Online video is the hottest commodity on the web right now. If you’re publishing online videos on your website then chances are that you’re ahead of the curve. But with millions of videos available online and millions of people searching for videos on Google everyday, getting your video found can be a challenge. How can you improve your chances of your videos being found on Google?
You may have noticed that sometimes when you do a search in Google, it will display video results for that search in addition to regular links. This is known as Google Universal Search and the upshot is that it blends listings for news, videos, images, local results and more into the results page. If Google can find and index videos on your website then you stand a better chance of those videos showing up on Google’s Universal Search results for relevant search terms. In plain English, this means if Google knows about your videos on your website pages then you’ve got a better chance of showing up on the first page of Google’s results.
So, how can you help Google find and index the videos on your site? For your videos to be included in Google’s index, Google just needs some basic information about your video. A great way to provide Google with information about your videos is to create and submit what’s known as a video sitemap to Google. Google video sitemaps tell Google all about the video content on your website.
A video sitemap provides Google with some basic information about each of your videos. There are a lot of data fields that can be provided for each but the minimum set of information that Google needs for each video is:
- Title of the video
- Description of the video
- Play page URL where the video is embedded
- A thumbnail image URL for the video
- Raw video file location
All of this information needs to be in a specific format, in what’s known as an XML file. Once you’ve defined the information above for each of your videos, you submit it to Google through the Webmaster tools service.
I’ve been experimenting with video sitemaps for several weeks now, and though the basics of creating and submitting a sitemap are fairly straightforward, I have found a few issues that can make it a bit challenging.
The biggest challenge with Google’s video sitemaps that I’ve found is including your embedded YouTube videos in the sitemap. One of the requirements in the sitemap is the raw video file location. A video sitemap requires at least one of the two tags below; video:content_loc or video:player_loc:
<video:player_loc allow_embed=”yes” autoplay=”ap=1″> http://www.example.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123</video:player_loc>
These tags need a location of a video file, usually something like a .flv, .mp4, or .swf file. The problem with YouTube videos is that we can’t find that file location from the YouTube embed code. There are some workarounds using a service called LinkedTube, but I found it to be a bit cumbersome. There’s a WordPress plugin (Google XML…) that claims to automatically generate a sitemap, and it does, but I haven’t had success with Google actually indexing that sitemap.
I’ve tried a couple of different workarounds for this challenge. One is to upload the video and host your video on your website using a Flash video player like JW Player. This essentially requires two versions of each video, the one on YouTube and the one you host yourself. If you’re comfortable working with outputting the necessary video formats for this, it’s a good option.
A simpler option is to incorporate another web video hosting plaform such as Vimeo. Vimeo is the second largest video sharing platform, and unlike YouTube, it is possible to get the actual file name required for the video:player_loc tag, as is this example from one of my sitemaps:
See the ReelSEO link in the resources links below for details on how to incorporate Vimeo videos in your sitemap.
I’m planning to do a more comprehensive article on creating and submitting Google video sitemaps in the near future, but for now, I wanted to give a brief overview of what they are. If you’d like to learn more about video sitemaps, check out the links below.
Additional Resources and References
Online Video & video sitemaps – Reel SEO
How to Create Video Sitemap and Drive more traffic part- 1 – FourBlogger