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YouTube Clips: What SEOs need to know

A graphical representation of a clip within a video editing timeline, with an author image of Crystal Carter in the bottom-left of the image

When we think about SEO, we generally prioritize the written word. Blogs and written copy make up a great deal of what site owners need to optimize. However, optimizing multimedia makes your content accessible to more users and can help your content appear on multiple parts of search engine results pages, which is why SEO strategies should also include tactics for images and videos.

YouTube is the second-most popular search engine in the world and can play an important role in your strategy. With the continued increase in available video formats and sharing options, SEOs have multiple ways to make use of YouTube content to add value across their websites.

Though they have been around since January 2021, YouTube Clips appear to be relatively underused. In this article, I’ll point out some of the potential opportunities for SEO and how YouTube Clips can be used to improve content by covering:

What are YouTube Clips?

YouTube Clips are simply extracts from a longer YouTube video. They can be between 5–60 seconds long and have their own URL.

The “Your clips” section of a YouTube dashboard.

Clips are public and can be viewed by anyone with access to the Clip (and permission to view the underlying video the Clip is taken from). “They can also be seen on select search, discovery, and analytics surfaces available to viewers and creators on YouTube,” according to Google, and are viewable by the creator of the underlying video as well.

How to take a Clip from a YouTube video

To make a YouTube Clip, click the “Clip” button (with a scissor icon) above the YouTube video’s description. From here, you’re taken to an editing window where you’ll use a slider to select a continuous 5- to 60-second timeframe to extract.

Before you can extract the Clip you must add a description of the Clip.

Adding a description to a YouTube Clip

Select “Share Clip” and you’ll be shown the same options to share or embed the Clip that you would with a full YouTube video. It took me about five minutes to make my first ever clip from a recent Wix webinar.

Who can make a Clip on YouTube?

Anyone with a YouTube channel can make a Clip. Though I tested a video from the Wix team, the video was not created on my YouTube account. Anyone could clip any section of any video that has clips enabled.

YouTube creators can opt out of Clips of their content via their channel settings. So, if this is something that you are unsure of you can take a moment or regroup.

How do YouTube Clips perform in social shares?

Though they are clearly meant to be shared, one of the reasons why I think Clips are underused is that, when I tested them on a few different channels, the implementation was underwhelming—especially compared to the way TikTok embeds have been implemented.

On one hand, views of the Clip are added to the overall view count of the underlying YouTube video, which is nice.

A screenshot of an information box on YouTube describing what YouTube Clip is.

And, speaking completely selfishly as someone who regularly participates in and organizes long-form SEO webinars, I think there are many opportunities here. The notion of extracting a particularly insightful segment of a one-hour conversation without needing to create a new video is very appealing.

On the other hand, if the aim here is to create something that rivals search-share challenger TikTok, then I think Google has missed the mark. A key component to TikTok’s success is that TikTok videos look native on every platform they are viewed on.

Social feeds for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are full of TikToks that play automatically without the user needing to download or visit the app. Wherever they are, the videos preroll (with an added watermark) and let the FOMO do the heavy lifting. When I tested YouTube Clips on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook, none of them had the native preroll capability that I’ve seen from TikTok.

YouTube Clips on Twitter

When shared on Twitter, for instance, the video does not display natively. This means that you have to click on it in order to see the video and, on mobile, it only shows as a link.

A screenshot of a YouTube Clip shared within a tweet

When you click through, you are able to see the video but, in comparison to TikTik or even a standard YouTube video share, the window is very busy. Information about the source videos and the clip are crammed into the Twitter card. And, although you’re asked to add a YouTube Clip description of up to 140 characters, the Twitter card cuts it off after about 60 characters.

A screenshot of a YouTube Clip in a twitter card once a user has clicked on it

And, if you click again, then you arrive on the YouTube landing page for the Clip rather than the video it was taken from.

A YouTube clip in the YouTube desktop interface

YouTube Clips on Pinterest

On Pinterest, YouTube Clips are lacking in that they don’t preroll and the Pin thumbnail is the same for the main video as it is for the Clip.

A screenshot of a YouTube Clip within a pin on pinterest

In contrast, pinned TikTok videos play on Pinterest. So, the emphasis is on showcasing the content, which in turn drives traffic to the app.

