September 30, 2021
How to Timestamp YouTube Videos – Add Chapters to a Progress Bar

How to Timestamp YouTube Videos – Add Chapters to a Progress Bar

Timestamps or chapter markers can help viewers navigate YouTube videos easily. This feature is particularly useful if you have a YouTube channel.

When you break your videos into chapters, each section will have individual previews to enable viewers to skip to specific segments that they want to re-watch.

In this post, I will show you exactly how to timestamp YouTube videos and add chapters to them. The good news is that you can timestamp both existing and new videos on your channel. Plus, you can add timestamps to YouTube videos whether you use a mobile device or your computer.

Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at the advantages of adding timestamps and chapters to your videos.

Why You Should Use Timestamps in Your YouTube Videos

Two major benefits are associated with adding a timestamp link or chapters feature to your videos. These include:

1. Improved User Experience

Imagine that someone searches for How to use Formulas and Functions in Google Sheets and a link to your 1-hour long YouTube video shows up.

They watch the entire video that includes an intro, various tips, an outro, and many other details that are not relevant to their query. In the end, only five minutes of the entire video gives a clear answer to their question.

Wouldn’t it be better if the search result provided a shortcut to link them directly to the part of your 1-hour long video with the direct answer to their question?

By the end of this post, you will have learned how to timestamp YouTube videos to help improve your viewers’ user experience so they can easily link to and watch exactly what they are looking for.

Increased Visibility on Search Engines

In addition to helping viewers navigate your videos quickly, adding timestamps to your videos can improve your video marketing by making them rank higher in search engine results.

YouTube videos with chapters are more prominent in featured snippets. This is because Google tends to reward this level of interactivity since it provides more focused traffic, and it makes your content more user-friendly.

Chapter descriptions that feature keywords can further increase the chances of the videos showing up in a featured snippet because these SEO elements create easily understandable structures for Google. An example is shown in the image below.

microsoft excel tutorial search query in google search engine

How to Timestamp YouTube Videos

  1. Play your video and identify the times when new sections start.
  2. Make a note of each of the sections and reference the time.
  3. Go to the YouTube description area and add the times and notes (titles or descriptions of each section), making sure your first video timestamp starts at 0:00.
  4. Save the updates.

Check out this video and notice the use of timestamps. Here’s how the chapters are organized:

0:00 – Intro
0:49 – Basic Math Formulas
3:35 – Starting with the SUM Function in Google Sheets
7:05 – The COUNT function
8:50 – AVERAGE, MEDIAN and MODE functions
10:32 – MIN and MAX functions in Google Sheets
11:19 – Functions and Formulas with Date and Time in Google Sheets
14:04 – Using Formulas to Combine Columns
15:44 – If Statements in Google Sheets
19:01 – How to use VLOOKUP in Google Sheets
22:12 – Conditional Functions (SUMIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIF etc.)

Tips for Adding a Valid Timestamp Description

The chapters you add to your YouTube videos are not likely to display correctly if the timestamp description is not valid. Thankfully, adding a specific timestamp link description is not rocket science. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Your video should have a minimum of three timestamps and a maximum of 25 listed in ascending order. For example, you can’t add a timestamp at the 10:20 mark of your video and then have another at the 02:05 mark. The correct order should be the earlier mark before a later mark.
  • Each chapter must have a minimum length of 10 seconds. For example, if you timestamp at the 10:20 mark, your next timestamp should be at least 10:30 and not before.
  • Make sure your timestamp starts at 0:00 or 00:00.
  • The format for adding a timestamp should be something like this: Timestamp – Description. For example, “1:18 – Upload PowerPoint to YouTube”.

How to Timestamp YouTube URLs

You can add a timestamp to the uniform resource locator (URL) of your YouTube video. This is particularly useful if you want to send the timestamp link for a specific segment or section of the video.

A YouTube URL can look like this: “youtube.com/” or “youtu.be/” Here is how to timestamp a YouTube link in either format.

“Youtube.com/” Format

Add an ampersand (&) to the URL link followed by the number of seconds in this format: &t=Xs. In this case:

  • “t” stands for time
  • “X” stands for the number of seconds
  • “s” stands for seconds

For example, to add a timestamp to your video URL at the 30-second mark, you will simply add “&t=30s”

Applying the above practice to this URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8qePWuYleg will make it look like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8qePWuYleg&t=30s

You can specify the URL timestamp in minutes or hours with the format: &t=XmYs. In this case:

  • “X” represents minutes
  • “Y” represents seconds

To send the above video link so that it automatically starts playing at the 10-minute and 45-second mark, simply add “&t=10m45s” like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8qePWuYleg&t=10m45s

“Youtu.be/” Format

The same principle applies to the YouTube URLs with the “youtu.be” format except the timestamp starts with a question mark (?).

For example, to timestamp the URL at 30 seconds into a video simply add “?t=30s” and to skip to 10 minutes and 45 seconds, add “?t=10m45s” to the link.

Does Your Video Need Chapters?

person holding tablet and watching videos on youtube
Image source: Pexels

To end this article, I’ll like to quickly add that timestamps or chapters might not be suitable for all types of YouTube videos.

If you’ve just learned how to timestamp YouTube videos, the temptation to add chapters to all your videos might be strong. Before you do so, however; here are a few suggestions to consider:

  1. Video chapters are better suited for long-form, educational, and how-to videos like this one. If your YouTube video contains several subtopics, it will probably benefit from having chapters.
  2. Videos with a potentially high search volume are a great fit for timestamps. Chapters will give them the type of structure that makes them easily discoverable by search engines.
  3. If you have a short video that is highly engaging, it is probably best to leave out chapters. For example, short videos that focus more on entertainment usually engage viewers all the way through the video. Adding chapters to these types of videos can make viewers skip around and create distractions.