What is a Site Map
If you use Google Webmaster Tools you will come across Sitemaps as part of the site configuration recommendations. A site map lists all your urls and helps get your contents indexed by the Google search bot. A url site map is easily generated for a WordPress blog by using a plugin, which will also keep it up to date as new content is added. They can also be typed up manually in the xml format.
A site map that is less used is a video site map. If your web site has video content, either self-hosted or linked to external hosts, you can add a video site map so that Google and other search bots can find it.
Why use a Video Site Map
When a search bot crawls a website it generally ignores embedded video. By using a video site map the search bot is notified of what video content needs to be indexed. Video content is easier to promote and rank when search engines are told where the content is located and what relevance it has to your subject matter. You can control some aspects of how the video content is catalogued by using xml formatted statements in a video sitemap file.
Where to Place the Video Site Map File
The xml formatted video site map is a plain text file saved in the root directory of your website, in addition to your url site map file.
What to put in a video site map file
The specifications for a video site map file statements are found here. Some statements are required and some are optional. You do not need to include every definition and some may not apply. In the following example I include the statements that are mandatory and the optional ones I think are the most beneficial.
Each video URL entry must contain the following information:
- Player page URL
- Thumbnail URL (minimum size 160x120px)
- Raw video file location and/or the player URL
The optional parameters I include are:
- Tags (keywords)
- Category (topic)
- Family-friendly (if true)
- Duration (in seconds)
Here is the resulting video site map code for one specific video. The indents can be used for readability.
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.0"> <url> <loc>http://boomswim.com/floating-inflatable-swimming-pool/</loc> <video:video> <video:thumbnail_loc>http://boomswim.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/BoomSwim-resort-pool-585-300x168.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc> <video:title>Floating Inflatable Swimming Pool</video:title> <video:description>Inflatable Swimming Pool</video:description> <video:player_loc>http://www.youtube.com/embed/HLtmiBvUhRI</video:player_loc> <video:tag>swimming pool</video:tag> <video:tag>inflatable pool</video:tag> <video:tag>protected swimming zone</video:tag> <video:category>portable pool</video:category> <video:family_friendly>yes</video:family_friendly> <video:duration>150</video:duration> </video:video> </url> </urlset>
Note that each statement has an opening and closing tag e.g. <video:video> and </video:video>
For each video on your site add the appropriate information between <url> and </url> tags. If you self-host your videos use the <video:content_loc> tag with the appropriate video file location on your server instead of <video:player_loc>
Write the file in a plain text editor and save it with an xml extension e.g. video-sitemap.xml or mRSS.xml The mRSS xml standard predates Google’s site map recommendations and can be used for all search bots. It is also acceptable to Google’s Webmaster Tools submission. Just be sure it is not the same name as your url site map, which is usually sitemap.xml
Now upload it to your web server into the root directory e.g. /public_html/
Confirm that the file is accessible by entering the url in a web browser e.g http://boomswim.com/video-sitemap.xml Chromium browser presents it as all one line, which is OK. If you ‘view source’ of the page it will be more readable. Most other browsers show each line.
You can also add reference to it in the last line to your robots.txt file. This is optional but may help. If you do not use Google Webmaster Tools then use the site map file name mRSS.xml to be more compliant with other search bots. e.g.
User-Agent: * Allow: / Sitemap: http://boomswim.com/video-sitemap.xml
If you are using Google Webmaster Tools, submit the video site map file for your site by typing it in the field presented by clicking on ‘Submit a Sitemap’ button.
Google Webmaster Tools will parse the file and accept it if it is correct, or respond with an error message if it needs to be changed.
Video Site Map Results
After a few days you should be able to see your videos appearing in the search engine result pages, and being included in video searches. By checking several search phrases you can test how your videos are being treated and adjust your keywords accordingly.
Leave a comment with your results!