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Promote Your Web Site with Videos
by William Szczepanek

Article 20: February 19, 2009

The Web is great for publishing text, and search engines do a magnificent job of parsing this text and providing a reference point for people to find things.  So, as we have mentioned in the past, content is king and words are important.  Flash graphics and animation can provide a good amount of zing to a site, but carefully written text must be in place for robots to find the site and good structure must allow the visitor to traverse the site with ease and purpose. Social networking hit the scene a few years ago and is currently the thing to be into to get recognized.

So, what’s next?  You guessed it. Videos. Thoughtful videos with great content that are found through keywords and keyword associations are now flooding the Web. Videos can keep people on your site and give you a better chance to convert them to customers, particularly when people take only 7 seconds to decide to stay or go on.

Video presents information in a way that people are comfortable with.  TV Commercials, YouTube, and other video snips hit people all the time, just where they want to be hit, right between the eyes.  Companies are hoping the videos will make it to their brain. Part of the problem with videos is that they are passive.  People just sit and watch.  It’s hard to surf through a video because you don’t know what you might miss.  That’s why it’s important that videos be short, to the point and serve a purpose. Making a video is now easier than ever before, but making a good video is still very difficult.

So, now you say, go make videos of myself and put them on my website.  Are you crazy? I need to lose fifty pounds.  Actually, maybe you don’t.  It seems that everyone is making videos, some good and some bad, but the important thing is the sincerity of the video. Slick corporate videos still hit the mark and corporations have the deep pockets for good writing and production work, but what about the small shop.  In fact, it seems that people are paying attention and will buy from people who seem to be a lot like them  There are many videos out there being done by small company Presidents and CEOs who really aren’t very good at formal presentations, but who do come across as honest and straightforward; and, ultimately, people will buy from them.

I’m not talking about the old-time talking head videos.  They are still boring, but often a person can put themselves in their product space, be it a lighting manufacturer or a baseball card dealer and really do a good job.  Certain people find their videos interesting.  I don’t always know why, except that they are catering to a need.

An example of good video application can be seen on this page of a lighting dealer, where manufacturer videos present history, styles and company values. (Video page)

New techniques that allow the spokesperson to walk around your screen and talk have received mixed reviews.  Some say that it is a distraction, others say that figures prove that increased sales are generated. So, make sure that your video is controller by the visitor and doesn’t start blaring upon entering your page.

Get Links from Videos

Many video hosts will allow you to embed videos on your website and obtain links from those videos to your site.  You can have people visiting your site that never would have thought of it before.

Is It Best to Produce the Videos Yourself or Find a Professional?

There are an increasing number of people and companies available that can do video production work at relatively low prices.  The technology has hit the masses, but only a few really have the talent to produce a good video.  Camera angle, lighting, panning technique are all important if you are to gain the respect of your audience for a professional product video.  Good quality video is also important.  YouTube just started displaying video in high definition and a good high def camera is necessary to get the job done well.  That said, don’t go out and buy that camera, unless you know you have a computer with the power to adequately edit high definition files.  The software to perform these functions is extremely processor and memory hungry and sometimes the computer must be solely dedicated to the video function without any other background tasks running, especially virus software that regularly activates itself and grabs CPU cycles.

So, now we all need to become actors and actresses. Isn’t that the case anyway?  Play the part.  Learn the role.  Tell the truth. Get yourself noticed. Better yet, find someone who knows what their doing in this area and hire them.  You could save a little money and a lot of time.

Don’t Forget the Audio

Audio is a very important part of a video that is often overlooked. No matter how good your video is, poor audio will detract from the presentation.

In general there are three different types of audio:

The Location

For capturing the sound from a scene such as a crowd or traffic noises, omnidirectional microphones can be placed in strategic places, though they are more of a challenge than cardioid microphones.  Typically, two will be required to project a stereo sound.  Sometimes two microphones can be placed in the same area, but pointed in opposite directions to capture the incoming sound from each direction. Omnidirectional mics can be more expensive than cardioid mics, and can also present other technical challenges than can be difficult to overcome.  In general, most audio gets converted to mono when uploaded to video hosts like YouTube, but stereo audio will become more common in the near future. For an inexpensive and easier solution you can investigate a set of microphones that are housed in one body that will handle the stereo aspects of recording while ensuring the mono result will be acceptable.

Narration

Good audio narration is achieved by using a vocal microphone in a sound proof area such as a vocal booth where extraneous noise can be eliminated, but adequate results can be achieved with a simple cardioid mic in a quiet room.  Most consumer cameras cannot properly record narration.

For capturing narration while on camera, special consideration needs to be given to eliminating extraneous noise as much as possible.  Certain types of microphones work better than others.  Typically, voice in this situation is recorded using a directional hypercardiod microphone.  Lavalier mics, which attach to clothing can also be used, but they can be a problem if clothing rubs against them or the sound gets muffled by the clothing.  In most cases a suitable mic can be found that can plug into your camera.

Syncing Audio

You may be able to use your camera as a recorder and achieve reasonable results or use a portable harddisk recorder that plugs into the camera.  Often, though, sound tracks need to be synchronized and adjusted in the final production to get the desired results.

For any questions regarding audio, check out the Speaking Audio blog.

Conclusion

Getting great audio to go with your great video takes a considerable amount of effort, talent and knowledge.  If you have the time patience and money to invest in learning this art you can be a valuable resource, but often the expenses required for the right equipment go beyond the budget of the hobbyist.  At these times it is cheaper to find a professional who has the right equipment and knows what he/she is doing.