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How to Create Video Sitemaps – Part 2 – Anatomy of a Video Sitemap

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This is Part 2 of 3 of a series How to Create a Video Sitemap and in this session, we discuss what the file type of file a video sitemap is, what it looks like, and where to find a sample of it for the website. We also deconstruct the code so you can understand what is going on in the video sitemap entry line by line.

Video Transcript

So a video sitemap is an xml file and so it has to follow a specific set of code. And I know that this is the beginning session and as such, we’re not really supposed to talk about code here. But we’re going to do a little bit of it here anyway. And I have posted on the forum this code so in the forum under Live Answers… let’s see, let’s get there. On the forum under Live Answers, I’m sorry, in the forum under Live Answers or Live Answer code here… I’m sorry. It’s Live Question and Answer code. I have placed this sample video sitemap code so you can you know, copy and paste the code for yourself and so you don’t need to you know, try and copy it off of the video.

Another alternative is to simply go to my video sitemap and you can see my video sitemap by going to Give it a second to do its thing here, it’s a really big file. And so, this is what that xml file looks like and you know, I have… well, over 800 videos in the site right now. They’re not all in this sitemap yet because it takes time and so they’re not all there. But you can see an awful lot of them are here and so if you ever want to take a look at an example of one that’s been done, you just go to my site and look at videositemap.xml.

Now this is the browser view of it. If you take a look at the page source view of it, you can see what the code really looks like and while we’re waiting around for that to happen, I’m just going to show it to you in Netbeans. You know, this is what the code really looks like in Netbeans. And so, if you cut and paste that code in Netbeans, you’ll end up with code that looks just like this.

Okay, let’s go back to that browser window for a second and let’s take a look at the source. And so, here it is. This is the source view of it and you can see all the line numbers and that kind of stuff. In fact, I have what… 13,889 lines in this file. So it’s not a small file.

Anyway, that’s what a sitemap is. It’s an xml file and it has a variety of elements to it that we’re going to talk about now. But what we’re going to talk about is exactly the same code that is sitting on the forum. So if you look at that code and listen to this video next week when it’s up, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Okay so the first thing that a video sitemap file has to have is the URL set and this is the very last… the very first and very last tag of the video sitemap file. And it’s… the URL set and it says that it is an xml site map and that it follows this schema. And then… and not only is it a sitemap but it happens to be a video sitemap and for Google’s purposes, it is following’s video sitemap’s schema. You absolutely have to have that at the beginning and a closing tag at the end in order for Google to recognize that that’s what we’re looking at is a video sitemap so we start off with the URL set.

The next thing is you don’t have to have these but there are comments. In the absence of comments, it can be quite you know, a lengthy file can be difficult to manage. And so, if we go back and take a look at my site for example you know, if I didn’t have these little comments in here, you can really get lost in a whole bunch of code. But you know, I know this is Start Building Your Website Here Lesson 3 and then Lesson 3 Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, and Part 4 so on and so forth. I think, if you get down into our Live Answers, you can see Live Answers and then the name of the video in that Live Answers so that at the very least, you could search… if you’re trying to find the specific reference, you can search for that. And if you’re browsing through it, you can actually read it because you’ve got these comments in them.

Now, the comments start with a less than sign, an exclamation point, and 2 dashes. And they end with 2 dashes and a greater than sign. So this is how a comment begins and ends and a comment can be multi-lines long as long as it starts the beginning of the line with this and at the end of the comment, it has this. But that’s a comment in xml. And so, I’ve got 3 comments here, Start Building Your Website Here, Start Building Your Website Here Lesson 1 and then Lesson 1 Part 1.

Then you’ve got the heart or the meat of the entry and that is the URL entry. And you have a URL entry like this for each video. So this set, this thing right here is one video. Starts with an opening URL tag right here and ends with a closing URL tag and then has all the rest of this content inside of it.

The first thing inside of that URL tag is the location and this loc or location is the URL for the page where the video is being displayed. That’s what this is about, the page where the video is being displayed.

The next… well, so you have 2 main tags inside the URL tag – you have the location and then you have the video tags. The video tags are sort of subtags for the video and there are required, absolutely required tags and there are optional tags. The absolutely required tags are the ones that I put in red here and then the optional ones are the ones that stay in black. And we’ll talk about those as we work through this.

