YouTube Video Chapters: How to Add Timestamps To YouTube Videos

YouTube was created in 2005, and it continues to grow rapidly as a convenient and reliable source for entertainment, information and more. In fact, the popular video platform is the second most visited site in the world with over 30 million users per day and over 2 billion users per month!

YouTube has proven to be beneficial in marketing as well. Videos provide a fun and engaging way for your brand to get in touch with viewers and not just tell, but show your brand story. YouTube creates endless opportunities for organizations to get in touch with new audiences and for your brand’s videos to be shared with others ultimately boosting SEO and driving traffic to your site. But, none of this matters if users can’t find your videos or the information you’re selling.

At Blue Compass, we offer online video services and are constantly keeping up with and learning the ever-changing best practices of video marketing. One of the more prominent features we’ve been introduced to and have begun to implement for our clients are YouTube video chapters.

What are timestamps on YouTube?

YouTube video chapters, or timestamps, break up videos into sections and provide an individual preview for each of them. When a user clicks on a timestamp, they are immediately taken to the part of the video that timestamp is linked to. They allow users to quickly and easily skim videos for the information they’re looking for without having to watch the entire video. 

Screenshot of timestamps on YouTube.

The Advantages of YouTube Timestamps

Uploaded YouTube videos are longer than ever before, and keeping viewers engaged from start to finish can be challenging. Especially in today’s fast-paced environment where many of us aren’t willing, or simply don’t have the time to sit through a 10 to 20 minute video. Adding chapters to your YouTube videos provides users the option to skip to relevant parts.

YouTube Video Chapters Benefit SEO

When you upload a video to YouTube, there’s a few pieces of information to fill out, including a title and a description. In addition to your website’s content, the title and description of your video provides opportunities to include desired keywords you’re ranking for or want to compete for. Chapters in YouTube videos are added to the description when implemented giving you even more moments to fit those keywords in.

YouTube video chapters also assist Google in crawling your content. Timestamps tell Google what your video is about without ever having to go into YouTube. By clearly providing the content of your video in a short and organized way, your videos will be crawled more quickly and you’ll increase your chances of ranking higher in search results. Additionally, YouTube timestamps create more opportunities to rank in featured snippets offering your brand more credibility and visibility in search. Below is an example of what that would look like in search results.

YouTube Timestamps in Search Results

YouTube Video Chapters Enhance The User Experience

When your video is shown in search results, a feature called Key Moments highlights the chapters of your videos. Users can quickly scan these chapters and immediately know what your video is about before they even click on it. If a user chooses to watch your video but only wants to view one chapter, they can click on that moment and will be taken directly to the portion of the video. This allows users to find relevant information they’re searching for in a fast and convenient way.

YouTube timestamps are also an excellent way to provide users with hearing or vision disabilities that use screen readers a way to better understand your video and enjoy it.

Chapters will also appear on embedded videos. If you have videos embedded on pages on your website, users are able to skip through the chapters directly on your page. This makes your pages more user-friendly and useful to users.

How do I add timestamps to my YouTube video?

To add timestamps to your YouTube videos, simply log into your account and choose the video you want to edit. Timestamps can then be added to the bottom of your description. Our experts walk you through the steps below:

  1. Choose the video you want to implement YouTube timestamps for.
  2. Watch through the video to determine key moments. These will become your chapters that you’ll create timestamps for.
  3. Go into the editing portion of YouTube creator studio. This is where you will write your chosen timestamps. Timestamps should be written in the description of your video at the very bottom.
  4. Type “TIMESTAMPS” in the bottom of the description. Below “TIMESTAMPS” is where you can begin to add your timestamps in a list format.
  5. Type in the time of where your timestamp begins in the video in a “00:00” format, click space, and then type the title you’ve chosen for that timestamp chapter. Repeat below for the next chapter.
  6. Once all timestamps have been added, click save! Your timestamps will automatically link to the time you’ve chosen for each chapter.

Determining Chapters in YouTube Videos

Determining your YouTube video chapter is the most important part of the process. It’s almost like thinking about what headings you’d add to a page on your website or blog. You’ll want to put yourself in the viewer’s shoes and think about what it is they want to get out of your video, while also incorporating those valuable keywords you want to rank for.

It’s an extra bonus if your chapters have SEO value and answer questions users are searching for online. For example, if you’re creating a video outline that you want to be SEO-friendly, we recommend conducting keyword and topic research. Look for the questions people are searching for about the topic your video will cover and outline your video to answer those questions. This will ensure your Key Moments are valuable to users and increase your chances in search results because they will cover the information people are looking for.

Watch the video and note topics that are covered that would be most notable for watchers. These are often questions that are asked and immediately answered in your video, or simply changes in main topics that are valuable to viewers.

YouTube Timestamp Best Practices

Like all things, there are rules and best practices to follow when creating and implementing YouTube timestamps. These will be important to keep up-to-date with as the digital world continues to grow and change rapidly. To help, we share an example of a client’s YouTube video that our team implemented timestamps for. Follow the rules and format below to get the most out of your YouTube video chapters:

  • TIMESTAMPS (You’ll add this part and customize for every video)
  • 00:00 Should I Be Taking Vitamins if I Have Macular Degeneration? (Always start with 00:00 and use the main topic of the video)
  • 00:22 Wet vs. Dry Macular Degeneration (There needs to always be at least 10 seconds between each chapter/timestamp)
  • 00:43 Types of Vitamins for Macular Degeneration (There needs to be at least 3 timestamps)
  • 01:12 Benefits of Taking Vitamins for Macular Degeneration

Why won’t my timestamps show on my YouTube video?

Once implemented, you may experience a delay in your timestamps showing. Sometimes you need to wait a few minutes for them to appear. This goes for the SEO benefits of YouTube timestamps as well. SEO takes time and positive results won’t be immediate, but that doesn’t mean your videos aren’t more valuable.

Try YouTube Timestamps and Take Your Videos to The Next Level

If YouTube videos are a part of your organization’s digital marketing strategy, enhance their usability and performance with YouTube timestamps. There are many potential benefits to using timestamps and no disadvantages. If you don’t utilize videos and want to take your digital presence to the next level or simply have questions about online videos, the best length for videos, how to create unique and compelling video content, our online video experts can help! It’s our goal to bring your ideas to life. Contact us for a free quote today.

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Kevin McMurray

Kevin McMurray is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Blue Compass. He enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on Cyclones sports and leisure sports.