Saturday, December 12, 2020

Add Subtitles and Chapters to YouTube Videos

 I have been creating a lot of videos in the last few years. In fact, I have over 270 SOP videos on my playlist at, and I have about 700 videos in total. AND I've started my new 50-week Cheeky Sales Coach videos on the Relax Focus Succeed channel (

So, here's what we're up to:

1) Create captions or subtitles to your YouTube videos

2) Create "Chapters" within your YouTube videos

These are somewhat unrelated to one another, other than the fact that they both improve the usability of your videos and improve your video rankings in Google/YouTube searches. 

Subtitles help people consume your videos without relying on the sound. This applies to people with hearing problems as well as those who simply wish to browse with the sound off for any reason. The text of the subtitles arrives in a text file with an .SRT extension. Because it is essentially a transcript of your video, it is very easy for YouTube (and Google) to search, index, and even place into the context of extended meta data.

Chapters also improve usability because they allow people to skip right to a specific point in the video. While you might think this reduces viewing time, it actually increases it because people can re-watch pieces of your video very easily. YouTube makes these chapters available in three different ways. First, they are listed in the video description. Second, the chapter titles appear at the bottom of the video. And, third, viewers can click the ">"to display chapters and chapter thumbnails to the right of your video. Examples of all of these are below.

You can view my video examples of all of this here:

The best place to start is with subtitles. If you use a script for your video, you can easily create your own subtitle (SRT) file. Basically, it's just a text file in the following format:

00:00:00,298 --> 00:00:02,881
(upbeat music)
00:00:08,470 --> 00:00:10,980
- Hi, this is Karl, with another SOP video
00:00:10,980 --> 00:00:12,630
for managed service providers.
00:00:12,630 --> 00:00:15,270
Last time we talked
about removing a client
00:00:15,270 --> 00:00:16,620
from managed services.

 When you edit your video in YouTube's Creator Studio, you can upload this file. YouTube will replace their automated captions with the subtitles you provide.

I use a service called They access my YouTube channel and upload the SRT files. As soon as they're done, the closed caption option on YouTube starts serving up excellent captions instead of the horrible default captions that YouTube comes up with. YouTube's default captions have no capitalization or punctuation - and they don't know how to spell Karl.

That's it for subtitles or captions.

Next: Chapters.

Again, you can easily create your own chapters by simply listing titles with timestamps in the following format:

00:00 Removing a client from cloud services
01:07 Clients have lots of hosted services
02:11 "I didn't realize what we were paying for"
03:15 Longtime clients ...
04:24 Be willing to give this up
05:22 You can retain continuous revenue
06:25 Call to Action

When YouTube sees the 00:00 time stamp, they begin processing the text as chapter headings until the formatting changes. Once you enter this into the description and click Save, chapters are activated. Notice that you only list the starting time for each chapter. These numbers become a link to that spot in the video. You can see this on the example video above:

(Or most of my other recent videos.)

Once chapters are in place, the following subtle changes appear at the bottom of your video. When you mouse over the video timeline, upright bars appear at chapter breaks and chapter titles appear. To the right of the chapter title is a greater-than sign ( > ). If you click that arrow, it expands a list of chapters to the right of the video. 

For example:

This functionality means that both YouTube and Google (Google owns YouTube) will index the chapters of your video as well as the whole video. So, in addition to addition keyword indexing, you get extra potential traffic based the individual titles.

Now, here's the juicy goodness that binds these two upgrades together: Once you have the SRT file, you have a text document with time stamps and the text of your video. It's super easy to edit that text file and simply copy/paste it into your description.

Again, see the description of this or other videos to see an example. It literally looks just like the "timeline" example above.

Trust me. This is really, really easy. The second time you do it, it will take less time than it took to read this blog post.

Call to Action: Subscript to my YouTube channel and click that thumbs-up on pretty much everything you watch. Thanks.


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