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 benefit from XML sitemaps as well. Some of the most important benefits you can reap from having a well-made video XML sitemap include:
  • 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 will first have to make sure that your video embed code meets the standards of Google and other search engines. Generally, there are 2 different ways that people embed video content on their website. 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, there isn’t any good research available that shows that the iFrame nesting method actually allows Google to index your content, so we’ll stick with the object embed 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 you have your embedded video coded up and working properly, it’s time to start making your video sitemap. To do this, start by making 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 own 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 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, simply load up Google Search Console (if you haven’t set this up yet, refer to our post all 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 to actually 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 when it comes to XML sitemaps for video content. There are several other structured data markups you can add to the sitemap (things like author, date of posting, etc.). But since those are not things required by Google for 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 in setting yours up, then please feel free to contact the SEO experts here at Goldstein Brossard!