Video sitemaps and transcripts for SEO

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 by Richard Howe

Video sitemaps and transcripts for SEOIf you’re serious about engaging with your website visitors and ensuring they are kept informed or entertained, it’s likely that you have some kind of video content. There’s nothing quite like a video to inspire, motivate, encourage brand trust and tell your story.

Because videos are such a central part of visitor engagement and inbound marketing, it’s essential that they are optimised to rank in search results on Google and other major search engines. In this blog post, we’ll look at two ways of doing this: 1) Creating a video sitemap; and 2) Creating video transcripts for your site.

What is a video sitemap?

A video sitemap is an XML document containing metadata about your videos. It is completely invisible to the user, but allows a search engine to understand what your videos are about while it’s crawling the web page. This can be particularly important if your site contains time-sensitive information such as news or events.

What is contained within a video sitemap?

Each element of your sitemap must contain:

  • Title of video
  • Description
  • URL where the video can be found
  • A thumbnail image (either provided by you or automatically generated)
  • Raw video file URL and/or video player URL

In addition, metadata can include:

  • Category
  • Video length
  • Intended audience
  • Video publication date
  • Ratings
  • Expiration date
  • Times viewed
  • Age restriction
  • Price to download or view
  • Whether it’s a live stream or not

Submitting this data will allow the search engine to index your content within both the standard search results and video search results too.

Creating and submitting your video sitemap

It is beyond the scope of this blog post to go into depth about the coding required for a video sitemap, but for those who want to get stuck in, Google offers a detailed and very usable support section to help create and upload your own.

Once your video sitemap is ready to go, it can be submitted to Google through Webmaster Tools as with a regular sitemap.

Video transcripts

It’s well worth noting that there is another, very simple way of carrying out video search optimisation – including written transcripts of your videos within the web page copy. Although not a direct alternative to video sitemaps, including a video transcript has been proven to boost page views and increase search rankings. This can complement your video content for SEO and your viewing audience, and there are several benefits to this:

  1. Search engines will find your page easier to index
  2. Increased accessibility for users who have difficultly viewing or hearing
  3. Readers can copy and paste, highlight and make notes (which is ideal for training materials or educational topics)
  4. Visitors will have the choice of whether to read or watch, making your content attractive to a wider audience

In summary

Whether through video sitemaps or by the use of video transcripts, increased visibility in video search results can be a real advantage over your competitors. Videos have been shown to be more clickable than their text-only counterparts, so if you don’t have a video sitemap or video transcripts for your content, make this a priority.

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