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Picking a video hosting service

From: Video SEO Basics

Video: Picking a video hosting service

When you publish a video online, you have to put it somewhere. You might use a site like YouTube, or you might place the video on a file storage service like Amazon's S3. Or you might set up your own web server. For our purposes, assume there are two kinds of video hosting. Self hosted, where you store the video and then you use your own custom player, and the video lives on your website or on a set of servers that you control. And third party hosted, where the video lives on another website and they provide the player you use to embed the video on on your site, and they do all the streaming and encoding and everything else of your video.

Picking a video hosting service

When you publish a video online, you have to put it somewhere. You might use a site like YouTube, or you might place the video on a file storage service like Amazon's S3. Or you might set up your own web server. For our purposes, assume there are two kinds of video hosting. Self hosted, where you store the video and then you use your own custom player, and the video lives on your website or on a set of servers that you control. And third party hosted, where the video lives on another website and they provide the player you use to embed the video on on your site, and they do all the streaming and encoding and everything else of your video.

99% of the time, you'll use a third party service like YouTube. YouTube has a huge audience and it's free, but limitations on the format and the player. The fact that there's advertising inserted into your videos, and the fact you have less control over how and where, and when the video appears maybe negatives. They may be things that you want to think about before you choose YouTube. Your YouTube page will usually rank instead of the page on your site where you embed the video. If you take a look at this example here, notice, these are videos on the individual websites, but they're actually linked directly back to YouTube instead. So, those visitors are going to go to YouTube first not to this particular individual's website.

So, if you're after lots of video views and you don't care where folks see the video, You Tube is an absolute no brainer, you should use it definitely. If you want folks on your site when they view the video, and you care a little bit less about access to an enormous audience, and you care more about creative control over the user experience, then you probably don't want to use You Tube. But you can still use third-party services. There are other services that offer more Options. They offer higher quality video, the ability to upload larger files, ability to do things like pay per view, and very customizable video players.

None of these services can measure up to YouTube in audience size. So, you'll get fewer views if you choose a different third party service. Also, most of these services charge a fee for the full version of their hosting. However, the fee is usually very small. I'm talking you know, $5.00 a month, $10.00 a month, and the creative control they provide can be a real plus. And of course, if you use a third party service other than YouTube, the page where you embed the video on your site has a higher chance of ranking. You have a better shot at getting that page to show up, and a better shot at getting people to watch the video on your site instead of on the third party hosting service.

Services available at the time of this recording include Wistia, Vimeo Pro, Vzaar, Brightcove, and there are many, many others there coming up on the web all the time. Most of them are exceptional. So, I suggest taking a look around, and really picking and choosing fairly carefully. You can decide to do self-hosting as well. Self hosting is very very difficult. You want to use it if you want to squeeze out every last bit of authority links and social media shares from your embeds. If you want to have 100% control over every aspect of the player and the video delivery.

If security is a huge issue of some kind, those are all reasons you might want to do it. But remember, you're going to have to worry about everything from bandwidth, the actual pipe from which the video is sent, to the way you encode the video to the video player. And you're going to have to control and support all of that. That's a lot of effort for a fairly small gain. Unless you know how to do your own video hosting, including fail over, content distribution, and creating a set of embeddable players, just stick to a hosted service. Because the upshot here is that it only matters if you launch your content.

If the content never gets out there, if you spend all your time working on your solution and tweaking your pages, it's not going to do you any good as a marketing strategy. So, use the solution that will best balance flexibility and your ability to publish video regularly and easily. The more limited your resources, the more I suggest you look to YouTube. As you get more sophisticated, you can look at other third party services that support more options. And finally, you can go for your own solution, if you're doing something completely unique or on such a scale that the limitations of all the other services are going to be an issue. Now's a good time to think about your video hosting strategy. Obviously it has long-term implications.

Take a look at how much video you produce, how often, and how important the level of control over that video is to your marketing strategy. Make your selection once you've weighed those options.

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Video SEO Basics

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Ian Lurie
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