YouTube vs. Self-Hosted Video: Pros & Cons for Webmasters

Video is a favorite way to attract new website visitors. As you know new visitors, means higher traffic. The higher traffic – the more chances to spread your ideas worldwide. The more juice you input in your ideas, the more new people will stop by at your site. This circle is endless. So why not to take advantage of cool video tools? Turn your website into a top-notch web destination with the help of YouTube or unique videos.

Motion pictures long before YouTube success have showed their influence over people’s minds. Hollywood is still a huge industry even when online video exists. People love to go to movies when they find appealing content. Or look at TV, for instance. Nowadays it’s overcrowded with commercial, but it is the fastest way to deliver your message to offline public. Yes, last few years were hard for TV entertainment. Online streaming video is skyrocketing and eating a big part of video budget pie. However, TV channels do their best to invent new approaches to audience. We have seen a boom of TV shows, music TV shows, real-time TV shows. Such content grabs millions of views. That’s why it’s stupid for webmasters to underestimate such heavy weapon.

However, all attempts to imitate TV shows online have failed. Video engagement power is still remains a Wonderland. Unfortunately, web 2.0 is more static than interactive. It needs new clever forms of entertainment that a video picture can provide. Obviously, it’s matter of content and context. Each webmaster has to develop a natural way to reach its readers hearts and minds with perfect form of video engagement.

Many sites could benefit from good embedded online videos. Why? Have a look at these aspects. On one hand, a suitable video player can highlight special website style. So when a user sees your web page, he/she immediately understand that it’s the must-visit place. Thus, you can get a loyal reader or customer. Plus, if you enable your users to share your video wrapped into a custom video player, you branded player will be visible on many sites. These signs provoke curiosity and additional traffic to your website or blog.

instantShift - YouTube vs. Self-Hosted Video

On the other hand, one more important aspect is often ignored by webmasters – viral marketing effect. A good video is usually spread fast. Go to YouTube and type in “funny cats”, you will see what an enormous number of views each video has. This number of views can be converted into the number of website visitors. Imagine, you will get 2 million visits in a week. Probably it’s the result thousands of webmasters can only dream of.

With the huge number of visits thanks to viral effect, you will get another pleasant thing – link bait. An incredible number of blogs, forums and social networks will be covered with the link to your website because people share their favorite videos. They are encouraged to publish and spread these videos if they are interested in great content hidden in the video. If we stick to search engine optimization terms, link bait is an efficient technique that serves two goals at a time: attracting users and increasing your PageRank. A flow of links and transitions from other web sites will increase your Google PageRank. Thus, one extremely popular video can tune up the whole website. Due to upgrade of your PageRank even your old posts will spring up higher in search results. This way an alluring video content immediately going viral, will boost your website rating.

If the arguments persuade you and it’s time to face another dilemma –which video delivering method is better – public like YouTube or proprietary self-hosted videos. Keep in mind, a truly viral video is hard to create. We all know content is the King. The chances are not too high that you can produce several videos one by one. That’s why should take maximum of each opportunity. So when you have an exciting video that you feel will be popular you’d better think twice whether store it on your own server or publish it on YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion.

From the first sight, it looks as if YouTube has more score against self-hosted video competitor. It’s so easy to upload a video to YouTube that even a kid can do it. Create an account, follow simple steps to upload video, add description, provide a link to your site, write an impressive title, edit video if necessary, select a music track and publish your video. YouTube is a fast-track solution. In fact, it will take less than 10 minutes for your amazing video to go online. Besides, it does not require any coding skills. All you need is your fantasy, taste and solid copywriting skills in order to add eye-catching description.

But if you dig deeper and keep in mind the words about link bait, you realize that your creative video content works mainly for Google/YouTube benefit. YouTube will get all attention and page view. All that is left for a webmaster is to hope that someone will click on a tiny link in the video essence summary. Now it seems to be quite unfair that YouTube will absorb all fame and traffic instead of the real King content creator – you. It may be okay. But when the number of views exceeds several millions, a webmaster will probably feel sorry for the initial decision to publish the video on YouTube channel.

