Search Engine Optimization and Closed Captions

The primary goal of any content creator should be to share one’s work with the largest audience possible, but impressing viewers with only what’s on-screen may not be enough. To have the best chance at attracting a global audience, you also need to show off for search engines. Here’s how to use closed captions to improve the search engine optimization (SEO) of your videos:

Captioning Videos on YouTube

Adding captions to YouTube videos in the form of .SRTs inherently involves creating transcripts of your content’s audio. By providing this textual representation of your media, you allow search engine crawlers – which cannot recognize audio or video on their own – to index your media. And just like that, the content in your videos has better visibility in search engines.

Additionally, captioning YouTube videos with an .SRT instead of just settling for the platform’s automated captions makes them fully accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. Expanding your audience gives you more exposure and can help improve your view metrics. According to a study run by Discovery Digital Networks, adding captions to videos resulted in a viewership increase of 7.32%. Another important aspect of automated captions is their quality… or lack thereof. When your content is a cornerstone of your brand, not only can automatically generated captions misspell your brand name, they can also be the source of some pretty egregious and culturally insensitive mis-transcription.

Increase Mobile Viewership for Better Search Engine Visibility

Making your videos accessible with closed captions is also beneficial to mobile viewers. How often do you scroll through social media and find a video that looks interesting, but you can’t play it with sound because you forgot your headphones? Or maybe you’re up late and don’t want to wake up your roommate/spouse?. Both scenarios (and many more) play out every day around the globe. As your viewership increases, your content will also be more easily found by a search engine.

Capitalize on Autoplay

If you post your content on specific social media platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook, their sites and apps auto-play videos without sound. In order to avoid making your content less engaging for viewers on those platforms, adding closed captions can help them understand the content and can also encourage them to watch it with the sound on as well. Additionally, offering foreign language subtitles for your videos gives your viewers even more options on how to consume your content, in turn opening up your content to a wider audience.

User Experience, Accessibility, and Search Engines

Search engines are beginning to add user experience as a factor in their page ranking algorithms. By adding captions and transcripts to your website, you can make your web pages and content more user friendly, leading to a better ranking in the eyes of search engines. It has also been shown that transcribing your videos helps viewers better digest and learn the concepts presented.

A Global Audience

Another benefit to subtitling your videos is the potential to have your content viewed globally. When you imagine expanding your audience, most people think about how to grow it domestically. Making your videos more accessible gives you the opportunity to bring your content to a global scale. Adding subtitles to your content is the easiest way to dramatically expand your audience for the same content.

Going the extra mile with accessibility and captioning your videos can have a surprisingly large impact on how your content fares on search engines. Not only does it make your videos more visible to Google, captioning your videos can make your content more immersive and easier to enjoy for a wider, more complete audience, including viewership in many different demographics around the world.