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Increases in broadband penetration and improvements in mobile, 3G (or 4G for many of us now) speeds have lead to a rapidly increasing change in how we consume media online. It is now common to see widespread use of higher quality image formats, more advanced usage of HTML5 and other interactive technologies, not to mention an exponential increase in the usage of video online. These are used to make engaging and interactive experiences and to create websites that stand out and offer a very different experience than we have become used to over the years (the Camry Effect is a great example of this).
With this in mind, in this post, we are going to take a detailed look at YouTube:
This post will not be covering video optimization per se (we have covered that topic in another post). It is also advisable read the YouTube Creators Playbook, heading over to ReelSEO or checking some of the great posts that our resident video SEO expert Carla Marshall has written.
YouTube’s Rise to the Top of the Video Sharing
YouTube, started in 2005 in large part as a user-created cotent play in online video, is now the Internet’s most popular video-sharing website. The facts are that YouTube:
These stunning statistics are also accompanied by big social numbers:
You can see more of these astounding figures on YouTube or alternatively, if you’re bored through reading these then watch this video including a rundown of YouTube’s from 2012:
Google’s acquisition of YouTube in 2006 propelled it into the stratosphere, and although there has been, and still is tough competition from the likes of Hulu (Microsoft’s video-sharing platform), Netflix (vastly popular video subscription service), and Vimeo (premium video-sharing service) when it comes to online video, YouTube is dominates.
The amount of video online is now absolutely vast and what’s interesting is that indications from the US show that this is actually a genuine habitual change for individuals. In 2012, users are consuming less media content on TVs, and instead are moving to PCs, laptops and smartphones (mobile) to consume this media online.
YouTube’s New Look
So let’s get on to YouTube’s redesign. The difficulty that many users (us included) have found until now is that YouTube hasn’t actually provided a particular user-friendly platform. In fact, far from it: the filtering and search options were nothing short of frustrating and difficult, leading to the simple process of searching for any video being all but an arduous difficult process. This experience was no easier when trying to search directly from Google itself, a process you think would be fairly streamlined considering they belong to the same company.
Funnily enough, this seems something that YouTube references in the email we received confirming the new design. They reference the ‘guide’ that they introduced last year, that is shown on the left hand side of the interface (see the picture right) and in their own words they explain: “Today, we’re introducing features that will allow you to see that Guide all over the site. You’ll also find the Guide wherever you watch YouTube, whether it’s on you mobile phone, tablet, game console or connected TV.”
It seams that YouTube has recognized the challenges of user experience on their platform, or have they? Below, we’ll take a look into some of YouTube’s new changes; exploring the new layout, video display, and the new way of browsing videos. We will establish how we, as SEOs and online marketers, can capitalize upon this immensely popular area of the Internet.
The use of the guide on the left hand side provides a far more user-friendly experience than the old interface and is clearly directed at increasing ‘browsing time’ by individuals, offering content to be filtered by category. It’s worthwhile considering this experience when viewing on a bigger display, a tablet, or smart TV.
We can see here that YouTube has made an effort to enable more content to be available just one click away.
There has also been a clear drive towards users subscribing to channels, this makes sense, greater individual retention on the platform also directly serves the wants of brands who have a presence on YouTube (e.g. more video views).
As online marketers the real goal is to get featured in the ‘related channels’ section (pictured right). This could help drive a huge uplift in traffic and deliver engaged users who wish to browse more content similar to their likes.
In our opinion, the changes to the YouTube platform have been done fairly tactfully and it is now a much better browsing experience, they’ve also firmly patted themselves on the back too higher retention = greater advertising opportunities.
One issue at the moment is that there are a bit too many subscribe call-to-actions. While people will happily browse videos on YouTube, most of us subscribe to a few users/channels. People’stypical interaction with YouTube is going on it to specifically search for a video, not to spend a long amount of time browsing. The changes to the platform have set them up well to cater for browsing, but in many cases people will need a habitual change to spend longer browsing.
YouTube InVideo Programming
InVideo Programming is a new feature launched by YouTube that allows you to feature certain videos across all videos in your library. You can also use this feature to better brand a channel, because this is centrally managed through the channel settings, you only need to change this once to update across all videos.
This feature can be used to highlight certain videos, by displaying them over all of your content or to promote your branding by including a brand logo that links to your channel; find out more on YouTube’s creators blog.
A great example of this in the wild is AnalyticsSEO’s YouTube channel, who have ‘featured’ their channel which includes their brand logo over their videos.
YouTube annotations have been extended to allow Associated Websites (defined by YouTube’s Partner Program) annotations on their videos, which can be used to link direct to your website.
How to link to your website using annotations
The process of linking to your website using annotations is relatively simple:
1. Ensure that you’ve associated your website with your YouTube channel
2. In the video manager area, select ‘edit’ and then select the annotations option (if this is your first time then ensure that you click to ‘enable your account for external annotation links’)
3. Click ‘add annotation’ (select to create a new annotation or use an existing one) and then under ‘link’ add the category Associated Website
4. Enter your associated link in the link area and then save
If your require any additional clarification then you can see Google’s instructions on this here.
While YouTube annotations can be powerful ways of connecting your video assets to your website, if utilized correctly can help to influence a potential customers online journey, do use with caution. YouTube have openly said that ‘time watched’ is now a ranking factor for videos, therefore over use of external links can reduce watch time and negatively influence your videos ability to rank well.
We are fans of the redesign. It seems to address some of the usage issues that were challenging in the old design. What’s more, it also drives ‘YouTube as a platform’ forward and directly seems to meet some of the challenges that online video platforms encounter, including:
We’ve also got a couple of predictions for what’s next in YouTube’s development of their platform:
In our opinion, it is evident that these changes are another move to thoroughly intertwine the Google+ platform with all of Google Products; such as we’ve seen with the tighter integration of Gmail and Google+ and the launch of Google Local+. We feel that this is just the first step and there are more changes coming our way for the YouTube platform, as online marketers we’d be prudent to pay attention to these and capitalize on the opportunities as and when they come along.
Video will continue to grow
As the growth of online video continues, there is no doubt that YouTube is going to be a massive area of opportunity for online marketers in the future, in fact; don’t be surprised if 2013 shows an increase in the number of specialist video marketing firms.
It’d be great to hear your thoughts: