SEO for Alternative Content Types, Part 5: Questions and Answers

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In a recent webinar sponsored by Act-On, Thorin McGee, Editor in Chief of Target Marketing Magazine sat down with search engine marketing guru Kevin Lee to talk about how marketers can improve SEO for alternative types of content. That includes video, infographics, images, PDFs, and more. In this five-part blog series, you’ll get expert insights and best practices for developing the right types of content for your brand and making sure they get discovered by your target audiences. Part five is a roundup of questions and answers.


thorinmcgeeTHORIN MCGEE: Kevin, thank you very much. We covered a lot of great ground, a lot of good information there. So now we have a few questions. One of our listeners is asking,  what’s the best way to maximize the search engine optimization on an infographic? How can you present that to have a better chance of Google finding it?

kevin-leeKEVIN LEE: The infographic should have a home on your publishing platform, whatever that might be, whether it’s a blog or a page on your website. Hopefully your content management system is written in such a way to make it easy for you to do that – to create a home for that infographic. And then that infographic can have additional text around it to explain it or go into a little more detail, as well as a call to action if you wanted to use it as a lead gen page. Then you can start promoting it, including in some cases even on places like Pinterest, which is a very visual social platform.

THORIN: So essentially the search engine information, when it’s reading, is coming out of the text you put around the infographic, right? There aren’t necessarily tags in the graphic itself that you’re using?

KEVIN: There may be a little bit of metadata in there. But from what I’m aware of, I don’t believe that ends up being a big ranking factor. Again, it has to live somewhere, even more so than a video.

THORIN: So basically it’s where you put it and what you put around it. Are there any tips on the technical side for making sure it’s going to be picked up by Google? Or anything that would be a mistake that would keep it from being ranked well by Google?

KEVIN: Certainly having a similar thought process [to other types of content] around naming it, both from the file as well as naming the particular page that it’s housed on, ends up being really important. The other reason that the name of the infographic itself and the page that it’s residing on is important is because if you do end up pushing it out via social channels, and you want people to link back to it, that inbound link power often will include something called anchor text which further underscores to the search engines what that piece is about.

The Purpose of PDFs

SEO Friendly ContentTHORIN: You mentioned PDFs tend to rank more highly than Word documents. One of our listeners is wondering, if you’re putting information in the PDF, does that tend to rank more highly than the web page itself? If you were to just take the information and put it on your website, is there an advantage to doing the PDF over that?

KEVIN: We’ve done some testing there. And I’ve been at conferences where this ends up being discussed. No one that I know of has done a really good scientific test to validate or invalidate that one way or the other. I’m going just primarily off of years of experience looking at the search engine results pages and seeing that certain query types tend to result in PDFs ranking quite well. As to whether or not that same exact domain name would have ranked better had they not had the PDF but had it in HTML form, that’s difficult to prove one way or the other.

But one extra comment I would make on PDFs and PDF use is that there are actually two ways to create the PDF. Don’t create it by just scanning in a document that’s printed out. Because most of the times when you do it that way, you’re not going to end up with the text embedded within the PDF as metadata. And it will be impossible, or at least much more difficult, for the search engine to know what the PDF is about.

THORIN: So you should create it in a graphic design program so the text is actually embedded in there. And that way the search engine gets that information for its ranking purposes.

KEVIN: Or even within a lot of various office type programs, if you pick Save As and you pick PDF as your file type, it will end up embedding that metadata in the PDF file type so that Google or Bing can read it.

How Big is a Video Snack?

ActOnPinterestVideosTHORIN: We do have a lot of questions about some of the video stuff you went over. The first one is, you had mentioned taking your videos and making some of your videos snack-sized, perhaps cutting some of your older videos up and making them snack size. But what is the length of a snack? [LAUGHTER] How long is a snack-size video?

KEVIN: I would say it’s under three minutes. But then the right amount below three minutes to go is very dependent on the topic. And it may also be somewhat industry-specific. So to answer that question, whether you end up doing it scientifically or just go into YouTube or some other platform, or watch a bunch of videos around that topic, and get a sense of “on average they’re X number of minutes long, and I’m feeling like I’m enjoying the ones that are shorter more than the ones that are longer,” or vice versa. You don’t want do short shrift on an important topic. And so in that case it may be closer to the three minute mark.

In addition if you’re doing an interview, you don’t always have a lot of choices. When you’re doing influencer interviewers within an industry category, you don’t know how long they’re going to talk when they answer a question. So you end up having a natural break that occurs. But typically people run out of breath eventually. Even me. [LAUGHTER]

THORIN: I hear you. We have something we’ve also wrestled with here, trying to when we take some of our interviews, especially some of our early video interviews that were more in depth, in trying to figure out how can you take that and cut it up in such a way where you get something that someone could consume in the three-to-five minute window. But that’s good advice that you aim for about three minutes and look for the natural break basically in one question. Certainly you can’t control how long your subject talks on a subject.

