Best Practices for Video SEO: Trade Secrets from Hubspot’s Master Class

As video continues to gain a foothold as the medium of choice for consumers, marketers are also adjusting their strategies to not only create more video content, but also to optimize it for the biggest ROI.

As with any other piece of content, there is so much more work to be done than simply creating the piece itself. But while promoting and repurposing video content doesn’t differ much from other types of content, many marketers are wondering how to get the most out of their video content, particularly when it comes to SEO.

Hubspot recently hosted a master class on this topic featuring Eric Enge, co-author of Art of SEO, who revealed some important ways YouTube differs from Google when ranking videos, and how you can take advantage of these differences to boost your SEO on each.

1. The SEO basics are the same, regardless of content medium.

While the idea behind video SEO optimization is similar to written content SEO, the application process is obviously different in that Google can’t scan your content for written keywords.

“People assume SEO is something you don’t have to pay attention to; they assume YouTube or Google takes care of it,” Enge said. “The reality is it’s very hard to process content of video and understand everything that’s in it, so we have to do work to make it easier on the search engine.”

As with blogs, your video title should strike the balance of being compelling enough to entice users to click play, but also contain the keywords you want to rank for. This same level of care should be taken when crafting your meta-description and choosing a video category, which helps you rank but also shows up in search descriptions. Add video tags, putting the most relevant keywords first.

You can take the basics one step further by writing out a full transcript of the video. This can be time-consuming, but allows you to upload captions, which helps YouTube understand more about how it should categorize your video’s content. (Tip: If you have a little bit of budget, use a transcription service like Rev.)

Tips and tricks aside, don’t get so lost in the SEO game that you forget the real purpose of creating a title and tags: to attract and entice users to watch your video.

Basic YouTube Optimization Guidelines

2. YouTube and Google search results are not always the same.

Enge noted that Google and YouTube search ranking results are often not in the same order.

For example, if your video is the first result on YouTube, it may still appear as the tenth (or any other position) result on Google. This is because each site is grading your content differently (more on that later), and that’s why it’s important to consider both on- and off-page optimization to boost rankings as much as possible on both.

You can combine the power of YouTube and Google’s search engines by embedding your YouTube video within a blog post, and crafting a blog title that is different from the video title. This can help the blog and video each rank for different keywords you’re trying to hit. This also allows you to highlight multiple topics that the video covers by creating two varying titles, rather than cramming all keywords into a single title.

3. Your viewers’ total time spent on YouTube is the most important ranking factor.

One of the most interesting SEO tips Enge shared is that YouTube rewards you for bringing it engaged traffic.

“It’s really about the total time people spend watching videos on YouTube that you enable,” Enge said. “If they come to my page and watch my whole video, that’s a great ranking factor. But what’s even better is if the user that started a session watching our video and they go on to watch more videos, even if they’re not mine, a big part of the YouTube algorithm that is about maximizing total view time created by your videos. It’s not just how good is your video; but do [the viewers] go on to watch more videos after.”

This is one of the biggest ways Google and YouTube differ from each other as search engines. While Google’s purpose is to quickly find an answer to your question and move you to a third-party site that can assist you with what you need, YouTube wants viewers to stay on YouTube as long as possible.

Part of the reason for this divergence is the contrasting ad models of the two sites. When you search for an answer on Google, the ads that appear are content geared toward answering the user’s query. For example, if you search “how can I lose weight” on Google, ads for gyms or diet cookbooks may appear, answering your query at least partially.

YouTube’s goal is to entice viewers to stay and watch as many videos as possible, because that also means viewers will be watching the ads that run before or in-between those videos. If your videos can keep viewers around, they will be rewarded with higher YouTube search rankings.

One way to keep your viewers on YouTube is to add your videos to playlists, enticing people to watch more related content. Of course, simply creating a great piece of content is the best way to keep viewers’ eyes on the screen, at least for the duration of your video.

Driving total view time for YouTube videos

From Hubspot

4. Paid promotion on YouTube enhances organic traffic.

When you use paid social promotion to drive video views on YouTube, it will also lift your organic social promotion. This is because running ads drives up the number of views on your video, which in turn makes your video rank higher, and therefore reputable enough to search engines that you no longer have to run ads to continue earning organic traffic.

