Should you add video content to your website?

Adding video can help drive traffic to your website and raise your profileYour web content includes all the information on your website or blog, and that content can be made available in a variety of forms: copy, images, document files (e.g. Word or PDF), audio or video.

As more and more websites start offering video content, the question is, should we all follow the trend and start adding it too?

Yes and no.

The point of adding video content to your site is to enrich what you already have, add value or provide one or more extra benefits that written words alone can not achieve with the same level of success.

Despite these obvious benefits, video content is not right for every audience.

Location, location

I am an avid user of websites and I like to surf from lots of different locations.  If I am out and about – in a busy café, in a very quiet shared office (or on an early morning train carriage full of dozing commuters) – the last thing I want to do is tune in to a video and either shatter the peace (and attract disapproving looks) or battle against other noises to hear and follow a video.

And assuming I did have a pair of good headphones (and carried them with me all the time), whipping them out in an office can feel a little…conspicuous.

But personal challenges – and location – aside, if your website or blog has a specific target audience in mind, it’s worth assessing whether video content will be a good fit for that group.

For example, the customers you are trying to reach may prefer to have a ‘physical bulk’ – in other words, information on paper that they can take away with them; information that was made for scribbled notes in the margins.

Some video content hurdles…

As a content owner your first task will be to find out as much as you can about video formats, how to create video content, or, to find and pay someone else to help you do it.

One of the main challenges to overcome with video is file size.  Like audio content, videos can be bandwidth*-hungry if the files are not compressed (i.e. shrunk to make them smaller and use less space), if there is a lot of movement between each video frame. (the frames are the still images that are combined in sequence into one file to create the moving image), or if you have many people trying to view the same video at the same time.

(*Bandwidth is the transmission capacity that is needed to display video content.  It is measured in MHz and calculated using the resolution and frames per second.)

Bandwidth is important because a lack of it can lead to connection, speed or quality issues.

If you are hosting the videos yourself or using a hosting company, check your bandwidth allowance and observe any restrictions.

Similarly, if you are adding large video files to your website, check how long these files will take to load, and test whether the load times work from a customer viewpoint.

…and how to overcome them

One way to overcome bandwidth challenges is to use video streaming companies.  Such companies will host and maintain your video content for you, and will take care of bandwidth and load time concerns on your behalf, for a fee.

Alternatively, you could upload your video for free to any number of free video-sharing, social media websites or podcasting directories, or even use services that will automate the distribution process for you.

Now for the good news….

There are some very sound reasons for adding video content to your website.  I’ve commented on this blog that one of the main benefits of using video is to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’. For example, instructional or educational content such as ‘how to update your blog themes’, or ‘how to change your domain name server (DNS) settings’ etc where ‘seeing’ it happen on the screen in front of you is far more powerful than reading about how to do it.

And the benefits don’t end there.
Here are five for you to consider:

1) Higher profile

If you are hoping to generate more interest and engage a wider audience, video content is the best way to achieve this. Video has great viral potential.  And viral appeal means your content will make its way to a vast number of people, quickly.  In doing so, will help to raise your profile and that of your brand, product or service.

2) Increased traffic

If your video is uploaded to other video-sharing sites, it can help to drive traffic to your website.  If your video goes viral, it will also contribute to the flow of traffic to your website or blog.  One bi-product of the viral process is that the combined effect of your keywords (your videos should all have relevant keywords added to them) will help to boost your search engine ranking for the keyword terms you have used.

3) Increased ‘stickiness’

If you have the video content on your own site, it can help improve your website ‘stickiness’, in other words, its appeal.  This is what keeps visitors interested, and entices them to stay on your site longer, to delve deeper, and to come back for repeat visits.

4) The personal touch

People buy people, and this is particularly true online where there are so many websites and a bewildering number of choices for web users.  By including video content, you add a human dimension to your online presence.  You give your customers a voice and face to connect with – and trust.

5) Fun factor

Video content can be fun for you the content owner and for those who view it.  It is a journey of discovery…and one that I hope to go on myself before too long.

Post written by DEBBIE THOMAS on 18 February 2011.