot 4 - Google Adwords - Campaign Settings - Advanced Settings
  19.  In the resulting screen, click on "Edit" [Screenshot 5]

  20. Screenshot 5 - Google Adwords - Campaign Settings - Edit Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling
  21. A window will pop up that looks like this [Screenshot 6] - In the upper right select "24 hour clock" so that your hours will match up with your notes from Google Analytics. 

  22. Screenshot 6 - Google Adwords - Ad Scheduling Pop up Window
    Important Note: You need to know that the hours listed in both your Google Analytics accounts and Google Adwords are based on your account settings. Make sure they are the same, otherwise your ad scheduling could be off by several hours. In my case both my accounts are set to Pacific time, so 9AM means 9AM Pacific time.

  23. Remembering that "0" is Sunday - adjust your ad scheduling to show ads only during the times your site has had conversions.

  24. When finished adjusting the times, click "Save"

  25. Repeat this process for each of your campaigns

  26. Voila! You've successfully implemented Ad Scheduling in your Adwords campaigns!
Day parting can save you as much as 75% on your Google Adwords advertising expenses. It will direct money that you were once wasting on days and hours that weren't converting and allow you to put more money into the times and days of the week that are producing good results. You should see a significant improvement in conversion rates and a decrease in your bounce rates. Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear your thoughts and how you've used different methods to improve your Google Adwords campaign performance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Identify Negative Keywords that are Costing You Money in Google Adwords

Spend 5 Minutes on One Easy Lesson That Will Save You Thousands of Dollars in Google Adwords

Read This Post - Identify Your Negative Terms & You'll Save Thousands in Google Adwords!

I know many of us have a love hate relationship with Google. I am the same. One minute they are giving you a genius free tool like Google Analytics and the next minute they are trying to convince you there's a party going on at Google+, when everyone's really still on Facebook.

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Megan at Google. She's on the Google Adwords support team. I've been doing Adwords a long time, so I was pretty confident that my keywords were good and that my campaigns were well-organized. She even gave me a compliment and said my campaigns were the best she'd seen in over a!

However, there was one thing, she said, it seemed I had missed....negative keywords.

She was right. I knew about negative keywords. I am working in a pretty tight niche, so I really didn't think to worry about it. It wasn't quite like my last project for a company called "Kingdom." There, we actively added terms like "Magic Kingdom" to our negative keywords list because we weren't selling anything Disney-related and we certainly didn't want to pay Disney's pay-per-click prices for traffic that wouldn't find anything relevant to Disney Worl on our site.

What Megan showed me next blew me away....

Follow me and I'll show you how to identify all the keywords you need to add to your "Negative Keywords" list in your Google Adwords campaigns.

  1. Login to Google Adwords
  2. Click on the "Keywords" Tab
  3. Set your Date Range for "All Time" 
  4. Click on the "See Search Terms" drop down box and select "View All" [Screenshot]
  6. Voila! You are now taken to a list of keywords real people typed into Google that triggered your add
  7. Survey the list, and check the box next to any words you feel are irrelevant or should trigger an ad
  8. Scroll back up to the top of the page and click the "Add as Negative Keyword" box [Screenshot]
  9. Voila times two! You wil now see a red "Excluded" icon next to the words you selected

Don't worry, if you change your mind later and want to reactivate some of your negative keywords you can. Just click the checkbox next to your terms and select "Add as keyword." Want to see something REALLY interesting? Try downloading the list into an Excel spreadsheet and add up how much you've spent paying users to click on the keywords you've now identified as "negative." That total is how much money you've wasted on irrelevant clicks up until now. 

Did you find this information helpful? How much money have you spent on irrelevant clicks? Leave me a comment. I'd love to hear your results!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

High PageRank Web Directory Listings

Best Web Directories

Top 100 Web Directories for Site Submission Sorted by PageRank

*Updated on 2/15/2013 - Updated all Directory information - Some directories were deleted because they are no longer in Google's Index and many actually improved in PageRank since this time last year.

I put together this list because I had trouble finding good current lists, with up-to-date pricing and PageRank for good Web Directory Submissions. I hope this is helpful to those of you who have run across the same outdated Websites I kept finding when I was looking for good directories for my client's Website submissions.

DirectoryPageRank     Cost$299/year
direktory.org8$39.95/One Time
botw.org7$299.95 Once or $149.95/Yr 7Free
clora.net6$49.95 One Time
whatuseek.com6$24.99 Once or $16.99/Yr
joeant.com6$39.99 One Time
killerstartups.com6Free$39.95 One Time
bhanvad.com5$25.00 One Time
ehef-newdelhi.org6$48.00/One Time
fluser.com5$27.50 One Time
uncoverthenet.com5$159 Once or $59 Per Year 5$35.00 One Time
abilogic.com5$15.00 One Time
pulso.org5$35.00 One Time
noflux.net5$36.99 One Time
directory-web.net5$49.99 One Time
frontiereconomy.com5$19.95 One Time
suggest-url.org5$40.00 One Time
theredtree.com5$8.00 One Time
worldsiteindex.com5£ 7.99 One Time
splut.com5$15.95 One Time
elib.org59 Euros One Time
linksgiving.com5$29 Per Year
cannylink.com5$19.95 One Time
chiff.com5$297 Per Year
123world.com5$199 Per Year
isedb.com5Free [SEM sites only]
goguides.com5$69.95 One Time
allfreethings.com5$5.95 One Time
cantufind.com5$49.99 One Time
web-beacon.com5$39.99 One Time
wowdirectory.com5$43.00 One Time
findelio.com5Some Free or $40.00 One Time
dirjournal.com5$59.95/year or $159.95 One Time
dirmaxe.com4$37.37 One Time
adirect2z.com4£ 9.00 One Time
rlrouse.com4$49.95 One Time
refertus.info4Free [German and English]
clickey.com4Free - but currently broken
yeandi.com4$24.00 One Time
qango.com4$15.00 One Time
allthebizz.com4$15.00 One Time
dirbull.com4$66.98/One Time
keyadir.com4$9.99/One Time
nextsbd.com3$10.00 One Time
ijull.com3$7.99 One Time
catholic.org3PPC Paid Placements
smallerbizz.com3$10.00 One Time
cuedirectory.com3$67.99/One Time

Many of the directories listed here as "Free" also have paid upgraded submissions that include faster review times or even upgraded or premium listings. Depending on your specific business model and budget, some of these may be more right for you than others. Keep in mind that just because the directory's home page might have a decent PageRank, the page your listing ends up on might not. If you can pay a little bit of money to be listed in a top tier category, it might be worth it.

Have additional suggestions or notice any errors in my information? Please let me know in the open comments and I will update this page with your information.

Happy submitting!

Hungry for More? Checkout my follow up blog post conataining an additional 50+ High PR Web Directories - Click Here