Though Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have all been supporting video schema markup for almost 6 years now, many companies still aren’t aware of its benefits. And that is a shame! The use of on-page markup is one of the most powerful ways you have to assist the search engines in understanding what you are offering on your site in more detail.
Armed with these rich snippets, search engines can offer more relevant results. That is because video schema markup can give search engines much more information about the content on a page with an embedded video. The importance of this markup is crucial - fail to implement it on your website, and your marketing video pages will always be less visible than those of sites that are using these snippets.
This is why I have compiled this brief guide to help you understand the whats and the hows of implementing video schema markup on your site’s video pages. Here is an older video from Google that is still relevant today, and it shows how long this has been important to them.
How Video Schema Markup Makes a Difference
I won’t go into detail about how schema markup was a huge turning point for search engines. It is enough to say that with it, site owners are capable of ‘explaining’ their content to search engines in a richer and clearer way, thus helping those engines by offering more relevant results. Video schema markup works in the same way.
Without video schema markup, search engines might only know about the video’s title, description, and thumbnail - and that is about it! With it, you can be more thorough when you are telling search engines about the content on a web page containing a video. You can tell those engines about the video’s duration, who has made it, who has starred in it, who the copyright holder is, and even put in a video transcript (fantastic for SEO purposes).
You can check a list of all the parameters you can use with video schema markup on this page, but I have listed the ones I consider essential (along with why I think of them as so) below:
Name: The title you have used for your video. I am going to assume you have used a strong keyword here, so it is great to have this tag in here just to reinforce it for SEO purposes.
Description: What your video is about. As with all SEO descriptions, you should keep it short (around 160 characters) and informative.
ThumbnailURL: Don’t underestimate the power of an alluring thumbnail in a SERP. Pick one carefully from your video’s frames (or create one specifically for this purpose) and use its URL here.
Duration: Duration can be a dealbreaker for any audience. In fact, some people might decide it’s best to go with the shorter video. That’s why this tag is so useful for search engines.
Transcript: Since the description is so short, using the transcript can give further details without having to worry about character limits. Taking the time to add this can result in a helping hand for ranking the video page.
Other tags that might be useful for you in certain contexts include:
ContentURL: A URL to the actual video file.
EmbedURL: This URL points to where the video is hosted, and it helps the search engine in finding it faster.
UploadDate: The date when the video was first published. It can help users determine if your content is still relevant or not.
Expires: Sets the date for when the video will no longer be available. This can be useful when you know your videos will stop being relevant after a certain date.
As you can check in the page linked above, there are many other tags you can use through video schema markup. However, the ones listed here are the absolute essentials for your on-page videos. These are the most relevant, the ones that will make it easier for search engines to index your on-page videos (and, ultimately, the ones that will affect your video’s SEO and the way your target audience picks them from a SERP).
All of these tags can make a difference, either small or huge. It is up to you to define what the parameters are that you definitely feel will be relevant to your content. However, you can’t go wrong with the selection above.
Optimizing Your Videos with Video Schema Markup
Now that you know that there are lots of tags you can use let’s check how you can use them in your favor. Don’t fret about it; it is extremely easy!
You need to add the schema markup to the HTML code of your video page. Don’t worry, your site’s users won’t be able to see it, and your pages will keep looking the same. What you are doing is just adding a map for search engines to crawl. With this information, those search engines will index your video pages and show them in the SERPs in an enhanced way.
Here is an example of what an HTML page with video schema markup would look like:
<div itemprop="video" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/VideoObject">
<h2>Video: <span itemprop="name">Title</span></h2>
<meta itemprop="duration" content="T1M33S" />
<meta itemprop="thumbnailUrl" content="thumbnail.jpg" />
<meta itemprop="contentURL" content="http://www.example.com/video123.flv" />
<meta itemprop="embedURL" content="http://www.example.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123" />
<meta itemprop="uploadDate" content="2017-23-05T08:00:00+08:00" />
<meta itemprop="height" content="400" />
<meta itemprop="width" content="400" />
<embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" ...>
<span itemprop="description">Video description</span>
As you can see, it is as easy as putting the right tags into the HTML code. There are, however, certain suggestions to keep in mind if you want things to go as smoothly as possible:
Make sure you use a relevant keyword phrase throughout the video markup. Use the phrase in the title, description, the video page and in the transcription (if possible). This will ensure your video finds its intended audience more easily.
Test the markup using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. The only way you can be sure your videos show as you want them to in the SERPs is by checking and adjusting them by yourself.
What about video sitemaps?
When video schema markup was brand new, Google insisted that you shouldn’t ditch them, as they could still provide relevant information for searches. However, after 6 years, some people feel like they are useless and that using schema.org/VideoObject markup and JSON-LD should be enough.
My take here is simple - you can never go wrong by submitting a sitemap. You are just reinforcing the video info of a page to the search engine. In most cases, you will be helping those search engines correctly understand what your video is about. Sure, it might take a little more work to generate that sitemap, but you will be sure that search engines will get your info right and show it as you intended in the SERPs.
Should You Use Video Schema?
The benefits of using video schema markup are quite clear. Standing out in search results with content as vital as video is easier with this markup. That is because it serves a double purpose. On the one hand, it gives search engines all the information they need to perfectly display what the video is about with the right amount of details.
On the other hand, video schema markup is useful for your target audience, as they can learn many details about the video before even clicking on it. Thus, it helps people make their decision about whether that specific content is what they are searching for.
Throw in there that video schema markup is very useful for your SEO and that it works with your site’s pages with multiple videos, and you will understand why you need to start thinking about it seriously. To put it in plain words - on-site video marketing without video schema markup is simply a waste of time.