Video SEO is the act of proactively submitting your content and providing on-page markup, through what’s called a “Video Sitemap", so that it’s easier for Google and other search engines to find it.
Once your video sitemap is submitted and you're using SEO style embeds your videos can:
- Appear inline in universal search results
- Send people directly to your website when clicked on in search results
- Boost overall placement for your page
- Appear in video specific search results, like http://video.google.com
Our friend Casey Henry, web manager from SEOmoz, provided some awesome tips on Video SEO in the article below.
Getting Set Up
The typical Video SEO workflow is a mess: create the sitemap, add it to the 'root' folder of your website, submit to Google through Webmaster Tools, and check periodically to make sure it is still operating properly. Each time you add a new video, you'd need to re-create the sitemap and re-submit to Google. Yuck.
With Wistia, the work is reduced to what you do best: create great content. Wistia helps you create, host, and submit your video sitemap. After some setup work, you won't have to touch it again - set it and forget it.
Here's the rundown for what we need to get done (do in order):
- Add Sitemap line from account to
robots.txtfile, then verify it.
- Embed the video using the
video SEOembed code type.
- Create an
SEO sitemap entryfor the embedded video.
- Be extra patient with Google.
The first thing you need to do is authorize Wistia to host your video sitemap and reference pages on your site. This is done through the robots.txt file on your web server.
Robots.txt File Setup
When search engines crawl your web content they first look for a file called `robots.txt` in the root of your website. This file tells search engines what to index on your site and also where your video sitemap is located.
A common SEO problem is blocking search engines from crawling your website with robots.txt, make sure you allow search engines to crawl and find your content.
A robots.txt file helps search engines know what content they should index. The
robots.txt file also has the ability to inform and authorize sitemaps for your
website. To see your robots.txt file, open your browser and head to
yourdomainname.com/robots.txt (substituting your domain name in).
Updating your robots.txt file is different depending on the CMS or website management system you are using. If you are self-hosting your site, you can edit the robots.txt file in your site's root directory (or create one, if one does not exist).
If you are using WordPress, they have several popular plug-ins for editing your robots.txt file. Refer to our WordPress doc page for more info.
You will be adding one line to your robots.txt file that notifies Google your video SEO sitemap is hosted by Wistia. To find the line you'll be adding for your account, open up the Video SEO area of your account, which can be found under the Account menu.
The three steps to getting your sitemap set up are outlined on the Video SEO page.
Once you have added the line to your robots.txt and typed the URL, click thebutton. This will retrieve your specified robots.txt and verify that the information is viewable by Google.
The next step is on Google's end. Google will review the sitemap entries, and check the content they point to (i.e. where you said the video was). It can take up to a week to complete this step.
Embed Video Using the SEO Embed Type
Even if you don't setup the video sitemap entry, you'll still be able to access
our SEO type embeds, which have lots of SEO benefit on their own by making use
of Schema.org meta tags (you'll see these manifest themselves in the SEO embed
meta itemprop tags). These grab the content you've filled out for the
video title, decription, etc. and translate that into nice meta content for
spiders to crawl (it's not as icky as it sounds).
To get one of these for your video, open the video you'd like to embed, and select </> Embed & Share from the embedding a video guide.menu. For more information on embedding, review the
Making a video sitemap entry
Once you have verified the entry in your robots.txt file, you will be able to add entries to your video sitemap. Once a video sitemap entry is made, it will be automatically picked up by Google and your content will be indexed according to Google's indexing queue.
Making a new video sitemap entry is the fun part of the process! You get to talk all about your content and why it is valuable.
After you have embedded a video on your website, go to your video's media page
(i.e. the page in Wistia where you can view the video, which has a URL like
<youraccount>.wistia.com/medias/12345). Select Add to SEO Sitemap form the
The Video SEO functionality will only work with SEO embeds!
This will then bring up a dialog box where you can enter the relevant information about your video (like tags, description).
Making Sitemap Entries
Title: I’ve found that having the title of your video match the meta title of your page will help a video snippet appear along with your page in search engine result pages.
Description: Be as descriptive as possible but make sure you are not going overboard with keywords you want your video to rank for. Make the description useful for viewers, not for bots.
Tags: I’ve found that having 3 to 4 word descriptive tags works best for our videos. Don’t get too wordy with your tags and keep it simple.
