Video best practices

With video search, just as with web search, Google's goal is to provide the best and most relevant results to our users. Of the billions of Google searches done every day, many are looking for video content. Google Videos is the largest video search property on the Web and one of Google's fastest growing search properties worldwide. One of the greatest benefits to Google Videos is the potential exposure to these millions of users. Following the best practices listed below (as well as our usual Webmaster Guidelines) will increase the likelihood that your videos will be returned in search results.

Mark up your videos with schema.org
Submit a Video Sitemap or mRSS feed to Google
Tell Google when you remove videos from your site
Create high-quality thumbnail images
JavaScript, Flash, and hash tags
Create a great user experience


Mark up your content for schema.org

When video content is marked up in the body of the page, search engines and other sites can recognize it and may use it to improve the display of video content on a page or in search results. Marking up your content provides information about your videos that allows Google and other sites to index them. Google recommends schema.org markup but will also recognize Facebook Share and RDFa markup. Learn more about schema.org and Facebook Share and RDFa.

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Submit a Video Sitemap or mRSS feed to Google

Google Video Sitemaps is an extension to the Sitemap protocol that enables you to publish and syndicate online video content and its relevant metadata to Google in order to make it searchable in the Google Video index. Sitemaps are an excellent way to make sure that Google knows about all the content on your site, including content we might not discover with our usual crawling methods. You can use a Video Sitemap to add descriptive information (for example, a video's title, description, or duration) that makes it easier for users to find a particular piece of content. This is particularly important if your site uses JavaScript or Flash as part of its navigation. When a user finds your video through Google, they will be linked to your hosted environments for the full playback. You can also use an mRSS feed instead of a Video Sitemap. More information about creating a Video Sitemap.

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Tell Google when you remove videos from your site

When an embedded video has been removed from a page, some sites use a Flash player to tell users that the video is no longer available. This can be problematic for search engines, and therefore, we recommend the following options:

  • Return an 404 (Not found) HTTP status code for any landing page that contains a removed or expired video. In addition to the 404 response code, you can still return the HTML of the page to make this transparent to most users.

  • Indicate expiration dates in schema.org markup, video Sitemaps (use the <video:expiration_date> element), or mRSS feed (<dcterms:valid> tag) submitted to Google.

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Create high-quality thumbnail images

Google shows thumbnail-sized summary images next to video results. We accept thumbnails of any image format but require them to be at least 160x90 pixels. The max size is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Google will identify representative thumbnail images for your video pages based on the information found on your site, in your Sitemap, or in markup. If you provide the content location—the URL of the video file—we can automatically generate thumbnails from your video.

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JavaScript, Flash, and hash tags

When designing your site, it's important to configure your video pages without any overly complex JavaScript or Flash setup. For instance, if you have many videos playable from within the same Flash object, those will not be correctly surfaced in Video Search, because we can't provide users with a unique URL to each video. Similarly, if you are using overly complicated JavaScript to create the embed objects from within JavaScript under only certain circumstances (i.e., using hash tags in the URL), then it's also possible that we will not correctly surface your videos.

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Create a great user experience on your video pages

In addition to simply having great video, you should think about the design of the HTML pages around your content. For example, consider the following:

  • Create a standalone landing page for each video, where you can gather all its related information. If you do this, be sure to provide unique information—such as descriptive titles and captions—on each page.
  • Make it as easy as possible for users to find and play the videos on each landing page. The presence of a prominent, embedded video player using widely supported video formats can make your videos more attractive to users and easier for Google to index.

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