As a recent student, I used to be able to sit through an entire 45–60-minute college lecture with rapt attention.
However, times have changed.
Nowadays, it is nearly impossible to watch an entire video of average length (15 to 20 minutes) in one sitting.
YouTube is an ideal platform to supercharge your marketing campaign, with a user base of over 2 billion and millions of hours of watch time every day.
By leveraging YouTube, you can boost brand awareness, generate leads, and convert viewers into paying customers.
However, there is one issue to consider: an increasing number of people are gravitating toward short-form videos.
This trend is backed up by the phenomenal rise of TikTok and Instagram videos.
In fact, even YouTube has introduced Shorts after seeing the huge popularity of short videos.
At the same time, YouTube has introduced the Key Moments feature to help viewers jump to the sections they are interested in and stay longer on the video page.
So, what exactly is the YouTube Key Moments feature, and how can it help you get more views?
In this article, we will answer these questions and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to add YouTube Key Moments to your videos.
What Are YouTube Key Moments?
YouTube Key Moments or Timestamps are used to divide long-form videos into chapters, linking viewers to key moments within the video.
Similar to the table of contents in a book or subheadings in a blog post, timestamps provide an organized structure to video content.
Timestamps are especially important in educational content, where the majority of users prefer to consume videos in short segments.
At our video agency we always clip long form videos into smaller clips that are posted on YouTube or other platforms as standalone videos.
Usually there is a 1 to 1 correspondence between these smaller edited clips and the chapters used on YouTube for the full length video.
So that’s another idea to can take home and create more video assets, if you are creating long form videos.
Viewers often seek out short, focused videos that specifically address their interests rather than watching longer videos that cover a broad range of topics.
For example, an individual in the market for a smart TV may only want to know about the top three products on the market rather than sitting through a video that discusses the top ten.
Timestamps allow viewers to quickly jump to the video section that interests them, instead of wasting time sifting through irrelevant content.
In fact, YouTube users often exhibit typical behavior such as skimming through content or abandoning videos after just a few seconds.
To combat this, YouTube introduced the ‘key moments’ feature in 2019, encouraging creators to add timestamps to their videos.
By adding key moments to a video, viewers will see small vertical marks on the video’s progress bar, which they can hover over to see the corresponding timestamp label.
Additionally, clickable timestamps are displayed in the video’s description section.
Interestingly, Google supports YouTube Key Moments and displays videos with chapter titles along with other search results.
The use of timestamps not only benefits viewers but also rewards creators by increasing engagement and watch time.
Timestamps are a crucial tool for optimizing video content on YouTube and enhancing user experience. In addition, both YouTube and Google reward the use of timestamps.
How Do YouTube Key Moments Get You More Views
The benefits of adding Key Moments to your videos extend far beyond the YouTube platform.
Not only can timestamps improve your video’s ranking on YouTube, but they can also boost your ranking on Google’s search results page.
While YouTube Key Moments may seem like a small and insignificant feature compared to other video optimization and marketing strategies, it can significantly enhance your video’s performance.
Let’s find out how.
Boosts Search Engine Ranking
Google is undeniably the most widely-used search engine, even for video searches.
Therefore, ranking on the first page of Google search results is still one of the best ways to gain more exposure, drive traffic, and generate views for your videos.
But how can you improve your Google ranking using video timestamps?
The answer is simple. Longer videos often contain multiple key moments such as different sections, valuable information, and various topics.
However, even the latest Google search algorithm is not sophisticated enough to search and read the content within videos.
As a result, the algorithm ranks videos based on the information provided in the title and description, and you may miss out on viewers searching for specific information hidden within your video.
A few years ago, Google started showing video Key Moments in search results, which has four distinct SEO benefits.
- First, adding video timestamps provides more information to the search algorithm, allowing it to better understand and organize your video content.
- Second, your videos can rank for keywords or phrases that appear in the video timestamp and label.
- Third, Google search users can jump right to the relevant section of the content, without being deterred by the video’s length.
- Lastly, your videos may also appear under the ‘People Also Ask’ section, leading to more clicks and views if a video key moment or its label matches the user’s query.
In the case of YouTube videos, Google analyzes the content and automatically assigns key moments based on the video’s title and description.
However, these generated timestamps may not always be a good fit for your content.
To counter this, you can mark important points, assign labels, and make Google show the ‘Key Moments’ of your choice.
Enhances User Experience
In the past, searching for specific information in a lengthy video was a tedious and dull process.
