How to Harness YouTube Key Moments to Promote Your Videos

promote videos with youtube key moments

Since Google first rolled them out in 2019, YouTube key moments have held an amazing potential for video creators to promote their content

For many popular topics, videos take top spots in Google results. Consequently, they get a lot of traffic. You might have noticed that many of these videos have key moments – which helps them rank this high.

But how exactly do key moments work on YouTube and in Google? Are they generated automatically – or do you have to add them? And most importantly: How can you harness them to promote your own videos? 

Here’s the stitch. 

timeline key moments icon

What Are YouTube Key Moments?

To start with, it’s easiest to think of key moments as the “highlights” of your video. They mark points in your timeline that deal with particular topics or respond to particular questions

Typically, key moments show up as timestamps and a title to describe that section in your video. 

In addition, key moments from videos sometimes appear in its “people also ask” section. If you can answer a common question well, this can drive even more traffic to your channel. 

As you’ll see in the image below, they might actually include the relevant bit of transcript.

On YouTube itself, key moments don’t appear in search results. However, they will show up in your video description, and, if you fulfill certain conditions, in your video’s progress bar.

youtube key moments can also appear in "People also ask" and "Related videos" on Google results
Key moments also appear in "People also ask" and "Related videos" in Google results.

How Do Key Moments Promote Your Video?

Key moments help your videos rank higher in search results, and thus drive traffic to your content. That’s because the extra info helps Google decide if your content is a good fit for certain searches. 

Likewise, YouTube key moments also make life easier for your viewers. In an instant, they can see whether your video can give them what they’re looking for. If so, a single click takes them directly to that point in the video.  

Because people know what they’re in for when they start watching your video, key moments make for better engagement scores. This means fewer downvotes and more shares, which YouTube’s algorithm rewards with higher rank in the site’s search and recommendations.

Where do they come from?

But how does Google find those key moments? 

Basically, there are two ways to getting those juicy timestamps. 

The first is to kick the ball into Google’s court. The search engine will try to automatically detect key moments in your video when you upload it, so that it can display them to users.

The downside: While this algorithm is constantly improving, it might fail or simply not present your video segments in the way you want it to

The second way is to manually set key moments. This tells Google exactly where and what the most important points in your video are. 

Doing this is actually pretty simple. You just have to include timestamps and key moment labels in your video description, formatted in a certain way. In the next section, we’ll show you exactly how to do this.

This is the description of the video from the intro. It has manual Key Moments.

How to Add Key Moments and Chapters to Your Youtube Video

Here’s how you can set your own key moments on a video. It’s actually pretty simple, as you just have to place timestamps in the video description in a certain way. This guide will show you exactly how to do that.

We’re assuming you’re doing this on a video that’s already on your channel, as you can also add chapters during the upload process on YouTube.

Sign into YouTube Studio

Log into your YouTube account and switch to YouTube Studio using the link under your profile picture.

open youtube studio

Select Content on the left

To see all your content, choose Content from the left navigation menu. You’ll see all your existing videos, both published and not. For this example, we will add key moments and chapters to an existing video, though you could also upload a new one.

youtube studio content menu

Open the description

Hover over a video to see the edit buttons (see image). Now, either click the pencil icon to go to your video’s Details, or click the three-dot icon to Edit title and description.

Either way lets you edit the description, and that’s all we need.

open video description

Add timestamps and descriptions

Identify the different sections of your video. For example: “Introduction”, “Main point 1″, Main point 2” … “Conclusion”. Note when each starts, and give them a short label so that viewers know what to expect.

Now simply add the timestamps and labels in the video description. You can place them anywhere in the description, but there are a few rules to observe:

  • Give the timestamp in hour:minute:second format (e. g., 01:13:22). You don’t need the hour part before the 1-hour mark.
  • Only one key moment timestamp per line.
  • You have to add some text on this line.
To enable chapters, you need to satisfy some additional conditions:
  • You must begin with 00:00
  • Timestamps must be in chronological order.
  • Chapters need to be at least 10 seconds long.
  • You need at least 3 chapters.
add key moment timestamps in description

Check out your video

Click the video URL to see your video as it will appear on the page. And there you go: Our key moment timestamps are automatically linked, and we can even see the chapters in the video progress bar.

With a bit of luck, your video timestamps can now also appear as Google results.

Final Tip: When choosing labels for your timestamps, keep the keywords you identified for YouTube SEO and your metadata in mind.

youtube key moments 5

The Bottom Line

Overall, it’s worth taking the time and effort to add key moments to your videos

For one, they’ll help you rank higher in Google results. For another, they’ll improve the viewer experience, give your video metrics a lift, and make your videos more visible on YouTube itself.

Ready to give professional video editing a shot?

Key moments separate a video into segments, similar to how chapters separate a book. Key moments create a more engaging experience by allowing viewers to navigate through Video Chapters.

Video Chapters are the video equivalent of chapters in a book. They separate a YouTube video into labeled sections with a timestamps and allow viewers to easily skip between sections of the video.

YouTube automatically tries to detect the segments in the video and separate the key moments. However, you can also add your own key moments by adding video chapters to the YouTube video’s description.

Automatically added video chapters can be edited within YouTube Studio.

To manually add chapters to your description, follow these guidelines:

  1. First timestamp: starts with 00:00
  2. Minimum timestamps required: 3
  3. Minimum timestamp length: 10 seconds

4.3/5 – (15 votes)

4.3/5 - (15 votes)


  • Alex Lefkowitz

    Alex Lefkowitz is the founder and CEO of Tasty Edits. He holds a BA in Entrepreneurship and is an experienced video editor, having edited hundreds of videos for dozens of creators before starting his own video editing company. Since launching Tasty Edits, he has directly managed thousands of video and thumbnail orders. Now, he draws on his experience working with professional creators to write about video editing, the creator economy, and video marketing. You can also read his work on Hackernoon and Medium. Plus, he's contributed several expert opinions in interviews and articles as a guest on platforms like Jotform.

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