XML Video Maps
If you produce videos of some kind (and you should do that for both traffic and SEO purposes), you need to host them either on services like Youtube or on your own hosting. There are both cons and pros as for where exactly to host your videos. And before we go any further and learn more about XML video maps, let’s take a more in-depth look at the issue of what is actually better: self-hosted videos or YouTube-like services.
Hosting videos on YouTube (and similar sites)
- Exposure to huge audience;
- Built-in tools;
- No extra hosting costs.
- Low level of control;
- Size limitations;
Hosting videos on your own server
- Full control over your videos;
- Almost no size limitations (it depends on your hosting company);
- Audience limited to your site only;
- No built-in tools and features;
- Extra hosting costs (sometimes).
If you upload your video to Youtube or the like, you have the built-in options to specify your relevant video info such as title, descriptions, tags, captions, etc. So, you don’t have to bother as for creating your XML video map, because YouTube just got you covered in these regards. In case you host your videos on your own server, you have no built-in features like that and it gets a bit tricky in that case, though it’s still not rocket science at all.
Keep in mind that you definitely need to create an XML video map if you decided to host your video on your own. Why is that? Well, the point is that Google – let alone other major search engines – just cannot watch your video and figure out that it’s all about. So, you need to explicitly let Googlebot know what exactly you video is about. If you don’t, it just won’t come up in search results when people search for something that is in your video.
XML video sitemaps are especially crucial if your content has some time-sensitive info such as breaking news of events. Google will just find and index that info way better when a video has a sitemap associated with it. In other words, if you don’t use a video map for your self-hosted video, you just leave money on the table. As you might have guessed, video sitemaps are actually XML files. You need to create a sitemap for each and every video that you deploy on your site.
There are all sorts of info that you need (or can) specify in your XML video sitemap but some values are optional. You need to specify the following values for sure: your video’s landing page (where the video is embedded on your site), the url pointing to your video thumbnail image, the title and description of the video, Once you’re done with creating your video sitemap, you need to submit it to Google. You can do that with the help of Google Webmaster Tools. Be advised that you can add up to 50,000 videos entries in your XML video sitemap. Plus it should not be more than 50 MB. In case you happen to have more video entries (or your file is bigger than allowed), you can submit multiple sitemaps and then just create a video sitemap index file that will point to those sitemaps.
As you can see, it’s more cumbersome to mess with metadata if you’re not using Youtube, but your choice depends on what is of more priority to you: more control and better exposure or full control of the stuff you created. What is your take on that?