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Using Video Content To Increase SEO. YouTube vs Self Hosted Video

In this article I will explore how video content can increase SEO for your website. If a video is hosted on YouTube, how will that affect my SEO? What if I host it myself?

So a video production company has just created you fresh, new marketing content. Good news!! It’ll make your website look great, keep it and your social media current, attract new customers, generate more business, and boost your SEO. Because as we all know…

Video = Content

and Google loves fresh and unique content

‘Do I just put my video on YouTube, and Google magically rates my website?’


What of the fabled ‘video is good for your SEO’ myth? Will video help you ascend the ranks of Google? How do you actually make that happen?


lenses and monitor

LexXxi_Thick Flickr via Compfight cc

The preferred and easiest route for a video to take onto your website is to host it on YouTube and / or Vimeo, then embed that link into your website – rather than hosting it yourself.

Hosting it yourself means creating various different versions to playback on different screen sizes, and various versions for different browsers.

YouTube is a nice and easy option, but does Google link that video to your site? Can you get the benefit of improved SEO, and use YouTube?

Ultimately, how does Google know that your video is indeed yours?

Or can I just embed anyone else’s video from YouTube and help my SEO that way?


Hosting it Yourself

There are very strong arguments to hosting the video yourself over hosting on YouTube, and this splits the marketing community.

Hosting on your own website:

  1. Will mean people link directly to your domain when quoting your video (so make it good, otherwise why link to it at all?), rather than to YouTube.
  1. Can lead to a Video Rich snippet in the search result. These are the descriptions under each search result, some of which contain a video thumbnail. But 92% of these regular search snippets are dedicated to Google partner in crime, YouTube, the only other mildly ‘significant’ players being Daily Motion and Vimeo; and overall numbers have been cut significantly in recent years.

These days, video rich snippets on the regular Google search appear to be populated solely by YouTube, it’s only on the video search age where others might get a look in.

  1. The main point being though, is that by hosting it yourself your website gains the SEO benefits of the new video, and they are not lost on YouTube.

That’s right, host it on YouTube and the direct SEO benefits are ‘gone’. The question is though, on balance, how much does that matter?


Z via photopin (license) photo credit: @XHOSAKO

The Cons of Hosting it Yourself

  1. Site Speed. Yes, hosting video on your own site will certainly boost your SEO, but it’ll slow down your server, especially if you have any number of potential customers browsing at one time.

57 percent of mobile users abandon the site after three seconds of waiting


In the distant future limitless data will no doubt be streamed or downloaded instantaneously, but we are not quite there yet! No matter how far we have come in the last 20 years.

Be aware, embedding a self-hosted video link will not slow your site down as such, for example it may well just open a new page. It will only cause an effect if multiple people try to stream it, pushing your server’s bandwidth.

How much does hosting video yourself actually slow your site down?

  1. YouTube does all the compression, versioning and compatibility juggling for you. And believe me, there’s a lot of it. Do you really want to do the following every time you add a video…?
  • You will need to upload your video as the following file types to cater for the various browsers available (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc) – .mp4, .ogv, .webm
  • Upload an HD version and a smaller aspect ratio, mobile-friendly version
  • Install a video player on your website, such as com. WordPress, however, can host video natively.
  • Write code to tell the video player which formats you’ve created, their location on the server, and the physical display parameters of the video window itself
  • Ensure that your video content is optimized for search. That means doing video keyword research and including those keywords in your video’s meta tags
  • You can write and upload an accompanying video transcript to help Google.
  • Definitely provide a video sitemap, which is an extension of the regular sitemap. This involves adding the required code to your page, and submitting the XML sitemap within Google’s Webmaster Tools.
  • Moreover, it may be a good idea to create a new page for each video, as Google mentions that this makes the indexing easier.

So, hosting it yourself if no easy task, all to mine that SEO gold, so let’s take a look at the benefits of hosting your video on YouTube.

code and data

(license) photo credit: markus spiske


Hosting it On YouTube

By doing hosting on YouTube, you could gain massive exposure on a very important search engine in itself, where you can drive traffic back to you own website

Here are a few nice stat’s to support the YouTube option:

  • According to Cisco, 82% of all internet trafficwill be represented by video by 2021, up from 73% in 2016
  • A billion hoursof video is consumed on YouTube every single day.
  • YouTube content reaches more adultsduring prime-time TV hours than any television network
  • YouTube is the fastest growing search engine among people under the age of 25
  • It reaches over 30 million people per day
  • YouTube is also the most likely way you will gain a video rich snippet for your company on a Google search

Points to be aware of when posting on YouTube:

  • Add a link to your site in the description. This is very important, here is a free backlink, use it!
  • Careful with the name, make sure it is something that will stand out, and that the keywords are carefully chosen to reflect what people might be searching for in relation to your product or business.

The ultimate question is

‘Do the added IT complications of self-hosting outweigh the SEO benefits of having a video uniquely hosted on your site?

Do you have the time, expertise and manpower to deal with these issues?’

For most, it is a ‘no’, and hosting on YouTube will suit you just fine, especially when considering all the added exposure it can bring.


hosting trends 2014


In fact, the trend (admittedly this graph is from 2014!) is to host video on both your own and third party platforms, and most SEO professionals would recommend doing so.





But it’s not only YouTube where we should be uploading our video content, it is of course:

Social MediaPrivate Publisher Flickr via Compfight cc

Social Media

You can for example gain huge numbers of likes and exposure on Facebook.

Our video for a small, local, kids’ party company, Enchanted Events, gained 7.6k Facebook views on their page.




That’s a lot of exposure, and a video on Facebook gets 135% more engagement than a photo.

There’s a strong correlation between higher shares on social media and higher positions in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

It’s not just Facebook of course, the likes of Twitter and Instagram are a must. Social Media posts can also drive traffic to your website, maybe by offering a discount code, or to see further or more in depth videos, or find other resources and information.


In Conclusion

  • Hosting on YouTube only will not directly improve your personal SEO, and there is no magic way to do this.
  • What you can do is add your own backlink to the YouTube description.
  • But the exposure on YouTube could be just as beneficial, essentially by using YouTube as the search engine instead of Google.
  • It’s far, far easier to get YouTube to do it, which counts for a lot if you are regularly uploading videos.
  • Even if you do host externally, upload a copy of your video on your site yourself. We have a Vimeo version and my own one on the home page, a half-way house to try to gain a bit of extra SEO, and also use Vimeo’s bandwidth.
  • And if you use YouTube, don’t stop there. Either use it, or create shorter versions and put them on social media to drive traffic to your site from there.
  • But ultimately, the only way to directly increase your SEO using video content is to host it yourself, and the easiest way to do that is via WordPress.
Camera lens

photo credit: hunnnterrr

Further Tips:

  • Keep videos short. Or grab a viewer’s attention quickly – that is to say put your best stuff at the top of your video. A study released this year from Microsoft revealed that people have shorter attention spans than goldfish: eight seconds!
  • Quality not quantity. The higher the quality, the longer people will watch for, and the better chance you have to convey your message, set yourself apart, and demonstrate your quality. A better video will also get more links, and more exposure on YouTube.

If you would like to provide feedback, if there is anything I have missed, or even get a quote for a video production job, feel free to get in touch.