Thursday, October 21, 2010

The SEO Myth

A substantial industry has grown around SEO (search engine optimisation), which, essentially, tries to get you listed higher in Google searches. Now, this has value in certain contexts, without doubt, and it is, ostensibly, easy to measure cause and effect and to see what investment is working.

But the industry has become a race for the bottom with suppliers undercutting each other and some very dubious and nebulous techniques being used.

Recently we revamped two of the sites on the VidZapper platform, Filmbeat TV and Sportzzone TV and, rather than using traditional sales houses and selling video and banner ads we put in place Google Adsense as placeholders. Another thing we didn't do initially was optimise the channels (or web pages) in any way for SEO. Indeed, the pages are as bot unfriendly as they could be.

I didn't pay much more attention for a while, but recently, whilst planning adding in these 'required' features and optimising the SEO I returned and had a look at the figures.

They were stunning.

Filmbeat TV – 6.12% CTR and £15.30 eCPM

Sportzzone TV – 3.30% CTR and £16.49 eCPM

Indeed, we've seen daily eCPMs of over £50 and CTRs over 10% and the results have been consistent over three months, albeit for reasonably small channels, delivering around 100k videos a month at present.

Now, remember, Google has no idea what these web pages are about and therefore DOES NOT target ads at the audience, yet the results are ten times better than what I’ve seen on carefully constructed and targeted SEO theory based video channels.

We don't yet know if this is sustainable as you grow an audience, and, obviously, this doesn't help deliver traffic from search engines, but these tend to be minor sources of traffic for video channels anyway.

How badly over-rated is SEO for video delivery ?