YouTube Captions: Underused but Powerful (YouTube Tips #3)

By January 15, 2014 One Comment

This short post is part of a series of posts on how to get the most out YouTube as a hosting/sharing platform. Note: Youtube may not be the best place to host your content. For more information on which hosting provider to use, read this post.

YouTube has come a long way since it’s birth in 2006. What first started out as a simple video hosting service that only displayed postage stamp-sized video has transformed into one of the most visited sites on the internet. There are a plethora of tools for YouTube now: Annotations, support for 4K video, flexible embedding, and monitization.

YouTube in 2005

Youtube, circa 2005

But there’s one tool that many people overlook, especially marketers and SEOs , and in doing so really sacrifice lot of potential for their videos. That tool is the lowly “Closed Caption” button.

Why would you want to use closed captioning?

Great Question! A couple reasons:

1) Accessibility – Some of your customers or future customers may be deaf or hard-of-hearing, so you’re extending access to your content to those people. That’s a swell thing to do!

2) YouTube crawls caption files – This is a big one, and it’s rooted in SEO. Videos are inherently difficult for google to index because they consist of moving images and sound. So if you post a video about horse training, the only way google knows that video is about horse training is if there is text attached to that video that reads “horse training” Bottom line: google loves text. The more text you give, the more accurately your video can be indexed.

Wait, doesn’t YouTube automatically caption all videos?

Good point. Yes, YouTube auto-captions videos. The problem is that currently it does a horrible job actually translating sound to text correctly. Your best bet is to submit captions for YouTube to use. If you don’t want to take the time to transcribe your videos to text, there are many online services that will do it for you at a great price, like and At Bullhorn Media we use angelbrowntranscription as she offers more custom services like time-coded documents that are useful for video professionals.

YouTube Captions

So the next time you produce a video for YouTube, don’t forget this small but powerful tool.
It will give your video, and your marketing, an extra edge.

Previously: Optimizing YouTube descriptions
Next up: What kind of content should I produce for YouTube?


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