Video Sitemap: Critical if you have Video on your site

Why a Video Sitemap On Your Blog is Essential

video on websiteDo you have video on your site?  Is it embedded from YouTube, Vimeo or another Video Platform?

A Google Video sitemap provides Google with details about all the videos on your site.  By doing this Google directs visitors to your site instead of directing people to YouTube or similar platforms.

In this article we will outline what a video sitemap is and why you should set one up.

What is a Video Sitemap?

A Video Sitemap is a document that gives Google details of the videos you have on your site so Google can index them correctly.  If you have videos on your site that are stored on YouTube, Vimeo or another platform, then Google generally will not index them as part of your site.

When someone does a search and finds the video they are directed back to where the video is stored, which could be YouTube, rather than to your site. This is not the case if you have a video sitemap.

What information is in a Video sitemap?

The video sitemap contains details of the video such as the description, tags and category for that video:

Google Video Sitemap
Google Video Sitemap displays a description of each of the videos on your website

 

What are the benefits?

All the videos above are stored on our RazorSocial YouTube Channel but when you do a search on Google and find one of these videos the link brings you back to RazorSocial, not to YouTube.

This is a big benefit.  We know that video does well on Google so why lose all that relevant traffic and send people back to YouTube when you could be sending them to your site?

Marcus Sheridan Video on RazorSocial
Marcus Sheridan Video on YouTube is displayed with a link to RazorSocial

 

As you also get a picture in the search results (i.e. of the video) this will improve click through rate.

Google Video Search Results
Search results now showing a video image

 

How do you set it up?

There are a few options:

Option 1 – Creating your own

You can create a video sitemap manually by just typing up the details of the videos in a predefined format.  It will look something like this:

<video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.example.com/thumbs/123.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>

<video:title>Grilling steaks for summer</video:title>

<video:description>Alkis shows you how to get perfectly done steaks every time</video:description>

I knew you’d like this option!

Option 2 – Using a Plugin

If you are using WordPress you can use a plugin.  We don’t like paying for plugins but this is the one situation where we felt it was important to pay for a good solution.  We purchased the Video SEO for WordPress Plugin by Joost.  (Note: this is not an affiliate link and I get no benefit if you end up buying it, I just want to tell you what our approach is).

It was very easy to set up.  After installation you just specify the type of posts that contain videos which you want to index.

Yoost Video Sitemap - Indexing Posts and Categories
Yoost Video Sitemap – Indexing Posts and Categories

In order for this plugin to work you do need to be using Yoost’s SEO Plugin.  But this ended up being a good thing as it was better than my previous SEO Plugin.

Option 3 – Using other sitemap generator tools

There are a broad range of other tools available.  When we found Yoast’s one we didn’t need to test any more as that worked perfect for us.  But there are other ones such as A1 Sitemap Generator.

Do I need to update Google Webmaster Tools?

Yes. Google Webmaster Tools is a free tool provided by Google that tells you what Google thinks about your site!  If you have sitemaps then you should tell Google about them.  This speeds up the process of getting them indexed.

Google Webmaster Tools Submit Sitemap
Submitting a Video Sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools

 

Final Thoughts

Video is becoming increasingly important on the web and Google rewards video with higher ranking in search engines.

Why send people away from your site for videos you have created? Using a video sitemap allows your video content to be indexed as part of your site which is really essential.

Have you created a video sitemap?  Have you noticed any good results?

 

35 Responses to Why a Video Sitemap On Your Blog is Essential

    • Hi William, if you are building a thriving community on Youtube and want subscribers on your youtube channel then you’d be better off sending them to youtube. However, most people want the interaction on their website where they can sell your products or services or build email subscribers. What do you think? Thanks for your feedback, Ian

  1. Thanks Ian.
    I am doing my masters in Marketing and i was clueless about this tool.

    i am sure i will use it for my future assignments.

    Regards
    Rohit

  2. Hi Ian, thank you for the information, the article is very useful. I am trying to implement the tool on our website, and it does not work, can you please show me the example of the correct video sitemap.

