Creating Video Sitemaps for each Video Hosting Platform

The TL:DR of getting pages indexed with a video rich snippet is “submit a video XML sitemap”. Unfortunately, this advice is not much use for the majority of users, who host their content with external providers or social video platforms and are then forced to work out whether or not their hosting service does this for them, and if not, how they should create and structure a video sitemap for their specific circumstances. To help simplify the whole process, I have created this post as a reference guide for those who have video on their site and want an answer to the “how do i get video snippets?” question without having to do the additional work.

Below is a glossary of the simplest and most reliable (but not the only) ways to get rich snippets for each of the major hosting platforms, which I will keep updated as a reference guide with the most up to date information I have. With Google changing the way they handle video on a regular basis  and platform adjustments being frequently rolled out across the competing online video providers, I’ll add in a caveat that the list below isn’t 100% foolproof, but I’ll do my best to keep it as fresh as possible.

If you have found a simpler or better way to get video rich snippets that isn’t included below, please send through the method with an example to phil.nottingham@distilled.net or respond with a comment. If it’s any good, then I’ll add it to the list below and give you an attribution link for your contribution. Additionally, If there is a hosting solution you’d like to see covered that’s not currently included, let me know and I’ll do some research before adding it to the list.

Contents:

Video Sitemap Basics

A video sitemap is essentially an XML feed which details metadata that allows Search Engines to find and index your videos. Google have a created useful page with detailed information about how to structure a video sitemap, which can be found here, but unfortunately it’s a fairly technical and impenetrable page. The following table details each of the required elements and what they mean, in layman’s terms.

Required Tags

TagExplanation
 <loc> The URL of the page you’ve embedded the video on
 <video:video> A tag which just wraps around all of the subsequent “<video>” tags for each video referenced per <loc> tag
 <video:thumbnail_loc> The URL of the video thumbnail image, which should be a .png or .jpg file. The image should be 16x9 aspect ratio, ideally either 1920x1080 or 1280x720 pixels
 <video:title> The title of the video - treat this exactly like a page title. Plain text, with keywords and around 70 characters
 <video:description> Treat this exactly like a meta description, but for your video - 160 characters-ish and plain text, including keywords
 <video:content_loc> OR <video:player_loc> content_loc should point to the actual video file URL (.mp4/.mov etc) if you have access to it. Otherwise, such as in instances where you’re embedding a flash player, you can include a player_loc tag which references the URL of the player. You can include both if you wish, but it’s not necessary.You can also include “allow_embed” and “autoplay” elements within the player_loc tag - which indicate whether Google can embed the video directly in the search results (which they currently don’t really do, but may do more in the future) and whether or not clicking through to the page can trigger an autoplay. You don’t really need to worry too much about this, but to future proof the sitemap with the best functionality, I normally include the attributes in there as standard so the tag reads <video:player_loc allow_embed=“yes” autoplay=“ap=1”>PLAYER-URL</video:player_loc>

 

So, the minimal requirements to build a video sitemap are as follows:

  • The URL of the page the video is embedded on
  • The URL of the thumbnail image for the video
  • The URL of the file or player being embedded

Optional Tags it’s worth including for SEO

TagExplanation
<video:duration> How long it is, in seconds. It’s worth including this so your video thumbnail in the SERPs can be appended with the length in the bottom right corner, rather than just a play symbol. (example)
<video:publication_date> This can help with getting the video into freshness influenced queries. It should just be numbers in the format (yyyy-mm-dd). If your video is really time sensitive or news focussed, then you can also include the time it was published followed by the timezone, in the format (yyyy-mm-ddThh:mm:ss+hh:mm). However, for most videos, this level of detail isn’t necessary
<video:tag> This is essentially like a page meta tag for your video. However, unlike meta tags, there is some indication that Google will take these into account for ranking, so they’re worth including. Include as many of these as feels natural, but don’t overkill it. Google offer a maximum of 32, but 4-5 is almost always sufficient.
<video:category> This can be included if relevant, and should reference the overarching topic or style of your video. It’s worth including this, for example, if you have a lot of videos all organised in a faceted navigation. Just input a plain text term, normally one or two words, e.g. “SEO” or “online marketing”
<video:uploader> A URL (on the same subdomain as the URL referenced in the <loc> tag) for an indvidual associated with the video. Ensure the page in question has rel=author attribution and this seemingly can help to ensure your video result is additionally appended with an authorship image.

 

Creating and maintaining video sitemaps can be a fairly dull and arduous task, so to help out, I’ve quickly put together a Googledocs tool which can help you scale the process for up to 5 videos.

Once you’ve created and uploaded your video sitemap, make sure Google can crawl it by adding the URL to your robots.txt file as sitemap entry.