Viewers who attempted to find elusive information would often skip the rest of the content and never return to the video due to poor user experience.
But with YouTube Key Moments, losing viewers is a thing of the past.
Timestamps simplify the viewer’s life and make searching for information more fruitful.
When viewers can instantly find the information they are looking for, they are more likely to stay on the page and may even return to watch the remainder of the content.
This is a win for both the video content creator and the viewer.
Furthermore, Key Moments improve your reach and make your content more accessible to those with visual and hearing impairments.
This is because screen readers can read out ‘video timestamps and labels’ that appear on the Google search results page.
Improves YouTube Metrics and Performance
When it comes to YouTube, viewers often have limited time and patience.
They may only be interested in a specific part of the video and are unlikely to watch the entire thing.
This is where timestamps come in.
By directing viewers to the most relevant sections of the video, timestamps provide three important benefits:
Improved watch time metric: Viewers are more likely to stay on your video longer if they can quickly find the information they need.
Increased view count: Clicks on timestamps are counted as separate views, which can improve your overall view count.
Better engagement: Viewers who are captivated by a particular chapter of your video are more likely to come back and watch the rest of the key moments, resulting in more views and better engagement.
How to Add Key Moments/Chapters to Your YouTube Video
By creating timestamps for your videos, you can enjoy all the benefits mentioned above without investing too much time.
The process is quick and straightforward, requiring only knowledge of the specific time (hours, minutes, and seconds) when each chapter begins and following YouTube’s guidelines.
Fortunately, adding YouTube Key Moments to your videos is not a tedious task and can be accomplished in several ways. Here are two of the simplest methods:
Creating Video Chapters Automatically
When it comes to video marketing, time is money and a very valuable commodity. If you don’t have the time to manually add timestamps, YouTube can generate Key Moments for you. Here’s how to do it from the YouTube Studio section:
- Log in to your YouTube account and open YouTube Studio.
- Scroll down and click on the Settings link on the left-hand side of the page.
- Look for the Upload Defaults section and select Advanced Settings.
- Go through the list of Automatic Settings until you find the line “Allow automatic chapters and key moments.” Check this box.
- Save the changes and exit YouTube Studio.
YouTube will automatically generate timestamps where it deems necessary. You can revert back to the default settings at any time, and you can also override YouTube’s actions by manually adding timestamps to your video.
Including YouTube Key Moments in the Video Description Section
Let’s take an example of a video that’s already on your YouTube channel. Follow these steps to add chapters to it:
- Log in to your YouTube account and click on your profile picture. Select “YouTube Studio” from the drop-down menu.
- On the YouTube Studio page, check the left column and click on the “Content” icon to see the existing videos on your channel.
- Select the video you want to add chapters to and click on the “Edit” icon (or the vertical ellipsis button) and choose “Edit Title and Description.”
- In the “Video Details” page, enable chapters by listing the key moments of the video in the “Description” box.
- To add chapters, you need to know the starting point of each chapter and its title (label). You can place the “Key Moments” text block anywhere in the description. The text block can be preceded or followed by other text.
Follow these rules to enable YouTube Key Moments:
- Timestamps must follow the format Hour:Minute:Second. Drop the “hour” section if the video is less than 1 hour long.
- Each line should have only one key moment (chapter). Specify the timestamp and label it in the same line.
- Always start the “YouTube Key Moments” block at 00:00.
- Assign a title, label, or some text to each timestamp. Keep it brief but descriptive. The label should not exceed 40 characters.
- Arrange the timestamps in chronological order.
- The video must have at least 3 chapters, and each chapter must be at least 10 seconds long.
- There is no maximum limit to the number of chapters you can add, but it’s best to have no more than 10 chapters per video.
Save the changes and log out. When you play the video again, you’ll see the key moments marked in the progress bar and the timestamps in the description section.
Introducing YouTube Key Moments makes perfect sense.
Who has time to watch a long-form video from start to finish these days? Most video marketers don’t, and neither does your target audience.
By utilizing Key Moments (timestamps and chapters), you can ensure that your quality content is not overlooked.
This YouTube feature improves user experience and accessibility, leading to more views, likes, comments, and shares.
In addition to enhancing the viewer’s experience, this is an excellent video optimization technique that can improve your YouTube and Google rankings, driving more traffic to your videos.
Best of all, adding timestamps is a breeze, so you can quickly implement this strategy and start seeing results.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.