The power of search is something I believe in very strongly for all my clients and students, but it represents an especially big opportunity for screen media. The moment someone is typing something into a search engine is a very powerful one. They are actively looking for something very specific. If it is relevant to your film, television show or web series then you need to be found. This means creating a search friendly web presence and being well educated about the language people are using in those moments of search. While the needs of movies, TV and online video are often somewhat different, here is a list of ten search engine optimization (SEO) best practices they can all benefit from:
Tip #1 – Do your keyword research homework.
All solid SEO begins with solid keyword research, what I like to call your SEO language ecosystem. The words and phrases discovered through this process are the foundation for many of the things you can do with and for your screen media project online and will guide your search strategy.
Tip #2 – Get problematic technology out of the way.
Tip #3 – Leverage tags.
There are a number of important places to include keywords, although not all carry equal weight with the search engines as they try to figure out what your page/project is about. Some of the most important ones to consider:
- HTML title tag (Appears in your page programming, the top of browsers and is the title seen in search results. If you only worry about one tag, this is the one to worry about. Make it intriguing to human searchers but also include keywords reflective of the content on your page.)
- Meta description tag (Appears in search engine listings as the description for your page. Allows you to control your branding, but doesn’t help improve search performance.)
- Video & image titles (Visible titles on the page for your video and still assets can include important keywords to help with findability in search, but make sure they are relevant and human friendly too.)
- Hashtags (Check out my article on the power of the hashtag to learn more about how to leverage these important social media tags.)
Other tags that less important, but it doesn’t hurt to create them with keyword awareness. These include: blog tags, alt tags, header tags, link text, URL strings, video transcriptions, and any text you include around video and images to provide context and descriptions.
Tip #4 – Use Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Google & Bing both provide invaluable insight as to the performance of your website on each engine. You need to create and submit an XML sitemap for your site to take advantage of this information, but these dashboards show you what other sites are linking to yours, crawl and other technical errors as well as provide suggestions for optimization improvements. It is well worth jumping through some of the hoops to verify your site and get access to this data.
Tip #5 – Leverage advanced coding.
For those who are more tech savvy or SEO inspired, you can implement some advanced coding options such as the rich snippets suggested for movies or TV or any creative work on Schema.org and, if you have blog content, Google authorship. These can help pages from your site get extra additions like links and pictures which can help them stand out in the search listings.
Tip #6 – Manage your page load times.
The longer it takes your pages to load, the worse your site will do on the search engines. Google and Bing want to return sites that offer the best user experience and slow loading sites just don’t do it. Human visitors will also likely bail on your site if it takes too long to load, so it just makes sense to ensure your site is nimble and easy to load. Google Analytics and tools like Pingdom can provide data on load times. If you find pages of your site are slow, then cleaning up programming and reducing/optimizing image and file sizes are some of the ways you can speed things up.
Tip #7– Provide fresh, regular content.
The search engines are going through constant evolution these days, with Google announcing the rollout of one new algorithm update after another. Unique, interesting, relevant and regular text content additions are being rewarded like never before (and static, stale sites with only repurposed content are being penalized). Having a content strategy is now key to success with search. It will also give you plenty to share on a regular basis on social media which is also important. Luckily, most screen media projects generate all kinds of material as they are being researched, written and shot. The trick is to then roll these out on a regular schedule and try to provide context guided by your keyword research to attract a potential audience through search.
Tip #8 – Integrate social networks with each other and your website.
Social and search go hand in hand these days. Social cues of all sorts are informing search engine results (such as Google’s Search+ Your World and Bing including more Facebook and Twitter in its results) and social networks like Facebook and YouTube are being used for search on their own. It has never been more important to make sure you website includes full social media integration with links to all your profiles as well as the ability for visitors to share, like, tweet and +1 every bit of content you have. It is also important to make sure all your social profiles include links to your site and your other social media wherever possible.
Tip #9 – Find a way to authentically use Google+.
The above tip becomes critical when it comes to Google. Although I believe you should only participate on social networks when your audience is authentically there and active, Google forcing the world into Google+ adoption if you want to do well on its search engines. And as it is still the king of search this means those that want to do well on Google, often have to also play on Google+. This presents a challenge for everyone, but one I feel screen media creators are more than equipped to meet. Take some time getting to know Google+ and try to come up with a creative way of leveraging it authentically for your film, TV or web video project. One of its most interesting functionality is Google+ Hangouts on Air which allow you to broadcast your video conference/panel/live show/etc to the world. There are definitely possibilities here for screen media to improve performance on both social and search.
Tip #10 – Track and measure your website and social media metrics for search (and everything else).
This is so much useful data available to you now – from your website, from your social media, from your keyword research and other places and tools around the web. All of this information gives you power as a content creator. Take time to regularly track and analyze this data (at least every month) to see how your SEO and other strategies performed. How did people find you? And how did they not? There are often surprises that can help you get better and better results if you listen and respond.
What Do You Think?
Do you have questions about any of the SEO tips above? Have you tried to make the online presence for your film, TV or web series project search friendly? What were the results? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Next issue: The Creative Brain vs the Marketing Brain
Or revisit the previous issue: Social TV Conversations: Twitter vs. Facebook