Video SEO: Using Transcripts for Online Video Excellence [VIDEO Part I]

July 10, 2013 BY SHANNON K. MURPHY
Updated: June 3, 2019

Recently, 3Play Media Content Marketing Manager, Shannon Murphy sat down with the Web Video Marketing Council (WVMC), an organization responsible for supplying news and research about a range of online video topics and technologies. Marketing and multimedia professionals often look to the WVMC as a source of advice for marketing strategy and emerging trends. WVMC Research Director and Interactive Media Strategies Managing Director, Paul Ritter hosted the interview. Ritter provided valuable video marketing data from a recent joint study conducted by the WVMC and popular video marketing blog, ReelSEO. The study showed that while marketers are embracing video to further their email marketing efforts, there is still room for growth with video SEO and discoverability, and especially using transcripts as an SEO tool.

Below is a summary of the information discussed in the interview. Or simply download the transcript using the appropriate button within the interactive transcript above.

WVMC & ReelSEO 2013 Video Marketing Statistics

How are marketers optimizing video?

More than 600 online survey respondents, comprised of senior marketing personnel, provided feedback concerning their video marketing practices. Specifically, how each is integrating video into their email marketing, social media and content strategies.

Of the respondents,

  • 77% are tagging online videos with keywords.
  • 51% are posting video content to blogs.
  • 40% are annotating videos with content details, duration and other information.
  • 27% are providing video transcripts for on-site videos.

The data shows that a majority of marketers are behind the curve in using transcripts to optimize their videos. Leading internet marketing sites ReelSEO, MOZ, and Search Engine Journal all advocate adding transcripts and captions to augment video presence.

Taking into account these statistic, as well as best practices currently employed by 3Play Media, Murphy offered guidance and advice on how to use transcripts for video SEO.

The Importance of Transcripts in Video SEO

Why are transcripts so important to video SEO? What benefits do they provide?

Transcripts are important to video SEO because search engines can’t index the spoken content in a video. As such, most of the information contained in the video is lost. Search audiences are unable to find this content. Associating videos with text transcripts is almost like leaving “breadcrumbs” for search engines to find and index your information in search engine result pages (SERPs).

Read more: Video SEO Series: 7 Key Benefits of Web Video Transcripts & Captions

Best Practices for Creating and Publishing Transcripts

For long-form content, videos 5 minutes or more, Murphy suggests linking to a paginated, plain text transcripts. Not only do paginated transcripts add to site size and create linking opportunities but Murphy believes they add to the user experience. “…it’s great to be able to create pages with titles and headers that focus in on that specific subject matter. So, from a user perspective, I don’t go and view just a plain transcript that’s black and white and kind of boring. As a user, I can skim headings and dive into the contact I need,” she explains. Formatting each transcript page like a blog post, will keep users on your pages longer.

Video Transcript Advice for Marketers

What are some video transcript strategies companies can follow?

Murphy offered the following advice for video transcript pagination:

  • Link from the video to a plain transcript.
  • Paginate the plain transcript based off of changes in subject matter (Aim for 700-1000 words per page).
  • Add unique, keyword heavy headers on each page.
  • Create links to relevant terminology, statistics, and on-site content while paying close attention to anchor text.
  • And above all, honor the user experience.

Read more: How to Optimize Long-Form Video Transcripts for SEO: The Wrong Way and the Right Way

That’s a wrap! Want to learn additional video transcript solutions? Stay tuned for episode 2 next week!

Today’s webcast is focused on video SEO best practices. And I’m pleased to be joined by Shannon Murphy, Content Marketing Manager with 3Play Media. Hi, Shannon. Thanks for joining me today.

SHANNON MURPHY: Hi, Paul. How are you?

PAUL RITTER: I’m great. Good to talk with you again. Before we get started on some of the topics of video SEO best practices that we’re covering today, can you tell us a little bit about 3Play Media and the types of products and services that the company offers?

SHANNON MURPHY: Certainly. 3Play Media is a closed captioning and transcription service for online video. We also offer subtitles. Essentially, our mission is to make video as accessible, searchable, and SEO-friendly as possible. And we integrate with all of the major video platforms, including YouTube, Ooyala, Brightcove, Vimeo, Wistia and many, many others.

PAUL RITTER: In a recent survey by the Web Video Marketing Council in conjunction with ReelSEO, more than 600 respondents provided their input on the use of online video for a variety of applications at their organizations. The survey results provide a lot of insights into the many ways that web video is being used and the types of best practices that companies are using to achieve success with their online video initiatives. Here, we see an overview of the responses from the survey for the question about strategies and tactics being used for optimizing videos and deploying best practices for achieving results with search engine optimization or SEO strategies.

Results from the 600 plus respondents of the survey show that 77% are tagging their online videos with keywords. 51% are posting video content to their organization’s blog. And 40% are annotating videos with details about the content, the duration and other information. However, only 27% of the respondents in the survey are providing video transcript for the videos on their websites.

I think this shows that there’s really a significant opportunity for companies to take more steps to really help drive better SEO results and provide useful tools for their video viewers by leveraging things such as transcripts and captions. Shannon, can you talk a little bit about why transcripts can be so important and how they really provide a lot of value in terms of SEO benefits?

SHANNON MURPHY: Well, transcripts are important for video SEO, essentially, because search engines can’t watch the video. So the crux of SEO is that it’s text-driven. You’re creating page titles, headers, links all around a keyword focus for the hopes that search engines are going to find and rank your page for that keyword.

If you make a video around a subject, but you don’t have the transcript, then you don’t have any of that keyword potency to tell the search engines what’s on this page. You can add a title or a video description. But the transcript really bridges the gap between video and search engines to give you the most potency in terms of video SEO.

PAUL RITTER: Shannon, what’s the best way to create and to publish transcripts in terms of specific strategies and some of the best practices that companies can follow?

SHANNON MURPHY: Certainly. Well, for longer transcripts, for video that’s probably five minutes or more, it’s really great to paginate out your transcripts– so providing a link to the plain transcript from that video and then paginating it out based off of the content. You know that, during videos, subject matter will naturally change. So it’s great to be able to create pages with titles and headers that focus in on that specific subject matter.

So from a user perspective, I don’t go and view just a plain transcript that’s black and white and kind of boring. As a user, I can skim headings and dive into the contact I need. So you would paginate.

You would want to build out your titles and headers to be keyword relevant to the content on that page. But also, it’s important throughout that transcript to consider placing links, so relevant anchor text to other content that you have on your site linking to those resources. That way you’re not marooning the transcript, in terms of the transcript within your site structure. It’s well-connected to your whole site.

And you don’t necessarily have to have a lot of inbound links to it. I think the video would be the main focus. But making sure that, if somebody were to read the transcript and perhaps they come across a term or a resource within that, that it’s linked to the appropriate resource. It’s just a lot better for the user experience, which is what Google and other search engines are really focused on when it comes to SEO.

PAUL RITTER: Those are really some great tips and best practices that I think a lot of people will find both interesting and really practical for their own video initiatives. Thanks a lot, Shannon, for sharing some of your thoughts and insights on video SEO best practices and ways that companies can really leverage the use of video transcripts and captions. It’s been great chatting with you. And I look forward to our next opportunity to explore more subjects related to video SEO strategies in the future.

SHANNON MURPHY: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you.

PAUL RITTER: And thanks to all of you for watching today’s webcast that’s part of the Video Best Practices series from InteractiveMedia Strategies. I’m Paul Ritter. And we’ll see you next time.


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