3 Reasons to Caption Your YouTube Videos
Updated: January 4, 2018
The flipside of publishing on the world’s largest video platform is that there is a lot of competition across every genre and keyword. The biggest challenge for many video creators is how to make their content discoverable, more engaging, and accessible to the broadest audience. This is where captions come in. Captions help your YouTube videos rank higher across more keywords, increase audience engagement, and make your videos accessible to people with hearing disabilities and those that know English as a second language. We think that captions are an absolute necessity for serious video creators, and here are the three most compelling reasons:
Reason #1 – YouTube Captions Help Your Videos Get More Views
YouTube captions are read and indexed by both YouTube and Google. Captions are considered a full, accurate representation of your video through text, which allows search engines to get a much deeper understanding of your video content. For short form content (duration less than 5 minutes), we recommend pasting the entire transcript into the video description field, as this is also weighted in the search algorithms. For longer content, cherry pick the transcript for particularly insightful nuggets of information and make these the value proposition of your video. You should also extract keywords and keyphrases from the video transcript and add them as tags or include them in the video description field under a heading of “Topics”.
It’s important to note that YouTube’s automatic captions are not indexed by Google or YouTube due to the high error rate. High quality professional captions are the only way to take advantage of the SEO benefits.
Reason #2 – YouTube Captions Increase View Times and Engagement
In SEO, there is a lot of talk about bots: bots searching, bots crawling, and bots indexing. Search engine bots look for signals of relevancy left by humans. This is why engagement is important in video SEO. Engagement is shown on YouTube through human actions such as commenting, subscribing, and viewing. Captions have been shown to increase video engagement and view times, according to a study by PC Magazine and Google’s very own A/B test results.
Reason #3 – YouTube Captions Help with Accessibility
Captions enable deaf and hard of hearing users to watch videos. This is important for all video publishers, but especially educational institutions, government agencies, businesses, and broadcasters who need to comply with accessibility laws and internal policies. Captions are also a huge help to people who know English as a second language and they make it possible to watch video in sound sensitive environments, like a workplace.
Putting It All Together
YouTube is where we go to discover videos that inspire, educate, comfort, and entertain. Online storytelling has become much more dynamic and marketers love the flexibility of the YouTube video platform. Captions increase YouTube SEO because the text is indexed by both Google and YouTube. This is an obvious benefit. User experience and universal design are also improved by captions. Captions keep visitors on your channel longer. As video increasingly becomes monetized, both you and YouTube want to encourage viewers to stick around and click around! Finally, captions make your videos accessible to a much broader audience, which is closely aligned with Google’s mission to make all web information universally accessible. So before you think “it’s a wrap,” add captions to the video production process. Your YouTube videos deserve to stand out from the crowd.
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