This is a guest blog post by friend and colleague Shawn Lam of Shawn Lam Video Inc.
Videographers are typically very humble when it comes to taking credit for their work. I can accept that. But I don’t like it when they just give it away. As a video community, we often discuss this in terms of what rates we charge our customers. But no one talks about taking credit for our video in terms of video SEO (search engine optimization).
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.
The whole point of optimizing SEO is to drive new and repeat traffic to your website. The best way to do this is with a combination of links that point to your website and getting listed as high as possible on the first page of Google search results for your key search terms. Getting links that point back to your website is a part of every good SEO strategy; but the ultimate goal in SEO is high search engine results. By the way, your key search terms aren’t your company name – they are the search terms a potential client would type into a Google search and that you would hope to be listed under. In my Vancouver Video Production company my two most important key search terms are “Vancouver Video Production” & “Vancouver Videographer”.
So now that we have defined and stated the goal of SEO, let me give you an example of what SEO is not: Posting a video on YouTube is not SEO. It can be a part of a link building strategy but it does nothing for your SEO. In fact, YouTube is robbing you of your SEO potential with each and every video that you post on their website and embed on yours. Now while I’m not going to go into detail in this post on the different type of links, I will say that a link under a YouTube video serves very little value to you in regards to SEO.
Allow me to explain: Google indexes videos and places then in search results. This goes for YouTube videos the same as it does for videos on other hosts or that you host on your own web host – so long as Google can find the video and it has meta data (title, tags, description, etc). But what is important as far as your SEO is concerned, is what website Google considers is hosting the video. If you host a video on YouTube, then Google gives YouTube back-link credit. And if your video shows-up in search results, the link will be to the YouTube page where the video is hosted. Even if your video doesn’t get listed, there is still huge SEO value in videos, because of their meta data, which contains valuable key search terms and lots of long-tail search terms.
So YouTube hosting helps in getting video views and if you put your website link on YouTube it is possible to get traffic this way. But let me refer you back to the Wiki-definition on SEO and remind you that putting a video on YouTube doesn’t help to improve the visibility of YOUR website in search engine results. It only helps YouTube with their SEO.
The problem gets even worse when you take a video that you host on YouTube (or most other commercial video hosts, including Vimeo) and embed the video on your website. Why? Because if the viewer is already on your website, why the heck would you give them a link back to YouTube (via the video embed) or allow YouTube to display ads, suggest your competitor’s videos, or distract them with LoLcat videos? Once you have a viewer on your website, the whole point is to convert them in some form (phone call, email, follow on Twitter, like on Facebook, leave a comment, RSS, email subscribe, etc).
So if there is one thing you take away from this article, it should be that you should NEVER embed your own YouTube video on your website because you are giving away your SEO potential.
The YouTube Alternative
The best practice for hosting video on your own website is to use a host that allows you to create and submit Video Sitemaps to Google (see video below about how and why to create sitemaps). Google will then credit your videos to your website in search results. You can’t create a video sitemap with YouTube videos that you embed on your website because YouTube has already claimed your video with the meta data that you entered when you named and described your video. So while a YouTube video you upload may have SEO value, the value goes to YouTube, regardless if you upload the video.
In order to submit a video sitemap, you need a video host that allows you to take credit for the videos you upload. One method is to use a host like AmazonS3 for your videos – they are the back-end for an amazing collection of websites, which they list on their case studies page. Then you need to generate a video sitemap manually, which is a tedious process. Unfortunately there are no video sitemap generators that I am aware of.
The other video sitemap solution is to use a video host that has video sitemap support, can host the video sitemap for you, allow you to add entries in a manner that is similar to how you would create a title, tags, and description on YouTube, and most importantly, points the videos back to the specific webpage where you are hosting the video. Wistia is the company that I use and their sitemap process is documented on their Video SEO documentation page.
There are other video hosting options that allow you to be credited in Google search results – feel free to add to the two options I’ve already listed in the comments section. Questions are welcome as well.
Amazon S3 and Wistia aren’t free but the SEO boost and added analytics with Wistia are more than worth it (Wistia does have a free 15 day video hosting trial though). I’ve also previously written about Video Analytics on my video production blog if you are interested in understanding the benefits of professional video analytics and to reinforce to yourself the value that comes when you stop giving away your SEO value to YouTube and start taking SEO credit for your work by using a premium video host.