In my last virtual workshop session, we were talking about search engine optimization.
One of my students had just been through a redesign of his company’s web site and they had put it on WordPress. WordPress lets you implement what’s called a “tag cloud,” which is a block of variable-sized words that visually represent the frequency of tag words as they appear on your site.
If you look at the bottom of this page in fact, you’ll see a rather ugly tag cloud (I know, I have to fix that.) It kind of looks like the image here on the right.
So my student asked me if this tag cloud feature on his new site would affect the search engine optimization of the site. Hm… interesting question! I decided to investigate.
I did some research on tag clouds and SEO initially read several articles and blog posts that completely conflicted with each other (so what else is new?). Then I found this video, straight from the mouth of Google’s Quality Search and Web spam team member, Matt Cuts.
Essentially what Matt says is “It depends”. The main criteria for Google’s spam team is “does this tag cloud seem spammy”? Of course they don’t come right out and tell you exactly how they determine this. But knowing what I know about Google’s intentions, it would be logical that the following things would be considered spammy, and might negatively impact your page rank.
Matt suggests it would be better to just have a side bar with links to your individual posts, since a tag cloud link essentially goes to a search results page, not a specific post page.
Anyway, watch the video and decide for yourself.
I spent quite a bit of time this week researching and playing with different options for displaying video.
Even for somebody fairly technical, I have to admit this stuff is pretty complicated. I want to help you by simplifying things a little bit. If you are thinking of putting a video on your web site and you either don’t want to or can’t afford a professional video person, I hope you will experiment with some DIY options. I hope this helps guide you.
Caveat: As with any attempt to simplify something complex, there are things I am glossing over, and other things I am omitting altogether. In some cases I’m using some “creative license” to illustrate a point, which I hope will make a complex concept easier for most of my audience to digest.
If you have questions please post a comment below.
Video comes in a variety of formats. The format is defined by the extension on the end of the filename of the video file. For example, if you are using a Blackberry or an iPhone to take video, you will end up with a .mov file extension. If you are using a Sony Flip camera on the other hand, you’ll have a .mp4 file. Flash video has a .flv extension. Different formats were developed by different companies or organizations, and each format has it’s own set of parameters, settings, and issues.
If you have a choice, it’s best to go with .mov or .mp4 as they are most compatible with all the browsers, including mobile devices. If you think your audience might be looking at your video with an iPhone or iPad however, stay away from Flash because it’s not supported on those devices.
The easiest way to get your video on your web site is to put it on YouTube (or some other video sharing site). Create an account if you don’t have one, and log in. In the corner of the screen is a link for “Upload a video”. Click that an it walks you through the upload process. It’s really easy. Just make sure your video is less than 10 minutes long (actually I recommend 5 minutes or less, just so you don’t bore your audience).
Once you have your video up on YouTube, you’ll see a box labeled “embed code”. That field has some html code in it, which you can copy and paste into your web page code. If you don’t know anything about HTML, just paste it into an email message and send it to your web guy or gal and tell them where on your web page you want it to display.
If you have a WordPress site, they make it even easier to put your video into your page. Here’s a screenshot of me writing this blog post in my WordPress “Edit Post” page:
See at the top of the screenshot, where it says “Upload/Insert”? Right next to it is a set of four icons. The second icon looks like a little film strip (well, sort of). If you click that you get another screen where you can either upload your video right to your web site host, or choose the “From URL” option and paste in the location of your video on YouTube. Like this:
Note that the “Video URL” value is an actual browser url, not the embed code as in the previous example.
If you don’t have a WordPress site, it’s pretty easy to convert an existing web site to WordPress. If you are interested in having someone do this for you, email me your web site address and I’ll give you a quote or point you to some resources to fit your budget.
I’m planning to have a complete online workshop that covers the entire process of creating and uploading a video. In that workshop I will demonstrate the basics, and then cover some of the more advanced topics like optimizing for search, promoting, how to write a good script. I’ll also cover different options for low-cost equipment, free format converters, editing software, and how to create a slideshows with voiceover.
If you’d like to be notified when the advanced class is available, please join our newsletter mailing list. When you join you’ll also get a copy of the abridged (free) version of my eBook, The Small Business Website Design Guide.
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