Want to increase your visibility in the search engines? Of course you do. That’s a silly question. Better visibility means more traffic...which means more money in your pocket (or a nice ego-boost if you’re a hobbyist!).
Obviously, SEO is your best bet to get more traffic from Google and friends. But ranking your site isn’t the only thing you should focus on...you also want to get more people to click on your search listings once you get your site ranked (which will, in turn, drive your rankings up even more!).
I’ve already talked about rich snippets as a way to improve your search visibility. But in this post, I’m going to dig into a very specific type of rich snippet:
Video rich snippets.
I’ll tell you what they are, how they help, and how you can get them for your WordPress site.
What Are Video Rich Snippets?
Ok, I can pretty much guarantee you’ve seen video rich snippets. A video rich snippet is that little video box that shows up to the left of a site’s meta description in the organic search results. Most of the time, you see them next to YouTube results like this:
And maybe you brushed them off as some special feature that’s only for the big video sites. But that’s not true. You can get video rich snippets for your own site. For example, look how Lynda has video rich snippets next to their actual site:
In my experience, for non-YouTube sites, video rich snippets are usually, though not always, limited to the Videos tab (see above). But that’s still super important. You’re getting your own website in the video results, which is a major boost to visibility.
How Do You Get Video Rich Snippets?
To get video rich snippets, you need to add something called schema markup around your videos. Schema markup is invisible to humans, but it gives search engine robots important context about the content on your page.
For videos, that’s usually information like the name of the video, a description, as well as the upload date and a thumbnail image URL. If you want to learn more about the technical stuff, Google has a whole page on video schema markup. Or, you can check out the VideoObject listing at schema.org.
In the next section, I’ll show you some plugins that help you implement this schema markup so that you can take advantage of video rich snippets.
Do You Have to Self-Host Your Videos to Get Video Rich Snippets?
Here’s the really cool thing:
You’re totally free to use video schema markup on embedded videos. You don’t need to host them yourself.
So even if you’re using YouTube or Vimeo to host your videos, you can still get the benefits of video rich snippets as long as you implement the proper schema markup.
So how to implement video schema markup on WordPress? You guessed it! There are some plugins to help you out.
I’ll give you a quick tutorial using a free plugin and then recommend a premium plugin from Yoast which offers a much simpler experience.
How to Add Video Schema Markup in WordPress For Free
If you’re serious about optimizing your videos, I think you should pay for the premium Yoast plugin in the next section. But if you just want to play around with video schema markup on a small scale, I found a free plugin that...kind of works.
It’s called Youtube Widget Responsive. And while it won’t automatically pull in video schema markup from YouTube, it does provide helpful shortcode parameters to make it easy to add video schema markup to embedded YouTube videos.
To use it, just install and activate the plugin. Then, you can insert videos using this shortcode:
To add schema markup, you can manually add shortcode parameters for:
For a full description of what each shortcode stands for, go to the plugin’s WordPress.org listing page.
Obviously, this solution only works for YouTube videos. And it’s also a bit of a pain to have to manually work with shortcode parameters each time.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a free plugin that was more user friendly and/or worked for all types of videos. If you know of one, I’d love if you let me know in the comments!
And if you’re willing to play around with a general all-purpose rich snippets plugins, Schema and All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets offer support for videos (and lots of other schema markup), but are a little bit more complicated to set up.
The Premium (and Best) Way to Add Schema Markup to Videos
I’m guessing you’ve heard of Yoast SEO. But most people know Yoast primarily for the free all-purpose SEO plugin. Bust Yoast also has a number of premium SEO plugins. One of which is ...Video SEO!
Video SEO does a few nifty things to help you rank better:
- Creates a video sitemap...automatically
- Fully supports schema.org Video markup
- Lets you change the video thumbnail that shows up in search
- Adds Facebook OpenGraph tags
And best of all, it works across all of the major video platforms. Currently, that means “YouTube, Vimeo, Blip, DailyMotion, Wistia and many others”
If you’re serious about using video on your site, it really is the best plugin that I’ve found for video SEO.
Yoast Video SEO starts at $69 for a single-site license and goes up from there.
How Can You Tell If Your Video Schema Markup is Working?
To test your video schema markup, you can use Google’s free Structured Data Testing Tool. Just plug in the link to your page with an embedded video:
And then Google will spit back all of the schema markup it can find. Ideally, you want to see all of the VideoObject schema markup that you added:
If Google ran into any errors, it will also let you know on the results page. But as long as you’re using one of the plugins, you shouldn’t encounter any issues.
Wrapping Things Up
Video schema markup and rich snippets are easy to forget about. But if you want to maximize your site's performance in the search results, it pays to make your content easier for search engine robots to understand.
It won’t affect your front-end site at all and it will give you the chance to get those cool video rich snippets and increase your traffic from search engines.
Again, if you’re serious about video SEO, I think you should just purchase the premium Yoast Video SEO plugin and call it a day. It’s much easier than trying to fiddle around with the other options.
Now - over to you. How much effort have you put into video SEO for your WordPress site? Has it paid any dividends in terms of increased search traffic?