Additional tips for getting videos indexed

  • You need to have a reasonably strong page for Google to bother crawling your video sitemap entry. As with normal indexation, a lack of PageRank and a large number of pages with videos on is going to mean that a lot of them don’t get crawled frequently and your videos won’t all be indexed. It can take a while for Google to recrawl a video sitemap, even for relatively strong sites, so if you’re desperate for rich snippets on lots of pages, yet don’t have the domain strengh to back it up - keep your video sitemap  restricted to just the most important videos.
  • Pages with additional content outside of a video tend to get video snippets more often. This is somewhat counter intuitive, but pages that only have video (and no supporting text) can seemingly often be viewed as low quality. Pages containing videos that also have text and images will often both rank better and get crawled more often - therefore including text descriptions, stills or transcripts alongside the video is always worthwhile if suitable
  • Google appear to be better an indexing flash filesoEmbeds, or videos embedded with the HTML5 video tag than iframes. Unfortunately, most video platforms use iframe as the standard embed method, as it’s lightweight, mobile friendly and flexible. I’m not saying that iframes can’t get indexed, but it’s typically slower to happen less surefire. While I’m sure they will iterate and improve in due course - if you have a weak site and are desperate to get a video result quickly, it may be worth avoiding an iframe embed.

Creating a sitemap for each video hosting platform

Brightcove:

To get video rich snippets with Brightcove videos, you will currently need to create and maintain your sitemap independently of the platform.

  • You’ll need to upload your chosen thumbnail to your own site to reference in the <video:thumbnail_loc> tag.
  • For a brightcove video sitemap, you’ll need to reference a url for the <video:player_loc> tag, rather than a url for the <video:content_loc> tag. This is because Brightcove occasionally switch which URLs the encapsulated files are held at. Unfortunately (as with many things on the Brightcove platform) locating the appropriate URL for the <video:player_loc> tag is unnecessarily complicated.

I’ve done my best to simplify the process with the steps below:

  • Naviagate to your video within the media section of the VideoCloud control panel
  • Within the “quick video publish” sidebar, select “blog”. Copy and paste the HTML given into a text editor.
  • You then need to pull out the string of numbers that follows the playerID parameter within the code
  • Go back to your control panel and note down the Video ID number referenced just above the “quick video publish” sidebar

  • Your task is now to fill in the blanks of the templates below with the numbers you’ve just pulled together.

If you’ve used the Chromeless Player:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/INSERTPLAYERID?isVid=1&isUI=1&domain=embed&playerID=INSERTPLAYERID&videoID=INSERTVIDEOID&publisherID=INSERTPUBLISHERID

If you’ve used the Normal Player (Single Video Player):

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/INSERTPLAYERID?isVid=1&domain=embed&playerID=INSERTPLAYERID&videoID=INSERTVIDEOID&publisherID=INSERTPUBLISHERID

  • Double check that the URL you’ve pieced together is correct by putting it into a browser. If all is in order, it should return a full screen version of your video.

Viddler:

To get video rich snippets with Viddler videos, you will currently need to create and maintain your sitemap independently of the platform.

  • To find the appropriate URL for the <video:thumbnail_loc> tag, go to the “embed” options of the video in question and select “Flash w/ HTML5 fallback” under the Embed code type drop down. Pull out the poster element of the object tag within the code and add an “http:” in front of the string. Put this into a browser, and the URL should redirect to the location of the .jpg file, which should look something like http://cdn-thumbs.viddler.com/thumbnail_NUMBERSTRING.jpg
  • For Viddler videos, include a <video:player_loc> tag in your sitemap, rather than a <video:content_loc> tag. Locate the appropriate URL by selecting “legacy” within the embed options and copying the src element of the <embed> tag within. Put this URL into a browser (with the additional http:) and it should redirect to a file that looks like http://cdn.static.viddler.com/flash/as3/full-publisher.swf?ref=&key=UNIQUESTRING. This is the URL to include in the <video:player_loc> tag.
  • For SEO, I generally recommend embedding your content with the “Flash w/ HTML5 Fallback” code if you’re hosting with Viddler.

Alternatively, if your site is on a Wordpress platform, you can use the Yoast Video Sitemap plugin for Wordpress if you host with Viddler.

Vimeo:

To get video rich snippets with Vimeo videos, you will currently need to create and maintain your sitemap independently of the platform.

NOTE: I do not condone trying to get rich snippets using a free Vimeo account as a sensible strategy, as if the vimeo.com and yoursite.com pages are targeting similar keywords, the vimeo.com version will often outrank you. Moreover, you dilute your potential traffic and links unnecessarily (See here for more details). If you can afford it, i recommend upgrading to a Vimeo Pro account and disabling the community pass  to ensure you can’t be outranked for keywords relating to your video by the page on vimeo.com

  • You’ll need to upload your chosen thumbnail to your own site to reference in the <video:thumbnail_loc> tag.
  • To locate the player URL for the <video:player_loc> tag (which, in this instance you should use rather than <video:content_loc> tag) go to the video page on vimeo.com and click “share” in the top right hand corner of the video frame. From here, click “show options”, scroll to the bottom of the options then displayed and select “use old embed code”
  • The code in the box will then change. Pull out the src element of the <embed> tag, which should be a URL that looks like http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12345678 followed by a load of parameters“ Remove all of the parameters past and including the initial ampersand, so you’re left with a plain URL, with which to populate the player location field in your video sitemap.
  • Embed using either the iframe or ”old“ (flash based) embed code
Alternatively, if your site is on a Wordpress platform, you can use the Yoast Video Sitemap plugin

Vzaar:

Vzaar comes with an excellent and extremely flexible video SEO feature, which allows you to automate the creation and maintenance of your video sitemaps. However, the toolset is quite difficult to get your head around and there are lots of options for how to set-up your sitemaps within the feature. The set-up below is applicable for anyone wanting to get video snippets on their own site, rather than their video pages on vzaar.com.

