New, exclusively for members
Free Personalized Learning Plan
Find the resources that are right for you with a personalized learning planGet started
In the past, there were four main things that needed your attention in order to optimise your online videos for search engines; video title, description, category and tags. These things still apply but now there is another really useful tool. Closed captioning means that the content of your video is available in written word format which is something that search engines can read and identify.
What is closed captioning?
Closed captioning is the process of displaying text on a screen (e.g. on a TV programme or online video) to provide additional information to what is already being presented.
The reason it is termed ‘closed’ captioning is that only viewers who choose to activate them will see them. ‘Open’ captions are visible to all viewers.
Some people use the terms ‘captions’ and ‘subtitles’ interchangeably. However, captions are slightly different as they aim to describe what is on screen in more detail. For example, captions can capture sound effects, narration and other information, as well as dialogue.
This video was made by a deaf person to show fellow deaf people how closed captioning works:
1 Including captions and/or subtitles in your videos is good practice because it makes your videos accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.
2 Captions and subtitles are rich in keywords. Unlike the audio/visual content of a video, captions and subtitles can be indexed and understood by search engines, like any other text. This means that your videos are more likely to be found if you use closed captioning.
There are other benefits of using captions, depending on the purpose of your video. If your video is a learning or training tool closed captioning is useful because it enables the viewer to see written terminology as well as listen to the spoken word version of the information. It is also useful for rebellious people who want to watch video on their devices without anyone noticing at work and so can’t have the audio! Video with captioning is easier to follow if there is a language barrier too.
This video uses closed captioning and also explains closed captioning. Ignore the fact they are trying to sell you their closed captioning services because we are about to tell you how to do it for yourself.
1. You need to have either a caption file or a transcript file ready
2. Log in to your YouTube account
3. Go to Video Manager (mouse over your name in the top right corner)
4. Find the video you want to add captions to and click on the downwards arrow next to the EDIT button for that video. Select ‘Captions’
5. Click on the ‘Add New Captions or Transcript’ button
6. You will be prompted to upload you caption or transcript file. Search for your file and then click ‘Upload’.
Preparing a caption file for YouTube
You have a few options. You can
We are going to tell you about one really simple option for creating your own caption files using an online captioning site.
CaptionTube - an online captioning site (http://captiontube.appspot.com/)
CaptionTube is an online captioning site, enabling you to create closed captions for yourself. You can log in to CaptionTube using your log in details from your Google or YouTube account and CaptionTube will immediately find your existing videos. The interface is simply laid out and extremely easy to use.
You will see that once you have imported the video you want to add captions to, you are taken to the editing page. This includes a playback screen, controls and a timeline. You simply select an in-point and an out-point for each caption that you will type into the ‘Caption text’ box.
When you have added captions for your entire video you can export the captions file using the Export button. This creates a caption file which CaptionTube allows you to email to yourself or someone else. You can then upload this file to your video in YouTube as explained above.
Note: CaptionTube doesn’t create or keep a copy of your videos. They are still hosted in YouTube and CaptionTube just keeps a bookmark to it.
Some tips for writing closed captions
1 Don’t put more than two lines of text on the screen at any one time
2 Make sure that the text is displayed for enough time so that people of differing levels of ability have a chance to read it
3 Divide the text logically e.g. into sentences or other obvious breaks
Closed Captions and links in videos
I thought that it was worth quickly mentioning how closed captioning differs to links in Youtube: Closed captioning is for text based details on the video content whereas if you want to add additional functionality to your video in the way of links then you will need to use the annotations function in Youtube.
A restriction on this is that with Youtube annotations it is not possible to link to external domains (anything outside Youtube) so you can just link to your other videos or your Youtube channel.
However, there are a couple of free tools called Linkedtube and Viewbix that both allow you to add external links into your Youtube videos. I have had problems using Linkedtube when embedding videos but I have not actually tested Viewbix yet.
Here is a video comparing the two:
YouTube have introduced an auto-captions feature. They have combined Google’s automatic speech recognition technology with the YouTube caption function which means that automatic captions can be generated. The system isn’t perfect and it is therefore the responsibility of the owner to check the captions that have been created to make sure they are accurate. This technology should only improve over time making all video more accessible and making the lives of video producers a lot easier.
Watch Rhett and Link test out Youtube auto-captions with "hilarious results"!
By Neil Davidson
Neil Davidson is the Founder of MWP Digital Media, a leading Corporate Video Production Company. He also runs My Web Presenters who specialise in creating video spokesperson videos. They work with businesses of all sizes to create and market compelling and emotive videos that get specific and clear results. If you would like to have a conversation about how to create video for the web then please contact Neil here.
Start the discussion on our community and social networks
Recommended Blog Posts
Interview: Itamar Ben Hemo, CEO of Rivery One of the many recurring questions we get asked at Smart Insights and in our member’s Facebook group is, is there one platform that tracks and manages all ads and content across various distribution …..
More and more businesses are embracing the concept of big data versus treating it like just another buzz-phrase. Once heralded as “the next big thing,” adoption of big data analytics is at an all-time high with no signs of slowing …..
Popular Blog Posts
Statistics on consumer mobile usage and adoption to inform your mobile marketing strategy mobile site design and app development “Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014” was the huge headline summarising the bold prediction from 2008 by Mary Meeker, an …..
Landing page examples and best practice advice Discussion of web design in companies who don’t know the power of landing pages still often focuses on the home page. But savvy companies know that custom landing pages are essential to maximise conversion …..
Use the RACE Planning System to get ahead in your digital marketing The first edition of my book Internet Marketing: Strategy, Planning and Implementation from 2001 included a popular template for creating what we then called an Internet Marketing Plan. Today, …..