YouTube or Self-Host? The Ongoing Video Debate

It’s really no secret at this point that online video is taking off – it’s very rare these days that you log on to a popular website and don’t see options to view some video content. And why wouldn’t it be popular? It’s fun, it’s engaging and it’s a whole lot better than reading through a bunch of text on a page.

But if you’re a marketer or a business owner, did you know that the way in which you implement your videos can greatly impact the results that they achieve for your website? It’s true – and there are two main choices that you have based on what kind of results you are looking for: host the video on YouTube or Vimeo or another public video sharing site, or host the videos on your own domain.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of both these major Web video implementation tactics.

YouTube Pros

Of course, YouTube’s biggest pro is probably the fact that it’s owned by Google, so it’s naturally the second largest search engine in the world. This means that simply having a presence on this popular social media site can potentially put your brand and your content in front of the eyes of millions.

Secondly, since YouTube is Google-owned, Google, of course, prefers websites to have some sort of YouTube presence. The search engine favors its own products – sort of similar to the way they encourage all brands to utilize Google+.

Plus, You

Tube content is typically highly shareable, so you increase your likelihood of getting links to and views on your video content. To break it down even further, here’s a short list of some of the many pros to using YouTube for your video hosting needs:

  • Content gets in front of largest audience possible
  • Google favors its own products (YouTube)
  • Sharing is easy
  • Further branding is possible with custom channels
  • Over 6 billion hours of video are watched every month – chances of your video being seen are higher

Pros of Self-Hosting

On the other hand, there are some advantages to choosing the self-hosting route when it comes to the implementation of your videos on your website. To start, content on YouTube is meant for sharing, but each share doesn’t benefit your actual website – it only benefits your view count on YouTube itself. When you self-host, you’re putting yourself into a position to not only have your content shared directly from your website, but to build links for your site using those shares. These links will be natural and highly valuable, since they’ll be sending signals to the search engines that there is some piece of content on your website that’s worthy of sharing and linking to.

Additionally, self-hosting can help you in your search engine results positions for your top performing keywords. When optimized correctly, your video content will appear as a thumbnail in your search engine results directly beside your Web page. Since it’s your domain appearing with the video thumbnail, all click throughs will go directly to your website (if you were optimizing a YouTube video, you might still get the video thumbnail, but click throughs will direct to your YouTube channel rather than your website). So, here’s a breakdown of the top advantages to self-hosting:

  • Help with link building efforts
  • Can produce rich snippet search results for your domain
  • Rich search results lead to up to 80% increases in click through rates
  • Increased click through rates lead to increased keyword rankings

Know When to Use Each Option

Obviously, a lot of the way video is implemented on a website depends on the type of content that it is. Do you have a commercial for your company that you’re hoping to post somewhere? Or do you have a product video explaining the details of one of your most popular items?

Commercial videos tend to perform better on YouTube because the content was created with the brand in mind. And when you’re creating content as part of your overall branding efforts, obviously you want it to be seen by the largest audience possible. For this reason alone, YouTube is a great option, but your website itself may not benefit much from this tactic. YouTube is more about getting your name and your brand out there to as large of an audience as you possibly can.

On the other hand, if you have a somewhat dry video that maybe details the specifics of a given product that your ecommerce site sells, then the likelihood of that content “going viral” on YouTube is very low. For this reason, you will gain much more benefit from hosting this type of content on your own domain. Use a third party media server (we like Vimeo Pro) so you’re not using your site’s own bandwidth to run the video, and post it on your product page. Once it’s optimized correctly (see my February post on leveraging video content for SEO), your website will begin reaping the benefits of having this content of content right on your own domain.

Of course, if you’re ever in doubt, contact your favorite people at the marketing agency you’re working with and ask for their help. Make sure you know what your goal is with the video content that you have or are looking to create, and be able to communicate that clearly to your marketing team.

Before you just throw your videos up in any old place, make sure you take into account what goals you would like for the content to accomplish, and know at least the reasoning behind the different options for hosting the video. Your website, and your brand, will both thank you!

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