  • Once you’re logged into your Vzaar account, go to http://vzaar.com/settings/video_seo
  • Ensure your account settings match the image below, with Sitemaps as ”on“, Include all video sitemaps as ”off“, Sitemap type marked as ”personal sitemap“ and auto sitemap generation marked as ”on“. 

NOTE: It’s important to ensure you don’t include all your videos within your sitemap as default, since unless you manually go through and dictate which page on your site each sitemap entry should apply to, you’ll end up producing a sitemap with errors. Erroneous sitemaps can cause all sorts of indexation issues, so are best avoided at all costs.
  • Under the heading marked ”personal sitemap“ there will be a box containing a sitemap line (as below). Add this line to your robots.txt file. (NB if you are unable to access your robots.txt file for whatever reason, the sitemap indicated can be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools instead.
  • Then navigate to ”video SEO“ tab on the ”settings“ page for each of the videos you want to include in your video sitemap, which should be a URL similar to http://vzaar.com/videos/123456/settings/video_seo 
  • Choose ”always visible“ under the ”Include video in sitemap?“ option at the top of the page. 
  • Scroll down the page and Ensuring you include information within each of the three ”standard sitemap“ fields (as below)
  • If relevant for your specific video, you can also include information within the ”additional sitemap“ fields. I recommend including tags and an uploader URL if you can.
  • The ”node preview“ on each video displays how you specific video sitemap entry comes together in an XML format, which can be a really useful way to double check for errors.
  • Repeat the previous 4 steps for each video you’d like to include within your video sitemap.

Wistia:

With Wistia, you don’t need to create your own video sitemap, as the service has a Video SEO feature that automatically generated and maintains the creation of your video sitemaps

NOTE: Wistia has, by far, the best SEO features of any paid hosting provider If your priority is rich snippets for a large number of videos, then Wistia’s probably the best platform for your needs.

  • Go to the ”Video SEO“ page accessed through the ”account“ drop down.
  • Complete the steps on this page to validate the sitemap in your Robots.txt file
  • Embed content on your site using the now unlocked ”SEO“ embed code
  • Under ”Media Actions“ on the video page, select ”Add to SEO Sitemap“ from the ”more“ dropdown
  • Fill in the information requested
  • Select ”Add video to sitemap“

Alternatively, you can use the Yoast Video Sitemap plugin for Wordpress if you host with Wistia - but given how easy it is to use Wistia’s native sitemap creation tools, this isn’t necessary.

YouTube:

If you’re trying to get rich snippets to your site for your own embedded YouTube videos, then you’re doing it wrong.

However, for the purposes of trying to get rich snippets for other’s YouTube videos, the following method works :

  • Go to the YouTube video in question
  • Copy the unique indentifier from the end of the URL without parameters e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZoGAXhuosc
  • Include this string within the following template to generate the appropriate URL for the <video:player_loc> tag - http://youtube.googleapis.com/v/VIDEOID
  • Include this string within the following template to generate the appropriate URL for the <video:thumbnail_loc> tag - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/maxresdefault.jpg

WordPress users can also use the Yoast Video SEO plugin to get pages ranking with rich snippets for embedded YouTube videos.

Many thanks to Annie Cushing and Ethan Lyon for suggesting this post and helping me to define the content and structure. They’re both really nice and you should send them cake. If you’re interested about video marketing or video SEO services, please feel free to get in touch

Phil  Nottingham

Phil Nottingham

Phil is the in-house video marketing expert and chief meme generator at Distilled. He joined Distilled in April 2011, after impressing Will and Duncan with his ability to look like a serviceable pirate following minimal costume changes and has since...   read more

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75 Comments

  1. Phil what a great resource. Pleased you mentioned Yoast's plugin, it really takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting. I've also noticed a increase in crawl rate for my video sitemaps since using it.

    reply >
    • That's true Greg. Yoast's video and SEO plugins are the real value additions for any site running on Wordpress. They have a great potential in helping a webmaster boost the rankings of his content on the SERPs. Video snippets on the serps do help site owners see improved click thru's for the pages with video content on their site appearing in the SERPs. Site owners can get more ranking benefits if the video is hosted on their site rather than on the third party site. Thanks a lot for the great post Phil.

  2. Thanks for another great video post, Phil! You really hit the nail on the head with your last section: "If you’re trying to get rich snippets to your site for your own embedded YouTube videos, then you’re doing it wrong." I still find myself having to explain to clients why YouTube is NOT always the way to go for Video SEO/Video Marketing.