So is it better to host all videos on own server, display videos with custom flash player? It’s another extreme in video streaming industry. Though, this concept hides a set of pitfalls. One of them – you have to obtain basic coding skills at least to upload the ready video with player on your server. For advanced webmaster it’s not a big deal. For a webmaster-newbies, the task to manage video files may be cumbersome. But video management skills will definitely grow with time and experience, but another reason to look skeptically at self-hosted videos is evitable: quick access to video content and playback on any device.

YouTube is supported by cloud computing structure. YouTube video delivery from “Play” button click to video playback is speedy. Even with slow Internet connection you can enjoy video almost immediately. Moreover, YouTube is tested for immersive visitors attack. Thanks to such video servers sustainability, dozens of millions people worldwide could watch British Royal Wedding simultaneously without noisy interruptions. One more perk – you upload one video file and no matter what gadget user has, he/she can watch it. YouTube converts videos on the fly, so you can see it from your Android or iPad. Now let’s get back to self-hosted videos on your website. Let’s say your video goes viral and causes traffic storm. Can you guarantee that all of them may watch your video quickly? Are you sure that your site does not stop running? How many iPhone owners can show the video to their friends (remember iOS devices do not support classic flash video and you have to encode it into mp4 video format). Now probably your video providing vision has changed.

However, the situation is not so bad and webmasters always have a choice. Let’s summarize assets and drawbacks of both YouTube hosted and self-hosted videos for website owners.

YouTube Video


instantShift - Pros of YouTube Video

$0 Hosting

For budget-limited website owners, money is key factor of video hosting choice. As videos take a lot of storage space, YouTube video hosting helps you to save lots of cash. Sure, if you have the cheapest GoDaddy hosting plan, two- three video files or a dozen videos will not overload the budget. But if you host your videos on some pricey web hosting, you should think it over. You simply create a free account on YouTube, upload videos and just copy and paste the video code to your site. So you place a video embed link on your website and have no headache about severs load, coding or video playback speed. It’s YouTube duty to take care of video file hosting not yours. This way a webmaster frees himself from user video experience burden.

Huge Audience

YouTube boasts over 3 billion video views per day! The visitor’s number is astonishing. It’s hard to find such huge crowd of video fans. You can be sure that all these people love video content and eager to consume it. The chances are high that unfamiliar with your website people will watch your video. YouTube from its turn will do the best to spread your video. Your video will appear in search results. Your video will be shown in related videos: both after a video and in the right-hand column of YouTube channels. Thus, thanks to keywords, and relevant categories, more people will notice your video content. Since YouTube is content-related site, even those who are not directly interested in your video message may be hooked up by your video. So your video files can get extra viewers and level up your site reach. Another factor embedded YouTube video views from your site. Due to well-known name, people trust links to YouTube video channels and are more willing to watch a video hosted on this video sharing network. That’s why your call-to-action to watch a certain video on YouTube can be more meaningful, than a suggestion to watch a video in unknown pop-up window.

Fast Video Delivery

YouTube has top-notch video servers. Besides, Google invests millions of dollars into YouTube infrastructure and constantly develops video delivery technology empowered with cloud storage. Due to it your video playback will be fast and user will not be bored to tears while waiting for video to start playing. Even a loyal user can quit a website where you have to wait for 5 minutes for video to start. Such website behavior negatively influences video experience, especially for new visitors.

No Coding Skills Required

Even non tech-savvy webmasters can embed YouTube video on any site. Upload video to YouTube, copy and paste the code under “Embed” button. That’s all you need to do in order to place video on a website. No mess with scripts, open-source players, codecs, exotic extensions or flash. Just upload a video and you are done. You can select player frame size and additional content. You can provide full video description, credits, adjust video if it lacks video editing. Finally, you need to pick up a thumbnail image and publish your video.


