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You've spent anywhere from a thousand to tens of thousands of dollars on professional video production for your business. So what's the best way to leverage your investment?

Consumers and search engines alike highly value online video. Its search engine optimization (SEO) power helps people find your business and your website, its stickiness helps keep them there and, if all goes to plan, it converts them into paying customers.

According to data from ReelSEO :

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  • Websites with video rank higher in search engine results;
  • Websites with online video keep visitors around longer periods of time
  • Ninety per cent of consumers insist product videos are helpful during the sales cycle
  • YouTube attracts more than 1 billion unique visitors every month

Videos aren't just a nice to haves. A polished, professional video is now an essential marketing tool for any business serious about success. The problem, however, is that many small business owners don't know how to maximize its potential. It's not enough to throw it on the website and hope the video views roll in.

Here are a few introductory tips when it comes to online video, so your intended audience can discover your content, resulting in more brand awareness and sales for your business.

1. Website optimization: If you want to post your videos on your website, ensure the content is optimized so that search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! can easily find them. This means you need to include information like descriptions, tags categories. Video transcripts and captions can do the same thing, and will increase your chances of success.

2. YouTube: I always advise video clients to start a YouTube Channel once they have had a professional video production created. YouTube is the second largest search engine (next to Google, of course, which also happens to be its parent company), and if optimized properly, your video will rank highly in Google search results. For example, we have had many of our client videos rank higher than the client's own website, because we have optimized their videos on YouTube better than their own website has been optimized. When you upload a video, include a title, description, category and tag words, which all contribute to boosting rankings in search.

3. Channel branding: Branding is important on YouTube, and there are options available to ensure your video channel properly reflects your brand. You can customize the background of your channel, add a logo, create a custom background and showcase your other social media assets. This helps to provide a fluid experience across all of your online brand assets. Also remember to include desired keywords in the channel description and tags areas.

4. Title: It should include relevant keywords related to the content. It also needs to be descriptive so it can be easily searched for and compelling enough to make people want to watch it.

Weak title: Calgary House Video 1.

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Stronger title: Calgary Alberta Real Estate - Mount Royal House Home For Sale - Realtor Video Tour - Open House.

5. Description: It should be informative and contain the keywords you want the video to be found by throughout. A link to the target website should be added in the first line of the description, as should the most relevant keywords. Remember to keep your videos balanced with use of key phrases, while remaining conversational.

Weak description: Watch this video of this great house that's for sale in Calgary.

Stronger description: Calgary Real Estate: Realtor video tour of family home for sale in Calgary, Alberta in the community of Mount Royal.

6. Tags: Adding tags to your YouTube video is a great way to reinforce the keywords your video should be discovered by. Each individual tag should be a word or phrase, that are directly relevant to the video's content.

The goal for these basic elements is to get your video content noticed and watched by the greatest number of potential customers. Of course, sharing your videos via your existing digital channels such as an e-newsletter, in press-releases and sharing via your social media networks is something you should also be doing. If you put the necessary work in, you'll maximize your online video success, which is critical today.

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Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist and anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV, a Canadian online video production, advertising and social media marketing agency. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook .

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