Thursday, December 19, 2013

How SEO, Charity:Water and a Biggest Loser Contest Taught Me to Be the Mosquito in the Room

On August 20th, 2013, I was jealously and vicariously following the tweets coming out of #Inbound13 sponsored by HubSpot. Unable to attend this year, I was captivated by the energy emanating from this very special event. Then, I saw this tweet:


I hadn't even heard of Charity:Water before, but I had heard Dharmesh speak at MozCon 2013 and was struck by his authenticity and empathy as a person so I continued to follow the tweets that came during the next two days. First there was this one, containing a video that touched me in ways I cannot really explain:

A few moments after I saw this video, I ran across this Tweet (this one is from December but I could swear @ekatarina tweeted it from #Inbound13) :

Before I knew it, being the curious marketer that I am, I had set up my own campaign at Charity:Water and donated $5.00. Then the wheels got turning. What could I possibly do that would get people's attention? Enough attention that they would want to join me and donate to my Charity:Water campaign?

Here is where fate, and most likely, God intervened.

I had been vowing to start going to the gym to exercise and lose weight since the beginning of 2013. I had new running shoes and gear that I'd never used.

The first week of September at CCI Solutions, where I work as an in-house SEO, a flyer appeared in the lunch room promoting a "Biggest Loser" contest for employees. The contest was going to start September 27th and run to November 22nd, 2013.

I got to thinking, what if I tied my exercise and weight loss goals to my charity goals, and did something crazy like...run a half marathon if I meet my fundraising goal? I've never come close to running that far, ever, ever in my life. It would take Herculean effort and commitment...plus, the end results could be stunning. Imagine me, 80 pounds lighter? Now that's something I think even people I don't know very well would enjoy seeing...if only out of sheer wonder and disbelief Bingo. That was it.

I went home and talked all this over with my kids. This is exactly what I said to them, "You realize if I enter this Biggest Loser contest, I HAVE to win."  I told them that meant they wouldn't be seeing much of me and I would be spending 1-2 hours at the gym every day...being typical teenage boys, they were only too happy to hear I wasn't going to be around as much! :-)

And so it began. On September 27th I weighed in with 27 other co-workers and I pledged to not only win the contest, but to run a 5K every Saturday up until the Mercer Island Half Marathon in late March, for which I registered a team to run for Charity:Water.

On November 22nd, 8 weeks later, I won the Biggest Loser contest at work, having lost 10.75% of my overall bodyweight and keeping my commitment to run 5Ks every Saturday. My regimen had evolved into so much more than that, with me now putting in 2 hours of cardio ever single day, with only one day off in 8 weeks, and posting things like this on Facebook:



Then, everything rapidly went South. On November 26th, 4 days after winning the Biggest Loser competition at work and two days before Thanksgiving, I was diagnosed with pneumonia.  But after not improving over the next 10 days and ending up in the ER, it was determined that I didn't have pneumonia, but did have an enlarged heart. So the poking and the prodding and the prescriptions began and the workouts abruptly ended. I don't know whether it's good or bad but the weight loss has continued as I've been too sick to have much of an appetite...

But now what was I going to do about my Charity:Water effort?

I'm sure everyone would understand if I threw in the towel and just said I was too sick to do it. But, gosh darn it, I'm just not a quitter. I might not be able to talk, or to walk on a treadmill, or run a 5K, but by God I have a voice and a computer and I'm still breathing. So I decided to write and tell you my story.

Besides, there were already some amazingly supportive donors out there who had already contributed and I certainly wasn't going to let them down. And then there's the people of Orissa, India. When they get sick like I've been, their risk of death is exponentially higher and more sudden because they do not have access to clean running water like I do.

If I had to haul water 3 miles every day for my family while suffering from this illness, I would be dead. 

So, this is the story of what motivated me to exercise, lose weight and make a difference in the world. You see, it wasn't any one big live altering event. It was a sequence of a bunch of little things that all happened to converge in my life to inspire me to become an agent, a vehicle of change, not only for myself, but for other people in the world too.

