Take a standards-focused approach to help your web videos stand out

Take a standards-focused approach to help your web videos stand out

One of the best, and most challenging aspects of online publishing is how interconnected everything is. It’s a lot to keep track of. It can easily lead to a sense of paralysis, dread, and ultimately, regret.

It’s important, during these dark moments, however, to remember that following best practices can often serve as a “beacon of sanity” that can yield unexpected, and beneficial results.

I was reminded of this during a conversation at Balance Interactive’s weekly meeting yesterday. The conversation touched on a range of topics, and we eventually talked about some widely available, but often under-utilized approaches to video that clients should consider.

First, the conceptual.

We talked about how transcribing video and creating separate pages for each video on your site can yield unexpected SEO benefits. I generally contend that because the nature of dialogue in videos is often more conversational, those phrases tend to align with the search terms of a LOT of Googlers.

Adding to this recipe for success, when each page is created and properly tagged in a robust CMS like Drupal, your site visitors have an even greater opportunity to experience it through dynamic promotions of related content.

Then, the technical.

Our senior front-end developer, John Barrick, shared an insight gleaned from his experience working for NOAA’s Office of Marine & Aviation Operations. John talked about his use of WebVTT, or Web Video Text Tracks, during his time as a contractor for the office. As Wikipedia describes it “WebVTT is a W3C standard for displaying timed text in connection with the HTML5 <track> element. ... The WebVTT specification is still in draft stage but the basic features are already supported by all major browsers.”

“I used this on the OMAO website” John said. “Each video has an HTML5 version and a YouTube version. The WebVTT file creates closed captions ‘on the fly’. It can be used for both the HTML5 and YouTube video.

“This means content editors can avoid buying software/figuring out how to create open captions; open captions are flattened onto video whereas closed captions can be turned on/off. In my opinion, open captioning hinders usability because the user cannot control whether captioning shows or not, and being able to provide a textual transcript likely benefits SEO efforts.”

You can see an example of this published here: http://www.omao.noaa.gov/find/media/video/predive-safety-check

In addition to this approach having multiple benefits, it also reminded me of another truism in the world of web development: It’s wise to heed the advice of experienced front-end developers.  

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