Practical Ecommerce

4 Ways Video Can Drive Traffic and Conversions

Video is one of the fastest-growing content types on the Internet. More than 172 million individual Americans watched an average of 14.9 hours of web video in April, the most recent month for which publicly available statistics have been published.

The data comes from Internet tracking firm comScore, which also said that Americans collectively engaged in 5.1 billion “viewing sessions” in April.

With so much video being consumed online, ecommerce marketers should be asking whether or not video content could have a positive effect on clicks and conversions. The answer seems to be a resounding yes.

Similarly ReelSEO, an online magazine, reported last year that case studies — from Treepodia, a video provider — demonstrated a 46.22 percent increase in conversions for two specific online retailers during a multivariate study. ReelSEO also indicated that Zappos enjoyed at least a 6 percent increase in conversions for products with video.

So why is it that video can help with both search engine optimization and conversions? Here are four possible reasons.

1. Videos Make Good Content

Search engine optimization is a marketing technique in flux. SEO practitioners that focus on “gaming Google” or urging site owners to monitor “keyword density” — see “The Keyword Density of Non-Sense” at Mi Islita, a site addressing search engine technologies — are struggling as Google and other search engines rapidly change algorithms to produce better search results for users and, frankly, foil SEO “experts” who seek to take advantage of those algorithms to boost ranking unduly. See “Google’s ‘Farmer’ Algorithm and What It Means for Ecommerce SEO,” my take on the recent “Farmer/Panda” algorithm change.

On the other hand, you have SEO practitioners — sometimes called “new SEOs” — who focus rather on serving up good content in a semantic and readable way. This is the sort of SEO that seeks to provide value to search engine users, and it is the sort of SEO that Google and other search engines seem to appreciate.

All of the above has been written about SEO to make a simple point: video content, given the trends in online video consumption, is good content and may perform well on search engine results pages.

It is important to point out that search engine personalization and instant search has a significant effect on search engine results pages, and therefore results will vary by user. SundaySky, which makes dynamic video generation tools, was able to produce some interesting data about video content and SEO in its “State of Video in E-Commerce Quarterly Research Report Q1 2011.”

SundaySky analyzed Zappos’ video performance in more than 21,000 shoe-related search queries conducted during March 2011. SundaySky found that Zappos product videos showed up in 8.1 percent of the queries tested, potentially generating 77,316 additional clicks each month. Often Zappos pages that contained video were also listed in “Shopping” search-engine results on the page, too.

Zappos videos perform well in a search for specific shoes.

Zappos videos perform well in a search for specific shoes.

2. Videos Give Shoppers More Product Information

Product videos on ecommerce sites can provide shoppers with significantly more information about what a product looks like, or how that product should make the consumer feel.

This may sound obvious, but video can convey a lot of product information in a very compact way. Video can also add emotion and create demand by appealing to additional senses. For example, Williams-Sonoma actually demonstrates how to use some of its products with video.

Williams-Sonoma demonstrates products in video.

Williams-Sonoma demonstrates products in video.

Likewise, Goldsmith uses videos to help inform shoppers about new golf clubs.

Golfsmith introduces shoppers to new golf clubs in video.

Golfsmith introduces shoppers to new golf clubs in video.

3. Videos Build Customer Relationships

Marketers have long sought to build lasting and loyal relationships with customers. In times past, this was done by carefully monitoring a brand’s image and messaging to consumers over time with a lot of frequency.

In the age of online video, a similar kind of store or brand affinity can be had by entertaining or engaging shoppers with video. In this way, consumers become emotionally connected to a retailer or brand because that retailer or brand makes them feel good.

Examples of this sort of relationship building abound, including Blentec’s popular “Will it Blend” video series.

 Blendtec's Will it Blend channel on YouTube has more than 390,000 subscribers and 6.8 million views.

Blendtec’s Will it Blend channel on YouTube has more than 390,000 subscribers and 6.8 million views.

And here’s a Blendtec video on YouTube.


Best Buy engages customers on its site and on YouTube with web original video and humorous commercials.

BestBuy has nearly 3,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel.

BestBuy has nearly 3,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel.

And here’s a Best Buy video on YouTube.


Macy’s showed every episode of its Macy’s Million Dollar Makeover on YouTube generating hundreds of thousands of video views.

Macy's used YouTube video as part of a national campaign and contest.

Macy’s used YouTube video as part of a national campaign and contest.

A Macy’s video from YouTube.


4. Videos Are Easy to Share in Social Media

Finally, another reason that video may be contributing to more SEO clicks and conversions for ecommerce sites is its relative ease of use. Many online retailers allow their video content to be embedded on other sites.

For example, if a shopper likes finger tentacles on the Archie McPhee website, that shopper could very easily grab the demonstration video and embedded it in a blog or on a social media site like Facebook.

Archie McPhee allows users to embed its product demonstration videos.

Archie McPhee allows users to embed its product demonstration videos.

An Archie McPhee video.


Summing Up

There are strong indications that video may have a positive effect on both ecommerce SEO clicks and on conversions. It also may well be that video’s value as good, searchable content, its ability to communicate product value, its ability to engage and entertain, and the relative ease with which it can be shared are all contributing to ecommerce video success.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Russ Somers June 13, 2011 Reply

    Great summary, Armando! Nicely sums up the benefits video-using retailers are realizing.

    On the ‘videos provide more information’ concept, I think it’s key that the information is provided in context with a human being. Information about the size of a product, for example, is just a number when communicated in text. In video, you see the person holding it and get a more concrete sense.

    Video also adds what I call "sensory metadata". The classic Mac vs PC commercials show this. Think of all that the Mac actor conveys about who he is without saying a word by simply looking youthful and hip. Pair your product with the right spokesperson and you make it even easier for your shoppers to see your product as something that fits with their lifestyle.

  2. bhildebolt June 14, 2011 Reply

    Great article; especially nice job summing up the reasons why video is compelling. Interesting that the focus was 100% on professional video. To truly create a compelling video experience at retail, you also need user generated videos. Comscore ran research that found that user gen videos were arguably even more persuasive than professional videos, but more importantly…were incredible complementary. Our (EXPOs) user gen videos quickly becoming pervasive on major retail sites. Reach out if you’d like to learn more.

  3. Mike Darnell June 15, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for referring to us in this article, and thanks for doing such a great job of summarizing the current state of affairs in online video for ecommerce.

    The reality is that incredibly enough videos benefit and boost marketing efforts even when clients don’t watch them. This is true from an SEO perspective, as well as from a consumer-trust aspect – simply having videos on your site already speaks well of your brand, so you get trust brownie points even if visitors don’t watch them.

    As an ecommerce video platform specializing in creation of automated video we obviously tend to believe that our model has benefits for ecommerce operators that can’t be beat by other models (mainly scalability, pricing, A/B testing and video analytics), but we’re well aware that some brands, including major ones, have chosen alternative video implementations.

    The good news is that with video engagement trends being what they are there’s more than enough room for everyone to operate in this space…


  4. Hova June 16, 2017 Reply

    “Goldsmith” or Golfsmith is out of business, if you want a golf video, this website uses video as well….