Google Tests Timeline Feature That Shows Sections of a Video in Search

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Video marketing can be an essential part of a company’s brand marketing strategy. Many people watch videos to get the answers they seek instead of reading an article on a website. Businesses can use videos for informational “How-To” videos, clips of a team in action that humanizes the brand, and more. A recent test by Google may make it easier for brands to benefit from their video content by showing a timeline of specific sections in a video.

One of the challenges of video marketing is that it’s not the most SEO-friendly way to spread information. Without a written transcript of the video, there’s little for search engines to go on except the video title and the description. If a company creates a 10-minute video on a subject, the answer to someone’s search engine query may be in the video, but it would be hard to tell. Google has been seen testing a feature that would address this issue by showing searchers a timeline of specific topics discussed in a video.

Google already has a feature that allows users to create suggested clips from a video. This feature is a good way to single out significant portions of a video that may come up in a search. Recently, Google has been seen testing an “In This Video” feature that shows a timeline of the video with sections and topics highlighted for the searcher. Users can click on the highlights to skip to that section of the video.

Reports of the feature first began popping up in mid-September. Users on Twitter who saw the “In This Video” feature posted videos that showed the test in action

Though it’s still in the testing phase, this feature has the potential to improve video marketing significantly. By showing all of the suggested sections and topics in a video, searchers can quickly determine if a particular result has the information they need. It’s not a perfect outline of the video’s contents. However, it may be just enough information to get someone to click when they otherwise wouldn’t spend the time trying to search a long video for the answer they need. 

In essence, the “In This Video” feature shows all of the locations of the suggested clips at once. Besides giving a better overview of the video’s content, it makes it easier for a searcher to zero-in on the portion that’s relevant to them. If the answer to your question is between sections three and four, it’s easier to jump around that area of the video. 

Another takeaway from this test is that there is value in creating smaller videos that address specific topics. The longer you make a video, the harder it becomes for someone to find a specific answer within the content. It’s not a problem when you expect people to watch the whole video because of their interest in a genre. But when people may be looking for a specific answer, a long video can be off-putting. 

Creating shorter, more-focused video content can help people who need your content to find it. For example, if there’s a specific part of a “How-To” video that causes people a lot of trouble, it makes sense to make a singular video about that particular step. People are likely to be searching for that specific issue and a more-focused video has a greater probability to show up in search. Using this strategy while Google works on the “In Ths Video” feature can help marketers get the most of their video content.

For more news about recent updates, changes, and tests at Google, read this article on the new rules Google has for certain medical products and health care claims.


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