The pros and cons of having videos on your website

There are a number of online users that prefer to watch videos over reading text. Adding video to your site could widen your potential audience and bring new visitors aboard.

While there are many Internet users that swear by online video, there are just as many that can’t stand it. Those are mostly people that don’t have too much time to surf the web, and who prefer to access the information in textual format, because it allows them to scan through the content, and filter only the bit of information that they need.

If you decide to add videos to your website, they should be uploaded to a dedicated video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo. They can then be viewed on your site via embedded code. Note that hosting your video on YouTube (for example) will send traffic to YouTube, not to your website – but by including video on your website and implementing the correct technical mark-up (see below for the necessary steps) it is possible to get improved search results.

Embedding vs. Self-Hosted Videos

Embedding a video is essentially a two-step process. First, you upload your video file to a third-party video hosting service like YouTube (the most popular video hosting site) or Vimeo (another very popular video hosting site – and my favourite).

Then, you copy a small bit of code that they furnish to you, and paste it into your post or page on your own WordPress site. The video will appear on your site, in the location where you pasted the embed code, but the video itself is being streamed from the video host’s servers, as opposed to your own web server, where your WordPress site is hosted.

Self-hosting means that you upload the video file to your site, using the built-in file uploader in WordPress, the same way you might upload a photo or image to your site.

Video files can be quite large in size unlike images. A video file can weigh in at more than 100 MB. On a shared server too many requests for a single large file will quickly exceed the limits of the web server on which your site is hosted, and bring your site—and any other sites that are also hosted on the same server—to its knees. If this happens, your video will stutter and may even stop working altogether.

For these reasons alone, your videos should be hosted elsewhere – not on your local website.

Another good reason though, is that YouTube and Vimeo are the most popular video hosting platforms in the world. They’re one of the first places many folks turn when they’re searching for a topic. When you host your video on a third-party site like YouTube or Vimeo, you benefit from their popularity, and folks could find your video – and subsequently your own site – who otherwise wouldn’t have known your site existed.

One other consideration is that embedding slows down the website page where the video is displayed. The more external queries you have (such as video embedding), the slower your web page will be.
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Google Search Results – SEO and Marketing your Product

Adding a video to your website offers no SEO benefit to your website, however, due to universal search and Google putting video results in the search results, your videos will appear in the Google search results – if you follow the steps below.

Step #1: Upload videos directly to YouTube

While it won’t guarantee first-page results, Google will index your video if you upload it to YouTube.

The only problem is this won’t accomplish your SEO goal of driving clicks to your site since people clicking on the result featuring a YouTube video will get sent to YouTube and not your site.

Since this cannot be regarded as a successful SEO strategy, it’s not the only thing you should do.

Step #2: Embed the video onto your website

Embedding videos onto your website will help get the videos more views. This is important because Google algorithms want to know how many times a video on YouTube has been watched.

The views on the video on your site will get included in that tally. Almost all of the videos that Google shows on its blended searches are from YouTube.

Step #3: Add text descriptions to the page

On your web page write an introduction to the video that goes above or below the embedded video.

Google doesn’t see the video content on your website therefore it searches for other ways to determine what your video is all about. To figure out how to index it, Google reads the page content for clues.

The video title is also important. It is what Google is most interested in when it comes to the term that is being used for a search. In other words, the title and search term need to match your video title.

Step #4: Create a Video Sitemap

Use the Google Video extension to the Sitemap protocol to give Google information about video content on your site. Google web crawlers will verify that the information you include for each video matches your live site. Each URL entry must contain the following information:

Title, Description, Play page URL, Thumbnail URL, Raw video file location and/or the player URL.

I would suggest anybody looking at using video for SEO or for marketing should read this guide by Phil Nottingham: www.distilled.net/training/video-marketing-guide


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