Part of the rollout of the new PBS Video players is an improvement to how the embedded links appear underneath the player.

Previously, the first link underneath the player said, generically, “Watch full episode.” This created user confusion  since the links always pointed to that respective video’s location on the portal, and that meant that the links underneath promos and clips did not go to full episodes. The link's text, therefore, was misleading.

Now, the linked text (i.e, the “anchor text”) says “Watch [name of video] on PBS”, which properly sets the correct expectation about what video the users see when they click on the link.

In addition, this link has much better SEO value because the anchor text is descriptive.

(Unless you’re trying to rank for the two-word phrase “full episode”, you don’t want the links pointing to all your video pages to all use “full episode” as the anchor text. Assuming the video’s name contains the terms for which you’re trying to rank – which it generally would, especially if Merlin meta data guidelines are being followed – using the name of the video as the anchor text is a big improvement.)

Couple of notes on how to make sure you’re leveraging the full SEO value of the viral player and its embedded links:

  • Promote the viral player by encouraging your viewers and fans to embed your videos on your sites. The more your clips, segments and full episodes are embedded around the open web, the more people will see your videos AND the more SEO value you’ll get from the inbound links those embeds generate.
  • Whenever you submit links for your program in PBS admin tools (e.g., the Program Website field for your program page in COVE 1.0 or the Homepage field in your Content Channel in Merlin/COVE 2.0) make sure you use the canonical URL of your website or episode homepage. In other words, use the final URL that you want users to land on, not a vanity URL that has to go through redirects. For example, embedded links for the show Frontline should always point to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/ and not http://pbs.org/frontline . Vanity URLs are fine for on-air or in display ads, but are not ideal for SEO and don’t serve a purpose when the URLs are masked by anchor text anyway.
  • Tip: Make sure you’re following the Merlin video titling guidelines. Don’t put calls to action in the title, because it’s inconsistent and causes weird syntax.

Figure 2: Note how adding “watch” to the video title causes the text underneath the player to be incorrect. In some cases, a badly titled video might cause the embedding site to simply strip out/delete the links, in which case you won't derive SEO value from the embed.

The viral player offers tremendous growth opportunity for reaching new audiences and increasing video views. It’s also a great, scalable way to build new inbound links to help drive visibility of your content in search engines.

For more ways to leverage link opportunities to improve your search engine rankings, also see 5 Easy, Must-Do Link Building Tactics for SEO .