Can Video Enhance SEO ROI for Service-Oriented Websites?

Different calls to action require different approaches. In my experience there are generally a handful of different types of sites, from a very general SEO standpoint.

  • Typical e-commerce websites that want relevant traffic and hope to convert as large a percentage as possible to sales.
  • Lead-generation sites – typically for service oriented businesses. May include lawyers, doctors, web designers or even businesses selling high-ticket products such as car dealers.
  • Large content and informational websites, general and niche directories that typically want volumes of relevant traffic so as to capitalize on advertising.
  • Large content sites such as the above mentioned that aim to direct users to an array of affiliate programs.
  • Online services or membership sites that either aim to profit via a membership fee or residual advertising.

How these differ is that they each require a unique call to action. This sometimes gets lost in the SEO world. High search engine rankings are great. Increased traffic is great too. But at the end of the day the stats most people are most concerned with are sales, leads or actionable events.

If I’m an e-commerce site, I care about search engine rankings because they can bring me relevant traffic. I care about traffic because more traffic can bring me more sales. Sales is my primary measuring stick.

If I’m a site for a service business, its likely that my primary measuring stick is leads or inquiries. How many leads did my website produce this month?

These actionable events (leads, sales, signups, etc.) are a product of two factors.

number of visitors to website
conversion rate

An increase in relevant traffic is only as useful as my conversion rate allows it to be. Which finally brings my long-winded self to the point of this post: Video.

I came across a number of sites today that on first glance seemed to be the typical “internet marketing secrets revealed” infomercial-style sites we all have seen so many of. But in this case, not so. I clicked on one of the demo videos, and was greated by a gentleman who consults with firms regarding the user-interface of their sites, and how to improve them to increase sales. He spoke for about 15 seconds and built some credibility with me.

He then in a very convincing voice asked me to close my eyes.

I didn’t.

He said “No really, close your eyes.”

I thought “um… okay”.

He then asks me to raise my left leg.

I humored him, and felt kind of silly about it.

He then says to raise my right hand.

I didn’t. I figured this guy was going to keep it up and I had humored him enough…

He says, come on – let go of the mouse and raise your right hand – last request, I promise.

I laugh – yeah my hand was still on the mouse. Okay, I let go and raise my hand… while still having my left leg raised and my eyes closed. I feel like a dork but figure its no big deal since there’s no one else around.

He then reveals the point (I’ll paraphrase). “See – if that was merely text on my site and you skimmed over it, there’s no chance you would have done all of that. Video gets attention, it builds credibility, and it produces a stronger and generally more convincing call to action.

Sometimes people just get tired of reading, and with video you can hit on more senses (stronger visual – facial expressions, also the benefit of audio). Its more memorable that a block paragraph of text. Shoot I’d probably be better served making this a video blog!

I’m considering putting some video on my firm’s site (we offer web design and search engine marketing services). I’m currently in the process of redesiging the site and figured now is as good a time as many to add something like video. My initial concerns and considerations are how to implement it so as to make it a nice optional feature and not an annoyance, as well as how to make sure I’ve got a nice quick download or streaming video that is compatible across a variety of browsers, operating systems, video configurations, etc. There appear to be a number of firms out there that will help ease the streaming of compatible video files for a small monthly fee.

So when should you use video? Well my thought is that its going to be most effective on service-oriented sites. If I’m buying a product from you I generally need to be sold on the product more so than the company. Of course there are exceptions, but if we have a reasonably standard product than I only care if the company is going to indeed deliver me the product according to the specifications and with the features that I expect. Its a totally different ballgame with services. When you are shopping for services you are just as much buying the company, the person as you are the end result or service. In most cases I’d argue the company is a bigger factor than the service.

This is especially so as the price of the product goes up. For an oil change I’ll go to any Jiffy Lube, and in many cases any oil change center. For brakes I’d prefer to go to a shop I’ve been to before, or the dealer (if the price is in the same ballpark). I’d rather not take a chance on a garage or mechanic I’m not familiar with.

My internet marketing has grown a good bit in the past two years or so. When we started out we had to offer “affordable” web design services. We didn’t have a great portfolio and so we were selling a “product”. A commodity as we tried to market it. We built websites, but we did so inexpensively. For people who were buying “websites” and shopping on price, we were generally a good fit.

We no longer sell “websites”. Don’t get me wrong, about 30% of the business is still web design, but now we sell personal service, outstanding quality, custom solutions, peace of mind and expertise. Its a different customer. We build better sites that demand a higher price and produce a better ROI – which is sought after by a very different type of customer. This customer, who is spending more, wants to make sure he or she isn’t throwing their money away. They need a higher degree of personal service – a higher level of trust in the firm they will work with.

Video will enable us to build trust with the prospective client. They will have a chance to see and hear us. Don’t underrate this – I think its important to make sure people know that behind a website stands a company – made up of real people. As I type this I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt I got from my hosting company. I’m drinking some Orangina that my wife picked up for me. I’m a real person. This is important. You can trust me more than you can trust a random website where you have no idea who (if anyone) is actually behind it.

By making a more personalized, more memorable and overall “better” impression on my site visitors, it stands to reason that I will receive more quality leads. Perhaps there will be a weeding out of low-quality leads that are unlikely to turn into sales… I welcome this. Most businesses would love to reduce the low-quality leads as it affords you more opportunity to cultivate the high-quality leads. In the end, a sale is my ultimate measure – and I believe that a better impression will lead to a better conversion rate, and/or a better rate of quality leads generated. Thus, a better return on my investment (both time and dollars in marketing my site).

Since I’m redoing my site to appeal towards a new customer – one that is more commited to having an effective web presence, and isn’t just shopping for the cheapest price – I think video will help make my firm real. It will help them see that when they come to me for web design or search engine marketing services, they aren’t just getting a commodity – but rather they are getting me and my team. Real people. We’ll answer the phone. We’ll talk to them. We’ll personally respond to all emails. Alot of firms won’t do this, and don’t want to be mistaken for one of them. Personal service and credibility is important. It has value.

Update: It was actually this site – that had the little demo on it… and it was actually an audio demo – but still the same jist. Check out the second testimonial/demo on the site and about 15-30 seconds in you’ll see what I mean – although you’ll be expecting it… but take my word for it I am a tough customer to call to action, and I stood there with my eyes closed and limbs raised – because of personalization and multimedia that no text/copy could pull off.

Here’s Dr. Ralph Wilson’s brief opinion on video impacting conversion rates.