How to Host Video with WordPress: Advantages of YouTube vs. Self-Hosted

McBuzz Video hosted on YouTubeGoogle Search Results

I was talking with a client about Social Media Marketing and ways to host video on a WordPress site. If your WordPress website is self-hosted, you have plenty of options. I won’t even begin to go into the many video plugins for WordPress. That is a different topic. But when it comes to video hosting, there a lot of reasons to use YouTube rather than anything else. Visit the McBuzz YouTube Channel here.

Because uploading and inserting images is so easy with WordPress, you might think that video should be simple in the same way. But because you need a video player – which is complicated – and video files are typically quite large (unless they are converted to Flash and compressed), there are lots of factors that make handling video different than handling images.

The screen shot at right shows Google search results for “introduction to wordpress dashboard”. Google Universal Search Results feature video, images and other kinds of content along with the standard text listings for web pages. Here video thumbnails appear near the top of the results. The McBuzz Business Blogging 101 tutorial featuring the same video is at the bottom of the results page. Two listings for the price of one! Click on the image below to see similar results for “wordpress static page”. This time, video thumbnails are at the bottom of the page, and Business Blogging 101 is at the top.

WordPress makes it super easy to embed a video when you use the URL from YouTube or a similar hosting service like Vimeo or VodPod. These other services are as easy to use as YouTube, but YouTube is the best easy solution for lots of other reasons. Unless, for some reason, you want complete control over your videos and you want to limit access to them or keep them out of the Google Index altogether, there are many good reasons to use YouTube or a similar service as a host for your video files. In terms of search engine visibility, these services – and especially YouTube – are far superior to hosting video on your own server.

WordPress Static Home Page - Google Search

Here Are 10 Reasons Why YouTube is the Best Choice for Video Hosting

Note that all these reasons really make YouTube the best choice for video hosting whether you use WordPress or some other web platform. If you’re doing online marketing, you should be using YouTube.

  1. YouTube is free.
  2. YouTube works with many file formats and converts those files into several different sizes of Flash movie, including HD. If someone has HD capability on their computer or other device, they can watch in HD, otherwise they can watch at a lower resolution. Creating these options on your own would be time-consuming and require special software and skills.
  3. You can add unique, keyword-rich titles and descriptions for every video you upload.
  4. Your YouTube account itself is great for your personal visibility and for your business.
  5. In many cases, YouTube searches exceed the number of Google searches as a source of viewer traffic for your videos. That traffic will, in turn, see your YouTube profile and you can do a lot on your profile and in the video descriptions to encourage visitors to go to your main website.
  6. Google owns YouTube; they pay very close attention to content on YouTube.
  7. As part of “Google Universal Search Results“, video thumbnails often appear on search results pages independent of other search results, this means you have a better chance of being found in Google results when you keep video on YouTube. It’s possible to get a standard search result listing along with a video thumbnail or image thumbnail listing, so you get multiple listings on the same search results page.
  8. People will pick up and embed your videos in their own website or blog. This is great for inbound links and for increasing traffic to your site because you can include a URL in the video description as well as a URL that displays at the beginning or end of your videos. (Branding your videos is very important for this reason. Sometimes I do a good job at this, sometimes not. Here’s one example I’m happy with: Installing WordPress on BlueHost)
  9. YouTube gives you fairly comprehensive stats (YouTube calls these viewer analytics “Insight”) over time regarding how many people watch your videos, how they found them (via YouTube search, a search engine, direct link, etc.), their demographics and so forth. You won’t get any of that if you host your own videos.
  10. Many web hosts will charge you an additional fee for the increased bandwidth and server space demands you put on their servers when you host your own video. Whether or not they have fees, they may limit the bandwidth and space you are allowed for large files like video.

Comments: 16

16 comments

Your comments above are valid, but…. I’d argue that self hosted videos are better for the SEO of your site, as any YouTube hosted videos guide a user to YouTube not to your website.

@Taco Fleur
Search engine optimization and online marketing are no longer all about about bringing visitors to a website. Social media channels have changed all that.

Truly self-hosted video may give you tight control of your content, but given points 1-10 above, I’d say that kind of control is detrimental to your overall visibility and the strength of your brand versus your competition. Self-hosted video will not show up in Universal Search results, at least I don’t think I have ever seen it. If anyone has, please let me know.

Self-hosted video can’t be embedded in a page on another site. It’s not indexed in the same way a YouTube video is. It can’t be searched using YouTube search.

That last point alone is HUGE. More people search on YouTube than search on Yahoo!, Bing, Ask.com, or any other engine besides Google.

Put quality, well-branded content on YouTube and you’ll get way more for your buck than with self-hosted video. The content and the branding will drive people to your website. A quick survey of companies and schools using YouTube for both professionally produced marketing communications and spontaneous, first-person hand-held video content shows that the power of YouTube hosting is not lost on them.

How does this affect making a video sitemap file? Let’s say I have 5 videos on my site/blog, all embedded from youtube. Would the video sitemap file point to all the youtube videos on youtube?

@Michael Waters – Video sitemap files are used to ensure that all the video content on a website is indexed by Google (and other search engines). If your videos are hosted on YouTube, you don’t need to include those in a video sitemap. In fact, that’s one of the advantages of hosting on YouTube: much greater visibility for your videos. You might need to use a sitemap to list video files if you are hosting them yourself and they are not being found and indexed by the Googlebot (Google’s crawler, spider, web-scanning robot) or other other bots like the Bing/MSNbot. Normally it’s huge websites with thousands of videos hosted on their own servers that need to worry about this. In some cases, you can get even more visibility for your videos by uploading them to YouTube and then posting them on other services like Vodpod.

