Ultimate Guide To Using Stock Videos On WordPress Sites

Ultimate Guide To Using Stock Videos On WordPress Sites

Using videos as homepage backgrounds have been surging in popularity in recent years. Doing it right and using a great video will really make a memorable impression on your users. But performance-dragging videos will deal a direct blow to your conversion rates.

We’re going to cover everything you need to know about using background videos but first, let’s start off with a complete list of websites where you can get amazing stock videos for free.

Top websites:

1. Coverr – A joint project by CodersClan and Veed.me, this is our favorite one at Zen WP, mainly because of the quality.

2. Pexels – Known primarily for their stock photos, but their video collection’s quality is just as good.

3. Videvo – It’s safe to say that Videvo is the most popular site in this category. That’s because of the sheer number of videos they have and the diversity of their selection.

4. Videezy – This is the runner-up to Videvo because of their wide selection but I think anyone will be able to find better quality videos elsewhere if you take the time to browse smaller sites like Coverr.

5. Free HD Footage – As the name implies, they have HD videos. What people most love about this site, however, is all their aerial footage videos.

6. Mazwai – Their website isn’t as easy to navigate as others but don’t overlook this one. Mazwai is your go-to site for time lapse nature videos.

7. X Stock Video – Most of their videos are free but the only reason why this website deserves a mention is because they’re one of the few sites with HD videos. You do have to pay for them, however. The good news is that they’re cheap ($1-$3).

8. Plixs – Lots of great quality urban videos that don’t look too tacky.

9. Stock Footage For Free – This is one to keep in your back pocket. They have some gems and some hard to find videos like medical videos but you’ll generally save more time looking elsewhere.

10. Life of Vids – High resolution videos created by an advertising agency. Few are very nice but there seems to be a lot of videos that aren’t really usable by most people.

11. Distill – HD videos. The nature videos are excellent but others are a bit dull.

12. Splashbase – Lots of eye-catching videos.

13. HD Stock Footage Group on Vimeo – Not many people know about this Vimeo Group but they have some of the most amazing footage you’ll find on this list.

14. Orange HD – This is a YouTube channel with free stock videos of nature. The collection’s quality is average.

15. /r/footage and /r/stockfootage – These are both very active subreddits that are worth following. You’ll always find a user submitted page of amazing stock videos from around the web.

Not worth digging through but just in case:

1. Vidsplay

2. Beachfront B-Roll

3. Clip Canvas

Now that you’ve got a complete list of resources where you can find stock videos, here’s the right way to use them:

Videos Will Slow Down Your Site

Everyone knows that videos affect a website’s load time, and this is a huge problem. Why?

Longer load times have a direct correlation to increases in bounce rates. That’s because visitors who come across your site and find that it’s dragging them down will just leave. And you won’t have even given your web copy a chance to convert them!

Every second counts. In fact, Kissmetrics published a really nice infographic showing exactly how much each second matters.

That’s not the end of it though. If your webpages load too slowly, Google’s SEO algorithm will punish you for it too.

So how do you check to see how much a video is slowing down your page? We recommend a tool provided by Pingdom.

You can enter a URL into Pingdom’s tool and it will spit out various stats about the page. The best feature is the chart that lists every element of that page in load order. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s that long chart that looks like a Gantt chart (but isn’t).

To show you how much a video can slow down a website, let’s use Pingdom’s tool on Smithfield Foods’ website, a Fortune 500 company. Here’s what Pingdom shows us about Smithfield’s background video:

Smithfield Foods homepage load time

The background video’s file is 6MB and it takes up more than 75% of the website’s load time!

Now let’s compare those results to Zen WP’s homepage using Pingdom’s tool:

Zen WP homepage load time

The video file being used on Zen WP’s homepage is 4.7 MB and takes up less than 40% of the page’s load time.

It’s good to note however, that even though Zen WP is using industry best practices like making sure the video is under 5 MB in order to decrease the effect it has on load time, videos will naturally have a huge impact on speed. Imagine how much faster Zen WP’s homepage would load without the video in the first place.

That brings me to the last point:

Reducing Video Load Times

Before you implement a background video, there are certain steps you need to take to make sure your videos don’t slow down your site too much.

Best practices:

  • Keep the video length under 15 seconds if it’s on auto-play.
  • Don’t let the video’s file size exceed 5 MB.
  • Avoid HD if possible.
  • Never use more than one video on the same page.
  • Don’t use sound.
  • Use a caching plug in.

Even if you follow the industry’s best practices, there TONS of other factors that may have an effect on load times.

For example, if your hosting server is slow, you might have to look to hosting your background video through a different provider like Vimeo Pro. But if the slowness can be attributed to the fact that you’re on a shared hosting plan, you might need to either upgrade your hosting plan or move to a different host that can offer better server performance for shared hosting plans.

WordPress Limitations

Remember when I said that videos will naturally have a huge impact on speed? That’s not entirely true.

There are ways to make it so that videos will have a very minimal effect on your load time but many of these advanced methods are quite difficult to implement on WordPress sites that use anything other than a custom theme, as you might have to make some changes to your theme’s core files.

If you’re interested, there is a lot of literature out there on the myriad options that are available.

But if you’re not experienced or confident in altering some of your core files, using a caching plug would be the next step and the next best option to reduce your load times.

Was Anything Left Out?

If you have some good stock video sites that should be added to the list on this post, feel free to email me or post the URL in the comment section below.

If you have any questions, I’ll be checking in once in a while to answer those as well.

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