In order to deliver search results, Google crawls the web and collects information about each piece of content – video included. Usually, they appear as a normal result with some video-specific information, such as a thumbnail and duration, that if clicked leads to the page where the video can then be watched.



Indexing videos

The key to getting your videos to show up in search is to help Google properly index them. Often the information on the page that contains a video is not enough to describe the video sufficiently, thus, providing three pieces of information for each video can be supportive:

• A title

• A description

• A thumbnail

In order to provide this information to Google, you will need to use either on-page markup or a video sitemap. Both of these options are completely invisible to users and will not affect how your page looks or behaves. Then, once Google knows about your videos, they will indicate that your results are videos – given that it is properly done. There is no guarantee that results will appear as videos.


On-page markup

On-page markup is hidden descriptive data that is added to the source code of your web page. Google recommends using the schema.org, a new markup format that has been collaboratively designed and is supported by Google, Bing, and Yahoo!

You can test schema.org video markup using Google's Rich Snippet Testing Tool. The testing tool will extract all schema.org data from your page and display it as Google sees it. You may not always see a result preview even when video markup is found.


Google also supports Facebook Share and RDFa on-page markups. More about using Facebook Share and RDFa for video data.

Video Sitemaps
Video Sitemaps are XML documents that describe your videos and even offer advanced functionalities such as indicating expiration dates, country restrictions, platform restrictions or live streams.

Common Video Indexing Pitfalls

1. Blocking resources with robots.txt

A common practice is to use robots.txt to prevent search engines from crawling JavaScript, video, and image files. In order for Google to index a video, they must be able to see the thumbnail specified in your markup or sitemap, the page the video is on, the video itself, and any JavaScript or other resources needed to load the video. Make sure that your robots.txt rules do not block of these video-related resources. If you are using video Sitemaps or mRSS, make sure that Google can access any Sitemap or mRSS feed that you submit. If these are blocked by robots.txt, Google will not be able to read them.

2. Low-quality thumbnail images

Google accepts thumbnails of any image format but require them to be at least 160 x 90 pixels. The maximum size is 1920 x 1080 pixels.

3. Duplicate thumbnails, titles, or descriptions

Using the same thumbnail, title, or description for different videos can affect video indexing and can be confusing to users. Make sure that the data for each video is unique. For episodic content, a common problem is multiple videos with the same title-screen thumbnail.

4. Accidentally setting an expiration date in the past

When Google sees a video with an expiration date in the past, it will not be included in any search results. This includes expiration dates from Sitemaps, on-page markup, and the meta expiration tag in the site header. Make sure that your expiration dates are correct for each video. While this is useful if your video is no longer available after the expiration date, it's easy to accidentally setting the date to the past for an available video. If a video does not expire, do not include any expiration information.

5. Indicating actual expired videos

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, Google recommend the following options: 

Return a 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 on-page markup, video Sitemaps (use the element), or mRSS feed ( tag) submitted to Google

6. Complex 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 Google 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 Google will not correctly surface your videos. If you are using on-page markup such as schema.org, the markup should be present without running any complex JavaScript or Flash. To ensure that Google will see your video, use a text-based browser such as Lynx to view your video page without any JavaScript or page-level Flash execution (typical single-video Flash players are okay). If your video and markup is visible, then Google should be able to see it.

7. Small, hidden, or difficult to find videos

Make sure that your videos are visible and easy to find on your video pages. Google suggests using a standalone page for each video with a descriptive title or description unique to each individual video. Videos should be prominent on the page and should not be hidden or difficult to find. (Source: Google)

By Mohamad El Hallak