Enter the required information and click. Your sitemap will then be automatically updated and the new changes that should be indexed.
Managing your video sitemap entries
SEO Sitemap entries can be managed from the video SEO dashboard within your Wistia account.
This will take you to the video SEO dashboard where you can:
- See all videos currently in your sitemap
- Edit the sitemap entries by clicking the "Edit" button on any entry
- Remove any entries that may no longer be valid using the "Remove" button
In the end, the goal is to get your content to rank higher in search engines like Google. Telling search engines about your content through Wistia's Video SEO features allows your pages to:
- Rank higher in basic search results based on the presence and relevance of your video content.
- When someone clicks on your video in a search engine results page, they will be taken directly to your website.
- Show up as a featured video in search engine results pages.
- Display in video specific search results.
Getting to the Top!
Make sure you have related content on your page so that search engines have context surrounding the video. Once your snippet is shown in search results, you should see a nice increase in click-through-rates!
Adding Additional Domains
Adding more than one domain to your Video SEO in Wistia is easy to do. After adding your first domain, a button will appear on the right bar in your Video SEO account section for adding additional domains (see the image at right).
You will be prompted to walk through the same steps as adding your initial domain.
Host Your Own SEO Sitemap
The functionality we have designed is meant to reduce headaches around using Video SEO. There are some situations, however, when you might want use Wistia to build your XML Sitemap file, but self-host it somewhere else. This section will cover the steps to hosting and submitting an XML Sitemap file yourself.
Build your XML sitemap
In order for these steps to be useful, you must first go through the normal Video SEO setup steps. You'll need to confirm your Robots.txt file. Once that is complete, you can use the “Add to SEO Sitemap” function under the Media Actions menu to create new entries for your videos.
Export your XML sitemap
The next step is to export the XML sitemap Wistia built based on your metadata entries. To save the contents of your XML Sitemap file, navigate to the Sitemap URL (i.e. http://app.wistia.com/sitemaps/26547.xml), and then save that webpage.
To track down the URL of the Sitemap, look under the help bubble (question mark icon) on the Video SEO tool page. See the screenshot below.
Upload XML sitemap to your own host
Upload to your web host, the same way you might for a new web page or web page image. Doesn’t need to go anywhere in particular, just needs to be accessible by Google.
Submit Sitemap URL to Google Webmaster Tools Follow this guide to make sure you submit your new XML Sitemap correctly.
When you add a new video to your sitemap, you will need to re-export, replace the version you have on your end, and re-submit to Google. Annoying, but if our hosting paradigm doesn't work for some reason, this might be a good solution!
Video SEO FAQ
Video SEO is tough, but valuable. Customers have lots of questions around how to use our Video SEO tool for their business video. We'll attempt to compile them here.
Do I still need to create an sitemap, or submit something to Google Webmaster Tools?
Nope! Wistia tools take care of that process automatically for you. We create a sitemap, add the videos you designate, and submit it through Google Webmaster Tools, all automatically.
Is hosting my video sitemap with Wistia ok? Will Google accept it?
Yes. Google has made cross-submission support via a robots.txt file an accepted and efficient part of the SEO workflow. See this article from the Google Webmaster Central Blog for more.
It's been several days, when can I expect to see my video ranked in SERPs?
This is a good question. Because Google can be a bit of a black box, it's not
possible to determine exactly when new content will be indexed for video
results. In our experience, a waiting period of
10 - 15 days is not uncommon.
If you have been waiting for a considerable amount of time, or are nervous something has gone wrong, don't hesitate to email our support team. We'll take a look at the Webmaster Tools entry we create and maintain for you, to see if Google has reported any errors in indexing.
Can I generate SEO linkbacks using Wistia embeds?
Yes, you can.
The Social Bar includes an embed button, which allows viewers to embed your video in other places. Wistia includes a customize option for adding Video Backlinks to the social bar embed button code, which is the embed code your viewer re-embeds.
The result is their viewers can track down the original source of the content, which Google and search engines also value. Phil Nottingham from Distilled, who is a real SEO expert (we just play one on video), posted at length about using this for your content. Building links back to your original content can be hugely powerful for building your audience.
For more on using Video Backlinks for your content, see the Customization docs.
Can I hear Ben talking about SEO?
Yes! Our Video SEO expert, Ben, got up-close with the camera to talk about how Video SEO can create benefits for your business: