Video Sitemaps 101

Search has become the most powerful discovery paradigm for web content, of which video is a fast growing and powerful medium. Therefore, it goes without saying that Search is important for video content discovery.
From a recent survey by Jupiter Research, 38% of all US online users use search engines’ results to discover video content. In late 2008, ComScore actually pegged YouTube as the second largest search engine, even beating out Yahoo in capturing user search queries – this goes to show that video content is here to stay, and that users are lapping it up by the streaming minute.
Google’s Universal search results page shows content from Google’s other search verticals, such as Video results, Maps, Images, etc. and this provides content publishers and creators a unique opportunity to showcase their content in various forms for a user’s particular search query – and the good news here is that Video results dominate the universal SERP and thus, should be given due attention in your search engine marketing strategy.

How do you get your videos to show up on Universal results pages?
Google picks up videos from Google video search – therefore, to have your videos show up in Universal search, they much be indexed in Google video search.

So, how do you get your videos into Google videos?
Here’s where we start talking about Video Sitemaps or mRSS. Google’s spider crawls the web looking for video content, but not all of it is discoverable. Video Sitemaps or an mRSS feed are a great way of making sure that your content is easily discoverable and indexed by Search engines.
Video Sitemaps can help you provide key Video information to Google, you can add optional Meta tags to further describe your video content and can help improve crawling and indexing chances.

Required elements to create a Video Sitemap:
• Title
• Description
• Play Page
• Thumbnails
• Player or Content location – it is recommended to have both
Other recommended elements include Duration, Expiration and Regional restrict.

Best Practices when creating Video Sitemaps:
1) The Sitemap/mRSS feed should be available at a publically accessible location
2) Location of the video – at least the or needs to be defined (both are required)
3) Supported formats: .mpg, .mpeg, .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .ra, .ram, .rm and .flv
If is specified, then format is not an issue
4) Missing XML tags – any missing tag will prevent this video from getting indexed
5) Empty tag value – if any of the tags cannot be filled for a video, the tag should not be listed
6) Invalid Tag values – eg. Expiration Date: An acceptable format includes (YYYY-MM-DD) of (YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ss+TZD)
7) Provide an expiration date or Soft 404

One query most webmasters have is if they need to create a Video Sitemap for videos hosted on YouTube in order to get their videos discovered – and the simple answer is Yes and No.
If your videos are only published for the YouTube community, then No – creating a Video Sitemap is not necessary. But, if you have a website which has a separate page for every video and you’re only using YouTube as a third party platform to host your videos, then Yes – creating a video sitemap is quite necessary. Google then treats YouTube as just another source for video content like Vimeo or DailyMotion.
In this situation, the URL within the files needs to be present on your own domain, whereas the values for or can be of the third party website.

An example of the above situation:






<video:title>How to submit a video sitemap!</video:title>


Random guy uploads video sitemap in Webmaster Tools







<strong>An example of the above situation:</strong>

<video:title>How to submit a video sitemap!</video:title>
<video:description>Random guy uploads video sitemap in Webmaster Tools</video:description>
<video:player_loc allow_embed=”yes” autoplay=”ap=1″></video:player_loc>

Once your video sitemap is ready, just go ahead and submit it to Google through Webmaster Tools and you’re good to go! It is a good SEO practice to do so, especially if you create helpful video content for your users. We hope these tips help you get your videos indexed and bring in more traffic to your website.

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