Optimize YouTube’s Automatic Chapters for SEO

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What are YouTube Chapters?

YouTube first launched video chapters at the end of 2020 to solve for the trend of creators adding timestamps to their video descriptions. Integrating chapters into the video itself allows viewers to quickly skim through a video by scrolling through section titles and thumbnails.

Last month, YouTube updated the chapters integration to automatically create chapters within newly uploaded, eligible videos through machine learning. This bypasses the need for creators to select chapter sections and generate titles themselves. However, YouTube did not specify what makes a video eligible or ineligible other than stating that accounts with strikes or inappropriate content won’t qualify.

At Fratzke, we recommend that midsize businesses take advantage of YouTube chapters not only to improve the viewing experience for your subscribers, but also to infuse more SEO keywords into the video description. We’ll dive into the pros and cons of automatic versus manual chapters in the following sections.

If your midsize business is searching for a partner to maximize the views and engagement of your video content, schedule a 1-on-1 free consultation with Fratzke today.

Benefits of Automatic Video Chapters

The biggest advantage of opting in for automatic video chapters is the time you’ll save in the long run. Rather than parsing through each video upload, selecting sections, and defining them within each video’s description, YouTube will automatically do the heavy lifting for you.

That said, this removes the ability to strategically select ideal keywords for your business’ SEO strategy. Additionally, as it’s currently unclear which videos are eligible for automatic updates and how long YouTube takes to incorporate chapters, this track leaves a lot up to the unknown.

How to Opt In to Automatic Video Chapters

       1. Sign in to YouTube Studio on your desktop or laptop
       2. Go to the video you want to edit
       3. Select Edit Video under the video
       4. Click Show More
       5. Make sure the checkbox “Allow automatic chapters (when available and eligible)” is            checked. By default, this box will be checked for all new uploads.

Benefits of Adding YouTube Chapters Yourself

By taking the YouTube chapters reigns into your own hands, you have the ability to ensure your video is watched and found exactly how you want it to be.

From an SEO perspective, you can select keywords that you know your audience will search for when looking for your content. This can lead to increased views and ultimately, more organic traffic to your account and website.

Additionally, selecting sections yourself lets you optimize the viewing experience for your audience. If there are certain sections you want your audience to pay attention to, call them out!


How to Add YouTube Chapters

       1. Sign in to YouTube Studio on your computer
       2. Go to the video you want to edit
       3. Select Edit Video under the video
       4. In the “Description” box of the “Video details” page, add a list of timestamps and titles
       5. Make sure that the first timestamp you list starts with 00:00
       6. Your video should have at least three timestamps listed in ascending order
       7. The minimum length for video chapters is 10 seconds

Looking for a digital marketing partner to elevate your midsize business YouTube strategy?

Schedule your free consultation with one of our experts today!


Alex Dersch

Jr. Manager, Content & SEO

8.5.2021

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