Its true! Let me explain. While I was at Pubcon in Las Vegas last week, I sat in on a couple of sessions about video optimization, and had this revelation that almost certainly will come to fruition. Search optimization of videos will become a very important component of movie, video, and television production going forward. Accordingly, I want to ensure that our company is prepared once this inevitability occurs … so Stephen Spielberg, I want to throw our name into the short list of potential SEOs of Record now. Here's why you're gonna need us … soon! You can reach me directly at jeff (at) searchenginepeople.com (hehe).
We all know that video is extremely popular on the web. Why not? If a picture paints a thousand words, then video (at 30 frames per second) surely replaces tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of words. Aside from that, video conveys so much that simple text cannot in terms of colours (Canadian eh), emotions, etc. All that to say, video is and will be in very high demand. But video search (aka a series of images) is currently fraught with issues (see Phase I below).
Video Search Phase I:
Until now, the whole concept of video search has been very antiquated. Videos are typically ranked according to relevance as defined by the presence of keywords in title tags, meta tags, and so forth. This is not unlike how search engines operated in the late 90's. If the term "golf clubs" appeared in the title and meta tags for a gambling site … that same gambling site had a good chance of ranking in the search results for the term "golf clubs". There are a couple of serious problems with this approach (1) its very very limiting … a video is only able to target a very finite number of terms, and is seriously disadvantaged in terms of possibilities to rank (since many in-page elements cannot be scored and considered), and (2) is the assumption that people will 'behave themselves' and will not fall victim to the allures of greed. Accordingly … the mass spamming of the search results prevalent in the late 90's by those with a little knowledge, and the inability to find good relevant sites amongst all the spam.
Video Search Phase II:
This phase is the next evolution in video search, and helps to resolve many of the weaknesses of Phase I. It involves analyzing the contents of the video itself, interpreting those contents, and then scoring the component parts. This is far more advanced than merely taking the directors word for it that, "hey, sure this video is about golf clubs" (snicker, snicker). Some of the elements within the video to be extracted and analyzed are:
a) the speech … speech can be automatically translated into text using sophisticated software, then treated algorithmically exactly the same as a text page.
b) the images … extract images of specific people or things recognized from a video (eg. Statue of Liberty, Bill Gates, etc.) and assign relevance points to the words associated with those images. Don't believe me … try this Google Image Labeller tool. Google is attempting to develop a database relating shapes and things to various possible words.
c) the in video text – extract text within videos using OCR (Optical Character Recognition), which is essentially a fancy way of saying software that recognizes letters of various alphabets.
I'm sure there's more too … but for the purpose of simplicity we'll keep it at that mentioned above.
By extracting information contained within the video itself, a checks and balances mechanism is essentially created, as is a means of assessing the relevance of the video to particular terms. Literally, the content of all videos would be converted to their text equivalent, which permits an apples to apples comparison with other web pages. The pages deemed most relevant then according to current algorithms, would be ranked highest in the organic results. It also means, a tremendous amount of the video's contents will then be visible to search engines. All in all, it should lead to far less video search spamming, the return of far more relevant video search results, and far more complete search results on the whole.
Currently these Phase II search engines are independants as I like to describe them, meaning they're not owned by the big 3. I do expect however, that will change as the big 3 look for more ways to improve their search results.
Wouldn't it be nice if every video were indexed by Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask in this way. This is a tremendous opportunity for movie, television, and music producers to attract more interest to their shows and programs. It's similar to song lyrics being published, and we know there are a tremendous number of sites devoted to just that. Movie trailers, music videos, new television pilot programs, and long gone sitcom episodes will all possibly attempt to target very specific, well researched terms. There will be numerous monetization and optimization strategies too. That said, SEO techniques will be required to help videos rank better for both key terms and long tail terms, and should therefore become part of the script creation and video production process.
In the end … SEO will become an important component of video, movie, and television show creation and production. We'll be included in the credits at the end of movies (I like that!). Start thinking about it now … videos created now are likely online indefinitely! When will yours be fully searchable?