How Video Accessibility Intersects with Engagement, SEO, and User Experience

October 25, 2013 BY SHANNON K. MURPHY
Updated: January 4, 2018

The Internet has steadily changed business, education, recreation, communications and more. Furthermore, online video’s ability to communicate quickly while engaging in memorable storytelling is profound. Marketing professionals are responsible for delivering this content, providing information and interacting with audiences in new and appealing ways. In light of this, online video marketing strategies must be thoughtful and deliberate, yet effective. Video accessibility however, is often ignored. By creating inaccessible video, companies are limiting their reach, sacrificing user experience and search engine optimization (SEO), while also increasing legal risks. Let’s explore the benefits of accessible video for corporate marketing and how it ties in with engagement, SEO, and user experience.

Accessibility and User Experience

video accessibility and user experienceUser experience (UX) is described as a person’s emotions when using a particular product, system or service. Technology has lessened the need for face-to-face interaction in business. This makes a positive online experience much more important. In the case of online-only businesses, a user’s opinion of site utility is paramount because it is directly tied to the perception of the brand.

Website designers and information architects are not the only ones managing UX anymore. Marketing videos, blog articles, and whitepapers are designed to further the buyer’s journey. Thus video marketers must be able to evaluate not only the desirability and usefulness of a video, but also whether it creates a pleasant experience. Accessibility is the missing element in many a video marketers’ strategy.

Image credit:
Semantic Studios’s User Experience Hexagon by Peter Moreville

Intersection of Web Accessibility, Online Video, and SEO

Approximately 20% of Americans have a disability, which can impair access to websites and Internet content. Interestingly enough, designing for assistive technology is a lot like designing for Web bots. For example, alternative text for images and multimedia available to search engines can also be understood by a blind person utilizing a screen reader. Meanwhile, video transcripts and captions allow video content to be accessed by deaf users as well as search engines. Conversely, while multimedia is seen as an enhancement to the online experience, when done incorrectly it keeps certain users out. Even with assistive technology, disabled users hit roadblocks caused by poor design or technical incompatibilities. This oversight can negatively impact SEO and bounce back rates when users aren’t patient enough to deal with an interface problem or slow web site. This is why user-centered design is so important.

Captions vs. Transcripts
Captions are time-synchronized text that can be read while watching a video. Captions assume that the viewer is completely deaf and include all spoken content as well as non-speech elements, like music or sound effects.Transcripts are a word-for-word text representation of a video’s spoken content without the time-synchronization. Transcripts are valuable to both deaf and blind users. Deaf users can read the transcript, while blind users can read a transcript with a braille or screen reader.

Google’s task is to organize the Web’s boundless information, ideally in a way that makes utilization simple for search engine users. Information in multiple formats accomplishes this goal. Knowing this, does it surprise you that Google ranks videos with captions and transcripts higher in search engine results?

Aside from disabilities, transcripts and captions are important to SEO because they increase time spent on websites. Studies show transcripts increase engagement and captions increase the completion rate of a video from 40% to 80%. If you want to make sure your audience is getting the message, add a transcript and captions.

The Business Case for Video Accessibility

Universal web design and accessible video can increase the use of a company site and accompanying videos. By implementing web accessibly, companies can offset financial costs with social, technical and financial benefits. Committing resources to video accessibility and accessible web design provides numerous business advantages.


Site useRisk of legal action
SEONegative perception of brand
Customer loyalty
Mobile responsiveness

As you can see, brands have much to gain from accessible design. Read more on Financial Factors in Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization

A solid video SEO strategy creates, delivers and amplifies great content. While video marketers are realizing the powerful link between video captions and SEO, many don’t understand how video accessibility plays a vital part in the user experience. In the future, accessibility won’t be an added feature, but a usability standard of the Web. Help Google to see you in a positive light by optimizing video for the enjoyment of all.

A longer version of this article appears on Brightcove Bright Ideas, read the full post.

Read the free report: 2017 State of Captioning.

The closed caption CC icon shown in the middle of a TV.