How to Create a Video Sitemap to Optimize For Search

How to Create a Video Sitemap to Optimize For Search
August 23, 2012

video sitemapRight now, every business is optimizing for search engines at every possible opportunity, to both improve rankings and get found. However, video optimization is a bit different from your standard practices. To make the most impact in video, you have to build a proper sitemap.

Though your website’s sitemap is mainly for indexing purposes, explains that, “The reason for this is that Google and other search engines cannot index video content in the same way they can text. All they know is that a video exists — they need you to tell them what the video is called and what it’s about.” So, if video is a main aspect of your online marketing campaign, it’s important that you optimize it properly.

Video Sitemap Best Practices

While building a video sitemap will be a bit technical, there are still some basic principles that you’ll want to keep in mind throughout your sitemap building process. These will be the bread and butter of your sitemap, so be sure you follow them.  Google suggests three things that will be important:

  • Be sure that your URLs can be crawled. This is the most important aspect of seeing results in the search engines. If Google can’t figure it out, you gain nothing.

  • Include where the video is able to be played. If it is only built for one or two countries, you need to include that.

  • Keep your sitemaps up to date. If videos are taken down, be sure to 404 it or include expiration dates within the sitemap itself.

Tags to Remember

Your video sitemap is the only way for search engines to know what’s in the video, why it’s important, and how it is relevant to your niche, authority and site in general. Therefore, you want to make sure that you are including all the right information in the proper tag form. There are some basic tags that you want to keep in mind when creating your sitemap.

<video:title> - Most important; what is the title of this video

<video:description> - Can be up to 2,048 characters and should be keyword optimized

<video:video> - Tells Google this is your sitemap

<video:thumbnail_loc> - URL of video image thumbnail, formatted in JPG or PNG

<video:player_loc> - Embedding your video from YouTube? Be sure give the original location here

Submitting to Google

Finally, when it’s all done you want to submit to Google (Bing only currently accepts video sitemap via email, though the actual indexing and optimization abilities are questionable). However, Google knows what it wants to see in order to index you and bring you to the searching masses. So, before sending your sitemap out for final approval, ensure that your sitemap follows some of their important rules. 

  • Your sitemap can have no more than 50,000 entries – you will have to submit multiple sitemaps at that point.

  • You can create one sitemap, with URL’s from different video content, instead of submitting one for each. If you use a lot of video on various websites, this is a smart idea.

  • Be sure your video is in one of the crawlable formats including: .mpeg, .mp4, .wmv – see the rest here.

Video is the next big thing in marketing, and you want to be sure you’re getting seen by those looking for you. While your standard SEO methods can’t hurt, ultimately, your sitemap will be the determining factor in getting found. So, get your sitemap built and submitted so you can be the next viral video sensation.

Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics that range from social media to internet service providers and online marketing. She is a professional blogger and web content writer for