Starting is the hardest part. Start today. Get up off that couch and commit to taking a walk once very day for an hour. Go outside and play with your children. Sign up for a 5K, even if you have to walk the whole damn thing....and while you are out there, changing your world, please take a few minutes and help me to keep the commitment I made to myself and the people of Orissa, India back in September.




Join me today and donate here: CharityWater.org


If you've already registered, you can join the team here:
https://myevents.active.com/

Come, run, live, donate and let's make the world a better place.

Be the Mosquito in the Room!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Google Finally Demystifies Structured Data Markup

In true Google fashion something new and awesome came online & it barely created a ripple in the chatter of the SEO community.

For more than a few years now the concept of semantic search has monopolized conversations about SEO. Awesomely smart technical SEOs like Richard Baxter, Dr. Pete Meyers & Ian Lurie have written posts, tutorials and made videos trying to guide the technically-challenged towards micro format Nirvana.

Complicating matters is Google, of course, who on the one hand espouses the importance of using markup from Schema.org to help search engines know more about a Web page's content and on the other hand, chooses not to display any of that markup much of the time. Because of this, many an astute and forward-thinking SEO has spent the time marking up pages only to go back and strip out all of the code because they assumed they must not have done it correctly because Google wasn't displaying a single bit of it.

Start Adding Structured Data Markup to Your Site Right Now!


In fact, in a Mozinar on the topic, Richard Baxter said that perhaps the most common mistake he saw people make was adding structured data and then impatiently removing it because they couldn't see it reflected in their SERP results.

Sometime last year, Google rolled out something new & nifty in Google Webmaster Tools called the Data Highlighter. It claimed that you could add Structured Data to any Web page without knowing or writing a lick of code. "Hallelujah!" - I thought. Well, it turned out to only be for Web pages that were about events, like concerts, book-signings, etc. While worthy I'm sure, this was completely irrelevant to my sites, which are mostly eCommerce...so, I went back to the drawing board, attempting to markup the pages myself.

One of my very small eCommerce sites runs on the 3DCart platform. It's a platform I strongly caution everyone against if you want to run a real business...but that's fuel for a separate blog post. Recently, 3DCart upgraded their software, claiming that they had implemented structured data as a built-in element to all 3DCart stores running on v6.0. Since my small site was running on the upgraded version, I went to view how many products were showing evidence of the new markup. Well, there were 2 out of 72 and they were the pages I had attempted to mark up myself.

Rather than call 3DCart technical support (whose nickname here in the building is "2DCart" - for many reasons), I decided to click on the "Data Highlighter" tool in GWT to find out if anything had changed there.

...and Voila!

What do you know? There it was, a tool that beautifully allowed me to highlight certain parts of the page, most importantly, reviews, and give them appropriate structured data markup with having to do anything by highlight and name it.

Check out this video to see how awesome and amazingly simple it is:



 (I am currently transcribing this video. The full transcript will be available within 24 hours and posted on this page)

Notice how the tool is smart and understands that you probably have many of pages that are similar when marking up product pages on an eCommerce site. No need to do each one, the tool transfers similar elements to all of your other pages that are structured in similar way. Very nifty. Thank you Google!

So to all you SEOs out there who are either technically challenged or don't have access to your source code...this one's for you. You no longer have any excuse for not implementing Structured Data!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How Google’s Keyword Planner Differs from the Old Google Keyword Tool


How  is Google's Keyword Planner different from the now obsolete Keyword Tool?


One of the exhilarating things about being an SEO is how fast and often things change. As most of you already know, Google's Keyword Tool has been retired and replaced with the Keyword Planner. Here is my take on what changed and some tips on getting down to the information you need. Please leave your comments and suggestions. I'd love to hear what you think about this change.

Key Differences between the Keyword Tool & Keyword Planner:

 

    1. Keyword Tool's default results showed broad match statistics. Keyword Planner's default is for exact match statistics. [see Tip #1 below]
      Single matchbook
      Exact Match Results


      Collection of matchbooks
      Broad Match Results



                       Versus

    2.  Keyword Tool showed statistics for desktop & laptop searches only. Keyword Planner shows search statistics across all devices.
      Laptop and desktop computers
      Statistics for Searches from Desktops & Laptops Only
      Versus                Multiple digital devices
                                           Searches across all devices
    3. Keyword Tool showed local & global monthly searches. Keyword Planner shows average monthly searches based on your specific Adwords targeting settings.    
       
