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A Beginner’s Guide to Video Hosting

Producing a video can be expensive and time consuming (see How Much Does an Explainer Video Cost?). If you’re going to expend the effort, you better make sure you have the right video hosting strategy in place. So before you throw it up on YouTube, take a minute to think about your objective for the video.

Define the Objective

Every business would like their video to go viral and reach millions of users, but unfortunately, the reality is that it’s probably not going to happen. For most businesses (especially B2B companies trying to reach a specific audience), a more effective strategy is to use online video as a way to increase rankings and click through rates in search results. According to studies, video is 50 times more likely to show up in organic search results (as a rich snippet – pictured below) than plain text webpage.

google video snippet

The Disadvantage of YouTube and Vimeo

When you post a video on YouTube, Vimeo, or one of the hundreds of other places out there to share online video, you’re giving up your content to a website other than your own. While you may reach a much larger audience (albeit a much less targeted one), there are plenty of disadvantages:

  • Your video isn’t being watched on your website
  • You don’t receive any benefit when people share or embed your video
  • Ads often appear next to, or during, your video…and sometimes for your competition
  • Rich snippets for high-ranking sites like YouTube will almost always outrank a rich snippet for a video on your website

Don’t get me wrong, sites like YouTube and Vimeo have their place (we use them almost everyday!), but you need to know when to use them and when and when to avoid them.


Self-hosting your videos is the best way to generate rich snippets for your own domain, build backlinks to your domain through embeds, and have total control over your player and the content surrounding it. When you post a video on your website, make sure to only have one video per page, and surround it with relevant, targeted content (e.g. text, headlines, images).

If you have the technical skills, and the time, you can host the video on your own server, or use a cloud solution like Amazon S3. You’ll also need to setup your own video sitemap.

We recommend saving yourself the hassle and using a third-party service like Wistia, Vidyard, Vzaar, Brightcove, or Vimeo Pro. We have the most experience with Wistia, which allows us to create a custom, unbranded player, track viewing stats, and setup video sitemaps in just a few clicks.

Hybrid Hosting

If you still want to have a presence on YouTube or Vimeo, avoid uploading the same video you have on your own website (which can hurt your SEO rankings), and upload a unique video instead. For example, you might choose to upload short, teaser videos to YouTube, while keeping the full-length versions exclusively on your own website.

The opinions on hosting vs. posting vary, and it depends on your objective. So don’t just take my word for it, do your research, and tap in to the additional resources below!

Additional Resources

Creating an Online Video Strategy
An SEO’s Guide to Video Hosting and Embedding
Video Marketing Strategy: Hosted vs. Posted Video

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