YouTube was born five years ago and now it’s the fifth largest website in the world

Five years ago in February 2005, according to legend, the idea of YouTube was born after Chad Hurley and Steve Chen experienced difficulty sharing videos that had been shot at a dinner party at Chen’s apartment in San Francisco.

Greg Jarboe: "YouTube and Video Optimizat...

Image by SESConferenceSeries via Flickr

Four years ago in February 2006, according to data from Hitwise, YouTube emerged as the market leader from the scrum of online video sites — and six months later I was part of a team that uploaded our first video to YouTube to promote “Hostage: The Jill Carroll Story” for The Christian Science Monitor.

Three years ago in February 2007, YouTube was an independent subsidiary of Google Inc., acquired for $1.65 billion in Google stock three months earlier. The business press moved on to hype Facebook and Twitter, ignoring the fact that YouTube then had 50% more traffic than 64 other video sites combined.

Two years ago in February 2008, I was part of the team that launched SESConferenceExpo’s Channel on YouTube. Today, we’ve uploaded 410 videos to the channel, an average of four a week, and the videos have total of 179,178 views, and we’ve just launched Search Engine Watch’s Channel.

One year ago in February 2009, I was writing “YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.” I was explaining how YouTube had helped Barack Obama win the Presidency of the United States, Monty Python increase sales of DVDs 23,000 percent, and Blendtec deliver a 700 percent increase in sales.

Now in February 2010, I’m often asked to compress four years of experience into a 4-hour workshop. If you have ever seen “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” which runs 88 minutes, then you know what’s it’s like to watch Hamlet rush by at the world-record speed of 43 seconds.

I’m also asked to boil down my 500-page book into a 23-minute, 12-second presentation. This desire to learn everything there is to know about a topic in the average length of a sitcom (minus ads) explains why there’s a market segment for an “MBA Degree in a Box: All the Prestige for a Fraction of the Price.”

Oh, if only it were so simple — and, if only things would stop changing.

For example, YouTube enhanced its subscription system on January 12, 2010, launched new features on January 15, introduced HTML5 supported videos on January 20, gave its video page a makeover on January 21, and launched the “beta” version of its video rental service on January 28.

And, on the other side of the pond, some things are different. In the U.S., YouTube received 84.1% of the visits to video sites in December 2009, followed by Google Video with 4.5%, according to Hitwise. In the U.K., YouTube received 63.3% of the visits that month, followed by BBC iPlayer with 15.8%.

But other things are the same. In the U.S., one of the biggest success stories is Expert Vilage, Demand Media’s how-to channel on YouTube. In the U.K., one of the biggest success stories is Videojug, which also creates how-to videos.

So, what can you do to become a successful marketer in this new medium?

Start by watching the 4-minute, 13-second video below, which debunks some common myths about video search engine optimization (VSEO).

VSEO – Video Search Engine Optimization – with Greg Jarboe at SES San Jose 2008

Then, watch the 56-minute, 24-second video below to learn how marketers and agencies for ZAGG Inc., Borla Performance Industries, and Wawa used video to drive results for their businesses.

ClickZ YouTube Webcast: Marketing With Video

Next, invest a little time and money by buying and reading a book on the topic. Yes, yes, you can read my book, “YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day.” Or, you can buy Michael Miller’s book, “YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing for Any Business.”

Then, consider getting some training. There will be a YouTube and Video Marketing Workshop on the Friday after SES London 2010. Market Motive also offers training courses and certification.

Finally, in order to keep up with the latest news and developments, spend an hour a day reading ClickZ, ReelSEO, Search Engine Watch, WebProNews, the YouTube Biz Blog, and the YouTube Blog. That’s what I do.

With 425 million unique visitors a month wordwide, YouTube is the fifth largest website in the world. Here in the U.S., 134.4 million viewers watched more than 13 billion videos on YouTube in December 2009, according to the latest data from comScore Video Metrix. In the U.K., 18.5 million unique visitors watch 2.4 billion videos on YouTube a month.

So, get started. Don’t let the world pass you by.

I should disclose that Search Engine Strategies is a client of my agency. But trust me on Hamlet.

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