This post expands on one of the ten blogging tips I presented at the SEOMOZ pro seminar yesterday. I’ll be writing about the others over the next few weeks, and will tie them all together when they’re done.
I’m not a video guy. I know I use screencasts a lot, but the idea of having to watch myself on screen is about as itch-inducing as sleeping in a pile of rotting vegetables.
But, video has its place. First, getting a video to rank for a given phrase is a hell of a lot easier than getting a page to rank. Second, videos can grab attention where text just can’t.
So, when I do post a video to a site, I want it to get indexed, right the heck now.
Alas, a video I posted a few weeks ago felt anti-social. I cajoled. I bribed. I promised it candy and screen time. I bought it presents. But it stood at the door to the Google index, stamped its foot and said “I’M OPPOSED TO YOU DAD”.
Actually, that’s what my then-two-year-old son declared when I refused to buy him a chocolate chip cookie, but it’s a great line and I wanted to use it. So there.
The video just refused to get indexed. In a moment of total desperation, I threw together a video sitemap and pointed Google Webmaster Tools at it.
Twelve hours later, the video was indexed and ranking for its title:
I even grabbed a ranking for ‘intermediate SEO training’ for another, equally stubborn video that I included in the map:
That can’t be a coincidence. It’s not even happenstance. It’s a bona fide correlation.
So be sure you use video sitemaps. They clearly have a huge impact on video indexation. My only qualifier: It’s possible video XML sitemaps only seem to have a huge impact, because there are far fewer videos out there than, say, images or HTML pages. But I’ll keep testing and post updates as events warrant.
Best practices for video sitemaps
A few quick tips, and sample code:
- Use a video hosting service. It doesn’t have to be YouTube. I use Vimeo in the example below. But there are some nice benefits, not the least of which is Vimeo will generate a thumbnail for you. Since Google requires a thumbnail, it’s a major timesaver.
- Write good descriptions. I included ‘intermediate SEO training’ in the video:description tag of my sitemap. That has to have helped me rank for that phrase.
- Use accurate tags. Don’t just slap in a few video:tag tags. Make sure you write useful ones.
- Use a separate XML sitemap for videos. Yes, Google lets you mix ’em all together now. But Bing doesn’t. Plus it’s a lot easier to manage.
Here’s the code of the sitemap I did, too. Feel free to rebuild it using your own info: