Certain video hosting/streaming platforms are excellent choices for video SEO (automatic sitemap capabilities, metadata exposure, etc…), some are OK (few platform features but still able to optimize), and then there are a handful whereby if you’re interested in optimizing video for your own website, you might as well cross them off your list.
UPDATED: I wanted to let everyone know that I spoke today with Viddler and advised them as to the proper robots.txt protocol to allow for Googlebot to index and crawl their player. AND, they have already fixed the issue. As a result, there should be no issue in optimizing viddler embeds for website video SEO. I’m going to run some tests to make sure and then I will either update this post or write a new one with instructions on how to go about optimizing Viddler videos for your own domains. YIPPEE – I am throughly impressed with Viddler – less than 24 hours after this post, they have fixed the problem. SO – please ignore the “Viddler is a no-go” conclusion. :-) Thanks Viddler.
Unfortunately, one of those platforms that flat out will not work in terms of getting video search results for your own site, is Viddler. I use the word “unfortunately,” because for the most part, I truly believe that Viddler is a nice solution with some fairly unique features that would otherwise lend themselves well to video marketing, including: timed comments, timed tags, video commenting capabilities, custom logo, and more… At $100/mo for the “Business” version (commercial license), Viddler offers some excellent value. However, because you cannot optimize Viddler video embeds on your own website, you may want to think about whether those unique features are still worth $100/mo for you.
Why Can’t You SEO Viddler Video Embeds?
Just to clarify, what I am talking about here is the ability for those that have Viddler accounts, to take their videos, embed them on their own website, and then optimize their own website for video search results treatment in Google and other search engines. Viddler.com itself does appear in Google video and universal search results quite well – but again, videos embedded from Viddler will never show in Google for the domain that embeds them.
This is a technical issue, but there is a simple reason why this is the case. Viddler has blocked robots from accessing the player using robots.txt on their CDN which tells the search engines that they should not crawl or index Viddler player URLs. So, a typical video embed looks like this:
<object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" width="437" height="370" id="viddler"> <param name="movie" value="http://www.viddler.com/player/VIDEO_ID/" /> <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" /> <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /> <param name="flashvars" value="fake=1"/> <embed src="http://www.viddler.com/player/VIDEO_ID/" width="437" height="370" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowScriptAccess="always" allowFullScreen="true" flashvars="fake=1" name="viddler" > </embed></object>
Their player – http://www.viddler.com/player/VIDEO_ID/, has a 301 redirect to http://cdn.static.viddler.com/flash/publisher.swf?ref=&key=VIDEO_ID. If you look at http://cdn.static.viddler.com/robots.txt, you will find the following:
User-Agent: * Disallow: /
If you were to create a video sitemap for this video and submit it to Google, you would discover that within your Google Webmaster Tools account, under “Labs -> Video Sitemaps,” the following error appears:
As a result of this, no matter how you embed your video, no matter how well you optimize your video landing pages, etc… You will never be successful in getting a Viddler video embed indexed with a thumbnail for your own site.
Can Viddler Fix This? Will They?
I’ve advised other companies about robots.txt files and often times there are good reasons to block access using robots.txt. Additionally, some CDNs have this enabled as a default feature and so the company may not initially be aware of the exclusion. Can this be fixed? Absolutely! In fact, it is quite easy. All that needs to be done is to change the text in Robots.txt to:
User-Agent: * Allow: /player/ Disallow: /
However, with Viddler, it is a different story. They are completely aware of the robots.txt exclusion. In fact, I found this thread in their support forums where the have basically stated that they are going to leave it as is for now.
While I understand their desire to drive traffic back to Viddler.com rather than to your own website (especially for videos that are not part of the “Business” package), it is unfortunate that this is true for paid accounts as well.
Conclusion – Viddler is a NO-GO for Video SEO
I think there are a couple takeaways from this. Again, just so that I am uber-clear, I am not saying that it is a bad idea to syndicate your videos to Viddler. Certainly they have a captive audience from which you can garner some views from and their videos do appear prominently in the major search engines. So, from a “Posted VSEO” standpoint, Viddler is an excellent platform. Additionally, if you don’t care about optimizing Viddler videos on your own website, and you merely want a platform that allows you to customize your player a bit and then publish videos to your website, then this post is irrelevant.
That being said, if you do want to utilize a video hosting platform to publish and optimize videos for your own website, I have to say that Viddler is a no-go. There are many others out there that are not only capable of being optimized, but have actually worked to release features specifically designed to enable or enhance website Video SEO. While not a complete list (we do plan to update it in the near future) – here is a list of video hosting platforms that provide functionality to help with Video SEO .
Lastly, I would encourage those of you that are using Viddler to reach out to customer service and tell them that this presents an issue for you. I don’t know if they will budge based off the support forum request cited above, but I always think it is worth a shot. Many of the online video platforms out there started implementing Video SEO features only after their customers began to ask for it. Perhaps with this post and with enough requests, they’ll adjust their model to allow for this. For now, I’d recommend looking elsewhere for a hosting platform for website video SEO.