Automatic chapters are now a source of metadata for research

YouTube now uses auto-generated chapters as a source of metadata in search. Previously, only manually defined chapters were used when ranking search results.

This is an important update if you practice YouTube SEO, as it has the potential to impact the ranking of your videos.

Learn more about updating YouTube search metadata, why it’s important, and if you need to take action in response.

What is changing in YouTube search?

YouTube will begin to use the information from automatically generated video chapters to return content in search results.

This update is currently being rolled out to the mobile version of YouTube.


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Previously, YouTube’s search algorithm only used metadata from manually created chapters.

Now, when a channel hasn’t set their own chapters, YouTube will look at what their systems identify as important moments in a video.

What does this mean for my videos?

Marketers and video creators should be aware of this update as it may impact how videos appear in YouTube search results.

Adding automatic chapter metadata as a ranking signal is supposed to be a useful update, but machine learning isn’t perfect.

YouTube may make a mistake and misinterpret the subject of a section of a video.


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The misinterpreted chapter could then affect the queries for which a video is displayed.

To prevent such issues from happening, you need to keep a close watch on the YouTube generated chapters for your videos.

YouTube rolled out auto-generated chapters to all videos last July, and channels are enabled by default.

If creating your own chapters is an integral part of your download flow, this update may not apply to you. Manual chapters replace automatic chapters in YouTube.

Those who don’t set chapters for their videos, which is done by adding timestamps to the description box, should check what YouTube has generated.

Any chapters that were incorrectly generated can be fixed by creating your own.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to bother with chapters at all, you can always unsubscribe.

Turn off automatic YouTube chapters

YouTube gives creators the choice to turn off automatic chapters for individual videos or for an entire channel.

For a specific video, you can turn off automatic chapters during the download process.

To turn off automatic chapters for an entire channel, go to the YouTube Studio settings panel.

Once there, go to Download Default Values and then to Advanced settings.

From there, you can turn automatic chapters on and off.


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