Over the past few years, Google has made several changes to its search engine and platforms to make it easier for consumers to find video content. High-powered mobile devices and faster internet speeds make people more eager to find videos from their creators. Google officially launched a new feature that will put timestamps in videos found through Google Search.
Google has been testing a timestamp feature that would make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for when it’s part of a video. Google can’t index every word spoken in a video as it can with written content. This situation makes it hard for people to know what topics are covered in a video. With the new timestamp feature, content creators can improve the SEO of their videos and get more people to watch them.
As Prashant Baheti, a Product Manager for Google Search, explained in an announcement, “Starting today you can find key moments within videos and get to the information you’re looking for faster, with help from content creators. When you search for things like how-to videos that have multiple steps, or long videos like speeches or a documentary, Search will provide links to key moments within the video, based on timestamps provided by content creators. You’ll be able to easily scan to see whether a video has what you’re looking for, and find the relevant section of the content”
Besides making videos easier to search for, the timestamps also make videos more accessible for people who are using screen readers. The timestamp information is provided by content creators. Setting up these timestamps is simple. The only thing creators have to do is add text with the time and content in the description. For example, placing the text “00:15 – Introduction to Poker” would be enough for Google to create a timestamp that could be used in a search.
The ease of the system makes it difficult to justify not using it for all videos. Adding timestamps in this way produces a video description that will perform better from an SEO standpoint. Also, since Google will be looking for timestamped videos to include in search results, adding them to a video description could give the video an SEO advantage. And it takes no technical coding to take advantage of this feature. All creators need to do is change the text descriptions.
Going forward, all videos on YouTube should include timestamp information. Even if Google weren’t including them in search results, these timestamps make it easier for search engines and viewers to determine if the content is what’s needed. Content creators should also consider adding these timestamps to the descriptions of older videos that have remained popular. For example, a popular How-To video would benefit from having the steps listed in the description.
At first, these timestamps will only work for YouTube videos, but that may change soon. Google says they’re working on tools for video-sharing platforms that will give them the ability to have timestamps in Google Search results. Google mentioned CBS Sports and NDTV as some of the platforms that will add a similar markup to their videos.
Everything about this system seems useful for content marketers using video. However, Google may have to modify the system to prevent potential abuse. If Google is going by the information given by the creator to determine timestamp search results, there’s nothing to stop creators from using timestamps to get their video to show up in inappropriate places.
For more information about recent updates and changes to Google, read this article on recent changes to the rich results schema markup.