Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks with Video Optimization

By Kevin Knecht

A new month has begun and with it we say adios to our analytics series and begin to touch on a new topic: video. Although the concept of video SEO is still somewhat fresh, there is already a series of accepted standards and practices common throughout our industry. Within the confines of this post I will walk through an example of how to identify your target audience and conduct keyword research with the goal of creating a compelling and relevant title for an original piece of content.

In order to better illustrate this process, we created our own unique video content. It stars yours truly, and Brian’s dog Charlie (who came to visit with us last Friday). Shawn was kind enough to take on the Directorial and editing duties. It’s a shame that Oscar season has passed because this is a real tearjerker. Charlie could have won for Best Actor and I most likely would’ve been snubbed by the academy.


Coming up with a strong title that explains the video’s topic to your audience is one of the most important variables to consider. When you lay your eyes upon it, there should not be a shred of doubt as to what the video’s purpose is. Our video tells the story of “Chance,” the story of a dog saved from a life of misery by the charitable donations of anonymous heroes. The beautiful soundtrack is provided by Sarah McLachlan.

Defining a Target Audience

To give yourself some outside perspective, think about your target audience and ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your video’s motivation?
  • What is your intention with its release?
  • Who would find your content compelling?

For our video, the motivation is to inspire change among animal lovers and apathetic people alike. The intention of its release is to get more people to care about animal cruelty. I believe that animal activist groups, animal lovers, zookeepers, and Sarah McLachlan fans will be moved after viewing this video.

Mining the Conversations

Now that we’ve identified our target audience, we need to take a look at the conversations that they are having. As I have previously mentioned in my Cougar Post, Quora is a great place to start. Quora is awesome for finding the people who are conversing about your subject matter.

(Note: Some other useful tools for digging up some chatter are followerwonk and Twitter Search.)

Initiating the Outreach

Clearly, preventing animal abuse is a hot topic, and our video will help to promote this goal. Here we see a mention of ASPCA. They are a great resource for cruelty prevention. Let’s check out their Twitter stream and see how they are interacting with their followers.

It looks like ASPCA is very active with their social media and is super concerned with the wellbeing of canines. This is also the first time I’ve seen “avocado” and “dog” in the same sentence. Bravo.

I’ve already begun exchanging words with part of my target audience, and this will help when I share my content with them.

My Tweet to ASPCA

Using the Lingo Your Audience Uses

Now that we understand who we want to see our content, let’s do a wee bit of research to determine which keywords will work best in the video title. The first tool that I turn to is Social Mention.

It allows users to search for a key term or phrase across more than 80 different social media platforms and inputs them into a single thread of information. In this example I searched for “Sarah McLachlan,” because we already know that her fans are part of our target audience. From the results we see that there is a large amount of chatter about this subject matter. This gives us some opportunity to contribute to the conversation that is already happening and we can leverage it using our social media accounts. There is even a tweet that mentions both Sarah and a disabled dog, so we know we are on the right track.

Finding Search Volume for Your Video Keywords

Google Adwords can be utilized to help determine if there are any related keywords that we might have overlooked.

You can also conduct the same search using YouTube’s Keyword Tool. It may not have as much data as the Adword’s tool, but it can still provide suggestions that are based upon YouTube videos and search volume. We are given the option to generate keyword ideas either by inputting descriptive words or phrases, or by entering the URL of a YouTube video. For our purposes I’ve entered “animal abuse” again to see if it gives us anything new.

Youtube Keyword Tool

Youtube Keyword Tool Search Results

You can find more keywords by taking a competitor’s video and inputting the URL. In this example I used the Humane Society’s take on the subject to drum up some more options.

YouTube Competitor Search

Note: Keep in mind that this is Google’s way of monetizing their services with videos and PPC ads. Take that into consideration when you are sifting through the data.

YouTube Suggest is helpful if you are having difficulty generating new ideas. (thanks to Geoff from Distilled for this tip)

YouTube Suggest Ideas

Determining Global Interest and Popularity

Both the Adwords and Youtube tools suggested over one hundred new keyword combinations. One that sticks out that will work great in our title is “stop animal abuse.” The competition is moderate which will help with ranking ability. You can dig deeper by clicking on the term in Adwords and choosing to view “Google Insights for Search.” Insights give you the ability to view search trends over a period of time, by region, and what terms are being used. Below I paired “animal abuse” with “Sarah McLachlan” to see the two respected search trends at the same time.

Viewing two search terms simultaneously is a super-efficient way to determine global interest and popularity. Both of the terms seem to be widespread enough to warrant including them into our video title. Something like “Stop Animal Abuse with Sarah Mclachlan” would suffice.

Analyzing Video Title Competition

And last but not least, you can find out how competitive your title is by using SEOmoz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool.

47% tells us that it is moderately competitive but not enough people are searching for it to allow us to view any of the search volume. This tool is a terrific indicator of how many other people are trying to rank for the same thing as you.

SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool

Key Takeaways

Now that we understand what’s going to be in our title, we can reflect upon the importance of this whole process.

  1. Identify your Target Audience – How can you expect anyone to view your content if you don’t even know who you’re speaking to? Think hard about what kinds of people or groups would benefit from your video and tailor it towards them.
  2. Give them something to Talk About – Use available tools to learn what influential members of your target audience are talking about and start interacting with them so you can form relationships that may be leveraged down the road to share the content.
  3. Create a Captivating Title for your Content – By taking the time to invest in some good ole fashioned keyword research you can determine what title makes the most sense for your video and how relevant terms can help your film become a game changer.

And finally, without further adieu, I present to you the world premiere of “Stop Animal Abuse with Sarah Mclachlan

Editor’s Note: This is our first post in a month long series about everything video! Make sure to check back throughout March to learn more about using different techniques to make your video content a success.
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  • Excellent! When’s part 2 with Chance?

    On the Adwords keyword research, I’ve found with video it’s interesting to look at Mobile results as well, particularly since Mobile is a large driver of video traffic.