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Thoughts on Embedded Video SEO

2013 March 11
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by Kathy Alice
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green video play  buttonWhen you create a video for your online marketing you have two distinct strategies available to you:

  1. Put it on YouTube and other video sharing services. Optimize the video for YouTube and try and get as many people to view it as possible. This is great for branding your business and driving traffic to your site (generally through a link in the description), however it doesn’t do very much for your site’s SEO.
  2. Embed the video onto your site. Now you are adding content to your site and enhancing the user experience, which is all good for your site’s SEO.

By embedding video on your site, I’m not talking about copying and pasting the YouTube video embed code on your site. Yes that might help your visitor stick around longer which indirectly helps your site’s SEO. However unless you have a really powerful site, your page is almost never going to outrank the video you have uploaded onto YouTube. Especially if the video is well tagged in YouTube.

Hosting the video

So the next question is how you host the video on your site. Here you have two options:

  • Upload the video to your server or to cloud storage such as to a Amazon S3 account. If you think your video is going to get a lot of plays, streaming it from Amazon might be a lot cheaper for your bandwidth costs. Then you’ll need to install a video player on your website. Two options to check out there are JWPlayer and Easy Video Player.
  • Use a third party service such as Bright Cove or Vimeo Pro.

If you use a third party service you are going to want to “white label” the videos so they appear to be hosted under your domain rather than theirs. Most of the third party services support this. Vimeo Pro calls the feature “custom domains” and it involves setting up a DNS entry on your domain configuration to point to their service.

You want to do this so you can create a video sitemap of the videos on your site and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools (Bing may also take video sitemaps – I haven’t checked yet.)

Embedded Video SEO

Embedding the video is just the first step, you will need to create some surrounding content to support it. Text is still king when it comes to SEO as search engines can’t read images or videos very well. So all things you would do with a text page (keywords in the page title & h1, write compelling content, etc..) you’ll still need to do with your video page. Consider posting a transcript of the video on the page.

To take the optimization a bit further, add the VideoObject markup code from schema.org. You are probably familiar with how YouTube videos appear in the SERPs, with the little thumbnail of the video. Your videos that are hosted on your site can appear the same way as a rich video snippet if you do the markup. Here’s an example of a rich video snippet from the site allrecipes.com that I see when I search on “how to make french toast” (Note: I have no idea whether their recipe for french toast is any good or not).

example of video rich snippetIf you look at the source you will see they are using Bright Cove (which seems to be the leading choice among the larger companies) and have set it up so the video is hosted on their domain. If you search for “VideoObject” in the source, you will also find the meta tagging that adds the markup to the page.

If searchers know there is a video on your page – that is likely to drive up clickthrough, and if you keep them there with a rich user experience (text and video) that will help SEO by driving up time on site.

Have you done any video embedding? What was your experience?

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Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a technologist, author, blogger and SEO consultant with a background in web operations and engineering.In her spare time she loves to get outside.
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