    • Hi Arina, the best thing to do is use the support facility provided by yoast and their team. They are really responsive and I think this will be the quickest way to get it working! Ian

  3. Thanks Ian! This was interesting and new for me — Things that are good to learn that I didn’t know I was even missing. : )

  4. I just did a test by doing a google search for the titles of your videos, and am not seeing rich snippets coming from youtube. You should update this article to indicate that your technique no longer works.

    • Thanks so much for your feedback. I had a conflict with the plugin that was effecting my rss feed so I disabled it. It’s a great plugin and many many people are using it successfully but sometimes there’s odd issues appear in software and it’s hard to resolve them. So the post is still every valid even though I don’t have it enabled at the moment!!! I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you, Ian.

  5. I have videos on YouTube. Are you saying that I also need to upload the video file to my web server so that I can point to it in the tag field?

  6. If I embed the video on my main page (i’m using a wordpress theme), should i just then go to the html and post the sitemap below it?

    • Hi Mark, you need to separate sitemap file. The plugin mentioned above does this for you automatically but a developer could also do it. This is a separate file for the site not for the individual web page! Ian

  7. I do not use Video Sitemaps on my blogs. I use Schema.org VideoObject markup. My listings in Google show the Video next to my page listings exactly the same way.

    Example: Do a Google Search for “social deals engine” You will see the listing at #3 or #4 with the Video next to our site listing from WPSocial.com.

    View the Page Source and see for yourself or use the Structured Data Testing Tool and see the markup.

    In other words, you don’t need to go through all this other work to achieve the same goal.

  8. Hi Ian – really interesting.
    1. Just a couple questions – do I make a specific video sitemap xml document to add to Webmaster tools, separate from the standard content sitemap document or am I simply specifying the video details within the main content sitemap in any page that includes video?
    2. I’m not a WP person so can’t use the plugin, but happy to create / adapt an existing video sitemap doc if I understood the structure / schema – do you have an example video sitemap I could look at to understand this?
    Thanks.

    • Hi Andy, yes you make a specific video sitemap xml document which describes your videos and you add this on to Google webmaster tools. Your videos will then be indexed on your site even if they are actually on Youtube.

      If you search for ‘video sitemap generator’ you’ll find some tools that will help you generate the code required!

      Ian

  9. Hi Ian

    What about this scenario.

    I have many videos on our site which are just 1 video on 1 page. I have noindexed these pages as this is a no-no regarding the panda algo.

    Untill I get round to adding content to the pages and removing the noindex would a video sitemap be of any use?

    Many Thanks

    • Hi Dan, that’s an interesting question. If you have a no index on the page will Google index the video on the page through the video sitemap? Unfortunately I don’t know the answer to this. So the only way of figuring it out is testing it! Would love to hear how get on!

  10. Hi Ian Cleary,

    I was just reading your article as I am writing an article on “Videos Ranking Tips”. This is nice post and explained thoroughly.

    But I got a doubt while reading the article. I hope you will address it. See below”

    You said in the post – “By doing this Google directs visitors to your site instead of directing people to YouTube or similar platforms”. But I did a video search of one of your video of youtube channel. Here is the title of this video: “Heidi Cohen – Tips on Social Media Tools”.

    I found the video in SERP but when I click over the link it redirected me to Youtube channel instead of your website. How could this happen as you stated in the article after creating video sitemap file visitor will be redirect to your website instead of any other platform.

    Is this article outdated?

    Look forward to hear from you.

    Jose

    • Hi Jose, I had some problems with the plugin. I know it was a good plugin but there was an incompatibility issue for me. But if you do have a video sitemap it will work for you!

  11. Hi Ian, yeah I don’t think this works anymore or is needed. Is it possible that Google changed their algorithm to prefer YouTube videos on YouTube over all others? I have Yoast Video SEO plugin and only my YouTube videos show in results and I have search for several YouTube gurus specifically targeting videos on their websites and those come up with the YouTube link as well.

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