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FAQ: Video Sitemaps

Q: What is necessary to indicate when including full episodic content in my Sitemap/mRSS feed? And what tag(s) do I reference?
It's a useful convention to use the term "Full Episode" in the title, though not a requirement. Since these episodes will come up in search results, the user should be able to assess quickly and easily whether it's the full episode, and the title is a good way to do this. Also make sure that you include "duration" for these cases, as many users search for full episodes by clicking on the long-form content button to find full episodes.

Q: I have video that can only be played in certain countries, can I restrict which countries results appear in?
Yes: the optional attribute "relationship" can be used to tell Google whether the video can only be played in certain regions. Using this tag, you have the option of either including a list of all countries where it can be played, or just telling us the countries where it can't be played. If your videos can be played everywhere, then you don't need to include this. For more information, see Creating a Video Sitemap and Yahoo's documentation of Media RSS.

Q: We use a client JavaScript application to embed our Flash player objects on our pages that contain video. Will Google be able to crawl and index these videos, and associate them to the URL we designate in the video XML files?
Typically the use of JavaScript for playing videos is not a problem, provided the JavaScript is not blocked from our crawler via robots.txt.

As a summary:
  • <loc> should contain the playpage (HTML)
  • <video:player_loc> should contain the SWF URL
  • <video:content_loc> should contain the FLV or other raw video URL
If the user is required to click on something before the SWF player is loaded into the page, we will be unable to detect the video. Typically, the SWF playpage gets loaded when the page is loaded (via static HTML rendered server-side or loaded on page load via JavaScript), then the user action of clicking the play button just starts the video, since the SWF was already loaded. This is the most common case, and the case that we support.

Q: My site is constructed using a single Flash object, even for navigation. Can Sitemaps still work as a solution to get videos indexed?
Each video on your site must be directly navigable via a unique URL, since this is how we send users to your site. So your best approach is to make sure that each video has its own landing page, and that you submit to us either a Video Sitemap or mRSS feed that lists out all these pages.

Q: Is HTML a supported Video Sitemap format?
No, HTML is not a supported Sitemap format. XML is the format supported by Google for Sitemaps. For more information, see Creating a Video Sitemap.

Q: Is RSS an accepted format for Google to crawl video?
RSS is not a supported format for videos. We support mRSS and Sitemaps, as these formats allow us to receive a great deal more information about the structure of the pages we receive. Also see Using an mRSS feed as a Sitemap.

Q: Do the video title and description in a Sitemap/mRSS need to match the title and description for a video on the webpage in order for the video be crawled?
Yes. Google web crawlers will verify that the information you include in the video title and description fields matches your live site. If they don't match, the video will not be displayed in search results.

Q: What are accepted video formats?
Google can crawl the following video file types: mpg, .mpeg, .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv, .asf, .avi, .ra, .ram, .rm, .flv, .swf. All files must be accessible via HTTP. Metafiles that require a download of the source via streaming protocols are not supported. For more information, see Creating a Video Sitemap.

Q: In an mRSS feed is it possible for the <media:player> and <link> to be the same URL?
No. Both URLs should be different. The <link> should be an HTML playpage URL, while <media:player> should be a Flash player. Also see Using an mRSS feed as a Sitemap.

Q: In a Sitemap is it possible for the <loc>, <player:loc> and/or <content:loc> to be the same URL?
No. All URLs should be unique.

As a summary:
  • <loc> should contain the playpage (HTML)
  • <video:player_loc> should contain the SWF URL
  • <video:content_loc> should contain the FLV or other raw video URL
As mentioned in the Video Sitemaps specification, it is not required to specify both <player_loc> and <content_loc>, you need only supply one or the other (though both are highly suggested).

Q: How can I indicate that a video has expired?
Although we have mechanisms to detect when videos are no longer available, we strongly encourage following community standards to signal that a video has been removed:
  • Return a 404 (Not found) HTTP response code; you can still return a helpful page to be displayed to your users. Check out these guidelines for creating useful 404 pages.
  • Indicate expiration dates for each video listed in a Video Sitemap (use the <video:expiration_date> element) or mRSS feed (<dcterms:valid> tag).
It is important that when videos expire, you indicate this using one of the above methods. Note that you can retroactively add expiration dates to the videos in your Sitemap for a date already passed, which will then mark those videos for removal.

Q: I use a Flash player which loads my title/description with the JavaScript onto the page. Will this be an issue for Google to crawl?
Yes, this could be an issue. To avoid this issue, embed title/description information in the page's HTML (rather than populating it after SWF load). You can do this from the SWF player when a new video loads. We just need the first video's title/description to appear on page load in order to crawl successfully.

Q: I have multiple videos on one landing page, how can I show that in my Sitemap?
Using Sitemaps you can display multiple videos per landing page. For more information, see Creating a Video Sitemap.

Q: How can I secure my video content when I supply the <player_loc> or <content_loc> information to you?
You can verify that a bot accessing your server really is Googlebot by using a reverse DNS lookup, verifying that the name is in the googlebot.com domain, and then doing a forward DNS lookup using that host name. This is useful if you're concerned that spammers or other troublemakers are accessing your site while claiming to be Googlebot.

Q: In instances where a particular video is available at a player page and also embedded on another page such as an article or blog post, which URL is preferred from Google’s point of view? Should we represent both in Sitemap/mRSS?
In general, we are interested in all pages that would be recognized by most people as being a video page. If a site contains more than one of these pages for a single video, you should include all of them in your Sitemap. There are also situations where a page will contain video but the video not the primary intent of the page. An example of this would be a news article with a short video at the end. We would prefer that you not include these type of pages in your Sitemaps/feeds since the primary intent of the page is not video.

Q: Can Google crawl my video if the video is hosted by a 3rd party?
There is no restriction about where the content of the of video playpage is hosted. For example, having the playpage, the thumbnail, and the SWF player for the video located on 3 different domains is a not a problem. However, in all of these cases, all the resources should be available to the Google crawler. Specifically, none of these resources should be blocked by robots.txt.

Q: What is the difference between an RSS and mRSS feed?
mRSS is a RSS extension used for syndicating multimedia files. It allows for a much more detailed description of the content than what is covered by the RSS standard. Google supports mRSS, an RSS module that supplements the element capabilities of RSS 2.0.

Q: What does the "allow_embed" attribute mean?
This optional attribute tells whether you allow 3rd party sites to embed your video.