While this is also the case on some social media sites, this is not the case for Google, another reason attributing to the different search rankings that appear on YouTube and Google for the exact same video.

“We’ve been told for years that AdWords doesn’t interact with Google organic search results,” Enge said. “But with YouTube, it’s very different. Paid promotion does get you more organic traffic.”

YouTube sidebar is key for video SEO

High-ranking videos appear on the YouTube sidebar, extending organic views even further

5. The video you upload to YouTube should be different than the video uploaded to Facebook.

Facebook is another place marketers often opt to repurpose their video, due to the large pool of potential viewers browsing the site for new and interesting content. But many wonder, is it better to embed YouTube-hosted videos in Facebook posts or should you upload the video to Facebook directly?

Facebook has its own selfish reasons for wanting viewers to directly upload content — and you’ll be rewarded in increased engagement rates if you do so. In fact, native Facebook videos are shared by users 10x more than YouTube embedded videos. This is because Facebook displays native videos more prominently in newsfeeds, and autoplays native videos while YouTube videos must be clicked to play.

Native Facebook video player

Native Facebook video player

However, Enge challenges marketers to think about the different needs of the Facebook audience as opposed to the YouTube audience, and to leverage those differences to create various pieces of content that will work together for you rather than compete.

“While a three- to five-minute video range is comfortable for YouTube, Facebook is a different animal,” Enge said. “For Facebook, ask yourself ‘What’s the 30-second thing I’m doing?’ If you have a four-minute video on YouTube, think how you can extract four to five snippets and post them as separate videos on Facebook. Three minutes is way too long for Facebook.”

Use Facebook to gain interest for your content with your shorter snippets, then push viewers to the full YouTube video with a linked call-to-action.

6. Get social to build up your video’s SEO for free.

On Google, ranking for videos is determined by two major factors: the relevance of the video to the user’s search query and whether or not the video has attracted third-party links, especially from high-authority sites.

If you can figure out how to get your video embedded on third-party, high-authority websites, this is a free way to boost your SEO. One way to do so is by reaching out to a high-authority site owner and offering to write a guest blog for them with your embedded video. You can find high-authority sites by setting up Google alerts for various keywords, or by visiting sites you already trust (like local government organizations) and seeing who they link to.

You can also ask high-authority blog owners to review your video, share it if they feel it is good content or have the person guest-star in your video, as they will then write about it or link to it to spread the word.

7. Most importantly, your video should contain valuable content.

All of the marketing tips in the world can’t help you if your video is, well, worthless.

A valuable piece of content will always speak for itself, and today’s online audience is worldly enough to quickly see through sales ploys or other pieces of content that will simply waste their time.

“Even if you’re a smaller business, make videos with helpful information on how people can use your products or services,” Enge said. “Don’t ‘sell,’ but answer the most common questions people have. As you get some traction from that, you can, over time, do things to make the ‘window dressing’ better, like investing in a backdrop.”

He added: “Add value. Answer questions. Help people. That’s where it starts. If you’re not doing those things, then there’s nothing you can do to become influential.”

IBM Watson and the Not-So-Distant Future of AI in Digital Marketing

There’s a great deal of mystery around the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will shape the workforce. But we won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

The term AI conjures up a range of images for people, most of which might center around sinister robots taking over the world. But more often, today’s AI is specific, rather than generalized, learning how to undertake a specific task through a combination of self-learning and human input.

Within the last few years, basic AI has become part of our daily lives, in the form of Facebook news feeds, Siri and Alexa. It has also begun entering various workplaces and industries, including marketing.

IBM’s openly available Watson AI tools are already being leveraged by companies to build cognitive marketing tools that have the power to change marketers’ day-to-day tasks. Hubspot recently hosted a webinar to discuss how AI is shaping the near future of marketing by both augmenting our capabilities as marketers and changing the nature of our jobs.

IBM Watson’s Alyssa Simpson and Equals 3’s Scott Lipman shared insights on the state of AI in marketing today and predictions on how it will continue to evolve in the coming years. They also tackled a few common questions surrounding both the excitement and fear this technology is inspiring, namely: Will humans even have marketing jobs in the future?

Here are a few takeaways from the panel on the state of AI and marketing.

It’s already available for certain use cases.

