Why a Video Sitemap On Your Blog is Essential

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

A Google Video sitemap provides Google with detail 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 they 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: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 Yoost’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?


  • http://newraycom.com Ray Hiltz

    Excellent tip, Ian.
    I use Yoost’s SEO Plugin so will check into this further.


    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Great, thanks for you feedback Ray.

  • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

    Are there any downsides to not directing users to YouTube for your videos? Does it matter if you already have YouTube pages that you are managing well?

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      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

      • http://engag.io/ William Mougayar

        Hi Ian, True re: Interaction on your web site over video. I didn’t think of that immediately. Thanks.

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com/ Cendrine Marrouat

    Hello Ian,

    I’m so glad I found your article. It’s one of the few things I am absolutely clueless about! I’ll be sure to pay attention to video sitemap from now on.

    Thank you!

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thanks Cendrine, I’m very happy the article was useful to you! Have a great week-end! Ian

  • rohit

    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.


    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Great Rohit, I’m glad it was useful. Thanks so much for comments and good luck with you future assignments.

  • Arina

    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.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      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

  • Tonya

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

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Thanks Tonya, glad it was useful!!

  • TS

    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.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      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.

  • Susan Reed

    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?

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Hey Susan,
      When you embed using the embed code you need to have a related sitemap i.e. a video one. Ian

  • mark

    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?

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      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

  • http://www.mikejohnsonmarketing.com Mike Johnson

    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.

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Hey Mike thanks for this. I think this is great but this code needs to be added to any new video you add so it’s not something anyone can do without technical knowledge? Ian

      • http://www.mikejohnsonmarketing.com Mike Johnson

        Actually we created a plugin for it.


        It does everything the Yoast Video Plugin does and more (without the Video sitemaps or the huge price tag).


        • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

          Thanks Mike, looks interesting. By the way, what do you think of this tool? http://smo.knowem.com. Your site rates very well with it! It still ranks keywords for SEO which is wrong so that’s why you probably didn’t get 100% in that area!

          I am considering doing a post on how to optimize for twitter cards, facebook etc.

          • Richard

            Bookmarked – what a beauty!

          • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary


  • andymarshall

    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?

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      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!


      • andymarshall

        Great – thanks for that.

  • http://marijuanamemes.com/ Marijuana Memes

    Does the Yoast video plugin work for videos that are not owned by us, only embedded on our site ? Is it worth our while?

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      Yes, worth it if you have a lot of videos!

  • Dan

    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

    • http://www.razorsocial.com/ Ian Cleary

      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!