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Getting Started with Rich Snippets for Improved Video SEO

Video content is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways for businesses to get a message through to visitors. It’s typically more engaging than a traditional piece of content, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re a site taking advantage of video content for your website, the trickiest part will probably be improving your video SEO. You have to worry about where you’re hosting your videos—your website, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.—and then create your SEO strategy accordingly. In many cases, you will need to have a few different SEO strategies for each outlet where your video is published.

Naturally, you need to make sure that the videos on your site are keeping up with the videos that are published on YouTube (even if it is the same video). Sites like YouTube have their place and can have a very positive affect on your company, but it’s important to not let it take over the video content on your own site. This is where rich snippets come into play.

What Is a Video Rich Snippet?

Video “rich snippets” is one SEO tactic that can help the SEO of that video hosted on your site specifically if used correctly. Although rich snippets isn’t a new idea, it’s just recently gained some traction as companies focus on the way their listing looks while ranking in Google aside from just ranking in general. They work the same way that Google authorship works. When you visit a Google SERP that picture of the author catches your eye. Rich snippets uses the same logic but with a video instead. Below is a screenshot of an entry using rich snippets from one of our older blog posts explaining the basics of rich snippets:


As you can see, rich snippets are shown right there on a Google SERP. When a user clicks on the video, they will be taken to wherever that video in hosted. In the vast majority of cases this will be YouTube (such as the first entry above), but in some cases it will take users to the company blog or website (such as the second entry above).

How to Use a Video Sitemap to Install Rich Snippets

Most companies go through YouTube in order to use rich snippets because it’s the most popular, but this can be problematic for likely one of two reasons:

  1. First, if the video ranks higher on YouTube than on your website’s page then all of the traffic will be sent to YouTube and not your site.
  2. Second, YouTube makes it easy to click related videos, so it’s easy for people to stray from your site.

Long story short: It’s ideal to use rich snippets to send users back to a video found on your own website. You can make this happen by creating a video sitemap is an XML file. This will help Google understand what that video is about and why it’s there. The easiest way to create a video sitemap is through this spreadsheet from Moz. All you need to do is plug-in the information and your sitemap will be created for you.

What Types of Videos Work Best for Video Rich Snippets

The best videos to include in a rich snippet are informational videos that explain something simple such as how to do something or how something works. This makes it easy for Google users to see quickly exactly what your website entails and why they may want to click. Additionally, keeping the video directly related to what your website is about will help ensure that the thumbnail image on the rich snippet is relevant. After all, this is the first thing people will see when their eyes are drawn to your entry.

Extra Tip: Tom Armenante of Branded3 recommended a great tool called Wistia to help companies host videos on their site and then create a video sitemap for that video right away. You can sign up for a three account and get 3 videos for free. If you’re not interested in creating your own sitemap and want something much simpler, this is becoming one of the most popular tools to use.

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