Why Video Sitemaps Are Critical to SEO

As the statistics show, content generation and SEO is moving in the direction of video. Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research famously said that one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of written text. According to DigitalSherpa, one third of all activity online is now spent watching videos. Businesses are finding creative ways to integrate video into their online marketing efforts, from posting expert interviews to creating how-to videos geared toward customers. Yet many businesses have failed to master the video sitemap, a key tool for ensuring that your videos are ranking well in search engines. Here’s what you need to know to get started with video sitemaps.

The most common mistake

Many businesses create videos and then post them online using platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. Often you’ve done everything possible to optimize the video, such asbe locally seo video sitemaps choosing careful titles and optimizing descriptions for keywords.  Subsequently, you use the embed feature to post the video to your website. There are tremendous advantages to this approach, from reliable hosting to the benefit of secondary search traffic within the video platform itself.

However, when the video gets indexed and appears in the search results, it’s important to ensure that Google or Bing is sending you that traffic to your own site instead of to YouTube. By default, search engines will send the traffic to the original video which it simply sees as reposted to your site. If you don’t have an active video sitemap, there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on some or all of your organic search traffic related to those videos. The good news is that this can be changed by developing and submitting a detailed sitemap for your website.

What is a video sitemap?

A video sitemap is a document that tells Google there are videos on your site. It flags the video content to Google, to ensure that it’s indexed. It also provides additional details to help Google categorize the videos in the right way. A typical video sitemap includes:

  •     The video title
  •     A full, keyword rich description
  •     Keyword list as tags
  •     Categories if applicable to your site design
  •     Publication date
  •     Video length
  •     Video thumbnail

Another important advantage is that videos indexed via sitemaps will display a thumbnail in the search results. This has been shown to increase click through rates.

How to create a sitemap

There are two ways to create a video sitemap. The first is by hard coding the sitemap, using predetermined code structures. The following html example gives you an idea of how to create this:


<video:title>How to create a video sitemap</video:title>

<video:description>BeLocally SEO experts show you how to create a video sitemap</video:description>

There are also options for automatically creating a video sitemap. If your website is hosted on WordPress, Yoast offers an automatic video sitemap plugin that gets good reviews. Once you’ve created and posted your video sitemap, be sure to submit it through the Google Webmaster Tools site for faster indexing. For a more in-depth look at video sitemaps, we recommend Google’s Video Sitemap Support section.

If your firm is moving in the direction of video marketing, it’s not enough to create beautiful videos aimed at your audience. Your technical infrastructure needs to be aligned to help you capture the vast SEO benefits for your efforts. Contact us today for an expert consultation on taking all your SEO campaigns, including video, to the next level.


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