Highlights arrived on Google search in late 2019. They are a feature that allows for broad, visible video results and clickable links to every song in your video. In practice, this means that there can be not just one link in the video input box, but dozens. Show highlights from your videos in search results, you need to know how to stamp the video.

This is clearly very effective for SEO. This means you can make sure that many, if not most, of your first conversion page links point to your content target. This allows you to capture a huge portion of the vote for competitive queries, assuming you video content can be ranked them.

The image shows video search results with YouTube videos at key times
How your video could show up in search results if you add highlights to it.

The right video content in this context is longer-form tutorials or discussions – videos that are well-suited to the chapters. This can be a good prompt to start thinking about investing in a video series or a podcast if you haven’t already.

Catch this “Key Moments” feature, so far it only works on YouTube videos. So you’re stuck uploading users to your video on a YouTube website or app rather than your website. However, Google has deployed the infrastructure (via the “Clip” schema) so that this feature can be deployed more widely in the future. They have already extended the use of Key Moments to a few selected websites. For now, you need to be part of this exclusive experiment to set the highlights in private videos. Otherwise, all you have to do is accept the restriction and optimize your video on YouTube.

Add timestamps (songs) to YouTube videos

The good news is that if well-optimized content is available on YouTube, all you have to do is add timestamps to capture your YouTube videos to take advantage of this feature.

1. Write a list of timestamps (chapters) in the video description

Adding timestamps is very simple. In addition to getting highlights in Google Search, it ensures that your videos show chapters (links that allow users to navigate to specific moments) on the YouTube platform.

To add timestamps to your YouTube video, you’ll need to edit the description details in the video details. Enter the time codes for each section of the video anywhere in this description as a list when you want a new chapter to appear. Then write the name of this chapter next to each time code (see example below):

The image shows adding timestamps to your YouTube video by editing the video description
Enter your timestamp in the video field of your YouTube video, e.g. ‘0:42 Lighting’.

You can add as many of these timestamps with the corresponding chapter headings as you want. For videos longer than an hour, post-hourly timestamps can be expressed by two colons, e.g., 1:34:56. You can make titles for as long as you want (although I recommend keeping less than 50 characters so you don’t break titles).

It’s really that simple. Chapter titles are also “Key Moments” when they appear in a Google search. So it may be wise to think of titles that are likely to generate clicks, based on the overall purpose of the user behind the optimized keyword (s).

2. Click Save.

Once you’ve done this, just press the Save button and you’re all set to go. The next time you watch a video on YouTube, you’ll notice that the playback bar is split. You will also see links to the right of the time indicator. Clicking on these will take you to the beginning of the next chapter.

An image showing timestamp indicators in the YouTube video playback bar
If there are such segments in the playback bar of your YouTube video, you have successfully added timestamps and are eligible to retrieve key moments.

In general, timestamps should be added to points that make sense for general navigation and ease of consumption. Moments when the topic changes or there is a break in the discussion are a good choice. If you need more help, check out your audience persistence chart in YouTube Analytics. Any points where you see a “peak” indicating an increase in engagement are probably good points to start the chapter.

And that’s it! Once you’ve added timestamps and chapters to your YouTube video description, it can now receive Highlights links on Google Search.

Add key moments to videos your website

But how can you benefit from Key Moments for your own website? Is it possible drive traffic there instead of YouTube? Unfortunately not, unless you are part of the selected sites that are currently on the whitelist for this feature. However, there’s no harm in installing things so that in the future you can take advantage of this feature if and when Google opens it up to a wider network.

To optimize the videos on your website, you need to implement structured data, especially the Schema.org “clip” feature, either through the microdata in the body of the page or through the JSON-LD of the head.

First, in addition to the standard information needed to optimize the video (details here), you need to add hasPart and Clip information.

If you use microdata, it looks like this:

  <div itemprop="hasPart" itemtype="http://schema.org/Clip" itemscope>
    <meta itemprop="name" content="Cat jumps" />
    <meta itemprop="startOffset" content="30" />
    <meta itemprop="endOffset" content="45" />
    <meta itemprop="url" content="http://www.example.com/example?t=30" />

And if you’re using JSON-LD, it should look like this:

"hasPart": [{
        "@type": "Clip",
        "name": "Cat jumps",
        "startOffset": 30,
        "endOffset": 45,
        "url": "http://www.example.com/example?t=30"

Note that both implementations require a start and end definition (startOffset & endOffset). This differs from the implementation as described in YouTube, where you only need to specify the beginning of the chapter, and the length is determined by the time elapsed in the next chapter.

The URL you specify here is also very important so that users can be sent directly to the right place in the video. Many, but not all, video platforms allow you to specify this with a URL parameter. For example, with Wistia, if you paste a parameter into a wtime URL (e.g. Example.com/blog-post?wtime=34), this will drop you to the beginning of the clip.

YouTube does not currently have a feature that allows you to change the start time of an embedded video by default using your website’s URL parameter. Therefore, if you want to implement a clipping template on your website so you can take advantage of key moments if and when more are available for open network sites, you may want to use a video service platform other than YouTube.

Want to know more about video search engine optimization? See Phil tips for improving your online video strategy In the Yoast SEO podcast.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here