No, the panelists said, you don’t need to worry about a computer stealing your job any time soon. Today’s AI is focused on automating repetitive tasks and making data easier to search and apply. AI is being implemented to support marketers in many ways, including the following:

Research and database queries

Lucy, the brainchild of Lipman and his team at Equals 3, is a research assistant built on IBM Watson’s machine learning technology. Lucy utilizes AI to search many different data sources within a company’s network and the Internet all from one window, saving time for marketers and their co-workers on tracking down files and information.

“Lucy is the cognitive companion to the marketing professional, built for the Fortune 1000 and the agencies that serve them,” Lipman said. “The problem we set out to solve working with Watson is the idea that marketers have so much content in so many different systems: their own databases, marketing analytics, website analytics, media data, third-party data, and their own documents like powerpoints and PDFs. Lucy is a SaaS that lives in IBM’s Blue Mix environment that has three major components: research, audience and persona modeling, and helping with media planning.”

Lipman demoed the power of Lucy by examining some timely, real-life examples. When asked “What is the latest information on self-driving cars?” Lucy provided a list of responses relying on natural language processing built in by Watson, as well as Equals 3’s training and feedback. With a 94% level of confidence, Lucy compiled information on levels of audience interest, attitudes and opinions about self-driving cars. Then, Lipman was able to mark the best responses as relevant, giving Lucy the feedback she needed to provide even better responses for the next search.

Lucy can also get granular within documents. Lipman asked Lucy to find a detailed SWOT analysis for Tesla. Not only was Lucy able to quickly pull it up and link Lipman to the source, she was also able to scan the entire document and answer specific questions about it, saving Lipman from having to read the entire document.

It was pointed out that Lucy could have aided marketing teams with the recent United Airlines debacles. After getting into hot water for dragging a passenger off a flight, United Airlines likely tried to quantify just how negatively the viral incident affected their brand.

In this example, Lucy was able to scan research from a variety of news and social media sources to provide marketing insights, relaying that 74% of current online mentions of United Airlines were negative. Further, she provided sources, the volume of mentions, tonality per article, hashtag and image associations, and more. This data could be used in a range of situations, but most notably to provide a baseline to help track whether United is rebounding from the incident in the coming months.

Tonal understanding

As humans, we know that it isn’t just what you say — it’s how you say it. Oftentimes, when things get lost in translation, especially online or through text messages, it is due to a lack of tonal understanding.

IBM’s Watson team has recognized the pressing need for computers and humans alike to be able to decipher a person’s tone along with the content of their communication. They’ve been working on a tonality tool to help companies better understand how to approach customer service calls.

“Watson is like a well-funded startup within IBM,” Simpson said. “We’re creating technologies that are, at the platform level, a series of APIs that each do discrete functions. Our tone analyzer takes text and analyzes the tone of that conversation. For example, if you’re interacting with a customer service agent and you are frustrated, we can understand that you’re frustrated and help escalate that call faster or direct you to the right place. Emotion is interesting because reasonable humans can disagree around what emotion is included in a phrase. Emotion is a multi-faceted way of expressing yourself, including facial expression, tone of voice, actual words and context of situation. It’s a very tricky space, but very exciting.”

At least in the near future, AI will be a competitive advantage for marketers — not a job killer.

Today’s AI is designed to help you and your customers solve real problems. Rather than replacing marketers, current AI tools are more like personal assistants that help you be a more effective employee, save time, better understand and serve customers, and make decisions based off sound data.

“I think the businesses that complement the talented individual with an AI companion will outperform those who don’t adopt or embrace AI at all or those who rely too heavily on AI to do the job itself,” Lipman said. “This is all about supplementing and enhancing the individual. We’re going to see more expected of marketing departments and agencies, and they’ll keep up with AI. More will be expected, but more will be achievable.”

“That’s 100% how IBM talks about this,” Simpson added. “We see this as man plus machine; it’s about the partnership between humans and cognitive technologies. We talk about AI as “augmented intelligence,” augmenting what humans are already doing and extending that to help them do things they couldn’t do before.”

The water is warm for entrepreneurs looking to create solutions that solve marketing problems.

Now is the time to start thinking about how AI could be molded to create change in the industry — or at least for your own company. By entering the space now, you’ll be ahead of the curve and will face less competition for your idea or product.

