Social Media

What It Is: Strategic Content Development
Why You Should Care: High Demand for Informational Content
Channels Impacted: Paid, Owned, Earned

Most brands focus their search marketing attention on keywords that are closest to a sale or conversion.  But what about informational keywords?  Everyday, MILLIONS of searchers ask Google questions like “how to tie a tie,” “how to set up a printer” and “how to make an omelet.”  Brands have the opportunity to respond to these informational queries by providing helpful content to searchers, instead of a hard-sell message.  This content enables brands to connect—and start building relationships—with searchers.  Your participants are less likely to consider your advertising as manipulation if you give them a fair trade: provide them with helpful content, and they’ll be more open to your message. 

Informational queries are high volume, and have different expectations from searchers in terms of intent.  Demonstrative video content is often a great response to informational needs.  For instance, every month, Google receives 1.5 million “how to tie a tie” queries.  And the easiest way to teach a person is to show them, right?  A brand that sells ties could therefore create a search-optimized “How to Tie a Tie” video.  That brand would be providing searchers with valuable content in the right place at the right time and a solid touchpoint of engagement.  Video thus boosts branding metrics such as awareness, perception, consideration and brand loyalty—and it’s more likely to be shared via social media than any other type of content on the Internet.

Tie video 
1.5 million queries per month for "How to Tie a Tie" on Google! This video (which is not from a retail brand) has over 7 million views.

Video also provides potential impacts to:

  • Natural search results (universal listings in Google and Bing)
  • Local search results
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube)

Surprisingly, large brands rarely employ informational video search strategies, giving first-mover advantage to brands that jump in now!


Google and Bing will often display videos in unpaid search results—but how can advertisers get their videos to cross over? Performics hypothesized that informational search queries were more likely to generate embedded video results than transactional or brand queries.  We also hypothesized that most embedded video results for informational queries did not come from large brands. 

To prove these hypotheses, we conducted a search experiment.  First, we created three corresponding keyword lists:

  1. Informational Keywords: This list included “how to” keywords, as well as informational variations like “writing a resume,” “drywall installation,” “brewing beer at home,” and “diy greenhouse”
  2. Generic Transactional Keywords: This list corresponded to the informational keywords (i.e. “how to knit” corresponded to “yarn,” and “building a deck” corresponded to “skill saws”)
  3. Brand Keywords: This list corresponded to the informational keywords and the transactional keywords (i.e. “how  to tie a tie” corresponded to “ties” which corresponded to “Brooks Brothers”)

Each keyword list contained 100 terms.  We then queried each keyword (from Chicago the week of Aug. 21, 2011) on Google and totaled the number of first-page embedded video results for each query. 

How to tie a tie 
How to kiss    

  • Informational keywords generated a total of 165 embedded first-page videos
  • Generic transactional keywords generated only 13 embedded first-page videos
  • Brand keywords generated only 20 embedded first-page videos

Thus, informational queries were 12.7 times more likely to deliver embedded first-page videos than transactional queries and 8.25 times more likely to deliver embedded first-page videos than brand queries

To validate our hypothesis that big brands weren’t the ones creating the informational videos, we then determined the source of each embedded video:

Of the 165 videos generated by informational queries,

  • only 23% came from brands

  • 50% came from content providers (like eHow)
  • 28% were user-generated
  • Of the videos produced by brands, most were small and not well-known (The only large brand videos that ranked for informational queries came from The Home Depot, Gillette, Lowe’s, Coleman, Betty Crocker, Dell and Rosetta Stone)


Our experiment proved that to achieve more prominent video visibility on universal search results, brands should focus on creating videos that respond to informational queries.  Moreover, the opportunity is worth the effort. Searchers are clearly seeking informational video, proven by YouTube query volume.  For instance, YouTube receives 295,000 search queries per month for “how to kiss,” 92,000 for “how to tie a tie,” and 13,500 for “how to lose belly fat.”

Informational videos by large brands have failed to rank because these brands have either (1) not made informational video or (2) not optimized this content for search. 

Embrace the following strategies around informational video to amplify your message in search:

  • Get Creative with Video:  Some informational queries lend themselves well to video from brands—like a video by Gillette that ranks for “how to shave.”  Other times, brands must be more creative—like a breath mint brand creating a video for “how to kiss” or a generator company creating a video for “survive a zombie attack” (which gets 5,400 Google search queries per month).  Think about any and all “how to” queries that your brand can respond to and that relate to your brand storytelling. Performics can help you with keyword research and strategy.
  • Be Discreet: Feature your products/services in the video, but remember that your video’s goal should be to help searchers with a need that relates to your brand.
  • Pull Your Video Out of Flash: Once you have an informational video, search engines need to index it.  Don’t embed the video in Flash on your site; give it a unique, spider-friendly URL.  Optimize the tags and content around the video to rank for your “how to do X” keyword.  Also consider posting the video on a highly trafficked page on your site.
  • Distribute Your Video:  Post it on your site first, but be sure to syndicate your video to sharing sites like YouTube.  This increases the likelihood that Google will spider your video (and rank it higher). Don’t forget to optimize the title and description field wherever you post it.
  • Promote Your Video via Social:  Google is increasingly using social signals to influence rank.  Consider promoting your video via Facebook and Twitter to increase video views.  Google may use the number of views as a socially-influenced ranking factor.
  • Don’t Forget Paid Media:  Bid on “how to” keywords and promote your video in paid search to gain more prominent visibility and drive views. In addition, there are other advertising opportunities such as video embedded in rich media display, and YouTube Promoted Videos. 

Informational video content is king when it comes to demand and engagement.  Large brands have a distinct advantage over amateur and small brands in creating high quality video content.  It’s time for you to incorporate informational video strategies into your marketing program to amplify your message and interact with participants.

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