Adding your own, or other people’s YouTube videos to your WordPress site is a great way to engage your visitors and add multimedia content to your website. But what is the best way to display and embed the videos into your posts and pages? In this guide we’ll take a look at the different ways to integrate YouTube with WordPress, covering the best YouTube plugins and creative ways to enhance your site with video.
Why Use a Plugin?
As with most things in WordPress, you can display YouTube videos manually. However using a plugin makes life so much easier and gives you much more options on what videos to show and how to display them.
Here are some of the plugins that we think offer the most creative ways of getting videos from YouTube onto your site as well as the quickest ways to just get the job done.
This simple plugin, available for free from the WordPress.org plugin directory is perhaps the easiest way of displaying a YouTube video in WordPress. If you just want to display videos in the quickest way possible, with no frills, then this is the plugin for you.
To use it, once the plugin is installed, simply enter the shortcode [site id] in your post where you would like to show the video, replacing ‘site’ with the name of the site, such as youtube or google, etc. and ‘id’ with the video id, for example WaGCzgA45UE (found at the end of the URL to the video e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaGCzgA45UE).
The code can be entered in Visual editor in WordPress; there is no need to switch to Text view. What’s more, with this plugin you aren’t limited to just YouTube videos, you can also display the videos from YouTube playlists as well as videos from over 60 video sites. You can change the alignment of the video by using the align buttons on the editor so you aren’t stuck with a left aligned video.
To find out more about this free YouTube plugin, visit the WordPress Video Plugin page at WordPress.org
While the plugin above gets the job done, there is so much more you can do with WordPress and YouTube than just embedding a couple of videos. TubePress does some pretty amazing stuff and can transform your blog into an all singing, all dancing video showcase site.
Some of the things you can do with TubePress include displaying videos according to certain criteria. For example, you can display the videos that are returned by YouTube for a certain search term. Simply append the short code with a keyword, such as “Batman” and it will display, in your WordPress post, the number one ranked video when doing a search for “Batman”. Depending on how you have configured the plugin, it can also display the next 20 search results. The shortcode for achieving this is simply:
[tubepress mode=”tag” tagValue=”Batman”]
Change ‘Batman’ for your chosen search term and you can have the latest relevant videos to your keyword automatically displayed in your page. Alternatively, you could choose to display the YouTube videos of a particular user. This is a great way to videos you have uploaded, or those of another user, on your WordPress page, by simply entering this shortcode:
[tubepress mode=”user” userValue=”gixxr63r”]
Some of the other options for TubePress include showing the videos using a shadowbox/lightbox effect (playerLocation=”shadowbox”), displaying the favourite videos of a certain user ([tubepress mode=”favorites” favoritesValue=”gixxr63r” embeddedWidth=”620″]), showing the videos from particular playlist or simply turning on autoplay and fullscreen playback.
This plugin has everything you need to easily show videos that are relevant to the content of your site. This should help keep your visitors entertained and increase user engagement. For me, this plugin really opened my eyes to how much more you can do with YouTube and WordPress. The almost unlimited possibilities for its use are really exciting for site owners who want to go beyond traditional text and image based content in a creative and customisable way.
TubePress also works with Vimeo and JW Player so these options aren’t only available for YouTube content.
To view all the features of this YouTube plugin, visit the TubePress showcase.
If your site has its own YouTube channel, this plugin aims to provide a simple way of displaying the latest videos from the channel in a WordPress post or page. Even if you don’t have your own channel you can easily display the videos from the channel of another other user or account.
While this plugin doesn’t come with any instructions or documentation after installation, the shortcode details can be found on the WordPress.org entry for it. The shortcode looks like this:
[ytchannel channel=”soccer” showcase=”gIHCVA54XnE” limit=”6″ showcase_width=”630″ thumbnail_width=”200″]
It allows you to enter the name of the channel, a specific video to play or showcase, and the number of videos to show as well as the width of the showcased video and the thumbnails.
While this plugin does work, it isn’t perfect. Changing the layout of the video thumbnails can only be done by editing the CSS of the site, which could pose as a stumbling block for many. As TubePress doesn’t (at the time of writing) feature the ability to show videos from a particular YouTube channel, the YouTube Channel Showcase plugin is the best choice for doing so.
To try this free plugin, simply install it from within your WordPress installation or download it from here.
This nifty little free plugin works with channels again but does it in a different way. This time however, the videos are displayed in the sidebar of your WordPress blog opening up lots of creative opportunities for displaying videos on your site that will draw in users and hopefully make them stick around for a bit longer.
Once the YouTube Channel Gallery plugin has been installed and activated, it is accessed via the Widgets page in your WordPress admin area. Drag the appropriate widget onto the sidebar of your choice and you can get to work displaying videos on your blog.
The options for how to display the videos are pretty comprehensive and you can either choose the source of the videos to be from a specific user or from a specific playlist. As you can create your own playlists in YouTube, it pretty much means that you can display whatever videos you want on the sidebar of your side.
Whatever, your site is about or promoting, you can create a playlist of videos about that product, place or thing and have them listed in the sidebar of the site, easily adding multimedia content with just a few mouse clicks.
The graphical user interface for this plugin makes it even easier to use than the ones covered so far as there are no shortcodes and parameters to remember; simply use the drop down menus and buttons and you can setup this plugin without using any code.
YouTube Channel Gallery vs. YouTube Channel Showcase
While these last two plugins seem quite similar, it’s because they do similar things but with different end results. If someone could combine the YouTube Channel Gallery and the YouTube Channel Showcase plugins, to include sidebar widget and post and page insertion, along with the ability to display videos based on keyword searches they’d be on to a winner I’m sure!
This plugin is my WordPress legend Joost de Valk and works in conjunction with the popular yoast WordPress SEO Plugin. Essentially what this plugin does is display a thumbnail of the YouTube video you have used in your post in the Google search engine results page. This means that when a user does a search and your site is listed in the search results in Google, there will be a video thumbnail next to your site listing.
Why would you want to do this? Well according to search engine experts, video pages listed in the search engines have a higher click through rate and also rank more easily than non-video pages. These are two of the most sought after metrics by site owners who want to increase their traffic from the search engines. The only downside to this plugin I can see is that it’s not free and comes with a premium price tag.
If you want to see this plugin in action and find out more visit the yoast Video SEO for WordPress page.
Don’t Want to Use a Plugin to Display YouTube Videos?
If for whatever reason, you want to manually display a YouTube video in WordPress, you can do it by following these simple steps:
- View the video in YouTube
- Under the video, click on ‘share’, then click on ‘embed’ then copy the highlighted text/code
- In WordPress, while editing a post or a page, switch to Text view and then paste the text/code you coped from YouTube into your post where you would like the video displayed
- Click the ‘Publish’ button and then view the post. Previewing the post won’t display the video. You must publish the post or page
While this works, and is easy enough, it can be quite annoying as you might not be ready to publish your post but have to in order to see the video.
Hopefully these mostly free plugins will have given you some inspiration and ideas on how you can use video on your WordPress site more creatively in order to better connect with your visitors and give them more of what they want.