      Flags of the World in a globe shape   Versus     American Flag


    4. Keyword Tool showed "Approximate Cost-Per-Click." Keyword Planner shows "Average Cost Per Click" and claims the data will be more accurate. I would love to hear your opinions about that!

The following columns once available in the Keyword Tool have been removed:

    Expired Stamp
    • "Ad Share" - Note: Google says it is working on something to replace this, but there's nothing there yet.
    • "Search Share"
    • "Local Search Trends" [See Tip #2]
    • "Extracted from Webpage" [See Tip #3] 

 

 

A Few Tips on using the new Keyword Planner:

    1. The only way to see traffic estimates for broad and phrase match is to add a keyword to your "Keyword Plan" and review traffic estimates there. You can no longer do research without logging into a Google Adwords account. If that chaps your hide, try some great alternatives to Google's Keyword Tool:  Wordstream's Keyword Tool, UberSuggest, SEMRush, SEOBook's Keyword Tool


    2.  The only way to view search trend data by month is to either scroll over an icon (which is impossible to share) or to export your keywords. To export, click the "Keyword Ideas" tab and then the download icon in the upper right of the dashboard. Select :Segment statistics by month" and "Excel CSV."


    3. Biggest Bummer: You cannot select specific keywords and download just those to Excel. You have to download the whole lot of them and sort through them in Excel.
      Mr. Yuck Face
      Yuck!!!
Now, let me know your thoughts in the comments. What do you think of this change in Google? What do you use for keyword research?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

10 Speakers I'd Love to See at MozCon in 2015 & Why!

MozCon 2014 was an amazing event. I was a little worried that after my euphoric reaction to MozCon 2012 that there was no way my second or third MozCons would live up to the first one. They both did and more. What was most delightful was that on my survey after  the 2012 event, one of the questions asked what speakers I would most like to see the following year. I think I put down 2 names (I'm sure there's a Mozzer somewhere who can verify this):

Avinash Kaushik
and
Hugh MacLeod

It was such a delightful surprise to find out that Avinash, someone who I've idolized for years, would be a speaker. Let me tell you, he did not disappoint...one of the most impassioned and entertaining presentations I've ever heard, anywhere, ever.

So, knowing that Moz would be sending out another survey this year, I had already been thinking about who I'd most like to see and hear speak at MozCon 2014. Here's my list. It's in no particular order, but hopefully it inspires you to check these people out because they all bring something different to the table.

Plus, at the end of this post is a survey. Vote for your favorite on this list or write in some suggestions of your own. I'll publish the results on my blog and send it on to the folks at Moz!


Brian Solis

Brian Solis - Brian is the author of Engage and The End of Business as Usual. He has his finger on the pulse of how people, indeed all of humanity is becoming part of the digital world. His insights are interesting, thought-provoking and would add a great element of discussion to Mozcon. What I really like best about Brian is he seems to be a keen observer. His mental notes about how different people, cultures and countries are interacting with the Internet are a good reminder (especially for Americans) that other countries are leading the charge...and they probably aren't who you think they are.





Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte - Nancy is the goddess of how to create a masterful presentation. Putting together a presentation that goes beyond bullet points and actually elicits emotions and creates  connections with our intended audience is crucial to being able to win over the hearts and minds of people we hope to influence. One of the recurring themes at this year's and even last year's MozCon was how to perfect a pitch and get the budget for projects. With presentation skills as crazy good as Nancy's, I imagine achieving those things might be a whole lot easier.






Manish Chowdhary


Manish Chowdhary - This is more of a personal recommendation. Manish is the founder and CEO of GoECart.com, a very interesting eCommerce platform. He has presented  to my company about 5 times now as we are considering GoECart for a complete "re-do" of our Web store. His passion and knowledge about a company and industry he clearly loves is inspirational and an example of what startup CEOs must learn how to do in order to build their businesses.







