It used to be so simple, up until several months ago you could take the standard YouTube embed code and just add &vq=HD1080 or &vq=HD720 to the video embed URL and you would have an embedded HD version of the YouTube video you were trying to embed. The problem is this method no longer works and hasn’t for some time and even with those parameters the video will default to SD resolution in the video embed.
You can tell because in the above embedded video where I am using the same flags, you do not see an HD symbol in the settings gear and if you click on the settings gear you can see the standard resolution embed.
So, I have no easy trick for you to embed YouTube videos in HD format in WordPress, but I did find one plugin which does the trick that still works. The problem is that it does convert the YouTube link to Shortcode and I am not a huge fan of shortcode for embeds, but there are many benefits for this plugin called Embed Plus for WordPress which is completely free.
After you install and activate the plugin you now have a new button in your WordPress post editor, when clicking on this button it will ask you to input the YouTube video URL.
Just do that and click next as in the picture below
Now if you do nothing else and just want the video to be HD embedded, just click on the Default to hi-definition? if possible and this works, you will see in the same video embedded later in the article that the HD symbol shows. Also it is best to click Calculate Best-Fit Height and let it auto choose the right height for the video.
But you can see so much more is an option, you can start and stop the video at specific times, add chapter markers and even add annotations and clickable links to the embed of your video! There are also several PRO options if you want the premium version of the plugin as well.
Just click “Get Code” when you have what you want configured and paste the shortcode into your Wordrpess editor and the video will display like below, this time you will see the HD symbol with the settings showing that it is in HD.
[embedplusvideo height=”367″ width=”600″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1yIKs6i” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/8cGlMCWNFfY?fs=1&vq=hd720″ vars=”ytid=8cGlMCWNFfY&width=600&height=367&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=1&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep9762″ /]
This is one meethod of embedding YouTube video in HD in WordPress though it is more manual and requires a plugin and shortcode it works.