    Love reading your posts! Keep 'em coming!

    Dani

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Thanks Dani for the encouragement, glad it was useful! Yes... so many marketers struggle to get the whole YouTube vs self hosting debacle. I'm doing my best to lay it out as simply as possible... but unfortunately it is a very complex and nuanced issue.

  3. We use Kaltura here at Desire2Learn. Looking at the hoops you have to jump through to have a sitemap created "automagically" for submission to GWT looks absolutely insane. I'm seriously considering just creating an xml file in Notepad by hand; it might be faster.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Dawn,

      Have you got a link for the advice Kaltura are giving you? Yes... the steps are outrageously complicated in most instances and building it yourself (or writing a script) is the best way to go, outside of using Wistia, who are the only hosting solution (as yet) to automate the process simply and effectively. Here's hoping the others follow suit soon!

      I'll research Kaltura a bit more and work out the simplest method, then add it to this list for you. It's a popular platform, so worth including.

      Thanks,
      Phil

  4. Hey Phil,

    Great resource you've created! Do you know anything about the process for VidYard's product as well?

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Will,

      Yes, i do. Unfortunately it's not currently possible to create and submit a video sitemap for VidYard videos, because the platform have locked down the media files and players to make them inaccesible to end users. So - you currently can't get rich snippets for VidYard videos.

      The add from YouTube feature is essentially just wrapping YouTube videos in a custom player via the YouTube API - so is subject to the same advice given for YouTube videos above (submit for other people's if you like, but don't do this as a strategy to get rich snippets for your own content).

      VidYard do have a page about SEO and video sitemaps accessible via https://secure.vidyard.com/dashboard, but this page is misleading - as the sitemap template they include is incomplete and won't get indexed once submitted.

      However...the guys at VidYard are aware of all these issues and have informed me that they're looking to rectify this and get a working automated video sitemap creation service in place soon.

  5. Phil,

    Great post! I've been having a bit of trouble with video rich snippets via youtube and this is just the resource I needed to make some progress. Thanks!

    reply >
  6. Weird but I was actually going to reach out to you about this exact subject, Phil!

    I had been meaning to chat with you about it since your talk at Search Love actually... I have over 400 videos all hosted on YouTube but I am genuinely considering deleting them and moving over to Vimeo (maybe Pro) at some point in the near future. Would you consider this a smart move?

    Thanks again for the great article!

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hey Matt,

      It's really hard to say without seeing the content or getting an idea for what you're hoping to achieve. The hosting strategy has to be driven by the content type and the overall goals - so I try not to make any blanket recommendations without a further investigation. Feel free to drop me an email and I can take a further look for you.

      Cheers,
      Phil

  7. This is a great resource, I did a bunch of research for our video hosting and ended up choosing Wistia so i am glad they come highly recommended. I have got to say the embed process is relatively simple and certainly works. Within a couple of weeks we had our product listings with video significantly higher in the serps.

    reply >
  8. Hey Phil. Great stuff. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    Can I make a suggestion?

    Why don't you set this how-to up on GitHub? This way others can contribute freely. You can manage those contributions, etc. In short, GitHub can be used for collaboration and it doesn't have to be limited to coding / programming. Cool, yes?

    I have a question?

    Are you aware of a "reasonably priced" platform where you can submit a video and get a fairly accurate transcript returned in less than 24 hours? Even just audio to transcript would be helpful.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Mark,

      Interesting suggestion regarding GitHub which I had not thought of. I'll look into it!

      Transcription wise - I've always found that the stuff returned by SpeechPad ($1 per minute) has been pretty good.

    • Thanks Phil (i.e., SpeechPad).

      btw, I have a similar need that I'd like to move to GitHub. I've used GH a bit for code but not for doc / project collaboration. If you like to trade ideas (read: collaborate) on the zooming in and fleshing out the idea, workflow, process of doing so, etc. just ping me.

      fwiw, threaded comments would be nice as well ;) Or did I miss a reply link below your reply to my original comment?

  9. Hi Phil,

    Great post, bookmarked! I'm embarrassed to say that I had been trying in vain to add rich snippets for YouTube videos and I also didn't know about Wistia's free plan so this has been a proper Eureka read for me.

    Cheers!

    reply >
  10. Hi Phil,

    Thank you for the detailed post about this. I'm struggling for a few weeks now on this subject. I followed your instructions for the Vimeo Pro/Plus but when i test my video sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools it gives this warning:

    Sitemap contains urls which are blocked by robots.txt.
    Value: http://player.vimeo.com/external/56628570.hd.mp4?s=06176cc014057c8cd67ddbba6190ae6c

    Is there an option in Vimeo to set the robots.txt open?

    The privacy setting i'm using in Vimeo is : Hide this video from Vimeo.com
    This to prevent Vimeo from outranking my website.

    Thanks in advance.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Yeah, it's a bit weird with Vimeo - as it shouldn't work, but (probably due to the popularity of the platform and Google making special dispensations), it often still seems to.