Ginny Redish



Ginny Redish - Goddess of conciseness and beautiful writing on
the Web. May we all aspire to convey our thoughts in a digital world as well as Ginny can do it. She could teach all of us "verbose" marketers a lesson or two. It is only fitting that what I say here is concise and encapsulates what Ginny is capable of sharing at an event like MozCon: She's awesome.







Waiting for Your Cat to Bark


Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg like David Meerman Scott are great advocates of new media and how the Internet and the ability for consumers to collaborate has turned marketing on its head. Their book, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark is an informative and entertaining read, and most noteworthy is the fact that these brothers managed to get their books on the New York Times Best Seller list without going through traditional media channels.







David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott - To me at least, David is the father of new media marketing. It's no coincidence that his flagship book is titled The New Rules of Marketing and  he was one of the first to communicate how consumers  are now the ones in control. His book might be considered "old" now but there are a lot of people who attend MozCon that probably need to convince their companies to wake up and smell the customer reviews (if they've even gotten this far)! I also just discovered that a new 4th edition of the book is now out an I would suggest to anyone who's never read his stuff, or who has the older edition, to step up and buy the new version.




Hugh MacLeod


Hugh MacLeod - Hugh is one of my all-time favorite cartoon artists and I think it's super cool that he also owns a vineyard. I
want him to come to Mozcon and draw a cartoon for the MozCon 2014 t-shirt and go out and drink wine with all of us...and of course share his quirky bent on the world, marketing and how ridiculous we all are.







Marty Neumeier


Marty Neumeier - As far as I'm concerned, absolutely everything you need to know about great branding you can learn from Marty's two books: The Brand Gap and Zag. Both of these you can read in a few hours and take weeks, months or even years to absorb. I think his ability to concisely communicate amazing information would make Ginny Reddish very happy. He strikes me as a guy with guts. I admire that. I'd love to hear him speak.






Seth Godin


Seth Godin is one of those authors and inspirational people that I just feel like I want to have the chance to meet at least once in person. His fire is clear. His passion is unquestionable. He is without a doubt a thought leader and deserves that title. Yet, somehow, I don't know that he would call himself that. He would probably "Zag" and choose something far more unique and provocative!







Robert Cialdini


Robert Cialdini - I started reading the revised version of Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion just two days after receiving a free copy from Wil Reynolds at MozCon 2013. I couldn't put it down. If you are a marketer and you haven't read this book, you need to go to your computer right now (oh wait, you're already there! lol) and just go to Amazon and order a copy for God's sake. Plus, he's a professor at ASU where I did my Master's degree in music, so that gives him bonus points in my book.


Now it's your turn. Take the survey. Cast your vote or suggest someone who's not on my list:

What do you think of my list? Leave a comment!



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Google Related Searches - No They Are Not Gone, They Just Moved

Okay all my fellow SEOs who have your panties in a wad. Sit down and have a listen.


Grumpy Baby meme - Google ruined my day!

On April 1st I posted in the SEOMoz Q & A that I was no longer seeing "Related Searches" as an option. I stomped my feet and pouted and no one really cared becase, apparently, most everyone was still seeing it at that point.

I have news for you. Google Related Searches Have Not Gone Away!

Happy baby meme - Woohoo!

They have just moved.

They are now located at the bottom of the Page 1 SERP. Voila! Problem solved...and now, it's just there. You don't have to jump through extra hoops. Thanks Google???? . :-)


Glenda the good witch with the Wiched Witch of the West

Here's a screenshot of where the information is now:

First Page of Google SERP Result



Who's the Boss Fan Fiction

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How to Set Up Remarketing Campaigns in Google Adwords!

  1. Navigate to Google Adwords “All Online Campaigns”
  2. Click the “Display Network” Tab
  3. Click the “Interests and Remarketing” Tab [Screenshot]
  4. Screenshot showing you how to select Interests and Remarketing for more specific choices in your remarketing campaigns
  5. Select your desired Ad Group
  6. Screenshot shows how to select Ad Groups for your remarketing campaigns
  7. Define Your placements – Don’t allow Google to select “All”
  8. Screenshot sowing how to define your placements in Google Adwords remarketing
  9. Leave the default setting to “Show ads only on these placements.” This will control impressions and help keep costs under control. If you decide you want to widen the scope because you are getting too few impressions you can change this later.
  10. Select the appropriate targeting topics for this specific Ad Group and again, leave the default
  11. Add your remarketing lists to your Display Network inventory – At first, you will want to add all available remarketing lists because they are so small. When they get bigger, you will want to revisit this and perhaps segment them or make other adjustments.
  12. <
    Remarketing tutorial screenshot shows how to add remarketing lists to display network inventory
  13. Select any gender and/or age demographics you would like to select for remarketing.
  14. If you set up remarketing and have questions, comments or suggestions I'd certainly love to hear them. Please leave me a comment. I pay attention to these and will answer every single question!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is Web Directory Submission Still Good for SEO?

One of the most common questions I see for people launching new Websites is "Should I still submit my site to Web directories?"

The answer is definitely, YES...but with a lot of qualifiers and explanation. Today's SEO post is to help you determine some guidelines, or standards, for directories. By creating some standards for your site and what Web directory submission might be right, you can benefit tremendously from directory submissions, particularly if you are just starting out.

1. Some Web directories are good for just about everyone!

There's a short list of 25 directories that I would encourage almost everyone to submit to, regardless of your site's domain age. Some cost. Some are free. You will need to determine whether or not the paid ones fit in your budget. You know, 25 good links for a new site is a very good start.
  • Yahoo.dir - PR 8 - $299/year - no guarantee you'll be accepted. If you aren't accepted, they keep the $299
  • Dmoz.org - PR 7 - free - extremely hard to get listed unless your business is markedly different from anything else that's out there.
  • JoeAnt.com - PR 6 - $39.99 One Time
  • botw.org - PR 7 - $299.95 Once or $149.95/Yr
  • freebiedirectory.com - PR 7 - free
  • direktory.org.com - PR 7 - $39.95/One Time
  • metafilter.com - PR 7 - $5.00 One Time 
  • pioneerdir.com - PR 7 - $34.95 One Time   
  • business.com - PR 6 - $299/year
  • clora.net - PR 6 - 6$49.95 One Time
  • jayde.com - PR 6 - Free
  • cyberline.com - PR 6 - Free
  • whatuseek.com - PR 6 - $24.99 Once or $16.99/Yr 
  • killerstartups.com - PR 6 - Free
  • maven.co.il - PR 6 - $39.95 One Time
  • feedage.com - PR 6 - Free
  • hotvsnot.com - PR 6 - Free
  • somuch.com - PR 6 - Free 
  • alivedirectory.com - PR 6 - $49.95/year
  • somuch.com - PR 6 - Free
  • specialdir.com - PR 6 - $18.95 One Time 
  • alivedirectory.com - PR 6 - $34.95 One Time 
  • betterworldlinks.org - PR 6 - Free 
  • supremedir.com - PR 6 - $24.95 One Time 
  • ehef-newdelhi.org - PR 6 - $48.00/One Time 
 2. Now it's time to research!

The first thing I would recommend is to find out the domain age and originating country for the directory you are considering by viewing the "WhoIs" information at WhoIs.com. Enter the domain name of the directori you want to research and click the "WhoIs Lookup" hyperlink just below the box. You'll be  taken to a "WhoIS" lookup page. Re-enter the directory's domain name.

Here's an example. I wanted to research :  linkslegend.com

By following the above process I saw this:

Screen shot of WhoIs.com opening screen with WhoIs lookup hyperlink highlighted
Screenshot of the subsequent screen after using the Whois lookup hyperlink
 



Screenshot of the whois lookup information for the doamin linkslegend.com













Okay, so here's the important pieces of information to consider:

Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com)
   Domain Name: LINKSLEGEND.COM
      Created on: 03-Sep-10
      Expires on: 03-Sep-13
      Last Updated on: 02-Aug-12

   Registrant:
   Domains By Proxy, LLC
   DomainsByProxy.com
   14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
   Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
   United States

