Preface: this article contains technical information for webmasters looking to increase their videos’ readability on Google. We do not recommend editing your website’s source code without an understanding of your site’s formatting.
HOW GOOGLE WORKS
Here’s how Google works. In order to deliver users their search results, Google sends spiders all over the Internet to collect information about each individual piece of content. This is why the term “world wide web” was coined in the early phases of the Internet. As you know, online video is already a big SEO boost for your website as Google is always trying to provide users with helpful video content. Millions of people find videos on Google every day – but this means that in order to have your video show up organically you’ll need to be following Google’s rules.
INDEXING VIDEOS FOR GOOGLE
The first and foremost step to having your videos show up in search is to let Google accurately index them. If you are only relying on the written information on your video’s web page, Google may not read it as efficiently or effectively as it possibly can. In other words, you risk Google not ranking your video as highly on your search.
While Google crawls for a multitude of details about your content, these are the three main pieces of information Google looks out for in each video:
- A title
- A description
- A thumbnail
To fully maximize how you provide this critical information to Google so that they can rank you higher, you can use either on-page markup or a video sitemap. Not to worry, both of these options are entirely invisible to your website users and will not affect how your web page looks or behaves. This is a greatly effective trick to increase your videos’ click and view rates exponentially and organically.
On-page markup is hidden descriptive data (microdata) that is added to the source code of your web page. This makes it easier for Google to collect the exact information it needs to index your video. Using video markup you can provide crucial details such as the description, thumbnail URL, upload date, and duration all while being assured that Google can properly read it.
For video markup, Google has specifically recommended using schema.org, a markup format that has been collaboratively designed and is supported by Google, Bing, and Yahoo! Check here if you want to review the full schema.org vocabulary.
There are various other forms of software approved by Google that accomplish similar results. These include Facebook Share and RDFa on-page markups. You can see here for more about using Facebook Share and RDFa for video data.
Check out this example to see what the video markup looks like in your source code.
Sitemaps are an effective way for web developers and webmasters to inform Google and other search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. This way Google can see your video page as being popular content that it will want to rank highly.
In a nutshell, the Sitemap is an XML schema file that provides a list of URLs for a site along with additional other metadata about each URL – such as when it was last updated, how frequently it changes, and how important it is relative to other URLs in the site. This way the search engines can more effortlessly crawl for information within the site.
Sitemaps offer advanced functionality such as indicating expiration dates, country restrictions, platform restrictions or even information on live streams. Find out more about using a video sitemap here.
Web crawlers do a better job of discovering pages by combing through the connected links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps complement this data to allow Sitemap-supporting crawlers to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata – thereby increasing your page ranking.
ADDITIONAL BEST PRACTISES
These are the guidelines provided by Google to further improve your videos’ Google compatibility:
- Add and verify your site into the Google Search Console. This is a great tool that will let you see any problems that Google encounters when crawling your site. In addition, if you are using sitemaps to increase video exposure, submit them through the Search Console as well.
- Employ a strategy using both on-page markup and video sitemaps. It is recommended to use on-page markup for all of your videos, and a video sitemap to tell Google about any new, time-sensitive, or hard to find videos.
- Make sure you have a publicly available video page where users can watch your video. Having a specific video play page for each video greatly increases their Google readability.
- Use unique descriptive data for each video in your markup or sitemaps.
- Be aware of all the common problems associated with video indexing.
- If your video is a full episode in your series, one effective convention is to use the term “Full Episode” in the title (this is optional, however). Since these episodes will come up in search results, the user will want to be able to assess quickly and easily whether it’s the full episode. Your title is an immediate way to do this. Additionally, you can make sure that you include “duration” for these cases, as many users search for full episodes by clicking on the long-form content button to find full episodes.
CONTACT YOUR SPECIALISTS
Contact your web developer for additional advice or guidance when adjusting your site map or markups. Some website providers will have backend dashboard options, such as tags, that can serve as a substitute for video markups. In general, don’t edit any code without knowing what you’re doing, as this can lead to errors on your site.
Need high quality video on your site before you start looking to optimize Google search rankings? Arc and Crown Media is your guide to great video with greater results. Check us out at www.arcandcrown.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know about your video needs.