Lipman is a prime example of an innovator who didn’t know much about AI, but immediately recognized the potential it had for his company.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the AI space,” Lipman said. “Two years ago it became clear that IBM was making available the Watson platform to developers, so I sat down with my team and asked what we could do with it. We thought about all the marketing technology platforms we’ve stood up over the years, and thought what if we could bring the power of Watson to bring all of that data together?”

Thus, Lucy was born. However, it is important to note that most of the marketing departments you’d be selling your solutions to don’t have a line item in their budget for AI products or may not know what to do with it. It’s up to you to help them overcome prior notions of what AI is, and guide them to see how AI can solve their problems.

“I think one of the challenges that AI has is it’s been a promise for the last 50 or 60 years,” Simpson said. “Hollywood has promised this ‘magic future world,’ so there’s a lot of pre-existing ideas around what this will be and should be. We’re just starting to see in the last five years this being used by businesses at scale to solve real problems. So people are having to learn what’s ‘magic’ and what’s [really available] ‘now.’ The other side is figuring out what problems to apply this to; it’s just a tool. For example, I can sell you a knife but the magic happens when you as a chef have to apply it to build a masterful dinner.

“It’s up to our customers and the users to make that magic happen and apply it to particular industries and business problems. You have to understand how the tool works and what you can do with it, and to understand the limitations. Then, you must decide how you want to take the tool and apply it to a problem you care about.”

It’s not just for coders or computer scientists.

In fact, IBM has designed Watson so specifically to help businesspeople and marketers (rather than replace them) that it enables non-technical folks to create AI software.

Anyone can begin playing around with the Watson technology for free by going to the IBM Watson site and creating a Blue Mix account. IBM’s Learning Lab contains a bevy of resources to help you understand a few use cases and get started, even if you’re not a programmer. In fact Simpson, who is IBM’s director of product management, doesn’t come from a tech background.

“There’s an idea that this is hard, but I have a Liberal Arts degree,” Simpson said. “I don’t code on a regular basis, but I use AI and can use these developer tools.

“As an example, I got tired of people asking me the same question over and over so I built a chatbot. An hour later, I was done. I want to dispel the myth that this is hard or expensive. These APIs are inexpensive and can scale as you grow.”

Regardless of your role as a marketer, you’re likely going to come across AI in more than one way in the next couple of years. You can either be an adopter and adapt to these changes as they become the norm; or, if you’re an entrepreneur interested in leveraging the next wave of opportunity, it may be time to put on your developer hat.

Kickstart Your Startup By Taking Marketing Notes from Crowdfunding Successes

I was wasting valuable time on Facebook yesterday when I noticed an acquaintance promoting her Kickstarter campaign. I’m all about supporting small business ventures and clicked the link, only to realize she was requesting donations to “better herself through an educational trip to Paris.” In between heavy cringing and judgmental thoughts, I did have to admit to myself it was bold and somewhat innovative — and began thinking about how crowdfunding platforms have evolved into quite powerful and accessible marketing tools for all types of ventures.

Kickstarter has become the de facto crowdfunding platform for launching successful businesses, new products and, apparently, even vacations. In 2015, Pebble Time set the record for the most money raised in its Kickstarter campaign for smartwatches, coming in at just over $20 million. Even a less technically innovative project, such as the Exploding Kittens card game “for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats” cracked the top ten most successful Kickstarters list, raising nearly 88,000% of its initial goal.

How does this relate to you and your startup? Because regardless of whether you’ve got a great idea for an innovative tech product or an innovative card game, your marketing strategy can play a key role in making, breaking or surpassing your business goals. While crowdfunding to create a toy isn’t exactly the same as looking for backers to launch your own business, there are quite a few strategic marketing lessons startups can glean from the most successful Kickstarter projects.

Video is worth…well, more words than anyone is willing to read these days

Recent studies say humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish…but then again, I only paid attention long enough to read the headline. This means you’ve got a limited amount of time to capture potential customers’ attention to get them interested and invested in your brand. The most popular Kickstarters of the past show your best bet to accomplish this is by creating a video.

