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How VR Will Impact Online Marketing

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Virtual Reality (VR) is growing fast, and so are the opportunities for businesses to leverage VR marketing for financial gain, topical visibility, and brand exposure.

In this article, I explore my top 5 practical steps that you can take to optimise VR, focusing on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

Is ‘VR SEO’ a thing?

Yes, but it is still an emerging opportunity, and with Virtual Reality a massive Q4 2017+ trend for Christmas spending, VR SEO needs to be considered for businesses selling VR in all its forms (from online retail stores and outlets, through to VR creative teams, and much more).

At present, there are over 16.7 billion competing results in Google for ‘VR SEO’:

As you may expect Virtual Reality has not experienced the rapid expected growth since its early inception and release to the wider public in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the re-invention of VR has been fuelled in no small part to gaming and mobile progress seen.

The recent growth of VR can be seen using Google Trends:

The remainder of this article focuses on my ‘5 practical tips for VR SEO’.

Tip 1 – Treat VR content like video content

… At least initially.

By looking at VR content optimisation in the same manner as video content optimisation you can begin to drive forward your approach, as the two are surprisingly similar.

Some of the key factors for VR SEO include:

  • Embedding VR content into your website – this is important for getting the content value attributed to you. There is practical information about how to do this in my second tip.
  • Ensure the file size is web ready – it doesn’t matter how amazing your products and services are, people will not wait for more than a split second to view it. There are plenty of free tools available to help compress, and web ready file sizes.
  • Name the VR file descriptively – whilst it may be tempting, try to avoid keyword stuffing. What you are looking to achieve here is an easy to understand VR file using succinct file naming conventions.
  • Make the most out of embed code fields for positioning the content for users and search – embed code enables you to provide supplemental information to the file name, so take full advantage of this and ensure you include unique information for all available embed code fields.
  • Ensure the file has an alt text for accessibility purposes and general content understanding – alt text has multiple purposes (the primary being accessibility / screen readers and support of visually impaired content digestion). This is also the text that appears when you hover over content types like image, video and VR, so it’s important that it is written for the user first.

Tip 2 – Use Google VR View

One of the key factors for optimising VR through SEO is the ability to embed VR into your website and host the content directly. Thankfully, Google has created, and provides for free use, VR View for this very purpose.

Taken directly from Google:

“VR view allows you to embed 360 degree VR media into websites on desktop and mobile, and native apps on Android and iOS. This technology is designed to enable developers of traditional apps to enhance the apps with immersive content. For example, VR view makes it easy for a travel app to provide viewers with an underwater scuba diving tour as they plan a vacation or for a home builder to take prospective buyers on a virtual walkthrough before the home is built.”

Source: https://developers.google.com/vr/concepts/vrview.

Tip 3 – Take a tiered approach to Virtual Reality content creation

Embedding VR content into your website is great for showcasing the power, use, and potential of Virtual Reality, but it will not work effectively for SEO unless it is supported with other content types.

When using VR content, support it with supplemental blog posts, social media snippet content, and wider external engaged audience’s including forums.

This type of tiered approach to topically relevant content creation, will help your website become more of an authority on Virtual Reality, give you the chance to demonstrate your expertise in this area, and externally promote new, and often exciting VR products and services to active audiences, who are looking for what you are providing.

Tip 4 – Write about the wider topic

Virtual Reality is still very new to a large majority of the potential consumer base. This provides an informative challenge to business to effectively convert users into customers, but also an even greater opportunity to position your business as the educational resource within your, and the wider, VR niche.

From Google Cardboard to VR gaming headsets, and VR apps for virtual property tours, there is a wealth of media, and mainstream potential for expert’s content creation and audience value addition.

Source: https://vr.google.com/cardboard/

The sooner you position your brand as the educator for VR, the more likely they will remain loyal to your business once they have the commercial intent and are ready to buy.

Tip 5 – Integrate VR into your search marketing strategy

Like any new venture, SEO for VR is a tactic that needs to become integrated into the broader marketing mix to be as effective as it can be.

Some of the integrated actions that I often deploy with new additions into the marketing mix include:

  • Adding links to key content in email signatures for passive content promotion
  • Social sharing across business, staff, and influencer accounts.
  • Paid remarketing of hero VR content so that you remain active in front of identified and interested target audiences.
  • Setting of VR SEO objectives and targets, plus agreed dates to measure, report and refine on results achieved.
  • Repeat stakeholder meetings (likely more frequent to start with and perhaps quarterly once you are up and running) to build initial momentum, get buy-in from key staff, and confirm purpose/progress and other areas.
  • Have a differentiation and clearly use this cross medium – the approach can include unique #HashTags, single line statements, and more.
  • Look at what your top competitors, and aspirational sites are doing – then look to do it better. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but if you are new to the search market you will need to do it better than the established sites to gain valuable search ground.

VR SEO in summary…

VR SEO is happening, it’s happening right now, and it is going to be much bigger in the build up to Christmas in 2017 and through to 2018 and beyond – this time Virtual Reality is here to stay.

Getting prepared for the VR boom, and generating greater SEO results for VR content, plus the VR topical online niche is going to be more familiar to you than you may think.

VR SEO shares many of the traits of traditional video optimisation, meaning that you can get going with my practical tips straight away, and the fact that Google has provided VR Viewer for embedding VR content into websites for free, helps remove any barriers to adding VR content online.

If you do one thing today, book in some time to make website updates based on my 5 practical tips for VR SEO – I’m confident these will put you in good stead for improving your business gains in organic VR search.

Lee Wilson
I’ve been leading digital marketing teams since the early 2000’s, and headed up the SEO department for a top 10 leading search and digital agency (VerticalLeap) from 2010 to present. In 2016, I had my first solely authored industry book published (Tactical SEO – the theory and practice of search marketing).
  • Lee,

    Great article. I think you mentioned marking up the content but I’d add to make sure you specifically use Schema Mark up to add structured data to the VR content you embed on the page. Also be sure to check your page load speed using gtmetrix.com before and then after you add the VR content to your page. This will help you trouble shoot any increase in page load time due to the VR content. Tip two is key because using VR view will allow you to not depend on a VR headset. Tip five is the best because people usually think “once they build it they will come.” Cross promotion is key and is the best way to get your VR content out there. Well done.

    • Lee Wilson

      Thanks for the feedback – all good info 🙂

  • hi,
    thanks for this posting for us this is very nice and so effective for us ,

    thanks for this posting ,
    regards,

    mansi desai

    • Lee Wilson

      glad you enjoyed my post :).

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