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Video SEO: Using Sitemaps to Improve Your Rankings

If you’re observant (or a webmaster) you’ve probably noticed the word “sitemap” on the navigation of websites. This sitemap is an HTML page that lists the website’s pages in hierarchical order. It helps you, the visitor, to find a particular page and can also be used by search engines to identify pages to add to its index.

But there’s also another sitemap in XML format (XML is short for EXtensible Markup Language) created specifically to help search engines understand the content on your website. Automated programs called “crawlers” read these files and then give that information back to the search engine where it is plugged into their algorithms. Based on what the crawlers find, you’re website is assigned a ranking that appears on the search engine’s ranking page (SERP).

The SERP is the page we all see when we search, and that’s where we all want to be number one for our keywords. And getting number one for a video is more difficult than it is for a standard page. Why? Because search engines can’t yet understand the content of a video. So for now, you have to tell Google, Bing, Yahoo! or any other search engine, exactly what is in your video.

One way to do that is by updating your sitemap file. Google has a video extension to the Sitemap protocol (see for the original protocol). The extension allows you to include metadata describing your video allowing you to make sure your keywords are included. Here is a sample video sitemap from the Google developer’s page:



Not all the tags shoseo-binderwn here are required. Google has a short introduction video to show you how to create a video sitemap (or to add video to your existing sitemap) here on the Google Webmaster’s website.

Creating the sitemap is fairly easy following Google’s example above. But if you don’t want to do it by hand, there are also many free sitemap creator tools on the web. A very useful sitemap generator can be found here.

Now that you know how to use sitemaps to help Google find your videos, you may be interested in learning more about SEO for videos. Our FREE special report, 5 Things You Need to Know About Video SEO, covers the most important things you need to know about videos and SEO. You can download it here.

Oliver Burt

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