There are more than a few medical marketing agencies evangelizing video and “video Web sites.” In future issues I’ll explain how video can deliver good value for your patients and your practice, and I’ll even share what patients themselves say about Web videos. But this week, I’m asking you to be a little skeptical. Video may sound like the Next Big Thing in flashy, exciting Web marketing, but any rational discussion (this is business after all) needs to begin with a review of the facts.
- Video Occupies a Tiny Fraction of Search Results
More than 90% of searchers are using Google, Yahoo and MSN. While YouTube, the popular video community site, enjoys immense popularity, it’s not really a search engine.If you search Google, the #1 search engine, for anything related to your practice, you’re not likely to find many video results. For instance, a search using the phrase “Los Angeles breast reduction” uncovers no video on the first page of results. At the top of the second page I found Amalia’s Breast Reduction in Los Angeles, a video we optimized and promoted for Dr. Grant Stevens. It was the only video on the second page and there were no videos on page 3 through 5. That’s 1 video in the top 50 results.
Maybe, you’re thinking, that’s because a lot of other Los Angeles breast reduction surgeons aren’t yet on board with Web video. But in fact, YouTube alone has 27 videos that relate to “Los Angeles breast reduction.” Google, which owns YouTube, has decided that only 1 of those videos, and in fact only 1 video on Los Angeles breast reduction from the entire Internet, should appear among its top 50 results.
- Most of the Videos Featured in Search Results Are Hosted by the Search Engine
Google owns YouTube. MSN and Yahoo also have their own branded video channels. When you use each search engine, videos from their proprietary video program will dominate the results. While there are some good technical and financial reasons for this, take a second to understand what it means. The person who encounters your video is usually at least 2 clicks away from your site, and there are plenty of distractions between the first and second click (like the video of the water skiing squirrel that will appear just to the right of your breast reduction video on YouTube…those skiing squirrels are just so cute!).
- Videos Don’t Yet Allow Embedded Links
Yahoo and MSN now allow you to play and preview videos WITHOUT LEAVING THE SEARCH RESULTS. And since videos don’t allow you to link out, what does the potential patient do next? They might repeat the search with your name if they took note of it while watching your video on the results page, but that means you must have great natural search rankings to be able to get patients from the video. Or, if they are on YouTube they might hunt around and find the link, but by default YouTube hides most of the descriptive content that includes your link.More importantly, when we compare the number of times a surgeon’s videos are watched on YouTube to the number of people who click through from those videos to the surgeon’s site, the ratio is about 1 click for every 1000 or so views (with an even lower ratio for videos with “breast” in the title). So while these videos are increasing visibility for the doctor and practice, they are not generating tons of qualified traffic.
- Video Remains Largely Impenetrable to Search Engines
Technology is progressing quickly, and search engines like MSN and Blinxx are working to use voice recognition software to create a transcript of video and search the words in the transcript. But today, video search relies on small attached text-based descriptive content. So video search today is still a variation on plain text search, and video search tomorrow, when full video transcripts get searched…will also be an extension of plain text search.The implications are clear. Today, you need carefully crafted and optimized descriptions attached to your videos. And, think about this, soon you will find yourself speaking differently – you will be working your keywords in to your speech to ensure your video transcripts contain content that will get you found!
- Search Engines Index Video Segments Not Video Sites
There’s a lot of buzz around video Web sites at the moment. Search engines however only index individual video segments. Most search engines still struggle to jump to a specific spot within a video…so each video should be short and tightly focused on a single topic.
- It’s Tough to Bookmark & Print Video
How often do patients come in to your office with print outs of procedure information and before and after photos? Printing from video files is difficult or impossible for most computer users, and the print quality generally will be poor. At the same time, if a searcher wants to quickly return to a specific point in the video they need to note down how they found the video, which video it was and how many seconds into the video the point of interest was since they cannot easily bookmark a section of a video like they can for a traditional Web page.
- Most Video Web sites Rely Heavily on Flash
In order to organize and play video, most video Web sites rely heavily on Flash. Flash remains impenetrable to most search engines, rendering your video content virtually invisible. That’s one of the reasons why search engines most often return video content from their own video community Web sites. We’ve developed a solution which we’ll discuss later this month.
- There is a Movement in Search More Powerful than Video
If one of your potential patients types “bariatric surgeon new york” or “los angeles plastic surgeon” into a search engine, what are they most likely to see first? Hint: the answer is not video.Local, map-centric search results consistently appear near the very top of the page. All the search engines are clamoring for ways to make their results more helpful for people searching for local community resources. This push toward local results so far has eclipsed the movement to blend video, audio, text and other media into a single search result. As soon as we finish our coverage of video we’ll explore the turbulent local search marketing landscape.
Because our role is to help our clients spend their marketing dollars effectively, I have to challenge the irrational exuberance surrounding video marketing and video Web sites and encourage a more grounded discussion on where video belongs in your online marketing mix.
Next week we’ll explore several smart and productive ways to use video in your medical Web site design.
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