Kickstarter projects that include a video have a much higher success rate than those that do not (50% vs. 30%), and also tend to raise more money. The same is true of businesses, as seen by video conversion rates whether they’re utilized on social media, emails or on your website. One-third of all online activity is spent watching videos, and putting a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%.

Kickstarter suggests following three simple guidelines to film a quality video: clear audio, ample lighting, and footage of you and what you’re making (your story). Incorporating these three elements are that basis of creating any great video, regardless of budget or experience.

That third element is something startups sometimes struggle with. It’s not enough to tell the “what” of your business; you have to tell the “why” behind the brand to get viewers to care. Kickstarter recommends asking yourself these six questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are you planning to make?
  • Where did this project come from?
  • What’s your plan and schedule?
  • What’s your budget?
  • Why do you care?

By incorporating these elements into your video, you can show the personality and passion behind your efforts, which is what gets viewers invested. Enjoyment of video ads increases purchase intent by 97% and brand recognition by 139%. And if you still need to further quantify it, note this: the latest research estimates a one-minute video is worth about 1.8 million words.

Here’s an example of a well-done video for the record-setting Pebble Time campaign that incorporates the suggested elements.

Take your startup’s supporters behind the scenes

There is a reason Kickstarter recommends you start your video by answering who you are. When you are asking people to invest in a young, unestablished idea, you are really asking them to invest in you. Make your early backers feel they are responsible for and part of your business’s success in a few ways:

  • Show the product or service in action through video or photos on your website.
  • Update your blog regularly with insight on production and progress from your perspective.
  • Give followers sneak peeks of upcoming product launches or news on social media.
  • You can even throw an event or walkthrough at your startup for your first customers / investors or followers to thank them for their early investment.

For a great example of the “behind the curtain” technique, take a look at this Kickstarter for a short film called “Wonder.” The filmmakers of “Wonder” took backers behind the scenes by introducing the cast and crew, explaining the passion behind the script and laying out the budget. They even included a section on the risks and challenges they faced filming a movie on a tight budget for complete transparency, which created empathy and trust with supporters.

Make like Oprah and give something away

Give away content like you're Oprah.

Take it from the piles of free branded t-shirts I received in college that are still hanging proudly in my closet — people love giveaways and it hardly matters what the piece actually is. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a physical piece of swag, such as a button or poster. My personal favorite part of checking out Kickstarters is what they offer supporters, and I’ve seen creative giveaways range from credits on a movie to a band’s hand-painted old Volvo for the highest backer.

From a business standpoint, content can be one of a startup’s most effective giveaways. Free educational content that’s relevant to your industry is a great giveaway for a few reasons: it creates a relationship with a potential customer, builds recognition and respect for your brand, and grows your email list all at the same time. Think about what type of content your brand could offer that would be valuable but also leave the customer wanting more. This could range from an eBook to an email series that teaches them something new or a webinar that presents you as an industry thought leader.

Talk to your startup’s customers early and often

Let’s say you’ve followed the steps above and have already made a sale. Congrats! Now, don’t spend too long celebrating before reengaging with this customer. One of the reasons Kickstarter campaigns are so successful is because they constantly update supporters on the project’s progress, successes and even failures.

Create a marketing strategy focused on keeping customers engaged once they have made a purchase from you. This should involve engaging your customers soon after they first make contact with you and on a recurring basis. One proven way of doing that is to send out a drip campaign to customers after they make a purchase or sign up for your service. This content can be a combination of promotions and personalized interaction.

For example, ask your customers to take a survey of their experience working with you to improve upon pain points in the checkout or customer service process. If your business depends on a one-time sale, you can send your customers a thank you note for their support and a discount code to encourage them to return to your business. If your startup is a SaaS, you can send customers information on getting the most out of your offering along with recommendations for related services. You’re not only educating the customer, you’re learning what elements of your business might be most valuable to their broader needs.

On average, repeat customers make up 40% of a business’s total revenue. Not only are they valuable in terms of revenue; it take less time and marketing effort to sell to someone already in your funnel than to find and convert new customers. By following up with customers and keeping them in the loop regarding updates on your startup, your brand will stay top of mind and also appears transparent, building trust and respect.

Deliver on your promises

How often have you backed a Kickstarter project only to find yourself receiving it a year or more after it was promised (or not receiving it at all)? Sadly, a lot of well-intentioned startups end up with similar reputations.

