YouTube Quietly Changes Default Embed Code to HTML5-Friendly iFrames

YouTube Quietly Changes Default Embed Code to HTML5-Friendly iFrames

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Have you ever embedded a YouTube video on a blog or other website? If so, you’re probably familiar with the code format–it has long been made up of Flash-based “object” tags. But now, without any formal announcement or promotional fanfare (with the exception of a post on the API blog), YouTube has quietly changed the default embed code to an iFrame, which is much more friendly for HTML5 content.

It was only a handful of months ago that YouTube gave users the choice to embed Flash-friendly object code or HTML5-friendly iFrame code. But I’m not sure any of us expected to see them swap in the new version as the default method this quickly–particularly when YouTube’s parent company, Google, has been a bit of a Flash proponent after Apple turned their back on the Adobe format.

The New Default – YouTube’s HTML5 Friendly iFrame

Here’s what you’ll see now if you click the “Embed” button below a video:

It’s subtle in appearance but huge in impact, both in terms of what it might signal for the future of the video format wars as well as how it changes video SEO (We plan to write a detailed overview about this in the coming weeks as to how it pertains to video SEO).

A Couple Other Observations:

  • You’ll notice that once this iFrame is rendered, it shows the newer Version3 YouTube player, which has some cool additional functionality.
  • They took away the border options for changing the colors of your border.
  • I have no idea how or if this could be done with the Chromeless player API but I guess that’s why Im not a developer :)  Anyone know the answer?

iFrames and SEO – The Issue:

iFrames are, generally speaking, not a good thing for SEO. They are, by definition, displaying content on a page that belongs to an entirely different webpage.  So your site won’t typically get any of the ranking benefits you might expect if the content was directly on your page.

Of course, in a general way of speaking, the same situation existed under the old “Object” code, which was still a way to display another page’s content on your page. It’s not like Google thought all those videos we embedded were our content–they knew where the content was coming from.

But changes in code are nothing to take lightly. If you embed videos frequently, and care about ranking for terms related to those videos, I’d say it’s probably time for a major round of rank testing.  Fortunately, because YouTube still allows users to manually choose to use the old embed code, we’re able to do something all SEO and marketing professionals are familiar with:  A/B testing!

I’m looking forward to reading the reactions and experimentation by video marketing professionals once they all realize the default code has changed permanently.  Could be some serious changes to the way we do video SEO and video marketing and to our industry in general, which might be the very reason why this change has received such a quiet release.


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