YouTube vs. Wistia for SEO & Lead Generation

Frank Isca
Posted by Frank Isca on October 22, 2014

YouTube-vs-Wistia-ComparisonYou can't deny that video is a highly attractive tactic for serious lead growth. Consider this for a moment: by 2017, it's predicted that video content will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic (up from 53% in 2013). And by 2018, nearly a million minutes of video content will be published every second! It's mind boggling, isn't it?

With all this content floating around the web, you need to be smart about how you publish it so that you get the most visibility in search and so that you capture as many leads as possible. Obviously, you want the video to attract lots of visitors, but if its format doesn't help you capture contact details, then it won't have a very high lead generation value. After all, views don't equate into sales in the B2B world unless you plan to sell ads on your videos.

So, today our goal is to explore the Pros and Cons of YouTube (the largest video host online) and Wistia (which, granted, you may have never heard of). Put simply, Wistia is an up-and-coming star in the video with a specific emphasis on video SEO and lead generation, while YouTube is the largest video host online, owned by Google, the ubiqitous internet giant. Let's see how both platforms measure up.

Evaluating YouTube's Pros & Cons

According to a recent content marketing benchmark survey for 2015, 72% of B2B marketers are using YouTube as their platform of choice. Not shocking, since YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world behind their owner and online juggernaut, Google. But does YouTube equip marketers like yourself with the right tools to convert more of your viewers into leads? And does it offer the best user experience?

Advantages for SEO

  • The most obvious pro here is that Google dominates search and YouTube is their baby, which means YouTube videos get preferred treatment in how they rank and how they appear in search results. In July of 2014, Google introduced changes in how rich snippets appear in their search results, resulting in YouTube videos now having over 91% of the snippets (a preview image of the video – as show below) that appear directly in the SERPs. With this update, platforms like Wistia and Vimeo have lost out, as far as having this feature to help your video content stand out among other search results.


  • As noted above, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world so it gets a lot of usage. Having videos on their platform increases the likelihood that your video content will be found among users searching for information related to your product or service. Keep in mind though, your video is then viewed on the YouTube site versus your site.

  • Since YouTube is free and essentially unlimited in the amount of content you can upload, you're free to publish and host loads of videos to perform in search.

Disadvantages for SEO

  • The only thing to note here for SEO geeks is YouTube makes it a little more difficult to create video sitemaps compared to what Wistia has put together.

Lead Generation Advantages

  • If lots of video views is what you're looking for to increase awareness of your brand or a specific product/service, with the hope these views result in traffic back to your website that can then convert as leads, then YouTube gives you the platform to potentially achieve this.

  • From a nurturing aspect, having a YouTube channel that prospects of yours can subscribe to is a great way to continually nurture them with your video content, with the hope that they finally visit your site and convert as a lead.

Lead Generation Disadvantages

  • Although you can add a URL to your website in your video description, the on-screen annotations YouTube allows you to add can only be used for linking to content within YouTube or to your company Google+ page. This makes it harder to get a viewer to directly click from your video to a landing page for example.

  • YouTube does not offer the ability to gate a video with a simple conversion form, allowing viewers to consume all your video content freely without you knowing their identity. Depending on the level of content you're giving away there's times where you would benefit knowing who is consuming it.

  • YouTube obviously makes money from ad dollars, similar to Google. But these ads can get quite distracting for users watching your videos (on YouTube), especially if a competitor's ad appears while viewing!

  • Similar to ad distractions, other videos from competitors that are displayed while a user is watching your video (on YouTube) can be distracting and a deterrent for getting them to engage with you and attract them to your website.

  • Yes, YouTube videos can be embedded within your website so the content is consumed on your site versus YouTube, and ads for these embedded videos can be turned off. Where you're restricted though is not being able to customize the look and feel of your videos to better align with your site branding, to create a better user experience that results in improved lead conversions. 

Review of Wistia's Pros & Cons

Advantages for SEO

  • Wistia gives you the ability and instructions to easily create a video sitemap to help search engines crawl and index the content of your videos. This helps your video content rank higher, and these links then bring traffic back to your own website (versus YouTube).

  • In addition to easily creating a video sitemap, Wistia makes it super easy to create schema markup (thumbnail image, title, video duration, video description, etc.) that are added to your video embed code for adding the video to your site. The process is as simple as filling out a form that describes the content of your video and again helps Google understand the content of the video.

  • Similar to YouTube, Wistia offers the ability to easily add captions/subtitles to your video. This improves the on-page SEO of your video since the video's content is then searchable.

  • Wistia is said to offer better mobile video compression than YouTube, which offers a better user experience. The result is more user time on the page versus an immediate bounce, and more time on page equals better SEO.

Disadvantages for SEO

  • As noted earlier, a recent hit that Wistia took in Google search (along with other video domains) is Google's reduction of video rich snippets that appear in search results. This graphic here (courtesy of Wistia) shows just how self-serving Google has been with favoring YouTube snippets so retain market share.



  • Google won't admit this but it seems pretty clear that YouTube video content receives preference at times in how video content is ranked on the web. With that said it all comes down to quality content and how well you optimize it too.  

Lead Generation Advantages

  • Wistia hands down kicks YouTube's keister when it comes to lead generation capabilities, which is crucial for B2B businesses looking to use video content to attract new business (rather than just racking up tons of views).

  • The number one lead generation feature with Wistia is either gating video content with a conversion form on the front end or ending a video with a call-to-action (CTA) form. This instantly informs you of who is consuming your video content and when.


  • With a paid account you can track viewer history of your hottest leads, to see what they're most interested in and how often they're coming back. This is powerful data for your sales team! If you're a HubSpot customer, Wistia has a sweet integration to show how your HubSpot leads are engaging with your video content right within their lead profile timeline.

  • Video you upload to Wistia and embed on your site lives on your site. There's no gateway that potentially leads users to competing content. And no annoying ads!

  • Wistia's previous free plan was restricted to a 3 video limit, but just announced yesterday (October 21, 2014) Wistia's free plan has gone from a 3 video limit to 50! All for free! You don't get all the sweet features of a paid account but that gives you a ton of freedom with no investment other than your time.

  • With recently introduced "annotation links," Wistia allows you to add links to additional content and even landing pages at any point during your video. This not only increases traffic from within your website, but also enables visitors to more easily convert to leads. 

Lead Generation Disadvantages

  • Other than the fact that Wistia videos don't have the benefit of living within the world's 2nd largest search engine, Wistia doesn't lack anything in the way of lead generation.

So, Which Platform Wins?

As you've learned here, both platforms have a lot to offer. But when it comes to offering a strong set of tools for both SEO and lead generation, Wistia is the clear choice in my opinion.

With that said, who says you can't use both?! 

In my research in writing this post I read the opinions of numerous experts and most suggest utilizing the benefits of both platforms. If you have a lighter more entertaining video that you want to gain traction on social media and possibly get a little viral traction, upload it to YouTube. If you have a great instructional video or recorded webinar, host it through Wistia so you can have it live within your website and gate it with a conversion form.

Here at Weidert Group we're starting to get more disciplined with our own video creation and plan to use both Wistia and YouTube for the reasons noted here. A new video production we just launched today was first uploaded through Wistia for our blog (view it here), which gave us more control over the aesthetics of the video player and the overall user experience. But then we also uploaded it to our YouTube channel to expose it to a larger audience.

As you evaluate the two for your own needs truly evaluate your video strategy. You may find value in both platforms like we did, or find one is better than the other. For additional advice on video creation, view our video-related blog content.

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Topics: Search Engine Optimization, Video Marketing, Lead Generation

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