A screenshot of a pinned TikTok on pinterest

YouTube Clips on LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, YouTube Clips display with the thumbnail from the full video. And, when you click on one, you cannot watch the video on LinkedIn. Instead, you’re redirected to YouTube to view it.

A screenshot of a YouTube Clip embedded in a LinkedIn post

However, one thing that LinkedIn’s sharing settings do well is show a good amount of the description that I wrote in the YouTube Clip share card.

The sharing experience was almost exactly the same on Facebook as it was on LinkedIn. Overall, the social implementation is limited, which is why I am convinced that this is an SEO tool.

Clips work best as blog embeds

It wasn’t until I embedded a Clip into a blog post that I realized the true potential of YouTube Clips. It works really well to enable you to extract the most important segments from your long-form videos and pop them into your blog (to provide additional context, cite source material, or supplement the written content, for example).

This is not the same as sharing a YouTube video embed that starts at a given timestamp because you only extract 60 seconds of video per Clip. Even though you’re limited to one minute, you can make lots of them and all of them will contribute to the overall value of your source video.

So, it’s essentially the video equivalent of a quote from a book or a sample of a most excellent guitar riff.

YouTube Clips play in the same way that standard YouTube embeds play in a blog post and they include any subtitles from the original video as well. They also loop, making them easier for users to view a few times and process the content before moving on to the next step. They are ideal for blogs with written how-to’s supported by a video demonstration.

How to use YouTube Clips for SEO

In my opinion, SEOs should be paying attention to YouTtube Clips for a few reasons:

  • They present a great opportunity to revisit written content and add relevant instructional segments, quotes, and context, allowing you to consolidate your video efforts for maximum user value.

  • Clips are rankable and are impacting the search engine results page (SERP).

  • Clips may be impacting Key Moments shown in the SERP.

Here’s how you make the most of this for SEO.

Update longer instructional content with step-by-step segments

Refreshing content that is already ranking can add value for users. Recipe blogs, how-to guides, and tutorials could share multiple video steps in a blog post at the most relevant points, and then share the full video at the end. This could also be really useful in the age of Google’s Multitask Unified Model (MUM) technology.

Create searchable YouTube Clips within your videos

YouTube Clips and the associated descriptions are crawlable and can rank.

In one example from a video of a Maha Shivaratri festival, I found a 60-second clip of a specific performance from a 10-hour live stream ranking for terms that were included in the Clip’s description but not in the source video transcript or description.

A screenshot of a YouTube Clip ranking in Google Search

This suggests that Clips provide an opportunity to associate relevant keywords and phrases with video content, which can then be searched on Google. This also means that anyone can find them online by searching for them in the usual way.

Since the description for the Clip is a mandatory field, Google may potentially be able to gather and assess tags on every clip that is shared, which means that clips that include relevant keywords could add more optimization to the source video and the blog it's embedded in.

Social proof for video Key Moments

Because the clips are also shareable and indexable, there is an implication that Google could have more social proof for which Key Moments are most valuable to users. While this is not confirmed, this could mean that YouTube Clips enable Google to better refine or identify new Key Moments that show in the SERP.

In the case of the Maha Shivratri video, we see that, though there were many performances in the livestream, the second key moment shown in the SERP corresponded with the content from the clip.

A screenshot of a YouTube key moment feature in the Google search results

Additionally, we may possibly see new Clips showing on their own in the SERP in the same way that YouTube Shorts have increased visibility during 2022. In any case, I think this new tool presents a number of interesting SEO opportunities.

YouTube Clips align with Google’s evolving search results

Over the last few years, many of Google’s advancements have centered around how it can provide more relevant information to users via a range of media. The integration of Google Lens and visual search elements into the search experience is part of this trend, and so too is the increase of videos and images on search engine results pages.

With these developments as the backdrop, tools like YouTube Clips enable us to curate, tag, and distribute our videos in a way that can strengthen our content as well as our overall search visibility.


Crystal Carter

Crystal is an SEO & digital marketing professional with over 15 years of experience. Her global business clients have included Disney, McDonalds, and Tomy. An avid SEO communicator, her work has been featured at Google Search Central, Brighton SEO, Moz, DeepCrawl, Semrush, and more. Twitter | Linkedin


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