The Impact of Transcripts and Captions on SEO

by Jay Durgan  16 December 2015

Why should you include captions and transcripts on your content, and what benefits do they have for your brand, other than to aid users who are deaf or hard of hearing? There are actually quite a few benefits, particularly when it comes to marketing. In fact, transcripts and captions are two of your best tools for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is relatively easy for blogs, articles, and other text-based content. Google searches the entire body of the page, so all you need to do is find the right keywords to attract viewers, and include them in the body of your content, to help bump it higher in search results and increase your web traffic for that page. For videos, however, SEO is a little trickier. You can’t search for the content of a video the way you can a blog. In most videos, particularly ones on video hosting sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, the only searchable text is the title, a brief description of the content, and a few meta tags that highlight some of your basic points. Even though the video is your content, it’s the text on the page that search engines target. So if someone wants to find your video based on, say, a particularly memorable quote, then they’re out of luck, unless they can remember the title of the video as well. Because it’s the text that search engines target, it behooves you to include as much text as possible on your video pages. The more descriptive your text is of your video content, the better you’ll be able to drive search results for that video. Therefore logically, the most effective solution is to include a full transcript of what the video says. Including a transcript of the video in the description, and/or on the page on your website where the video is embedded, is a great way to beef up your content with more detailed keywords, and ultimately boost your SEO. In fact, videos that include transcripts in the description have been proven to attract bigger audiences than those that don’t. Transcripts can even assist you in finding specific keyword tags for your video before you post it. What wording is used within the video to discuss each topic? Do different speakers phrase the same point in different ways? If so, then you should have a separate key phrase tag for each wording, to reach viewers no matter which way they search for it. Does one speaker touch on another topic that’s not the focal point of the video, but still important? That can be another keyword as well—one that you might otherwise have missed. Going through the transcript before you post the video allows you to examine the content of your video more carefully, and thus can reveal new SEO opportunities that you might not get from simply watching the video. But what about captioning? Captions are an important part of SEO as well. Both Google and YouTube actually index the text of video captions, to be included in searches. Therefore, captions can provide content that’s rich in keywords as well. So as a rule, it’s smart to include both, to increase your chances of reaching a wider audience.

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