There are a lot of ways to get your videos seen. You can run them off to VHS tape and mail the dupes, one-by-one. You can copy your finished program from your hard drive to CD or DVD and mail those to everyone. You could buy time on a cable TV channel. You could compress the image to postage-stamp size and use one of the "big e-mail" services to send your production to your friends. Or you could create a Web page to make your videos accessible to the entire world.
Constructing a Web site can be a big feather in a videographer’s cap. But after you set up a Web site to display your video for the world to see, how do you let Web surfers know about your show?
To get an audience for your Internet program, you need to get your site listed on a search engine. Perhaps several search engines. You may have thought this happened automatically. In a perfect world, you would be right. There are thousands of search engines and billions of Web pages and, unfortunately, there is nothing automatic about having your site included. So just how do you get your site listed and visited?
An Overview of the "Hard Way"
You could submit a synopsis of your video to each search engine that you hope would list you. What this would entail is going to each engine’s site, finding its submission guidelines, formatting an appropriate e-mail and then sending it in. Then, with your fingers crossed, you’d hope and wait for your submission to actually appear on their site.
Imagine going through this process for hundreds and thousands of search engines, spending time at each to determine the appropriate category and coding for your project’s site, and rewording your site description to fit into their database scheme. See the sidebar, Submitting to Yahoo! for an actual step-by-step example.
This is the old way, the hard way, the agonizingly slow and frustrating way. If you’d like to be listed on a single search engine, this is the way to go. But it is not the only way, not by any means. If you’d like your video clips to be found be searchers on numerous engines worldwide, you might choose another path.
The Cheap (or Free) Solution
There exist, albeit in dwindling numbers, Web sites referred to as "metasubmission" sites. These sites contain fill-in-the-blank forms containing all the information required for search engine inclusion. Some of them allow you to enter your data once for submission to many search engines simultaneously. (www.global.gr/mtools/linkstation/se/engnew.htm).
In times past, many metasubmission sites operated free of charge, although some required you to visit a requisite number of ad links. Many of these sites, however, have either become services for hire or applications for sale. The commercialization of the Web is an inescapable trend, affecting everything.
Thinking Like a Search Engine
Another way to work your own submissions effectively is to learn as much as you can about how search engines operate and what makes one more successful than another. (See sidebar, Optimizing Your Search Engine Submissions). All search engines, even those that depend on submissions to get sites listed, also "crawl" Web sites to determine their contents, and check for stale Web pages that haven’t been updated in quite a while, and for broken links (URLs that no longer point to pages).
One of the ways they catalogue their findings is by indexing the Web pages’ material. "Metatags" are keywords that describe a site’s content; they are not visible when browsing, but are still present in the HTML code.
You can use various types of metatags such as Title, Subject, Description, Keywords, Author and Language to your advantage. These metatags allow "spiders" (automated Web page checkers) surfing the Web to index your page. Perhaps more importantly, they can be used to ensure that your site (and your video), appear in a better position in a search engine’s resulting listing. This is a key Web site marketing strategy, and it is an arcane art, to be sure. For some more detailed information on this bit of black magic, check out some of the resources we have listed in our sidebar.
The Easiest (Not Free) Solution
If you aren’t into doing your own HTML coding, or if you just don’t have the time to spend submitting your site to all those countless search engines, you can always hire search engine placement agents or Web marketing professionals. For a fee ranging from $20 to several thousand dollars, you can have your Web site listed professionally, tweaked to achieve best position, and target marketed to your best potential viewers by people who do this sort of thing all day, and who may even guarantee their results.
Some of these folks will keep re-tweaking your site’s position as needed over the length of a contract to keep you on top. If you are merely trying to get people to view your documentary on Tibetan Buddhism, it might not make sense to hire a major Web player, with image consultants, trademark artists, etc. But it may be worth a few bucks to you to ensure that people who would be interested in your program could find it.
Web placement and search engine submission have become hot focuses with the phenomenal growth of the Internet. And the two topics can well serve a homespun video producer. With a little investigating and a little luck, you can have the world beating a path to your Web site to watch your new video.