      Make sure you include the http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=56628570 element as well and it should work.

    • Thanks for your quick reply Phil. I have include the player loc and the content loc. So now the waiting game is started for me.

      In the meantime I was searching for some SERPs where vimeo embeds showed up and linked directly to a page outside of vimeo. But I cant find any, this gives me not much confidence i'm going to get them.

      Can you give some example SERPs with succesvol vimeo embeds?

      Thanks in advance!

  11. I used to think that Google automatically favored Youtube with this but it is not the case: as stated above, having a site with Page Rank and videos all over the place will definitely "make it worth their while" to crawl and snippet your page.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hey Patrick,

      Yes - I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that Google favours YouTube from a ranking or SEO perspective. Certainly the company would rather you used their product, but it doesn't then follow that their product is best for improving your rankings or on-page factors. This is because YouTube is ultimately a social platform, where any embedded content treats the youtube.com version as the canonical. You can't currently restrict other's from sharing or embedding your YouTube videos, meaning you can't secure it to your own site and thereby show it's "your" content.

      Nor do i forsee Google going down the route of offering further SEO benefits for those using YouTube, as ultimately they want their product to rank and to get the lion's share of the traffic. More than likely, they'll incentivise indivduals to do YouTube by offering further advertising and branding benefit. This should be taken advantage of by all companies able to invest, but that doesn't mean all of your videos should be hosted on YouTube.

  12. Phil Nottingham
    reply >
  13. Awesome article Phil. You laid it all out there nicely. The gem in here (and my fav) is to only add your most authoritative videos to your sitemap. Sometimes less is indeed more.

    Have you ever tried http://vidyard.com ? Just a suggested addition to your list of video platforms.

    Cheers,
    Dan

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the comment. I'm not sure if you noticed, but Will Lam also asked about VidYard in the comments. Unfortunately it's not possible to get rich snippets for VidYard videos at the moment, or submit a full sitemap, since the platform lock down player files and encapsulated media files to make them inaccessible to users. This is done for supposed security reasons, but the VidYard team have promised that they'll resolve the issue in due course with an automatic sitemap generation tool.

      Cheers,
      Phil

  14. Hi Phil,

    Thanks to your great previous post about the different video hosting solutions, i chose Wistia and have good experiences/ results so far with it.

    Nevertheless i have a question; the different video hosting solutions offer social media plugins to share the video, however some websites are already using solutions like Addthis etc. We use normally on our website Addthis, but on the landing pages with video content i use the social media plugin from Wistia itself.

    What do you suggest or prefer to use for the video content to get shared/engagement in the most ideal way. Is using two social media plugins next to each other a bad thing?

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Ward,

      Great question. In short, it ultimatley doesn't matter as long as you're able to define the default message in social bar and that the link shared is the correct page on your site (some of the video platforms - namely Vimeo and Vzaar - share the versions on their domains as default).

      With Wistia - the decision is entirely up to you with a focus on determining what's going to have the highest conversion rate. This might be two plugins or just the one - and it really fluctuates as to what the right answer is dependent on your site design and information architecture.

      I therefore recommend looking at this on a case by case basis and just doing some A/B testing to work out what converts best.

  15. Raymond

    Hi Phil, definitely a great post. Thanks a lot.
    Do you have any info to try this with Dailymotion?

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Dailymotion is a social video platform and not a video hosting platform. Yoast's plugin will allow you to get rich snippets for those embeds, but it's very rare your page will be the version that ranks rather than the Dailymotion version. If you have your own video content, you're much better off securely hosting - so the only use case for trying to get a rich snippet for Dailymotion embeds is if you're trying to do it with other's content.

      That's completely legitimate, but not something I recommend, as a rule.

  16. Hi Phil

    Thanks for sharing all of the great info on creating video sitemaps across the various platforms. Like many we have standardised on Wistia as our Video hosting platform of choice.

    reply >
  17. Janie Knetzer

    Hi Phil:
    Thanks so much for this excellent post. I've been searching trying to find detailed information like yours.

    I've worked as a freelance SEO for the past year and most of my jobs have been pretty small. But, I recently partnered with an agency to work as their SEO Planner and I'm embarrassed to say that I little experience with optimizing video period.

    I will of course have access to developers, etc.; but I'm wondering what the best course of action would be for an agency when it comes to implementing videos on new sites that they build for their customers.

    I was looking over Wistia like you recommended above and that seems like a great option for anyone whether for personal use or business. If I'm understanding correctly how it all works; then I wouldn't have to worry about having the developers create any coding?

    I'm trying to figure out the best possible way to implement video and image SEO on our customer websites. Any input would be greatly appreciated Phil.

    Love the help you're sharing.

    Thanks.
    Janie

    reply >
  18. Hi Phil,

    I have to say - I wish I had never read your work - BUT NOT IN A BAD WAY! what I am saying is that your knowledge and contribution to handling the comments you get on your posts is nothing short of EXCEPTIONAL! The down side for me is that I saw just one of your posts - and then after almost 2 hours of being online reading your stuff and the spin offs from it - well you have stolen some of my life HA HA - however, I have to say that I feel so enthused and empowered in areas that were until now grey areas.

