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How Transcripts and Closed Captions Set Your Videos Ahead of the Competition

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Mar 24, 2021• Proven solutions

Note: this article is written by Erin Myers, Growth and Marketing at Rev.

In the past five years, the content creation landscape has grown increasingly competitive. It’s no longer enough to just produce a video and publish it to your YouTube channel.

Today, it’s essential that video creators are also thinking about the viewer experience. Channel owners should be asking themselves things like:

Is my video optimized to reach as many viewers as possible? Would my viewers benefit from a different video format or a transcript to follow along with?

If you’re looking to reach a wider audience, closed captions and transcripts are a quick and obvious addition to both new and existing video content. Video creators who add captions or transcripts in another language not only open their content up to people who may not have otherwise been able to enjoy it, but they also reap the search engine benefits.

Benefits of using closed captions and transcripts

According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index report, “Globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020, up from 70 percent in 2015.” If you’re already using video to boost your website’s value, that’s great, but you can do even more by transcribing or closed captioning those videos. Below are a few tips on how to use closed captions and transcripts to increase the SEO value of your video content.

1. Closed captions increase watch time.

People often watch video in public places so a lot of content is consumed without the sound on. According to multiple publishers, 85% of Facebook video content is watched without sound. After all, when you’re on the bus decompressing from a day of work, do you want all the passengers around you to hear the silly cat compilation video you’re watching? Captions keep viewers’ attention when they aren’t able to listen to audio.

The benefit of closed captions for videos embedded on your website is that visitor sessions will likely be longer. Session length is one of the components of dwell time, which happens to be a factor Google uses to rank landing pages in search results.

2. Closed captions increase accessibility.

According to the National Association of the Deaf, hearing loss affects nearly 48 million people in the United States. Adding closed captions to your videos provides an essential service to a very large demographic. In addition to serving deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, closed captions help people with auditory processing disabilities and those with limited understanding of spoken English. Google is committed to making the Internet accessible to those with visual or hearing disabilities and closed captions are one of the ways they know your content is accessible.

3. Transcripts make translation easier.

Does your audience come from one country or speak only one language? A look at your website analytics can show you if a significant amount of your traffic is coming from other countries. If, for example, you find that much of your audience comes from Spanish-speaking countries, you should make your video content as accessible to that audience as possible. Providing these international visitors with a landing page that contains the original video along with a transcript that has been translated into Spanish will make it easier for them to interact with your content and remain engaged on your website.

4. Transcripts and professional closed captions get crawled by Google.

Search engines can’t watch a video or listen to audio. Closed captions are indexed by YouTube and Google, but only if you upload your own professional captions. If you use the auto-generated captions that YouTube provides, they won’t be indexed because it tends to be very poor quality.

Having a transcript accompany the audio or video on your website is also beneficial as search engines can easily crawl the text. A study conducted by Liveclicker compared 37 webpages with transcripts, and found they averaged 16% more revenue after being added.

5. Captions and transcripts improve SEO

Depending on the length of the videos you produce, there may be lots of rich, valuable information on a number of different topics contained within a single video. Transcripts of these longer videos may reveal some natural breaking points between different topics, so each transcript could be broken up into several distinct pages or blog posts on your website. That gives you the ability to generate focused content around additional keywords, and if you link back and forth within these pages, you’ll have the added SEO benefit of those extra internal links.

6. Transcripts ease content creation.

According to LinkedIn, 45% of marketers say that posting content to their company’s blog is the most effective social media tactic. SEO has evolved, and it has become clear that Google’s mission is to reward those sites which produce real, insightful content. That means an increased burden on marketers to make sure the content they produce is consistent and of high quality. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute reported one of the top challenges for B2B marketers is consistently producing a variety of engaging content. By using video transcripts as a jumping off point for future blog posts, social media posts, and other key forms of content, marketers can focus their efforts on measuring what is and isn’t working, and create the kind of effective content Google rewards from an SEO perspective.

Have you used transcription or closed captions with your website’s video traffic? What SEO benefits have you experienced? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below. Or, follow this link to get $10 off of your first transcript or captions order with Rev.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown is a writer and a lover of all things video.