July 22, 2010, 2:53 PM

If you build video, consumers still might not come

Retailers using videos need to think about more than the images.

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Call it the “Field of Dreams” mindset: Too many online retailers think that simply producing videos and tossing them onto web sites will lure customers. But that’s only the first step, says Jeff MacGurn, senior manager for search at search strategy firm Covario Inc.

“To me, that is one of biggest mistakes,” MacGurn says. “Retailers will spend a lot of time making a nice video but fail to syndicate it properly.”

In fact, retailers hoping make their investments in video worthwhile need to think about promotion and content.

Promotion can include making sure your videos are syndicated to various online video networks or even blogs, where interested consumers will have more chances to follow the links back to retailer web sites, potentially elevating the site’s rankings in search results.

Content includes putting relevant product- and brand-related words into video titles, descriptions, tags and file names. This helps search engine spiders figure out what videos are most relevant to particular sites and searches. In turn, this helps retailers show up in what search engines call blended search results, which include links to videos, maps, images and news results as well as web sites, notes Nate Elliot, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc.

Despite the rising use and importance of videos, too many retailers still haven’t taken the needed steps to make sure videos lead to increased site traffic and sales, MacGurn says.

“It’s very similar to what’s happening in the social space right now,” he says. “Retailers create a Twitter account, for example, and expect the money to just start rolling in. But nothing happens. You really have to promote it.”

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