Despite of numerous YouTube video hosting advantages, there are several key drawbacks.


instantShift - Cons of YouTube Video

Limited Control Over Video

Video producers have limited control over its videos when they host them on YouTube. Each video can be suspended or removed from the platform if someone complains on it. Thus, you have to be 100% sure that your video does not interfere in any Google law or regulation. You have to review their policies and rules so your video can survive many years on this video sharing platform. One more disadvantage – a video may be downloaded with video ripping software available on the Internet. If you want to stick to online video format, many offline video copies is not what you desire. Sometimes videos may be unavailable if something happens to YouTube servers or some videos may be geo-restricted, e.g. not available worldwide.

Tons of Ads

YouTube places more and more ads inside and outside videos on YouTube. In fact, Google will make good profit out of your video and the service has no plans to share the revenue with you. As from user point of view, a video interrupted by commercials is irritating video ad. Usually people don’t like to watch videos with ads. So most of your site audience may dislike such behavior.

Traffic Loss

YouTube displays related videos next to yours. So a user may be distracted by another picture and can skip your website. Thus, you can lose your potential customers. Be ready to give the best content, so people can help watch it or go to your site directly.

Small Choice of Player Layouts

YouTube player is not design rich. You can pick up a design out of several templates. But if you need an exclusive player style or a player that matching a corporate design, YouTube is not helpful.


Self-Hosted Video


instantShift - Pros of Self-Hosted Video

Full Control Over Video

A self-hosed video give you with full control over video. It preserves your copyright over video content and allows you to place a permanent link to it. Besides, no one can ban or delete your video file. A self-hosted video is harder to download because regular ripping software rarely extracts videos from independent sites. Moreover, you can incorporate website analytics and track users actions instead of guesswork.

No Ads

Yes, with self-hosted video you pay for video hosting but you do not pitch any ads or external content to your site visitors. You keep your videos ad-free and attract attention only to the video essence. As a result, all users peacefully watch video content instead of fear.

All Traffic Belongs to You

Your site will be the ultimate source of video files. So if users share the file, they will provide the link to your site. Thus, you grow your site authority on the Internet not YouTube. Here you use all potential of viral link bait.

Beautiful Design

Self-hosted videos give you wide choice of video placement options. You can make a pop-up window with software like Video LightBox or regular embedded web-friendly video with the help of verious HTML5 Video Converters. Web players for stand alone videos enable you to enrich video with any design you dream about, add links or hints to your video, place subtitles or text below video file. Thus, a video file will look like the indispensable part of your web presence.



instantShift - Cons of Self-Hosted Video

Hosting Expenses

That’s true with self-hosted video, you have to pay for hosting. Probably, it’s not the best solution for frugal website owners.

Coding Skills Needed

You do need to know how to upload video to server or prepare video code. But thanks to modern and easy software like FancyBox, ShadowBox, Video LightBox, video embedding is the matter of several clicks and simple code copy-paste work.

Slow Video Playback

Slow playback is a typical problem of majority self-hosted videos. If ten thousand people are trying to watch your video at a time, it gets frozen, slowly loaded or just unavailable. Frankly speaking, it irritates and people quit watching it. That’s why you risk not get your idea in video format to web visitors.

No Additional Promotion

When you publish video on your site, your video is locked to your audience. But if place a video on YouTube, it will be easy to access to all YouTube fans via search box. Thus, self-hosed videos, limit your video exposure.


No matter which type of embedded videos you prefer, the key to success is to create positive feedback on your video file.

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  1. For me I prefer to use Youtube because self-hosted videos are very expensive, and won’t be as fast as on Youtube. Thanks for this great article.

  2. it better u add that conclution at the top of the article, cuase i think mostly all know rest of the things :)

  3. for self hosted videos, we love the videopress addon, dont have to worry about the costs of hosting the content, plus its extremely fast.

  4. Self hosted video needs good coding skills.

  5. as my opinion self hosted is better even beneficial for hosted website as well.

  6. i am getting seniors opinion and learning from your comment area as well as from article also. thanks

  7. Excellent article very useful to me.. Self hosted videos are good one.. Thanks….

  8. Very useful article.
    But yes, custom video players need custom coding.

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