Answers To The 4 Most Pressing
Questions About Online Video Strategy

Remember when video killed the radio star?

The song was recorded in 1979, but video’s inexorable march towards dominion over all things entertainment had begun long before.

But what about now? Of course video is massively important offline, but how important is it online?

The answer: pretty important, possibly even essential, depending on your niche.

Granted, nothing beats compelling and effective copy. But a well-executed video strategy has its own unique advantages. And don’t forget, most great videos are built on a foundation of great copy.

The key, as with everything else, is whether it’s being well-executed.

Does your video strategy have you on a path towards success or towards feeling vanquished like the radio star?

It all starts by understanding the answers to these four questions, all of which we see in our help desk on a regular basis.

Should I Self-Host My Videos?

Once you’ve decided to forge ahead with video, you have an urgent decision to make: are you going host the videos on your own server or allow a 3rd party to deliver them?

Self-hosting has its benefits:

  • The video is found only on your website.
  • Search engine results for the video deliver people to your website.
  • You can brand it and deliver it any way you want to.
  • Your site receives links when others embed or share the video.

But the self-hosting of video also has drawbacks:

  • Strain on server to deliver video on demand.
  • Increased storage costs.
  • Limited view potential

The pluses and minuses of hosting on a 3rd party site are, obviously, the vice versa of the above. And there are others.

Katie Matsudaira wrote an excellent post about video strategy over at SEOMOZ. As she suggests, there are no one-size-fits-all answers to this particular question. In fact, hybrid strategies often work the best.

Katsudaira suggests the following four hybrid strategies for self-hosting and posting on YouTube*:

  1. Put mini videos on YouTube, and the longer length content on your site.
  2. YouTube compresses video to a lower quality, so you can offer an high definition or higher quality version on your site.
  3. Offer relevant materials (articles, white papers, quizzes, etc) on your site that compliment the content in the video.
  4. Put the same video on both YouTube and your site. (Then use strategic titling and a video sitemap to make sure the video on your site is the one that comes up for the priority keywords.)

*Note: If you’re going to go with a hybrid strategy, use YouTube. You’ll maximize your exposure potential.

Figure out what will work for you. It’s going to be dependent on your content, your objectives, and your budget.

But don’t just assume you’re going to post on YouTube without considering the benefits of self-hosting, if you can absorb the costs.

Likewise, don’t just automatically decide to self host without considering what you’d be missing.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world – a “monster you can’t ignore.” If you are going to restrict your content from the benefits of YouTube. or other 3rd party video sites, you should have a very good reason why.

YouTube or Vimeo (or Wistia)?

So you’re going to post your video on a 3rd party site. Good! It’s a wise choice. But which 3rd party should you go with?

This article by Don Power does a great job of breaking down the pros and cons of YouTube and Vimeo.

Simply put:

  • YouTube provides the most potential viewers for the lowest cost.
  • Vimeo provides higher quality video and more options for customization.

Neither YouTube or Vimeo is necessarily better than the other. The question, again, is which one will work best for you?

If you’re on a tight budget or your video is about a highly searched topic, YouTube is the way to go.

If you can afford to splurge, and style is more important to you, Vimeo should entice you.

And don’t forget: you can do both.

Go ahead and post your video on YouTube so it’s there for all that search traffic. Then use Vimeo to host a higher quality version of it.

If you’re not going to self host your videos, and you can afford Vimeo’s premium service, I strongly consider hosting videos that will be embedded on your site with Vimeo. They’ll have a higher resolution and look cleaner, plus you can brand the player.

There are also sites like Wistia that are excellent choices for those business who want to go “next level” with their video hosting. This post by Samuel Axon describes how Wistia and Vimeo have challenged YouTube by offering a higher quality, more robust option.

For example, if you want to be able to drill into visitors as far as knowing what IP address they watched from and how far into the video they watched, Wistia is a great option.

How Do I Optimize Video?

The final aspect of your video strategy is optimization.

