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Website | direct-to-market

Posts Tagged ‘website’

Adding Video To Your Website

Why would you want to add video to your website? For a business the most obvious answer is either because it will help to generate additional traffic, or that it will help to better convert existing traffic into customers. A short ‘head & shoulders’ clip of the business owner can work exceptionally well in this respect, because it helps to create a sense of familiarity in the prospect before they ever visit your business. As a bonus, if it’s hosted somewhere like YouTube, it can also create an additional inbound link to your website …and that never hurts!

So how easy is it to do? That’s the question I was asked on Radio Bracknell’s Business In Berkshire programme yesterday morning. The answer…

If you’re halfway handy with a camera, and not afraid of a bit of basic HTML editing on your website, it’s actually pretty easy.

To start off with take your mobile phone, digital compact camera, DV camcorder or similar and film whatever it is that you want to show on your website. Now follow the maker’s instructions to download the short movie to your PC. If you want to edit it, do so with any of the editing software that is available. There’s an example movie later that was filmed on a mobile phone, in a noisy room, at the end of a marketing workshop that I ran when a delegate wanted to leave a testimonial: even though the image quality is far from good, it does get the message across very powerfully.

Alternatively use something like Windows Movie Maker to create your own short movie from a collection of still images that you can zoom-in/out, pan, rotate etc. and narrate over afterwards. You could perhaps use this to make a short movie from a collection of still catalogue photos of some of the products that you sell.

In any event: keep it short and to the point, make it interesting to watch, and try to ensure that your company name and/or contact details are clearly shown in your movie so that if somebody finds it other than through your website they’ll know how to get hold of you.

With your movie now ready, it’s time to upload it from your PC to a server somewhere. You can host it on your own web-server (but beware that it can have a massive impact on your download bandwidth consumption for which you may have to pay), or host it somewhere free such as YouTube: http://www.YouTube.com. If you decide to go down the YouTube route you’ll need to create an account first: that doesn’t take long if you follow the instructions, and is very easy if you already have an email account on googlemail.com.

When your video is uploaded and tested, you’ll be able to obtain a URL (address) for it. This will look something like http://www.youtube.com/v/cUlhhnV9F8s&hl=en&fs=1 and while you can email that link to a friend to watch, you need to do a little more work to get it shown on your website.

First of all decide what webpage you want your movie to appear on, and where on the page. Open up the source code for that webpage in your favourite HTML editor (DreamWeaver & XSitePro are popular choices) and embed the video in the appropriate place. In simple terms that means placing a block of code that looks like this…

<object width=”210″ height=”178″ align=”left” hspace=”15″ vspace=”15″>
<param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/cUlhhnV9F8s&hl=en&fs=1″ />
<param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” />
<param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” />
<embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/cUlhhnV9F8s&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”210″ height=”178″ align=”left” style=”margin-right:35px;  “></embed>
</object>

…wherever you want the video to appear. Obviously you’ll also want to replace the YouTube URL in this example with the one for your own movie, unless you especially want to show your visitors a delegate testimonial from an online marketing workshop that I ran earlier this year! You may also wish to change some of the other parameters, e.g. to alter the size and what happens when the video ends.

Now simply save the HTML source file, upload it to your website, and you’re done.

It really is as simple as that, but if you get stuck at any point (e.g. you’ve made your movie but aren’t comfortable editing your website) give us a call and we’ll try to help you out. If you get stuck at the movie-making stage, and/or want more commercial hosting than YouTube offers, then contact me and I’ll put you in touch with another company we use that specialises in making and hosting business videos for websites.

I hope you found this short article interesting, and if you’d like to be kept updated when similar things are posted please sign up using one of the facilities on the right. Do please also leave a comment if you wish, and of course share this article with others by using the social media links provided below.

And don’t forget that you can listen to me on Radio Bracknell at around the following times:

  • •    10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, live broadcast
  • •    08:50 a.m. Monday morning, repeated
  • •    3:50 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, repeated
  • •    08:50 a.m. Saturday morning, repeated

Getting Your Webpage Found by the Search Engines

A Radio Bracknell listener wrote in asking for advice, saying that he has a “hidden webpage” on his website and wants to ensure that it is found by the search engines. I dug a little deeper and answered the question during yesterday’s “Business In Berkshire” radio slot.

It transpires that the listener’s webpage isn’t so much “hidden”, as simply “not obvious” but it does contain information that he wants the search engines to find, and hopefully add to their index.

The first thing for me to say here is that search engines (like the “bots”, “spiders” and “crawlers” that roam the web doing their work for them) aren’t miracle workers, they are simply algorithms running on a big server somewhere. Or to put it another way, if you want them to help you (by crawling and indexing your web page) it’s a good idea to help them by making that page reasonably easy to find! If it’s a really important page to you, include a link to it on your homepage. If it’s not that important, then put a link to it on a second or third level page or similar, but consider that if you can’t find it through the navigation structure you provide there’s a good chance that the search engines won’t either.

You can go further than that though and provide a sitemap to help the search engines too. Don’t mistake this for a sitemap designed to help human visitors because it isn’t, the one I’m talking about is really designed to help search engines. By convention it’s called sitemap.xml and sits in the root directory of your website, i.e. the same directory as your homepage. If you want to read all about sitemaps here’s a useful URL: http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.php

But what if you don’t want the search engines to crawl a certain area of your website? One way is to create a file called robots.txt and put that in the root directory of your website, alongside your sitemap.xml and homepage. Using robots.txt you can manually specify certain directories and even files that you do or do not want to be crawled. You can learn more about robots.txt here: http://www.robotstxt.org/robotstxt.html This will work well for the ‘respectable’ search engines.

The only problem however is that following robots.txt is optional, not mandatory, and if there’s a spider out there that fancies ignoring it then it can and will. Indeed, some rogue spiders may even look for things that are expressly disallowed and then try to find ways to crawl them on the basis they may be more interesting to them! If you have sensitive data you need to take steps to protect it, and that is outside the scope of this article. Phone me though, and I’ll try to help.

You can also try to stop webpages being indexed on a per-page basis if you wish, when the bot gets there, by including a special instruction in the page’s meta-data, up in the HEAD where human’s don’t see it. It looks like this:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>
Sounds complex? It can be, just like robots.txt, especially if you get it wrong, but 99% of webmasters get by without knowing about things like this.

Finally it’s important to realise that just because a spider has crawled your website (i.e. wandered around and taken a look at the contents) it doesn’t mean that it will appear in that search engine’s index (a decision made later) let alone be retrieved in the SERPs (search engine results pages – i.e. what people see after typing in their query). And this of course is what the vast majority of website owners want: to be found.

The inter-relationships here, and ways to manipulate them, are complex at best and far outside the scope of a book let alone this article, so if you need help with your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Search Engine Local Optimisation get in touch and we’ll be happy to help you out.

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