    I would welcome some feedback on this point if you will....

    I use Yoasts SEO plugin and love it and am considering buying the developer version of the video seo one. I have started using Wistia for clients and of course they handle the SEO part - So would there be a downside to using both the Wistia options for SEO and also the YOAST plugin? - My initial observation or concern is the fact that would there be 2 sitemaps created and could this be bad?

    Keep up the awesome work!!

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hey Mark,

      Thanks for your kind comments! Glad you found my work useful.

      Great question RE the Yoast plugin. In short, it's not necessary for you to use it with Wistia - as, like you say, the platform automates the process - but i haven't seen any examples so far of two conflicting sitemaps causing issue thus far.

      In theory, it could cause conflict, and Google have definitely been choosing not to show rich snippets for site's which excessively use schema mark-up and offer conflicting options - as well as pages that include 2 videos within the single video sitemap entry.

      So, in short - I wouldn't recommend doing both (you can either just not use the Wistia SEO features or disable the plugin) but i have no evidence to suggest it would be problematic in the way you suggest, at the moment. This could, of course, change at any time.

      Cheers!
      Phil

  19. Hi,

    thanks for this article... at least I get yoast plugin after struggling a bit doing it my self :-). It's working fine for some of my video (I mean not all ideo got a rich snippet at the moment but some yes).

    Just one question you mention NOT to do it with a FREE Vimeo account and use a PRO one... what about the "PLUS" account ?

    Bye.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Plus functions in exactly the same way as Pro, except that it's designed from creatives, rather than companies.

      The principle with not doing it with a free platform is that the Vimeo platform will likely outrank you for your own video so you need to ensure your content is not visible on vimeo.com. If you have a vimeo plus account as a creative, you probably don't want to do that - since you'll get value from those community pages - but you can do if you wish.

  20. Re-thanks :-)

    (It was already done on my account hopefully)

    reply >
  21. Thanks for sharing Phil, this is really helpful :)

    I've noticed a small mistake in your method for YouTube. To get the thumbnail for a video, you mentioned this URL: http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/o.jpg. The "o.jpg" should be a 0 (zero) instead of the letter "o".

    If you want some different variations and dimensions for your thumbnail, you can use the following URL's:
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/0.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/1.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/2.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/3.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/default.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/hqdefault.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/mqdefault.jpg
    - http://img.youtube.com/vi/VIDEOID/maxresdefault.jpg

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Thanks Roald, have amended that typo.

      Cheers for the other URLs too - but note that the resolution must be a minimum of 160 x 90, which means the url ending /3.jpg likely wont be usable.

  22. Hey Phil (I'm following you all over today!) - super post. I've been researching video sitemaps/schema markup for a few days.

    I found a desktop app called A1(one) Sitemap Generator 4 that you can specify to build Google Video sitemaps during a site crawl, and even EXTERNALLY hosted videos/players.

    The sitemaps are really clean, which was helpful when making sure they got everything.

    I've just submitted 2 to WMT, so we'll see how it goes.

    Great job again on some super useful info!

    Jeremy

    @jeremydestes

    reply >
  23. Ken Fisher

    Phil:

    Love your stuff. You're the world authority! I'm stuck after finding out Vimeo (I have Plus) no longer supports the old embed code. Here's their notes:

    "The old Vimeo embed code is no longer available. But trust us: The new embed code is way better, and plays nicer with many different browsers and devices."

    Perhaps I'm thinking too much into this. I thought I saw you stressing the importance of the old embed code. Perhaps it was at seomoz.

    Sorry if this sounds redundant but this schema markup has me stopped in my tracks. I'm having hard difficulties getting all of it.

    Should I just forget it and use the standard iframe embed?

    Thanks for your patience and hanging in to help us all!

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Ken,

      So - Vimeo do still provide the old embed code, they just don't support it; which means they aren't fixing any bugs and can make no promises with regards to its reliability.

      However...I don't really think there's need to use it any more, as the iframe embeds will get indexed providing the sitemap is submitted properly as recommended above. Once upon a time the iframes wouldn't get indexed at all, but for the last 9 months or so I've seen it happen fairly consistently.

      Schema is great, but not absolutely necessary, as a video sitemap will do the job on its own if needs be.

      Cheers,
      Phil

  24. I'm looking at setting up a video sitemap for a site which uses MyDeo (on a WordPress install) have you had any experience with that?

    I was hoping to automate the process, but guessing this might not be possible?

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Charlie,

      I'm afraid I am not familiar with MyDeo, but if i get a chance I'll have a look into it and get back to you.

      Unfortunately, I don't think there's going to be a way for you to completely automate the process without quite a bit of work.

      Cheers,
      Phil.

