Video SEO – Host or post your videos?

With video SEO It is often difficult to know how to host videos for best effect. Many people are inclined to feel that YouTube is the best option because of its massive audience base. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. It all depends on the video – its content and purpose. Here we have compiled a list of things to consider when it comes to hosting and/or posting your video content. Both options have merits and your choice should ultimately come down to what will work best for a particular video.

Third party and self-hosting video content

Hosting a video on your own website increases your chances of getting video rich snippets for your own domain in the SERPs. Rich snippets simply refers to search listings with rich media content such as images, videos , maps or reviews. As you can see from this screenshot for this search Youtube was heavily favoured. Although Youtube now do index embedded videos on the domains where they are hosted it still appears that Youtube videos on Youtube are more likely to be shown – perhaps because it is on Youtube that they have the most links, views and shares.

video rich snippets
If you host your own video content securely and submit a sitemap to Google, you are more likely to achieve a rich snippet. There is no one-way to guarantee that you will get video rich snippets. The best thing you can do is to keep your content unique to your website. This will mean ensuring that the embed function on your videos is disabled. If you do this, Google will only have one option about where to find your content and to link to it in the SERPs. Your own website will rank in search engines and links will lead back to you.

Whereas if you use YouTube and embed the videos from YouTube onto your own website, it is more likely that the YouTube domain will rank in search engines rather than your own web page. Another major advantage of hosting securely on your own website is the fact that any links built will lead back to your own domain.

So in terms of getting links for video SEO self hosting may be the best option; but this needs to be weighed up against the traffic generating potential of having your videos on Youtube. Here we have a full guide on the basics to video seo.

Increase potential for conversions through self hosting video

If you host your videos on your own website, you will have the advantage of being able to turn those views into a conversion – something that is more difficult when using sites like Vimeo and YouTube as you have the added difficulty of getting the viewer to your website. An alternative goal can of course be to get a subscription to your Youtube/Vimeo channel, this is not necessarily a problem in the long term but it means that short term sales will not benefit as much.

Ability to customise your video player for SEO

By hosting your videos on your own website you will be able to customise the style of your video player making it unique to you. This means it can fit the style of your brand rather than looking generic. You can also use hosting solutions which allow you to customise your video players so that they include social media sharing buttons and embedded links. This will make it even easier for people to share your video content from your own website.

You can allow embedding on your video that will appear as referring links to your website

An iframe is an HTML structure that allows you to embed an external webpage within another webpage. You need to ensure that other websites can only embed your videos by using iframes. Google are not great at reading iframes and so only allowing embedding through iframes will prevent your videos being indexed on other websites (keeping the content unique to you). The bonus point is that the code will still appear to search engines as a link to your own website. You can also put an additional attribution link on the end of your embed code pointing to your home page (or another page that you want to build more links to). Wistia are a video platform who have this functionality on embedded links

YouTube and other hosting sites

Your video will have the potential to be seen by more people if it hosted in multiple locations around the web.  If your mission is to make one of your videos go viral, or at least come close, then posting to YouTube and other sharing sites is the solution. You need to make sure that you optimise your videos well. This includes submitting a closed captions file because they are rich in keywords from the content of your video and will help your videos be found. Your video titles and descriptions should also be rich in keywords – here is a detailed post on video seo set up.

Your video will be easy to share

If you want your video to be seen by as many eyes as possible, make sure that you allow embedding. Any views of your embedded video on other websites or blogs will add to your overall watch count on YouTube. There is no problem with using iframes when you are hosting your videos on YouTube (YouTube is owned by Google and they know when something is being embedded!). All Youtube videos have social sharing buttons integrated now.

Your content is more likely to rank well in search engines

If you embed your video from YouTube onto your own site, any views will be counted and improve your YouTube ranking. If you allow the embed function for other sites, views from their website will also contribute to your overall count. YouTube videos generally rank higher than other videos in Google therefore you are likely to get high ranking videos more easily through using Youtube. That said – if you are more concerned about long term SEO value then you are probably best hosting the videos on your own domain as then all links to the video will be pointing at your domain.

You can encourage click through’s from YouTube to your own website

There are things that you can do to encourage click throughs to your own website after your video has been watched on Youtube. E.g. create a linkable URL in your video description (by simply including ‘http://’ at the beginning of a web address in a YouTube description, it will appear as a clickable link). LinkedTube has made it possible to place links to your own website or blog on your YouTube video. Here is an article we recently wrote detailing how to get traffic from your Youtube channel to your website.

Get the ‘As Seen On’ attribution for your YouTube videos

YouTube have an ‘As Seen On’ feature which links from a video to a special page which lists all of the videos embedded on a particular website. The ‘As Seen On’ pages draw text from the website and are great in terms of brand visibility and click through potential. You need to make sure that your videos are hosted on accessible web pages with lots of supporting text and images to be in with a chance of getting this attribution.

Whether you host or post, you should be doing the following:

Submitting video sitemaps to Google

Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about content on your website that it might not otherwise discover. You can use sitemaps to tell Google about particular types of content such as video. Whether you are self-hosting or posting to YouTube, submitting video sitemaps to Google is important. Google have some great guidance on the topic.

Creating a CNAME for your video files

If you self host you can create a CNAME alias. This allows you to reference a branded subdomain in an embed code linking to a video. This means that any time someone embeds your content, it will link back to you twice; once to the video file and once to the web page.

Combining hosting and posting

If you want to combine the power of self-hosting with the benefits of using sharing sites then there is nothing saying you shouldn’t – you just need to be strategic about what order you do things in so that you maximise the video SEO potential of both options. For example, you could start by hosting a secure version on your own website and encouraging links in through an iframe version of your video. Later on you could submit the video to YouTube to reach out to a bigger audience. Ultimately, you need to gauge what the potential marketing value of each of your videos will be and then host or post accordingly.

Phil Nottingham of Distilled recently did a fantastic post on video content for seo – you can check it out here if you want more info.

MWP are a video strategy, production and marketing company with a focus on delivering measurable results.

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3 thoughts on “Video SEO – Host or post your videos?

  1. lakersnation

    No mention about the costs of hosting your own videos and how that should weigh in on the decision?

  2. Joel

    Hi Gary

    Good call. In terms of costs the JW Player is perhaps the best option as it is efectively free. You do need to know what you are doing though so unless you are a coder or have a good developer on your team that understand video well then we recommend that you do not go for this option.

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