Don’t be that startup. Don’t get so caught up in creating an out-of-the-box marketing strategy that you deliver a substandard product or fail to deliver your product on time. Make your business and project timelines transparent from the get go, and continue to update customers on progress in the ways suggested throughout this post. The underlying motive behind all of these tips is to build your customers’ trust in a yet-to-be-proved idea. Once you break that trust, there’s no gaining those jaded customers back. It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.”

Check out Kickstarter’s Creator Handbook for more tips you can leverage into your startup’s marketing plan. And if you’re ready to take your marketing to the next level, contact Dreamtown Creative and let us help you kickstart your business.

Read Our Guest Column for Kapost

By Amanda Farmer, Dreamtown Strategic Director


If you’ve ever turned to our benevolent overlord the Internet for marketing advice, chances are you’ve landed on a Kapost article. As a platform for content marketers, Kapost really practices what it preaches, running a highly strategic, consistent, quality content program that gives it excellent pagerank for most content-related searches.

Being a content writer and strategist myself, I was certainly aware enough of Kapost to feel flattered when its editorial team asked me to become a guest contributor to their blog, The Marketeer.

We started with a series of posts centered around frequently searched content marketing definitions and will be tackling some more in-depth issues in the coming weeks, including how B2B tech marketers can more effectively market to IT teams.

Until then, take a look at some of my recent contributions. Enjoy!


On content marketing:

The Content Audit: What Horrors Await?

Ask someone to perform a content audit, and it sounds pretty straightforward. Sit down to actually perform a content audit, and you’ll find yourself in a circle of hell that Dante dared not speak of. I exaggerate. But barely. You’ll be challenged by a number of beasts during your journey through Content Audit Hell, which always begins in the Valley of Inventory. The first beast you’ll meet, fittingly, has no specific name. We’ll call him “Ambiguity.” Read more


Content marketing definitions:

Content Strategy

You may think that writing a blog post on the definition of a self-explanatory term like “content strategy” is just an SEO ploy. Well… ok, you’re partly right. But before you get all smarty-pants smug, let me ask you a question. Does your company have a documented content strategy? Not an editorial calendar—a content strategy. Read more

Content Marketing Workflow

Are you one of those people who loves making lists? As a child, did you buy fresh notebooks and flip through the pages, inhaling the scent, before finally committing that first, perfect stroke in glossy ink, tingling in anticipation over the moment you’d later cross through it with a single, straight line? You sound like kind of a weird kid. Were your parents worried? Read more

Editorial Calendars for Brand Publishers

For centuries before the idea of “brands as publishers” came along and gave a generation of marketing writers renewed job security, traditional publishers used editorial calendars, or ed cals, to plan upcoming stories and help advertisers choose their insertion schedules. That hasn’t changed, but today, brands have co-opted the editorial calendar, in name and essence, as a way to plan and manage their content marketing programs. Read more

Content Production

Because the vast majority of any content marketing program relates to research, strategy, and analysis, some might call content production the “fun” part. It is, after all, the point in the process when your uptight, left-brained strategists finally unleash a horde of neurotic, right-brained creatives to turn your plan into reality. (Sometimes the same person is responsible for both strategy and production—take it from me, you don’t want to hear the conversations going on in that head.) Read more

Production Analytics

I’ve always loved mindless tasks. I remember the day a supervisor at my first job decided she’d reward me for good creative work by taking away all the mindless, entry-level tasks I’d been responsible for—reports, restocking paper, you name it. It was hard to hide my disappointment. Read more

Dessert Content

Content masters create campaigns the same way master chefs create multi-course meals. They think of each course as part of a journey through distinctive but thematically unified experiences. (Now re-read that in Anthony Bourdain’s voice. Much cooler, right? Feel free to have him narrate the rest of this post.) Read more

Content Pillar

You might have never heard the term before, but if you’re running a content marketing program, chances are you’ve worked with content pillars in the past. A content pillar is simply an in-depth piece of content, such as an eBook, whitepaper, video, or research report, that can be broken out into many smaller assets, such as blog posts, infographics, and emails. Read more


If this is your first time hearing the word “microblog,” I know exactly what you’re thinking. [meme: What is this? A blog for ANTS?!] Common misconception. Read more