Schema Markup For Video: An Overview Of Schema.org VideoObject

Schema Markup For Video: An Overview Of Schema.org VideoObject

Yesterday, Google officially announced support for schema.org video markup. What does this mean?  Well, it's good news for publishers and it may eventually make video indexing issues, a thing of the past.

In this post, I'm going to explain why this is important and exciting for video publishers, and, I'll walk you through how to get started. So, this is going to be a long post. Here's a TOC:

What is Schema.org Markup?

Schema Markup For Video: An Overview Of Schema.org VideoObjectLast year, Google, Bing and Yahoo announced an initiative (which Google was working on since 2009) to create a common markup vocabulary and set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages  (schema.org).  For those of you that aren't HTML or SEO people, you might be saying, "What the heck is markup?"  Well, I don't have a clue. Kidding, kidding.

On-page markup is a way of assisting search engines to better understand the information contained in a web page which in turn helps the search engines provide richer search results.  Additionally, markup allows the search engine to take that structured data and use it to enhance the information displayed in search results with rich snippets.  Here's an example results for a page that's marked up for recipes:

Schema Markup For Video: An Overview Of Schema.org VideoObject

Google & Schema.org VideoObject Markup Support

Information on the videoObject markup has been available on schema.org for some time, but until yesterday, there was no official declaration of support for video schema markup. Fortunately, I've been in touch with Google's video team from time to time and so I knew that support for this was coming - it's really good news for video publishers!

"Videos are one of the most common types of results on Google and we want to make sure that your videos get indexed. Today, we're also launching video support for schema.org. ...now the recommended way to describe videos on the web." - said Henry Zhang, Product Manager for Google Videos. (totally cool guy BTW)

Why Schema.org Markup for Video?

I won't go into this here as this is already a long post, but crawling, digesting, analyzing, and indexing video content is a tough job for a search engine crawler, for many reasons: variations in publishing methods, inadequate recognition technologies, etc...  Google launched video sitemaps in late 2007 as a way to overcome these challenges, by having video content publishers provide information to assist Google in locating and indexing video assets.  This was a great step and has certainly helped in increasing the number of videos indexed.  If you're unfamiliar with video sitemaps, I've covered them in depth and we even did an in-depth webinar with Google on video sitemaps.

However, it's always the desire of a search engine to be able to discover content on it's own and not necessarily rely upon sitemaps to index content.  While video is more difficult to discover, over the past year or so, I've seen clear indication that Google (in particular) is getting much better at indexing videos without sitemaps, and that's the goal.

Enter Schema Markup & VideoObject:

Now that Google is getting good at identifying video assets through a crawl, they're encouraging video publishers to implement a standard schema markup (VideoObject) for video pages to further assist Google in understanding what the video content is about.

What about Video Sitemaps?

Video sitemaps are still very important as they can provide Google with additional information that you may not want to put on-page.  If you're doing video sitemaps or MRSS feeds already, you should continue.  As Henry put it,

"Using schema.org markup will not affect any Video Sitemaps or mRSS feeds you're already using. In fact, we still recommend that you also use a Video Sitemap because it alerts us of any new or updated videos faster and provides advanced functionality such as country and platform restrictions."

That being said, the good news is that for many who dont need to provide additional information, getting your videos indexed is going to become easier and easier, especially if you start marking up your video content with schema markup as it's a clear indication to Google that you have video on a given page.  SO, how do you do that?

How to Markup Videos with Schema Markup VideoObject :

You can review the full specification regarding VideoObject at schema.org.  If you're already familiar with schema markup, this will be easy.  Essentially, all you need to do is to include some additional HTML markup when you embed or publish a video on your page.  Here's an example of a typical embed code scenario:

<object ...>
    <embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" ...>
  </object>

With schema videoObject, there's only a few required properties that include the title of your video, description, thumbnail URL, and embed URL (like your player.swf) or content URL (location of the video file itself - you might use this for HTML5 video).  Here's how the markup could look:

Example Video Embed with Schema Markup

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/VideoObject">
  <h2>Video: <span itemprop="name">Title</span></h2>
  <meta itemprop="thumbnailURL" content="thumbnail.jpg" />
  <meta itemprop="embedURL"
    content="http://www.example.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123" />
  <object ...>
    <embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" ...>
  </object>
  <span itemprop="description">Video description</span>
</div>

There are other properties that are optional but may be useful for you depending on your use case.  For example, just as you can in the video sitemap, you can indication a video's expiration using "itemprop="expires".  Again, you can find all the properties on schema.org.

Often times, you already have a title and description surrounding your video and you'll just need to add the "itemprop" to indicate that.  There are a few requirements that you should be aware of in order for this to work:

  1. You need to make sure that this markup is done in the source code for that page. It needs to be visible without executing any JavaScript or Flash.
  2. As I indicated earlier, you should also submit a video Sitemap as that will still help Google discover your videos and provides additional information about your video content. Doing both is a good way to help Google verify the information that you sent in your sitemap, matches what you have on your page.
    1. As such, it would be a good idea to make sure that you have the same information in both your video sitemap, and your on-page markup.

Verifying Proper Schema.org Video Markup

You can check your markup and verify what Google sees as well as what rich snippets could potentially appear in search results by using Google's Rich Snippet Testing Tool.  Your video may not appear with the rich snippets, but this tool will still show you whether it's being seen by Google.

Conclusion - Good News for Google & Us

So, I don't want to go on too much in this post but I think you can see where things are headed.  If everyone were to adopt this as a standard when publishing videos to websites, we'd be on a fast track to the day where we no longer have to worry about our videos getting indexed.  Google would have more video content which rocks, and video publishers could spend less time fiddling with video indexing and more time creating good content.

There's a lot to digest here.  If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.


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Posted in Video SEO
About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • Peggy Duncan

    Thank you, Mark. I might not understand all this to ask an intelligent question. Will the embed code on YouTube be adjusted so I don't have to concern myself with any of this? (I upload to YouTube, then the video either automatically gets posted elsewhere or I'll use YT's embed code.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      You know, I didnt want to get into that now just cause the post was getting to long but in all honesty, I dont think doing this for embedded YouTube videos is worth it. They still dont yet support a way of getting YouTube videos indexed for the domain they're hosted on. :(

  • Teddy Lyngaas

    Great question Peggy, I was just thinking the same thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670834372 Brad Bleich

    Hi Mark, I'm using Smart-Video.tv to automatically have my videos indexed by Google. This is fast and easy. It doesn't require me to do anything except upload my videos, thumbnail, enter titles, search words and descriptions. They take care of all the rest via MRSS feed. They also convert my uploaded videos so that they can be viewed on virtually all mobile devices as well. Of course I also, place my videos on YouTube, Facebook and other video enabled social media sites. I'm getting results, Larry Page should be proud of me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      That's great. SmartVideo does a great job at that and right now, it's still not easy with schema but that may change down the road.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828985163 Craig Smith

    Hi Mark, I've been testing the schema video code, but it doesn't seem to work when testing with the Rich snippet tool. But I noticed that if I added id="video" inside the first line of code the rich snippet tool it would then return the data. Any idea if id="video" should be added to the code or not?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      That's odd. You shouldnt have to. That being said, the tool doesnt always show what the snippet will look like, but it will show you if the data was put there correctly, if that makes sense.... Where's the code so I can take a look?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828985163 Craig Smith

      Mark Robertson Must of been a mistake that I made in the code, just tried again starting from scratch and it worked fine. Thanks for offering to take a look.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      Craig Smith nice. Cool, Im glad you were able to get it working ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1047883523 Neil Ferree

    Whew! You're right Mark, lots to digest here but definitely worth getting down and dirty so the if/when one does work up a nice How to Video or whatever, the piece finds its way to the SE's more quickly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=828985163 Craig Smith

    Quick question, in the example code above, shouldn't that be a closing DIV tag?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      yes yes, thanks.. cant believe I did that. Fixing now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100361750022323 Video Leads Online

    Yeah, us dogs that use YouTube to post our videos and Embed them on our sites still are being left out in the cold... brrrr! Don't get your tongue stuck on the metal water bowl.

    Maybe one day GooTube will find a way for us to claim proper "ownership" of a video, then us YouTube Posters can rock with all this nerdy indexing stuff and get proper credit for our videos.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id= Anonymous

    I just tested my video page in the Google Rich Snippet Tool.

    Extracted rich snippet data from the page:
    Item image-object
    Type: schema.org/videoobject

    What's up with the image-object part? Is a video an image-object?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1177363116 Mark Robertson

      No... That's odd. What's the URL?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100361750022323 Video Leads Online

    Thanks for the post Mark about Schema.org & VideoObject.
    For the less technically minded... this stuff here is only really helpful for those people that "Host" their own videos... not for those of us that "Post" our vids to YouTube and then Embed the YouTube Video on our web site... right?

    It all comes down to the inability for us to 'claim ownership' of our YouTube uploads... me thinks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=670834372 Brad Bleich

    Hi Peggy,
    That's why you need a service like Smart-Video.tv - check it out www.smart-video.tv.

  • SimplifiedTV

    Just to let you know, we just released the first video SEO web application allowing users to quickly and easily generate their own descriptive page and video metadata, Facebook Open Graph tags and Schema.org rich snippet tags, along with a Google video sitemap.  It's free until September at www.simplified.tv

  • Marcel

    Hi Mark! Thanks a lot for your blog post.

    One question: Is the embed tag abolutely necassary or can it be omitted?

    The reason for this question is that I have a little discussion regarding schema video markup and JWplayer for Joomla, see http://www.joomlarulez.com/forum/33-jw-player-plugin-advanced/6097-feature-request-schema-markup-for-videos.html

    The developer says that the current and future versions of JWplayer do not support the embed tag and thus they cannot produce valid schema markup code.

    What do you think?