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The Importance of Video Sitemaps

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This member is adding self hosted videos to his site.  We discuss the role of video sitemaps, the content of video sitemaps and how to create a video sitemap.  I show him mine as an example.  We also discuss where the the video sitemap will be located.

Video Transcript

Rick: On to Richard. Richard is a new member who’s got a question about videos. Richard, are you online there?

Richard: I am. Can you hear me?

Rick: I can hear you just great.

Richard: Great.

Rick: Okay so tell me what you want to accomplish.

Richard: Well, as you know, I’m in the very early stages of putting my first blog together and I know that it’s a good idea to use your primary keyword into you know, how you name the video or the image or whatever and I’m not quite sure how or where to do that. Is that in the WordPress dashboard or in the Thesis dashboard? In a related question, I read somewhere this weekend that it’s a good idea to have something they call a video sitemap in addition to a regular Google sitemap when you have video?

Rick: Yup. That’s absolutely the case, actually. Byobwebsite/videositemap.xml. Oh, that didn’t work very well. Let’s look at it in a different browser. Let’s see, the short answer is yes. Video sitemaps are very important especially for… they’re not nearly as useful if you don’t self-host your videos. But if you host your own videos then they are very, very useful. And this is my video sitemap. Now it’s not 100% complete because we have… we started this later in the game. But you know, the video sitemap contains the URL or the location of the video itself. No, this location is the name of the page the video is on and then this is the location where the video actually exists. This is the URL of the video itself and then I’ve got a video thumbnail and a title for the video and a description for the video. And then I’ve got…well, and yes the video is family friendly. The length of the video in seconds, the date the video is published, the category… how I’ve categorized the video and then tags. Google does index this stuff. And so you know, I have I think 100 and… I have close to 200 videos actually, in the Google video index now because of the video sitemaps. However, there’s no easy way to create this. I mean, you need to create this from scratch for yourself. There is a… the tools that purport to create it for you don’t really do the job well enough. And so if you really want to get the full benefit out of a video sitemap, you pretty much need to write it yourself.

Now the good news is, you can find my example. You can download my video sitemap at You can see the exact syntax of a sitemap. But this only works on your videos that you are hosting yourself. It does not work on a video that is being hosted elsewhere and it doesn’t work on a streaming video where there isn’t an actual file name that Google can check. But it’s…so you can see this is where the majority of information about the video shows up, right? It’s in its video title and in the description. Now, I also name the videos though so you can see this video’s name – Customize Symbol Product Display – and then I have my own little code that helps me keep track of the video and where it is. And so, Google knows the name of the video and you know, to the extent of there are keywords in the name, it’s got those keywords in its index. And then the title and the video description all help with that. It’s my experience that if you do not do a video sitemap, your videos won’t really be recognized by Google.

Richard: Well, a couple of questions… real simple. When you say self-hosting, that means like you help me do with the video player on my page and then the video, I ftp it up to my old server with Host Gator?

Rick: Yeah that’s exactly what I mean.

Richard: Great, okay. And then while we’re involved, once I follow your example that you’re showing me, where do I put it and how? Does that become a page or a blog?

Rick: Well, no. Well, it is a page, it’s an xml page, but it’s in the root of your directory. So for me, it’s in – that’s my root – and then videositemap.xml is sitting right in the root of my directory.

Richard: Oh, I see.

Rick: Same thing is true with sitemap, right. If you take out video there for a second and you just bring up sitemap, this is the sitemap that’s created by Google xml sitemaps. And so I can see all of my… everything that’s in my sitemap by opening that up and so can anybody else. Anybody can go to, you know, and the sitemap will show up.

Richard: Right.

Rick: And so it goes in the root and you would do that using ftp. That’s the only way to do it.

Richard: Right. And by any chance, would you consider putting up a little blurb or a screenshot, something of what you just showed me about your video sitemap out in Live Answers or whatever… wherever you put it?

Rick: Well, this is going to be a video in Live Answers in a couple of days, our conversation right now.

Richard: Okay.

Rick: It’ll be there.

Richard: Our reference would be

Rick: No. xml.

Richard: Xml, got it. And I can get all of those examples and create a page and publish it that way?

Rick: That’s correct. That’s definitely what I would recommend that you do. And so, if you look in the root, this is the root of my byobwebsite, here’s sitemap.xml and then videositemap.xml is where? Oh, videositemap.xml is here. Now this sitemap-video.xml, that was actually created by a piece of software I tried to automatically create this stuff and it didn’t work worth a darn. So I just started writing them from scratch. Now… and to tell you the truth, I had to experiment so I were you, I would definitely follow the pattern in my file because it’s not as straightforward as you’d like it to be and it took me a while to figure it out even though I’m pretty smart and I read everything I could find about it. Took me a while to get it right so…

Richard: Right. Okay.

2 Comments… add one

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2 comments… add one
  • martin tohill August 1, 2011, 3:35 pm

    If I have several videos on different pages do I have to create a video sitemap for each one.and put them all in the root folder..

    • Rick Anderson August 1, 2011, 5:31 pm

      Martin – You can get a sense of what a video sitemap looks like by looking at mine – Each video has it’s own section in the sitemap and generally the sitemap is found in the root of the website. I believe that a video sitemap can have something like 10,000 entries before you need to break it up.