Do you have summer camp videos sitting around? Have you developed a camp marketing video and want to get it distributed across the internet on various video distribution sites? Have you developed a distribution plan? In this segment we are going to cover steps to take to improve your searchability for video uploaded on YouTube. Most of these tips will apply across all video sites.
Wikipedia defines search engine optimization (SEO) as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Companies often hire SEO companies to help improve their page rank in goggle. Some of these companies employ legitimate tactics while others take a more black-hat route. There have been cases of people gaming the system on YouTube: This post by Dan Ackerman Greenberg The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos garnered over 700 comments, a follow up post and CNN interview. We are going to cover legitimate tactics you can apply to get more views for your summer camp video and improve your marketing using YouTube and other video sharing sites.
Title – How to Pick a Title for Your Summer Camp Video
Title the video with the most common search terms your camp ranks high for. Just because a camp is called Middle River Camp does not mean that makes the best video title if they are known as the horseback riding camp in Wisconsin.
Less Effective: Middle River Camp
More Effective: Middle River Horseback Riding Resident Sleepaway Summer Camp Madison Wisconsin.
People search from broad to narrow. You could argue that the broader terms of Summer Camp should come first in your string. A real SEO expert would have to rule on that. Make sure your title has some of your top key words.
In the description portion of the video site be sure to put the link to your site within the first line at the very top of the description so it is the first text you see. Notice on the description of the YMCA camp (left), you can only read one line of text and there is no clickable link. Of course you can click “more info” for a full description (still no link anyway) but why make people work that much – they won’t. In contrast, look at Ariel Hyatt’s Cyber PR video description, (right) – - see the clickable link first. Not having a link first will cost you inbound links. Mark Rotblat from TubeMogul reports that there can be up to a 1% click through on that link which is spectacular! It also helps when people stop your video midway but still want to find your site. Don’t make them search for your link. After the link to your site (remember the post on Inbound Marketing) include a description which contains top keywords for your program. What to people typically type in search engines to find you?
Tags are keywords that describe videos. For example, a Berkeley sailing summer camp video might be tagged with such tags as “sailing,” “water,” “marina,” “Berkeley,” “Cal Adventures” and “Bay Area.” There may be others but I am not a sailing expert. When determining tags for your video, it is important to think of the search terms people type in a search engine when they look for a camp like yours. Order of tags matter, put the most searched for ones first.
- Most important tags should also match the title and description of video
- Do people look for you by a city or town name? Include that.
- Are you a sports camp, sleep-away or resident camp?
- If you offer specific sports: archery, waterpolo, swim lessons, etc., include those
- use descriptive words such as fun, exciting, adventure, outdoors
- don’t use throw-away terms like ‘to’ and ‘or’ but ‘howto’ could work for a how-to video
- don’t go crazy with every tag under the sun, really think what your best tags are, most video sharing sites only give you a specific number anyway
YouTube User Name and Branded Pages
I have seen several businesses posting videos under the account of a personal name at the company. The videos will be at a page called “megamartin” rather than “The Garden Store.” It happens when companies don’t plan out their video distribution and just upload it to someone’s account. Don’t do that! Set up a branded page at YouTube and other top video hosting sites (Viddler, Vimeo, Blip, etc.) with your Camp Name. Be sure to take a moment to fill out the avatar and profile for each site with links back to your main web page. Here is a post that may be helpful: Brand That YouTube Page. As examples, I also like Rhett and Link’s page as well as Ariel Publicity & Cyber PR.
I was speaking at a summer camp conference last year on marketing and a woman approached me asking how to improve her search engine results. She told me her camp was one of the only horseback riding camps in Minnesota. When I looked at her web page the Title tags did not have horse, horseback riding or her town or state anywhere in the home page web site text nor was it in headers on the web site. Duh! Of course google can’t tell you are a horseback riding camp if it is not in the text and only in photos. Same is true for your YouTube site. The camp I run is called Blue Camp. It is at UC Berkeley. We are in the Rec Sports Department but are also in Cal Youth and Outdoor Programs and part of Strawberry Canyon Youth Camps. 40 years ago we were called Cal Rec School. Think we have a branding problem? Over time, while I cling to the name Blue Camp, and some know us as Strawberry Canyon Camps, and even others refer to us as Golden Bear Camps (that is our camp location), I am noticing many new customers just refer to us as “Cal Camps.” We can’t risk not ranking for any of those names so they all need to be in the description, some in the title and tags. What will our customers search for?
Don’t Get Lost in a Larger Organization
Parks and recreation people I consult with tell me how easy it is for a camp program to get buried in a YouTube page of videos for their City Parks and Rec Program. Creating a YouTube account is free so create one for your specific division. You may want to have one for skateboard camps, after school programs, science camps, swim lessons, gymnastics camps, resident camps, family camps, etc. Initially our summer camp videos were lost among the mass of other Cal Rec Sports Department videos. Moving them out onto their own page can really help develop the brand and improve searchability.
Selecting a Compelling Thumbnail That Tells Your Story
Each video site has their own system for assigning a thumbnail. Some give you some choices, others like YouTube pick the video thumbnail from the exact middle. ReelSEO blogged about Video Thumbnail Optimization – Tips to Consider for Creating Compelling Thumbnails. When someone finds you in search results you don’t want the thumbnail for your video to be a blank screen or something unrecognizable or they might not clikc on your video.
Distribution – How to Get Your Summer Camp Video to Multiple Sites
It goes without saying that you should take advantage of the numerous video sites where you can post your videos for free. This saves you the server bandwidth and increases inbound marketing. Some sites like mDialog do better with posting private videos, high definition videos, let you run an RSS feeds through itunes, and adapt the video for mobile viewing. A great strategy is to upload once and post the video everywhere with a company like TubeMogul. You input all the meta data once and Tubemogul deploys your video. They also have a great engine for tracking your views. They are big fans of summer camp so tell them how you heard about them – they are big supporters of the summer camp mafia in the Bay Area.
If you choose to host your own video the title and description in search engines will usually be taken from nearby text. In that case it is best to have just one video per page with a simple textual title and description located near the video.
Branding Within Your Video
A number of camp videos put their contact information at the end of their video, like credits in a movie. That is great assuming your watcher is going to sit through the whole thing. They may not. Best to have your web site and camp name at the beginning and maybe even in a lower third graphic.
Interested In Learning More about Video Marketing and Video SEO?
Video SEO: Tips for Clips that Capture Results by ReelSEO
SEO Answers on Google Video by Matt Cutts
Why should Video Marketing be included in your marketing mix?
Hire Video Marketing and New Media Consultant – Tim Street
Get a Professionally Produced Camp Video from CampTV
Lynda.com SEO Online Training
Guide to Video Marketing on YouTube
Case Study – How Many of the Above Tips Have They Followed?
Here is a video found on the American Camp Association YouTube page. The title is “Destination Camp.” Interestingly, I only found it when I put in American Camp Association in the YouTube search box. Perhaps their video and channel page should have the words “summer camp” in the title. The ACA is an excellent resource for anyone interested in summer camp and their videos need to rank higher for the search terms “summer camp.” Check out their main YouTube page, their tags, description, etc. What grade would you give them? Should that video have more views? What about the other videos on their channel. Why such a view difference? Are some embeded on a web site, which would drive up the view count or is that particular video title more SEO friendly?