Captions In YouTube Videos – 3 Reasons To Start Using Them

video camera against green background

Image Credit: ZapTheDingbat on Flickr

Captions, subtitles, and transcripts for YouTube videos can be powerful additions to your marketing efforts. I’ll explain why this is an important component of your YouTube promotion strategy.

3 powerful reasons why you should use captioning in your YouTube videos

Reason 1: better rankings

Of course, no one knows what Google’s (owner of YouTube) ranking algorithm is. But over the years, search engine results optimizing experts generally agree that if an article, webpage, or other piece of written text contains keywords that match the subject material, that webpage will rank higher in the search engines.

The kicker is that video contains no text by itself.

On YouTube, you can add a description and a list of keywords in your video. You should select a relevant title for the video so searchers will have some quick idea of what it contains. In an attempt to make each video’s ranking be as relevant as possible to the content of the video, Google has made captioning and transcript features possible.

When you upload a video to YouTube, their software will analyze the audio and generate a transcript automatically. This is linked to a timed analysis of how the audio is positioned in the video file. YouTube then displays the captions along with the audio when the viewer selects this option.

The amazing and beneficial part is that the words extracted from the audio are used to help rank your video in Google’s/YouTube’s search engines.

So, what you literally say in your videos becomes even more important.

The pressure’s on, so to speak, but the flip side is that you can optimize your audio narration to rank better in search engines.

For example, if you want to rank highly for the term “ear tubes in Wichita”, you would use that phrase at least once in your video and make sure YouTube was transcribing that phrase accurately during its analysis.

Reason 2: better quality videos

Sometimes YouTube’s analysis software doesn’t work or is inaccurate.

I’ve created videos that YouTube was able to recognize and create an (partially) accurate transcript. I’ve made videos where the audio was not recognized at all.

What this forces you to do is to create a scripted video, where you type out the narration script ahead of time and use it as a template for your audio. You then mix in the audio with the video later during the production stage. At the same time, you just provide YouTube with your own (more accurate) version of the audio transcript.

Once you’ve uploaded that simple text file (the bulk of which you’ve already created), it then matches up the text with the audio it processes to come up with accurate subtitles/captions.

The dorsal carpal ganglion video I created is an example of this technique being used. To see the captions, just click on the small “cc” along the bottom of the video window when you’re watching the video.

arrow showing captioning button on YouTube video

Click the “cc” button to see the captions during my video

Creating a text file transcript ahead of time lets you

  • spend all the time you need getting the audio content right and optimizing it for search engines
  • record audio narration separately in your quiet office without distractions
  • give YouTube exactly what it needs to index the content of your video and display accurate captions without any extra work on your part

Reason 3: faster, easier video production

When your transcript is prepared ahead of time, you don’t have to stutter and search for the right words as you’re recording your video. Your video may not turn out perfectly even if the audio’s perfect. Then you’ll have to go back and re-record both.

When you can thoughtfully and deliberately organize and record your audio track ahead of time, you have a standard, well-done piece of the puzzle you can splice in and manipulate to fit your video later.

Since I know the words of the audio will be recognized by YouTube, and therefore the search engines, I make sure it’s right by typing it out and recording it first.

The only time this won’t work is if you’re talking directly into the camera, in which case you’ll have to get everything right the first time. You can still type out your transcript ahead of time and use it as a guide, like a teleprompter, as you record the video.

Read more about captioning with YouTube videos.

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