The very first required tag is the content location. Remember, we said that the site map has to have either raw URL of the video itself or a URL for the player. Because we are self-hosting our video, this is the raw URL for the video itself. This is the… if you were to put this in your browser, it would take you to this video and it ends with the video extension, the file name extension, .mp4. so this video is located at That is the exact URL of that location. And if that is not correct, your sitemap will not show up in Google search results. So this location, the physical location of the file has to be there and has to be correct. And that is content_location or content_loc.

The next thing is the thumbnail location. Now thumbnails didn’t use to be required for video sitemaps but apparently, they are now. And so, you want to create a thumbnail, the image that you want to be displayed for… when Google returns your video. Now, my video thumbnails, I believe, I create them at 240 pixels wide, I believe. Let’s just take a look at that for a second here. Under… let’s see, Media Library. I believe that… okay here is a Google thumbnail image and I can tell my Google thumbnail images because I end them with a g here. And yeah, minus 240 pixels wide by however it would be tall based on the video image itself.

Now, Google doesn’t actually display a 240 pixel sized image but 240 pixels is the recommendation that they have for a minimum width. And so that’s what we do. Now, they’re going to take it down to 80 pixels but it’s a nice… but this is the size that I create them at. And this is the actual location. I usually take my video thumbnails and upload them in the Media Library and then I just get that address and place it here.

The next thing is the title of the video and this is the title that is returned when a video is returned in search results. So I wonder if we can find, just for grins, I wonder if we could find a video of mine by doing a Google search. Let’s see, Thesis custom taxonomy and then video. Oh yeah there we go, perfect. So this is mine, right? This right here, Thesis CMS Community Website – Organizing Community News, this is my… oh, isn’t that interesting? Oh what’s really interesting is that in this case, they did not use my meta description and my title for this. What they did was they took this piece of my text and that piece of my text and placed it here which is crazy. I did not… that’s interesting. I did not… I figured my titles were good enough. But anyway, theoretically, that’s what happens here is that this becomes the… this is the title of the video and this is the description of the video. And this is my thumbnail image here, 240 pixels, shrunk down to this 80 pixels wide, okay.

And then a video description. I forgot to mention that tags have an opening tag and a closing tag so the opening tag is this and the closing tag is the same thing except it has a slash before the text. So anyway, you have a description and then you come down to the optional tags.

Now there are lots of optional tags. These are the ones that we’ve chosen to use but there are others that you can use as well. But we indicate that the video is family friendly and therefore, you will show up in a safe search result and I think this is important to do so that it doesn’t get improperly flagged as inappropriate for a family. I put the duration of the video in seconds. So this video is 385 seconds long. I put the publication date of the video and then assigned it a category, in this case, how to make a website. That’s a video category. And then I add tags – WordPress, domain name, hosting, and Bluehost. And these are all optional, none of them are required to be in your video sitemap. But theoretically, they are helpful in having your video found so I include them.

Now, there are a couple of very, I think, significant and important resources for you with more information than what I’ve just presented. The first one is Reel SEO. Now this is the URL to a place that I would like you to visit at some point or another and it’s And if you go there, they have a best practices webinar where they talk all about this kind of stuff. and they talk about it in more detail than I’m talking about and they you know, go into more detail explaining why sitemaps are valuable and what you can do with them and all that kind of stuff. And so, this is quite a good resource.

In addition to that, They’ve got a… let’s see, they’ve got a sitemaps tutorial and they’ve got some news about sitemaps and then they’ve got their own SEO guide. And I think this site’s all about search engine optimization for videos so this is… if you’re going to bother with video sitemaps then this is an excellent resource to use for dealing with search engine optimization for your videos.

The 2nd example, now you can see here, for example the length of the video and the date the video was published on shows up here, right? And that’s because I indicated that inside of that as tags in that video. The 2nd resource is more technical in nature but nevertheless really sort of the bible of the video sitemaps and that’s the Google Webmaster Tools on video sitemaps. And this is, I think, essential reading for you because it does go into greater detail on some of these things. It does show you an entire example which includes every tag available. And then it gives you a good description of all of the video tags and how to use those video tags. The weakest part of this page is the description here, between video content loc and player loc. You know, I found this description to be very confusing and I think the best way to understand this for people who are self-hosting videos, just ignore the player location altogether. Simply do the content location and then give the exact URL of your file, including the file extension of that file whether it’s mpg, mpeg, mp4, movie, flv, whatever. If your file has an swf then it’s not actually a raw file that can be watched on its own. And then you need to include it in this player location but we’re going to assume at the moment that you’re not using an swf file and that… and instead, what you have is a very specific location for an mp4 which is what I really think what you ought to do for all those stuff is do it as an mp4.

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