KEVIN: It’s not a pure SEO issue. But there are playlist functionalities within YouTube and some of the other platforms which help facilitate the grouping together of what would be an incoherent interview if you watched it backwards. So somebody might come in on the fourth of seven, and then realize “Hey, I’m on number four, I’m going skip to number one and start this from the beginning.” But they wouldn’t have found it if it was just one really long video because the topic that was in the fourth segment was the one that caught their attention.

Sharing Videos on LinkedIn

THORIN: A listener is asking about posting videos to LinkedIn. Does LinkedIn have any weight for Google ranking in terms of posting a video to that site?

KEVIN: I haven’t seen any data yet on the LinkedIn publishing platform where it’s been opened up to general LinkedIn users, as opposed to just the original influencers that they rolled out. It’s still pretty new. I have not seen situations where video that was published out to LinkedIn has been ranking well. But that just may be due to the fact that there’s not a lot of video content being published within the LinkedIn platform. Certainly the LinkedIn platform is a great place to include your video, ’cause if you’re a B2B audience or you believe that there are specific segments of people that hang out on LinkedIn who might be interested in your content, it’s absolutely smart strategically. But from a pure SEO perspective there may not be as much of a rationale there. [LAUGHTER]

Professional Quality, or Smartphone?

THORIN: So in terms of that video, do you think that’s more of a professional video site or a kind of a smartphone video site?

KEVIN: I think in general the expectation of production quality in a B2B environment tends to be higher. But again it depends on the particular type of video. If it’s going to be an interview at a trade show or whatever, and it either actually was impromptu or it was designed to seem impromptu, sometimes they actually expect it to have been shot on an iPhone or an Android phone or whatever.

THORIN: It lends a certain veracity to the video, right?

KEVIN: Exactly.

THORIN: And I’m coming back to this again because we had a couple questions about it. But when it comes to video on smartphones, especially if you’re working with a limited marketing budget, one of our listeners is wondering, when do you think that’s acceptable to do a smartphone video, versus having to shell out for a professional production where you may not be able to afford it yet?

KEVIN: That ends up a strategic decision that has to be made on a company by company basis. Just think about it from the top down. If the CEO would be upset at seeing a video that you produced that was below a certain level of production value, it’s probably not a good idea to do it. So you’ll have to think about your corporate culture and your marketing materials in general. Do they meet a specific level of production quality or not? It’s certainly easier to experiment when your video production costs are low and you’re using more inexpensive equipment to produce the video. And then you may need to prove the success before you can get budgets opened up. So finding that happy medium is going to be very dependent on your company.

I recommend you bring it up as a brainstorming item within the marketing meeting, and just say “Hey, I just saw this webinar on video SEO, we really should be investing in it, let’s try to brainstorm on it,” and see what you can do. Sometimes you can partner together with people and share costs of video production. So a manufacturer and a distributor can partner together.

Desktop vs. Mobile Users

product videoTHORIN: When Google’s deciding which search results to return, is there a difference in terms of how much video it returns when the visitor comes from mobile versus on desktop? So is Google for instance prioritizing showing video search results to desktop browsers?

KEVIN: Well they’re definitely changing the algorithm a little bit based on the device type, which screen type you’re using. My guess just from having spoken to many Google engineers over the years, is that they probably try to predict the consumption preference of the individual based on the data they have at that specific point in time about not just the device, but the connection mode. So my guess is they may even adjust the likelihood that they show a video whether they’re on an LTE network or on a Wi-Fi network. Because they can tell the difference.

You may not want to burn through a gig of video if you’re out and about at a bus stop. But if you’re at home and you just happen to be dabbling with your phone, you’re on your own Wi-Fi, so you don’t have a bandwidth issue. So not only will the video play smoother, but you won’t be hit with a big bill later on.

THORIN: In my own experience, I don’t feel like Google is not showing me video when I do search results – or when I’m searching for a term. I feel like on mobile I still see plenty of video search results. But I might be on Wi-Fi and not on my network. Certainly I don’t want to try it if I’m on a 2G network. [LAUGHTER]

KEVIN: Right.

THORIN: On behalf of Target Marketing, Kevin Lee, and Act-On Software, thank you all for attending today’s event.

Alternative SEO_Laptop ImageBe sure to watch the webinar to get the whole story on optimizing SEO for alternative forms of content. And if you want more information on optimizing for search, check out this eBook: How to Make Any Content SEO-Friendly.