Creating a video for your website

Online videos will make your website more appealing to visitors, attract attention from search engines and help with viral marketing. Kate Horstead finds out how to use video effectively online

Using video to connect with customers will help you demonstrate your knowledge, give your business personality, improve your search engine optimisation (SEO), boost your credibility and ensure people stay on your website for longer.

An online video can be a means of introducing your staff, demonstrating products, giving free advice, or asking a loyal customer to tell potential clients why they buy from you.

"The options are endless," says Tim Sargent, founder of video production firm Mint Video. "Video is very accessible and the costs are low.

"A promotional video details a particular product or service," explains Sargent. "And video testimonials quickly build trust in what you do."

Creating an online video

Making a video can be done cheaply and easily using equipment you may already have. You can use a video camera, a digital stills camera, an action camera (such as a GoPro), your smartphone or a webcam. "With practice, you can get good shots," says Sargent.

There's a wide range of free and paid for software, online tools and apps that you can use to create your own videos. You can create everything from time-lapse videos to animated films to spread your message with services like Vyond or Design Wizard.

Screen capture tools like Screencastify (add on for Chrome) allow you create demonstrations and training videos for software and websites. It is even possible to create videos using film and photos taken straight from your smartphone camera roll with cloud-based services like Animoto and Shakr and apps such as Magisto (Android).

Using a webcam or video camera can suit a straightforward face-to-camera video, and customer testimonials can look more authentic if they aren't too polished. However, for a more advanced action shot - for example, someone wearing the sportswear you sell - consider outsourcing the work to get the best lighting and overall quality.

"If you have a budget to commission the work, search for video production companies in your area using Google," advises Sargent.

Video production costs can vary hugely, from £500 to £12,000. "Make sure they produce it 'web-ready'," emphasises Sargent. "And give detailed information about what you want to achieve."

Share your video

There are a number of video-sharing sites, including YouTube and Vimeo. Upload your video on to one of these first, before embedding it in your website. (Check the terms for the video-sharing site you choose. For example, if you want to upload commercial video to Vimeo you must use is Vimeo Pro.)

Using dedicated video sharing platforms like YouTube stops the large video file clogging up your server. You’ll also be able to grab a simple line of code that enables you to easily embed the video within your own site.

These sites will ask you for a title, description and tags. "Ensure you enter relevant keywords," explains Sargent. "So many good videos end up with low hits due to poor SEO."

Sargent urges caution about where you place the video link. "If you put several video testimonials on your homepage, visitors will think 'information overload' or 'hard sell' and hit the back button," he warns. "They'd be better placed on a dedicated video or testimonial section.

"A company portfolio video on your homepage can be effective," adds Sargent. "Visitors can click for a quick overview of the business, without having to trawl through pages of text."

However, while replacing some of your website text with video content can be appealing to visitors, it is good for SEO to have some text as well. You need to make the most of your online video by telling customers it is there.

"Once your video is online, promote it by sending emails out to your customers," Sargent concludes. "You can also publicise it by posting the link on Facebook and Twitter, and politely asking contacts to include it on their sites."

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.