Interview with Tim Schmoyer: Translating Captions to Reach a Global Audience

April 23, 2014 BY LILY BOND
Updated: June 3, 2019

This is the third installment in a four video interview series with Tim Schmoyer, the YouTube personality behind VideoCreators and ReelSEO. If you missed our first two videos, we focused on the values of adding captions to your YouTube videos and easy solutions for doing so. To continue the discussion, Tim and Tole Khesin of 3Play Media, a video transcription and captioning company, bring up another important aspect of captioning: translation. We noticed a lot of people in the comments asking about subtitles for YouTube videos, so hopefully this will answer some of your questions.

English language captions are a great starting point for creating subtitles. Once a caption file exists, you can translate it into a number of languages and create subtitle files. 80% of YouTube views come from outside the United States, so expanding your presence across different languages could make for a much broader audience.

3 Reasons Subtitles Are Beneficial

  • Reason #1: Multilingual subtitles help Google and YouTube index your video, which increases traffic to your site and expands your audience globally. Note that Google and YouTube both index foreign languages as well as English.
  • Reason #2: Duplicate content is not penalized across different languages. As a result, translated videos add more pages, keyword rankings, and inbound links. This makes for greater authority and Internet presence. Note that all you have to do here is add subtitle files: you do not also need to voice dub the video.
  • Reason #3: There is less competition across different languages, so it’s easier to rank higher against your competitors.

If My Video Is in Another Language, Should I Add English Subtitles?

It does make sense to translate your videos and add English subtitles, assuming you are trying to rank in an English market. If your videos would not benefit from an English-speaking audience, then it is less important.

Can You Convert an SRT File to Text Without the Time Stamps?

There is a way to do that. You’ll need to download the timed text file from Youtube (it will be in an XML format). Then, copy and paste it into a single cell in Excel. From here you can do a find/replace to delete all the content inside the angle brackets.

If I Have a Thick Accent, Should I Make Captions?

If you have a thick accent, it’s critical to add captions. As we mentioned in the first video, 80% of the people who use captions do so because captions help with comprehension. If you speak with a strong accent, it will be much easier for people to follow along with your content if you have captions.

Can I Train an Auto-Caption Program like Dragon to Get Better Captions?

While it’s not possible to do this through YouTube’s auto-captioning, Dragon is definitely worth trying. Speech recognition actually works quite well if you can do two things: first, train it with your voice (which Dragon does let you do); and second, restrict the range of vocabulary used. If your videos are more or less in the same domain (for example, you might have a vlog about cooking) and your voice and pronunciation are fairly consistent, Dragon might work well after some training.

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