We have made some videos about the Phoenix Theatre London and have put them on Youtube. After 2 weeks they are still not showing up in Yahoo inbound links for our site. We haven’t embedded them in our sites yet and I guess this will help as it will give Google an indicator to index them. Don’t really want to build links to Youtube but is there anything else we can do?

After Youtube, which are the best video publication sites for links back to main website? Metacafe looks good so far although link back is only from user profile page and not the individual video pages.

@Blood Brothers – I’m not sure I understand what you mean by YouTube videos not showing up in Yahoo inbound links for your website. There is nothing in the videos themselves that would point to your site – or am I wrong about that? The only inbound link to mcbuzz.com from YouTube.com I’m aware of is the link from my McBuzz YouTube channel page. To be honest, I don’t recall if there are any McBuzz YouTube videos embedded on mcbuzz.com, but what would be the difference between a McBuzz video and someone else’s? Let me know if I’m missing something. I could well be. Do you have an example of someone else who has an inbound link from a YouTube video page other than the main YouTube profile/channel page?

@Blood Brothers – Optimizing YouTube videos for search engines means adding keyword-rich titles and descriptions for those videos on your YouTube channel (the pages on YouTube where your videos appear). You can always edit and add to these. Take a look at the videos on the McBuzz YouTube channel. You’ll see that titles contain keywords and descriptions are very detailed. I have added plenty of tags (that are keywords), as well. This is all very important for search engines – and for human readers, too!

Blood Brothers tickets

Feb 9, 2011

12:02 PM

@Mark, thanks for coming back to me. The channel page has a dofollow link but did you know you can also add nofollow links in the description of each video?

Even though we have channel links and description links, none of them are showing up in Yahoo site explorer. But I have figured out why – Yahoo had not found our channel page. Think that was the issue!

@Blood Brothers – Good insights. Thanks! To make sure Yahoo! sees your channel page, you need to put a link (or links) to the channel page where spiders can find them. Looks like it’s indexed by Yahoo already. Search on http://search.yahoo.com/ for “kenwrightofficial” to see what’s there. Your individual YouTube videos are there, too. I do see nofollow links to my WordPress tutorial website from specific YouTube video pages in Site Explorer. You should eventually see those for the links you put in your video descriptions.

I want to stress the fact that a detailed description of your videos, along with plenty of well-chosen tags, is a significant boost to visibility of the video and of pages that embed the video, even if the video is not on your own channel. Do a Google search for “meaning of web 2.0” and variations on that keyword. Look at the McBuzz post that shows up on page 1 of Google results to see what I mean. The YouTube video embedded on the page has big visibility. It has been watched 11 million times, and it seems to me it passes some of that visibility to the McBuzz post.

The descriptions on your YouTube pages are great from a sales standpoint, but think about keywords people actually use to search for that material. “Critically acclaimed musical masterpiece” is perfectly good ad copy, but it’s not what lots of people search for. See the description of my “How to Upload & Link to a PDF, Microsoft Word doc” WordPress tutorial video for an example of keyword usage and number and type of tags. See the preceding sentence for an example of reinforcing links!

Faheem Sarwar

Aug 17, 2011

9:35 AM

if i dont embed video in wordpress site but put it on my host server that is the same where my site is and then embed its URL in my site, will it cause the web to get slow?

@Faheem Sarwar – I’m not sure what is meant by “embed its URL in my site”. In order for visitors to see the video online, you must have a video player. Otherwise, when they click the link to the video, it will depend on what kinds of player or players they have on their own computer or device. In that case, they will probably have to download the video in order to be able to watch it. If you upload the video as a .wmv file, for example, and they don’t have the WMV player, they won’t be able to watch the video.

To give visitors the best possible user experience, you should have a player that almost everyone can use, such as the Flash video player that YouTube provides when you embed a video hosted on YouTube into one of your web pages. The player streams the video so that they do not have to download it. It plays immediately and usually without interruption.

If you want to host videos on your site, check out the Kaltura WordPress video plugin.

Hosting in the same host wll slowdown the website!

I agree with YouTube being the second largest search engine these days, and the ability to use them for increased SEO to your websites, they are one of the best ways to help your website rank and increase load times of your videos.

@Mike Storzieri – Thanks! I think you mean decrease video load times.

Does Ken Burns or NBC put their video on Youtube?
You make good points for using YouTube, but that being said, YouTube – can pull your videos anytime they want and there is a certain level of professionalism and credibility that comes with having self-hosted video.

Also, what level of control does YouTube give in what ads are shown, if you can use your own Adsense account with it or have no ads at all?

Mark McLaren

Sep 17, 2012

5:56 PM

@JD Sullivan – Those are good reasons to use self-hosted video instead of YouTube. But why not do both? Ken Burns and NBC are good examples. Their content is all over YouTube. It gives them better visibility in search and social media, and it draws viewers to their premium content.

YouTube does give you control over which sites can show ads on your videos. And you can decide whether you want ads to show on your videos or not. You own the rights to your videos.

As for whether YouTube can pull your video down at any time, that is true of any video hosting service. But because you own the rights to your videos and you own the original files, you are free to post the video somewhere else or start hosting video yourself whenever you want.

What YouTube provides is the same advantages of any cloud hosting service: it’s cheaper, easier and faster than traditional video deployment. Plus you get the massive online exposure only YouTube can give you.

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