  25. Jennifer

    Hi Phil,

    Do you know if the Yoast Video Plugin supports the Spider Video Player (http://wordpress.org/plugins/player/)? I'm thinking about using it the Yoast plugin for SEO video sitemap purposes but need to upload movie trailers or original interviews. If not, do you know a good player that we should use that works with Yoast?

    Thanks!
    Jennifer

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Jennifer,

      I don't think it does unfortunately, but Joost may be able to add it in without much difficulty. He's a lovely guy and very approachable so I recommending getting in touch with him via twitter @yoast

  26. Jennifer

    Hi Phil,

    Thank you for answering the question. Took your advice and you're right, he is responsive & may be able to do it. Thank you very much for your help!!!!

    Jennifer

    reply >
  27. Ron

    Thanks for the great info Phil. It seems like a key aspect of a good video SEO strategy is limiting the number of sites that actually have the video. Admittedly, this goes against my intuitive thinking. For instance, if someone really likes a promo video we've made and wants to, let's say, blog about it, with Vimeo, it's easy for someone to get the embed code and share it on their blog. But if I'm understanding it correctly, that could ostensibly hurt your SEO as more and more different sites have the video since your site is not longer the sole "owner" as Google sees it. If that's the case, I guest it comes down to whether your want views or high SEO rankings. Correct?

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Ron,

      as with everything video SEO related - it totally depends on your goal and the style of content you're creating.

      If you're trying to build brand awareness and improve reach - then yes, you want to put your video everywhere.

      However, If you want to drive traffic to your site with the video content, It's much more important to secure the video so that, like you say, Google see you as the owner and give you the ranking credits.

      It shouldn't be a difficult decision to work out, because your content will be inherently aligned to one of those goals more clearly (and if it isn't, it's probably not very good content).

      Cheers,
      Phil.

  28. M

    Hi Phil - thanks for the great article. I have my video's on Vimeo Pro and had them set to private where they were only embedded on my website and did not appear on Vimeo - but Vimeo support said "Unfortunately, it appears that even adding it to the Sitemap of your site would still prevent Google from crawling the video based off it’s privacy settings."
    Do you suggest leaving them as private or making them public?

    I used the "http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=56628570" syntax in my video sitemap - but google don't seem to be indexing my sitemap at all (its been a week...no errors in webmaster tools)...is there a very rough guideline as to how long they take to index?!

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi M,

      Leave the videos as private. Google seem to have made a special case of Vimeo embeds, since Vimeo have made all sorts of technical mistakes that make it hard to Google to see what's going on.

      It'll normally take way longer than a week for the video to get indexed - somewhere in the region of one to two months.

  29. M

    Thanks for the advice and the quick reply! :)

    reply >
  30. Chad Boettcher

    Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the very insightful article.

    Do you have any advice for ranking with Flowplayer (HTML5 with Flash fallback - think)?

    We have about 580 products on our website that have a video of the product so that the video and the product share the same URL. We've implemented schema.org markup for the product and the video on these pages (they both appear and are valid in Google's Structured Data Testing Tool) We've added the element to each product that has one in our XML sitemap. I don't think it's possible to use the player_loc element with Flowplayer but we do have the content_loc and that does resolve properly.

    Of the 583 videos that show as submitted Google Webmaster Tools, only 3 are indexed and I'm completely perplexed as to why we can't get more indexed.

    Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Chad

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Chad,

      Unfortunately it's very difficult for me to answer your question with any certainty without going through your site and spending a few hours digging into the details.

      However, if you've managed to get 3 videos indexed, this is an indication that your implementation is correct; but perhaps that your pages haven't been crawled by the video googlebot yet, either because you've not given it enough time or because they're not strong enough. So, I'd encourage you to build some more links to the pages in question (280 is a lot of pages to get indexed with video snippets for anything PR7 homepage or less) and just wait longer. Additionally, ignore GWMT data altogether because it's not accurate in this. Go into the Google video search and actually explore how many videos appear to get a more accurate figure.

      Thanks,
      Phil

  31. Hi Phil, I heard someone say recently that you can't expect your homepage to rank with a video snippet because Google will ignore the homepage (http://yourdomain.com/) because Google wants you to be build landing pages for each of your videos.

    Have you heard of this? Do you agree?

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      Hi Bobby,

      It's true that you rarely see a homepage ranking with a video rich snippet, but I don't think this is because Google wants you to build video landing pages - or that Google ignore homepages if they're included in a video sitemap.

      It's really more about the nature of a page and the way it's treated in the index. Home pages are normally the right page to return for things like branded queries or key head-terms and often these aren't the kind of queries where a video result is appropriate.

      Practically speaking, i'd advise against trying to get your homepage consistently ranking with a rich snippet, especially as it's totally possible to get both your homepage and a deeper page (with video result) ranking for any of your branded head terms.

  32. Thanks for the feedback Phil - would it be fair to say that "you rarely see a homepage ranking with a video snippet" because few people are actually doing this? I ask because I have several clients who are small, local business owners and a huge win for them is not only Google authorship integration - where they are the only business with their thumbnail image appearing in Google search - but I was thinking it would be a bigger win for them to have the much larger video thumbnail image appear in the search results.

