Case Study | Video Sitemaps
“Video Sitemaps have become a key component in providing access to our content through mobile, desktop and embedded players.” - Forrest Glick, Director of Educational Technology, Stanford Technology Ventures Program
About Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner • Palo Alto, California • http://ecorner.stanford.edu
Goals • Provide "teachable moments" from Stanford University's lectures series • Cost-effectively expand awareness to new audiences
Approach • Implemented Video Sitemaps as part of broader SEO strategy
Results • 80% increase in traffic from Google in the year after they began using Video Sitemaps as part of their SEO initiatives • Broadened range of search queries used to find the videos - resulting in new audiences leveraging the content
Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Intuit, even Google: all these Silicon Valley success stories had founders who went to Stanford University. Founded in Palo Alto in 1891, Stanford has been at the heart of Silicon Valley since before it was Silicon Valley. So it makes perfect sense that today Stanford is home to the innovative program known as the Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner. It's an online collection of lectures by hundreds of Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders. ECorner offers over 1,600 videos and podcasts, all freely available online to students, faculty, and the public. It’s a powerful collection. And to help get that message to the world, ECorner uses Video Sitemaps. The Birth of the ECorner The Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner was founded in 2001 by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program. "We had a successful lecture series here on campus, and we were recording the lectures, but they were just being collected on VHS tapes and placed on the shelf," says Forrest Glick, the program’s Director of Educational Technology. "The Kauffman Foundation for entrepreneurship came to us and said, 'If we provide you with some seed money, will you find a way to put these videos online?'" Stanford did. From the start, they had the bright idea of breaking the videos into web-friendly bursts of ideas. "We developed an approach for taking our long lectures and editing them into these clips which we refer to as 'teachable moments’," says Glick. Most clips are 2-5 minutes long. A typical talk might feature Microsoft's Steve Ballmer on the future of technology, Apple alumnus Guy Kawasaki on how to make a great pitch, or Kavita Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women on being a global citizen. Visitors can watch one video or an entire series. Stanford knew it had a goldmine of great ideas on video. But how to help people find them? Enter Video Sitemaps In 2009, the ECorner team turned to Video Sitemaps, which make it easy to submit to Google the "metadata" for any online video: the URL, title, description of the topic, and even a thumbnail image from the video. That helps ensure that a video is included in Google’s index of videos on the web, so it can be found in Google search results. "We don’t have a budget for formal marketing -- we don’t buy ads," says Glick. "We're funded by grants and sponsorships. So we’ve always been interested in
optimizing our site for search engines. We were already having discussions about how to make this content as accessible as possible." Glick says his team, which included just two part-time developers, found it easy to use Video Sitemaps. "The experience from the get-go was very straightforward in terms of submission. As with all technologies, we submitted an initial version and then made little tweaks to see what the results would be. It was then just a matter of having our developers keep an eye out and making minor updates to the feed after it was produced."
"The experience from the get-go was very straightforward in terms of submission. As with all technologies, we submitted and then made little tweaks to see what the results are. It was then just a matter of having our developers keep an eye out and make minor updates to the feed after it was produced." - Forrest Glick, Director of Educational Technology at Stanford Technology Ventures Program and manager of Entrepreneurship Corner
“We’ve been supporting feeds of our video content for many years, and Video Sitemaps are a logical extension of these efforts. Video Sitemaps have become a key component in providing access to our content through mobile, desktop and embedded players.” In addition to Video Sitemaps, Google also supports mRSS feeds. For video publishers that already maintain an RSS feed, it can be a simple job to add video content to a feed and submit it to Google. Powerful results The ECorner team saw an 80% increase in traffic from Google in the year after they began using Video Sitemaps as part of their SEO initiatives. That's a lot of new entrepreneurs. "People seem to be finding our content through a broader range of keywords and searches now," says Glick. "The overall awareness of the site has increased. It’s not just people who are looking for entrepreneurship videos. We now get users who are searching for specific speaker names, for example." Today the site serves up to 5,000 visitors a day, and many of them are interacting with the videos in new ways. "For instance, we now allow people to embed our videos on other sites," says Glick. "We love to see blogs and other websites actually using our content and leveraging it." "Thanks to our focus on captioning videos and allowing users to translate them, we’re seeing our videos being used by users in places like Latin America. A portion of our content has been translated into Spanish, and that really is great. Allowing people to find the content and use it in ways that help make them successful is really our ultimate goal." Building the next generation Somewhere out there are the founders-to-be of the next big thing in Silicon Valley -or London, or Quito, or Mumbai. ECorner is here to help them get started. "We’re a small center in the Department of Management Science and Engineering," says Forrest Glick. "But the wider distribution of this content has extended tremendously the awareness of what we do and of the speakers who come to Stanford. The growth of online video is quite exciting for us. All of this is changing rapidly, but it’s also what makes it so exciting to be in this space." Video Sitemaps are one way ECorner keeps up with that rapid change. "Our ultimate goal has always been to provide a useful resource,” says Glick. “When we see our videos being found and used by others all over the Internet, that's success."
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