XML Sitemaps for Videos – Why They Matter

As we discussed in a previous post, XML Sitemaps are documents/webpages used by Google (and other search engines) to determine what content on your website to index and rank on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). And, just like other forms of media on your webpage, videos can also benefit from XML sitemaps. Some of the most important benefits you can reap from having a well-made video XML sitemap include the following:
  • Indexing of your video content on search engines
  • A higher chance of ranking on video.google.com search queries
  • A great-looking thumbnail on display in the SERP
  • A chance to provide more details about your site and business through structured data schema markup

Preparing Your Video Content for an XML Sitemap

Before you can reap the rewards of a video XML sitemap, you must ensure that your video embed code meets the standards of Google and other search engines. Generally, there are two different ways that people embed video content on their websites. They are:
  • Object Embeds
  • iFrame Embeds
However, Google has stated that they will ONLY index video content that is embedded using the object embed method. People have found a way to “cheat” the embed system for Google indexing by nesting the object embed code within an iFrame. However, no good research shows that the iFrame nesting method allows Google to index your content, so we’ll stick with the object embedding method for our examples.

How to Use the Object Embed Method for Video Content

Object embed HTML code is a way to tell the browser (or search engine) where to find the RAW (original and uncompressed) file for your video (or another piece of content). To tag up a video embed using the object embed method, your code will end up looking something like this:

Making Your Video XML Sitemap

After your embedded video is coded and working correctly, it’s time to start making your video sitemap. To do this, start by creating a new file on your website and call it something like this:
After that, move the newly created file to the root of your website. By doing that, you will give the sitemap its URL. That URL should look something like this:
Once you’ve created your sitemap file and moved it to the root of your website, it’s time to populate it. The kinds of structured data that Google requires to be marked up in a video sitemap include:
  • Title – The title of your video (should be identical to the title of your video wherever it is hosted).
  • Description – This should be identical to the meta description of the page where the video is being embedded.
  • Raw Video Host Location – The “src” link is shown in the embed code pictured above.
  • Thumbnail URL – The URL where the thumbnail for your video is stored (Google recommends you use a high-resolution image for this, up to 1920×1080).
  • URL of Video Play Page – This is the URL for the page where your video is hosted and played (like the YouTube URL for your video, for example).
And now that you know what types of information are required in your sitemap for indexing on Google, let’s work on populating your sitemap with XML! Below is an example of what your sitemap code should look like when it’s all said and done:

Add the Video XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

Now that you have a well-made XML sitemap for video content, it’s time to tell Google where to find that information. To do this, load up Google Search Console (if you haven’t set this up yet, refer to our post about GSC) and submit the URL of your video XML sitemap under the “Sitemaps” tab. After that, Google will crawl your new sitemap and index your videos (it can take over a week for Google actually to crawl your site, so be patient)!

This is Just the Beginning of XML Sitemaps for Video Content

While the information here will get you started indexing your video content on Google, it is far from the end of the story regarding XML sitemaps for video content. You can add several other structured data markups to the sitemap (author, date of posting, etc.). But since those are not things Google requires for the initial indexing of your video content, they were left out of this post. If you want to learn more about XML sitemaps for video content, or if you’d like our help setting yours up, please feel free to contact the SEO experts here at Goldstein Brossard!