Here's what you can derive from this information:
  1. The registrar has chosen to make their information private
  2. The domain was established in 2010
  3. The domain owner has only purchased the domain for 3 years
  4. The domain is registered in the USA
 Here are some conclusions you might make from that information:
  1. Domain owners who want to be private can be problematic. If they were a real, solid business, with transparency, they would have registered using their business address.
  2. The older the domain, the better. This is a fairly young domain so it might not have the authority that comes with age.
  3. The further out that domain expiration date is, the better. Or, the longer the period for which the domain owner registers the domain at one time the better. For example, it would be much better if the domain owner had purchased the domain for 8-10 years because that shows the intent for a long-term commitment. This is important if you have to pay to be listed. If you pay $49 for a permanent listing and the domain expires or gets delisted by Google in the next 2 years, you are not going to get a refund.
  4. This I'll leave totally up to your call. There are perfectly reputable domain registrars in other countries. However, speaking from personal experience, I would not necessarily trust registrars from certain other countries. I'm not going to name them. You'll have to make that judgement call on your own.
 Okay, so we were researching "http://www.linkslegend.com" - Given two things that are important to me: the domain expires in 2013 and that the domain owner has chose to be anonymous, I would not choose personally to list my site or sites I have as client in this directory. I don't care how high its Pagerank is.

3. Wait a minute - How do I research PageRank? And what PageRank is high enough?

This is an easy one. Just navigate to http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php and plug in the domain you want to check. Out will pop the PageRank.  If the PageRank of the directory you are considering is the same or lower than your site's current PageRank...cross the directory off your list.

4. Research more than just PageRank - find out how many inbound links the Directory has.

There's a wonderful free tool referred to as OSE - It's SeoMoz's Open Site Explorer. Here, you can find out how many inbound links the directory you are considering has. You can also see how many of those links are .edu or .gov links. These types of links are extremely valuable and hard to obtain, so if a directory has them, it gives that directory a lot of credibility.

Here's how LinksLegend.com, the domain we've been looking at fairs in OSE: 

Screen shot of results for LinksLegend.com in Open Site Explorer tool




Whoa! Wait a minute...This directory has inbound links from Harvard? Okay, well, this really gets my attention and makes me reconsider.






You see what I am saying? You really need to research these directories, a lot, in order to determine which ones are worthwhile. Keep a count of the number of .edu and .gov links the directory you are considering has. Those are hard to get, so if the directory has a good number of them, it's a good indication that they might be reputable.

5. Look at the Alexa ranking

Now, I'm going to say up front taht I am not a big fan of the Alex ranking statistic. I have even LESS of an ides of what goes into determingin an Aleca ranking than I do with what goes into a Google algorithm. However, it does give you some comparative information, that, when taken altogether with everything else, may or may not influence your decision.

The Alex ranking of "linkslegend.com" -  723,802

As is the case with PageRank, I would carefully weigh whether or not you want to submit to any directory that has a significantly worse Alexa ranking that your site does.  Obviously, for a new site, the bar for an Alexa ranking is set pretty low. I wouldn't base my whole decision on this, but I'd certainly let the Alexa ranking weigh in.

6. Try emailing the Web directories "Contact Us" page and see if you can get anything more tha  an automated response.

I know that sounds too easy, but you'd be surprised at how fast you can separate the wheat from the chaff by doing something to simple. Send an email to their contact us page with a very specific question. Then, wait and see what kind of response you get. If the response comes quickly and is obvioualy from a human being fluent in the language you used for your email. that's an very positive sign.

7. Are "Featured Listings" in a directory going to be viewed as SPAM by the search engines?

A lot of the directories that require payment for review are also going to try to sell you "Featured Listings." In the last year, due to changes in Google's algorithm and the infamous Penguin update, people are running scared about low-quality backlinks. 

Here's the deal - If you choose to pay additional money for an upgraded listing at a Web directory, all it's going to give you is more backlinks from the same, singular root domain. Is it going to significantly help your SEO, probably not. Is it going to significantly help your exposure, traffic and click-through rates? Maybe, depending on how good, relevant and highly-trafficked the directory is. 

