You’ve invested the resources and time into creating web videos for your law firm. You finally have the finished videos in your hands and are eager to get them up on your website. It’s at this point that you realize you hadn’t really put much thought into how you were going to host the videos.
We have had several law firms ask us the best way to go about hosting videos for their websites recently so I thought I would share a few suggestions with our readers.
Before I get into my suggested solutions, I wanted to write a quick note on self-hosting. While self-hosting your videos is always an option there are several drawbacks you might run into with this solution. One is that your video files are often very large and can take up a lot of your allocated server space. Viewing the videos also uses a lot of your allotted bandwidth and if you are on a shared hosting plan and you could experience slow downs and streaming issues with your videos. These factors may or may not be problems depending on your hosting package but they are things to consider. Many law firms will run into situations where they will need to upgrade their hosting package in order to properly host their videos. Uploading and setting up your videos via self-hosting is going to require more technical skill than through video sharing services as well. Finally, the more robust statistics and tracking that other video hosting services offer will not be available if you host yourself (most likely you will have access to very basic metrics).
While one advantage of self-hosting is that you will have full control over the branding of your video, there are other options I address below that offer this as well. All in all, my advice is there are better routes to go than self-hosting unless you have a compelling reason to do so.
The granddaddy of web video hosting and sharing. The best part about Youtube as a hosting solution is that it’s free. However there are several other benefits as well. This post from McBuzz discusses several advantages of Youtube as a hosting service:
- YouTube works with many file formats and converts those files into several different sizes of Flash movie, including HD. If someone has HD capability on their computer or other device, they can watch in HD, otherwise they can watch at a lower resolution. Creating these options on your own would be time-consuming and require special software and skills.
- You can add unique, keyword-rich titles and descriptions for every video you upload.
- Your YouTube account itself is great for your personal visibility and for your business.
- In many cases, YouTube searches exceed the number of Google searches as a source of viewer traffic for your videos. That traffic will, in turn, see your YouTube profile and you can do a lot on your profile and in the video descriptions to encourage visitors to go to your main website.
- Google owns YouTube; they pay very close attention to content on YouTube.
- As part of “Google Universal Search Results“, video thumbnails often appear on search results pages independent of other search results, this means you have a better chance of being found in Google results when you keep video on YouTube. It’s possible to get a standard search result listing along with a video thumbnail or image thumbnail listing, so you get multiple listings on the same search results page.
- People will pick up and embed your videos in their own website or blog. This is great for inbound links and for increasing traffic to your site because you can include a URL in the video description as well as a URL that displays at the beginning or end of your videos.
- YouTube gives you fairly comprehensive stats (YouTube calls these viewer analytics “Insight”) over time regarding how many people watch your videos, how they found them (via YouTube search, a search engine, direct link, etc.), their demographics and so forth. You won’t get any of that if you host your own videos.
To that list I would also add that commercial videos are allowed on Youtube. Depending on the nature of your law firm videos, there are other video hosting services that will remove a video they deem are promotional or purely commercial in nature. You don’t have to worry about this with Youtube.
One thing to keep in mind when embedding your videos with Youtube is to uncheck “Show suggested videos when the video finishes” option. This will prevent competitor videos from appearing on your website when your video is finished. Here is a screenshot of the selection to uncheck:
One disadvantage with Youtube is that they will include a brand watermark on the video as well as the embedded player. A small price to pay for the free service and exposure but if that is an issue for your firm than you might want to go with one of the solutions mentioned below.
- A free account that grants you 2GB of free storage and 2GB of bandwidth a month. This amount of storage and bandwidth will be plenty for many law firms without having to purchase a Pro account.
- Google analytics integration and a stand alone analytics product
- The service handles a wide variety of file formats
- You can set different permissions for your content. For instance, you can make a folder public and visible to everyone. You can hide it so only you can see it. Password protect it. Or make it so only authorized viewers can access the content.
- The content is unbranded and belongs to you.
- You can easily embed the videos on your website or blog.
If you find that you need more space or bandwidth you can upgrade to a pro account for $9.95 a month or $99.95/year.
Vimeo started out as a high quality, community driven video site. In their own words, “Vimeo is a respectful community of creative people who are passionate about sharing the videos they make. We provide the best tools and highest quality video in the universe.” The quality and ease of use with Vimeo is top notch. However, Vimeo’s free service does not allow videos to be uploaded for commercial use. The good news is that Vimeo has recently launched a Vimeo Pro service for businesses. For $199 a year they are offering a terrific value and a host of worthwhile features including:
- No bandwidth caps or time limits
- High Definition video (up to 1080p)
- Mobile, tablet and connected TV compatibility
- Advanced Analytics
- Priority uploading
- Brandable video player
- HTML5 support
- Hosted portfolio sites
- Password protected Video Review pages
- Support of third party players so you aren’t stuck with the Vimeo player if you don’t want to be
If you are looking for a robust, complete video hosting solution than you’ll be hard pressed to beat Vimeo Pro for the features and price.
Have you had any good/bad experiences with hosting solutions I have mentioned above? Any solutions you would recommend that I didn’t address? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo by bizzbuzzmedia (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bizbuzzmedia/)