Video sitemaps are great way to give Google information about your videos. They essentially push your video metadata to Google which means they will find the videos on your website more quickly. This is particularly useful if your videos are time sensitive or if your videos are difficult to find on your site. But – they scare a lot of non-techies and put them off with words like “XML” and parameters etc etc.
However – If you are creating videos regularly and using them on your site then you do need to know how to create a video sitemap – it’s OK; we’re going to make it easy for you….
Creating a video sitemap
Google recommend creating a video sitemap based on the Sitemap protocol because the same file can be submitted to a number of other search engines.
You can create sitemaps manually or you can use one of many third party tools. Here is a link to a comprehensive list of tools that you can use to piece together your video sitemap.
For every video you want to put in your sitemap, you will need one of the following:
- the URL of the webpage that plays your video i.e. where a video is embedded/hosted
- the URL of the player that plays the video.
- the URLs of the raw video content that you might be hosting on your site
Each video URL you submit must also contain the title, description and thumbnail of your video – these are all required fields. If you provide a working URL to the video file (i.e. a link to where your video plays), they can automatically generate a thumbnail for you. You can change the thumbnail later if you choose to do so.
There are a number of optional details you can submit to a video sitemap. We would recommend providing as much information as you possibly can as it will all help towards improving the chance of your videos appearing in search results.
Note: Video sitemaps are limited to 50,000 video entries and 50MB. If you have a lot of videos, you could separate them into different video sitemaps.
Want to see something scary? Google provide the following example of a sitemap entry which includes video. From this, you can see the range of details it is possible to include:
This does look quite intimidating if you aren’t familiar with code. All it actually involves are tags which give specific information about your video.
The most basic version you could submit would be a tag that links to the webpage that the video is hosted on.
You can use tags to give the following information about your video:
- The location of the video
- The video URL
- To point to the thumbnail for the video
- To point to the video player
- Video title
- Video description
- Family friendly status
- The duration of the video
You can see Google’s help page for a list of possible video specific tags and their definitions.
Submitting your video sitemap to Google
Before you can submit your sitemap to Google you need to check that the following websites are added to and verified with your Webmaster Tools account (this also means you need a Webmaster Tools account!):
1) The site where your sitemap is located
2) The site or sites of the URLs that you have referenced in your sitemap
When your sitemap is complete and also accessible via a URL on your own website, you need to submit it to Google through webmaster tools (just as you would with a normal sitemap). It can take a few hours to upload. Webmaster tools will show you the status of your upload and will tell you if there are any problems.
To submit your video sitemap:
a) upload it to your website – it needs a URL
b) Go to Webmaster Tools home page and click the site you want to submit for
c) Choose Optimization from the left hand menu, then select Sitemaps
d) Click Add/Test Sitemap
e) Complete the URL path to your sitemap in the text box
f) Finally, click to Submit your sitemap
For further support around submitting your sitemaps, visit the Google Webmaster Tools help section.
Making changes to your video sitemap
If you need to make changes to your video sitemap, all you need to do is make your amendments and resubmit the sitemap via Google Webmaster Tools.
Of course, Google can’t guarantee that all of the videos you include in your video sitemap will appear in search results, but you certainly have got to be in it to win it and you won’t be penalised for making the effort. Google adheres to Sitemap Protocol 0.9 which means that your sitemaps will be compatible with other search engines which adopt the same standards. Therefore after submitting to Google Webmaster tools you can hop right over to Bing Webmaster tools and do the same.
Video sitemaps are of course just one piece of the video SEO puzzle; if you want to learn more then have a read of our post on the basics of video SEO.