    Small business, small website, very targeted metro area verticals - in this scenario I would love to see video thumbnail snippets on homepages.

    However, with my clients already with their Google+ profile pic appearing on the front page of Google for their targeted keyword phrases, offsetting the video strategy to a deeper landing page makes sense and I already have a client setup and the experiment underway.

    Will keep you posted! Thanks again

    reply >
  33. Sergio

    Really interesting post Phil, thanks.

    Just a question regarding rich snippets for videos on my site hosted on YouTube. Are you saying that the page appearing in SERPs will be the YouTube one instead of my landing page where the video is? I'm a bit confused at the destination of the traffic if I submit a video sitemap for a video on my site, hosted on YouTube. Will I send traffic to YouTube rather than to my landing page?

    Cheers.

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      I can't guarantee which one is going to rank, but submitting a sitemap doesn't mean your version will automatically rank rather than the YouTube version (otherwise you'd be able to rank for anyone's YouTube videos). Google don't see YouTube accounts as "belonging" to a website, so treat the channel as it's own entity. YouTube may be the version that ranks in your instance, especially if you don't have a very strong site.

      The principle stands that if you want traffic for your videos, that if the main focus is getting traffic, you shouldn't use YouTube to host.

      More details here: http://moz.com/blog/building-a-video-seo-strategy.

  34. Calvin

    Great post Neil, thanks. I am currently deliberating whether to self host videos or hosting them on Youtube. After reading your post my understanding is that if we use video sitemap for videos hosted on YouTube, we will be redirecting traffic to YouTube instead of to our landing pages. Is that right?
    Do you think the YouTube video will outrank the landing page on SERPs?

    Cheers

    reply >
  35. Sergio

    Thanks for your answer Phil,

    Sergio

    reply >
  36. A Samuel

    Hey Phil,

    Great article, I however have the opposite problem. I have a video that sits in the header on every page and is now being used as the video rich snippet against all my search results and superceeding the Google+ authorship profile that should show up. Any ideas of what I can do to stop this?

    Cheers,

    Adam

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      It's very difficult for me to give you good advice on this without spending a while digging into your specific situation,

      but basically you'll need to look at your microdata and potentially remove the video from any pages you don't want the snippet on and then get everything reindexed - it's very hard to "remove" video snippets.

      But, first you should really dig into your analytics and work out whether the video snippet is actually a problem for you (I've rarely seen instances where it's a negative).

  37. This is amazing, thank you for that.

    I've had this one video blog for almost 6 months now and I can't believe I wasn't leveraging the power of thumbnails in the SERPs.

    thank you

    reply >
  38. Gyorgy

    Hi Phil

    The Google spreadsheet is very useful, but I noticed that it adds quotes between and the URL, so it's like: "http://www.example.com/example.mp4

    Cheers.

    reply >
  39. LOVVIINNGGG the Vzaar update. I just started using this service with a client and have been struggling setting up that new sitemap feature that Vzaar just launched. Once again, Phil, you're a life saver :)

    reply >
  40. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the post. I have been struggling with creating a video site map because my eCommerce platform prevents me from modifying the robots.txt file. What alternatives are there so that I can get the SEO benefits of my videos.

    Cheers,

    reply >
    • Phil Nottingham

      You can submit the sitemap in Google webmaster tools instead of robots.txt

  41. Bruno

    Hey Phil,

    Would you mind to share your thoughts of thumbnail is not showing up in the search result?

    We are using Vzaar and submitted sitemap; all the thumbnails were showing up nicely. For some reasons, some of our videos seemed to be de-indexed (can't find them when search for site:.sitename.com)

    reply >
  42. Ernesto

    Hi Phil!
    you are a master!
    thanks a lot for such a useful post!
    I am debating between wistia and vzarr
    Like wistia a lot but the price difference in considerable so I am leaning toward vzaar.
    Regarding your post about making videos "private"
    I am reading here at vzaar: (not suere if wistia has something similar)
    http://prntscr.com/3176ky
    https://vzaar.com/help/kb/features/domain-control
    Should I make them private and only allow them to play in my domain
    or should I make them public and only allow them to play in my domain?

    thanks a lot

    reply >
  43. Ernesto

    Hey Phil
    good morning!
    This is how it looks at wistia:
    http://prntscr.com/31e3w5
    How should it be set in vzaar and in wistia for :

    Ranking, traffic and conversions?
    and for
    Links?

    On another matter have you seen any improvement in vimeo pro in terms of video map management and embed code?
    from your articles and comments and visitors comments it seems vimeo pro is the cheapest option but may be the most complex and problematic in terms of video sitemap generation and embed code?

    thanks once again!

    reply >
  44. Annie is no longer at SEER, but I'd very much be willing to send her cake as she embarks on a career in sharing her phenomenal ANNIE-lytics still!

    http://www.annielytics.com/

    reply >
  45. Phil

    Going back in time through your older articles. As ever fantastically helpful. Thank you.

    Ash

    reply >

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