Yes, this means search engine optimization, but it also means general optimization – making it the best piece of video content possible. This post by Brian Clark describes persuasive online video strategies that prompt action. The single biggest piece of advice:

Online video must be engaging before it can be persuasive.

Video must be engaging to compel someone to share it or link to it to embed it, all keys to driving more viewers and enhancing the video’s SEO.

All Copyblogger readers know this, but it bears repeating: create content for people first, then spoon feed the search engines. As Google’s algorithm has evolved, this has continued to be the best way to ensure long-term search engine success.

Not surprisingly, many of the most trusted SEO strategies for videos adhere to this principle. For example, Rand Fishkin at SEOMOZ describes video SEO here during one of his Whiteboard Friday segments.

A few quick lessons in video optimization …

Video Titles
The video title (which becomes the page title on YouTube) is key in terms of ranking. But, the most important element of the title is that it prompts someone to actually watch the video. The basic rules of writing compelling headlines certainly applies here.

On-Page Content
The content around a video will help determine its ranking. If it’s a self-hosted video, or embedded on your site, that means the copy before and after the video. If it’s a 3rd party video, that means the description, the comments, and even the transcript (like you can create with YouTube) will have an impact.

Links and Social Media Shares Matter
The same elements that influence page rankings will influence video rankings. Thus, links from relevant sites, being embedded on relevant sites, and being shared via social media will all help bump a video’s ranking both in Google and YouTube’s search engine.

Time Matters
This is a big one. People do not have a ton of time to invest in watching a video. The second it becomes uninteresting, viewers will click away and thus, not share or act on it.

Mass Posting Services
There are services that will post your video across many 3rd party sites. Be careful. This will result in the same video having the same title all over the place. It may be better to post individually yourself so you can control the title and description on each site, varying it strategically.

How Do I Generate Revenue With Video?

You generate revenue with video in one of two ways:

  1. Directly (e.g. pre-roll ads, pop-up ads during the video, syndication)
  2. Indirectly (e.g. driving people to your website, building awareness)

The first way is easy to quantify. The second, not nearly as much.

Which way will work best for you? The answer to this question lies in what kind of video you’ll be producing.

To make money directly from video via advertising, audience size is key.

You may have heard of people making hundreds of thousands of dollars on YouTube, but these folks are the exception, not the rule. The only way you’re going to make significant sums of money from YouTube advertising – or an equivalent form – is to drive lots and lots of hits, because payment is based on traffic volume.

Are you crafting your videos for viral potential? Can they reach a massive audience? Or can you wriggle into a niche and carve out a big enough piece of the pie to be attractive? If so, you can generate revenue from them directly.

If not, you need to be realistic.

For most people online, especially the types of customers we have here at Synthesis, videos are going to generate revenue indirectly.

  • A how-to video on YouTube could build intrigue and lead to someone visiting your website.
  • A video on your website might help you go from unknown search engine result to trusted resource for a Google referral.
  • A video may give you a reason to write a new piece of content that ranks for a relevant keyword and leads to more prospects.
  • A video can serve as a commercial for your own services.

And this is why you should not discount the power of video just because you can’t drive 1,000,000 hits. The possibilities for indirect revenue generation are endless.

What shouldn’t be endless is your strategy.

Define it.

A video won’t reach an audience or a business objective without you knowing what they are, and where you want to go.


Video is not cheap or easy to produce. So it’s not for everyone.

In most cases you’re better off waiting to produce a good video than sinking resources into a crappy one that could potentially have a negative effect on your business.

But, if you have the resources to produce good video, it absolutely should be a part of your strategy. The potential for impact is simply too great.

Just ask the radio star.


  1. Excellent tips to consider! To expand on your point about keeping the audience’s attention, it’s important for businesses to try to keep the viewer’s attention for at least the first 5-8 seconds of a video–otherwise, on some platforms it won’t count for your final viewcount. It’s important to keep small details like this in mind to ensure your video is getting the exposure it deserves.

Leave a Reply