Featured listing should be viewed as display advertising, 

and any traffic from those sources should be considered paid traffic. Calculate that into your budget, but understand that it has nothing to do with SEO.

Closing Comments:

I hope this helps you all define a method to research possible Web directories. Just in case you're short on time (and who isn't), here is a "short list" of some of the better directories that I recommend and to which I have submitted sites to myself


Final notes:
  1. Under no circumstances use automated site submissions to Web directories.
  2. Write unique content...and yes, I mean a different description...for every submission
  3. For God's sake don't keyword stuff your submissions, that's sooooooo 2001.
  4.  Never use anything for the title of your submission except for your domain name or site title.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to Make Video Transcripts in Wistia Toggle On and Off

Wistia is a great alternative to YouTube that offers some great video SEO benefits. One of the biggest of those benefits is their integration of interactive transcripts. However, in the default player, when transcripts are enabled, there is no way for an end-user who may not want to see the transcript or who perhaps finds it distracting, to turn the transcript off or close the transcript window.

Thanks to the fabulous customer support at Wistia, I raised this question and they were kind enough to provide me with sample code and instructions on how to use an expandable/collapsible <DIV> to accomplish just that. 

NOTE: You have to select the "API" embed code not the <IFRAME> embed code in order for this to work. This is really better for your SEO anyway, because the SEO benefits derived from the interactive transcript are completely lost when that content is buried in an <IFRAME> because search engines cannot crawl any content that's inside an <IFRAME>.

Here's a sample of the regular API embed code (remember to copy-and-paste this sample into a plain text editor like notepad before you try to do anything with it - otherwise strange and mysterious things could occur, not all of them pleasant):



<div id="wistia_e9daad32af" class="wistia_embed" 
style="width:580px;height:526px;" 
data-video-width="580" data-video-height="326">&nbsp;</div>
<script charset="ISO-8859-1" 
src="http://fast.wistia.com/static/concat/E-v1%2Ctranscript-v2.js">
</script>
<script>
wistiaEmbed = Wistia.embed("e9daad32af", {
  version: "v1",
  videoWidth: 580,
  videoHeight: 326,
  playerColor: "81b7db",
  plugin: {
    "transcript-v2": {
      position: "below"
    }
  }
});
</script>
  
Here's the sample of the code with the collapsible interactive transcript box positioned at the bottom of the video:

<div id="wistia_e9daad32af" class="wistia_embed"  
style="width:580px;height:326px;" 
data-video-width="580" data-video-height="326">&nbsp;</div>
<script charset="ISO-8859-1" 
src="http://fast.wistia.com/static/concat/E-v1%2Ctranscript-v2.js">
</script>
<div id="my_sweet_sweet_transcript" style="width:580px;"></div>
<script>
wistiaEmbed = Wistia.embed("e9daad32af", {
  version: "v1",
  videoWidth: 580,
  videoHeight: 326,
  playerColor: "81b7db",
  plugin: {
    "transcript-v2": {
      position: "below",
      container: "my_sweet_sweet_transcript",
      canCollapse: true,
      collapseOnload: true
    }
  }
});
</script>
 
Here's how to make it happen:


1.     First, change the height in the style of the first div so that it is 200 pixels less (that's  how tall the transcript box is). In this example, I changed it from 526 to 326.


2.     Second, add a div with an id (whatever you want, really) and add a style to it that dictates the width to be the same as the video. In this example, both are 580 pixels wide.


3.     In the script section below, inside the transcript plugin section, you need to add a couple lines. The first is "container: id" which should reference the id you gave the div you added a moment ago. The second attribute is "canCollapse: true" so that the box knows it can collapse. Lastly, and this one is optional, add the attribute that tells the box to default to closed "collapseOnLoad: true"

Don't forget commas after the attributes that aren't the last in the curly brackets, and that the collapsible transcript div you added must be above the scripts you edited!

I would like to give a shout out to Jordan Munson (@jordanmunson), Customer Champion at Wistia for being gracious enough to allow me to post this information. Follow Wistia on Twitter @Wistia