Video SEO: Using Captions to Boost Your Video Rankings & How This Works
As a marketer, you already know how important video content is to your content marketing arsenal.
And you’re not alone. In fact, a full 81% of marketing teams use video content to attract and engage their target audience.
It’s what the modern consumer wants. The above report found that two-thirds of respondents would prefer to watch a short video to learn more about a brand’s products or services (as opposed to viewing text-based content). What’s more, Cisco predicts that in the near future, video content consumption will be fifteen times what it was back in 2017.
This means you’re going to have a lot of competition moving forward—much more than you already do. In other words, you’re going to need to do everything you possibly can to ensure your videos get noticed over your competitors’.
This means video SEO is a must.
Here, we’re going to discuss how adding captions to your videos can boost your content’s rankings, and lead to major growth for your brand.
How Does Adding Captions Impact Video Search Engine Rankings?
There are two overarching ways that adding captions to videos can improve your search engine rankings.
Improving search engine visibility
Improving audience engagement
Improving contextual text information
Video SEO for Google, YouTube, and More
For Google and YouTube to start displaying your videos, the site’s algorithms need to know what your content is all about.
Adding captions, then, will supplement the information you’ve already provided—such as the title and description of your video. This allows search engines to “read” your video content in text-based form.
“On average, a new video of ours gets about 450 views but if it’s picked up by YouTube or Google search, it gets 10x the views. We’ve seen adding Rev captions helps the video get indexed.”
Evan Marshall, Co-Founder of Plain Jane Hemp & Extent Solutions Co.
While search engine technology is continually evolving, we’re not yet at the point where algorithms can understand video content with 100% accuracy. Instead of relying on less-than-accurate auto-transcription of your video content, it’s best to create a text file for search engines to refer to.
This all but ensures your content will rank higher for a given search term than content that doesn’t offer captions at all (all other things being equal, of course). And, it will also allow your high-quality content to differentiate itself from lower-quality content focusing on the same topics and keywords.
This is the case for most video platforms that allow you to add captions. In addition to YouTube and Google, you can improve video SEO for video searches on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, and many more.
(As a quick note, this only applies to closed captions added in post-production via a caption file like an SRT file. Open captions (also called permanent captions or burned-in captions) are technically a part of the video—which search algorithms cannot read—the caption file is essential for video SEO purposes and you can order one here.)
Google and YouTube are able to get contextual information about your videos from caption content. Have you ever searched for a topic in Google and clicked a video result, and it takes you right to a specific section of the video? Google is often using textual caption information to find the specific part of the video that relates to your search query. Pretty awesome, right?
YouTube also uses captions to “harness the power of your video’s text” and figure out what keywords to rank videos for in YouTube’s search engine. Here’s an example of this in action:
Interestingly when you search Elden Ring, my latest video comes up pretty high, but I didn't even put in the description, use a hashtag, or do any tags. It seems like it is coming from my CC, which is really interesting. CC might be more valuable than tags now and that's wild. pic.twitter.com/hgLG4MpYJv
— Razbuten (@theRazbuten) October 24, 2021
Your video content’s search engine ranking is also impacted by how well it performs in terms of engaging an audience.
(In other words, better performance metrics [e.g., clicks, view time, bounce rate, etc] will tell Google and YouTube that your video is high in quality. In turn, it’ll be ranked higher for the appropriate search terms.)
Adding captions, then, can enhance this engagement in a variety of ways.
First of all, the more aligned the content is with the user’s search query, the more likely they are to check it out. This is a no-brainer: If the content of your video is what the individual was looking for, and the captions reflect this, they’ll have every reason to click on your video on their search engine results page.
There’s also the accessibility factor. Adding captions allows you to engage those who need them, such as the hard-of-hearing, or those not proficient in the language used in your video. This is another no-brainer: If the viewer physically can’t consume or comprehend your content, they’re not going to engage with it—and will likely engage with other, more accessible content made by your competitors.
Captions also add a layer of accessibility for those who can’t play a video out loud at the present moment—or who simply choose not to do so.
This can increase the chances of having a viewer actually watch your content to completion right away (as opposed to “saving it for later”—and possibly never returning).
Finally, captions can enhance the viewer’s understanding of the video content in question—and cause them to dig deeper into the topic at hand and into your brand.
Bringing this all back to video search engine optimization, the more engaged your audience is with your video content, the more valuable it will be seen by Google’s algorithms. The more valuable your content is deemed, the higher it will appear for your targeted keywords.
Captions as a Springboard to Video Marketing (and Content Marketing) Excellence
Taking all this a step further, adding captions to your video content can allow you to make improvements to your content marketing strategy, overall.
(And, of course, making these improvements will inevitably lead to an improvement in your search engine rankings.)
This applies to your individual video content creation efforts, as well as your more “big picture” approach to content marketing.
Looking at individual content, the addition of captions can help align your phrasing and terminology between non-scripted videos and its accompanying meta-data.
For example, let’s say you’ve conducted an interview with a specialist in your niche. After transcribing the interview for captioning purposes, you discover the interviewee used a number of important phrases multiple times throughout the session. You can then use these terms within your video’s title and description to attract viewers specifically searching for said phrases.
Having a text-based version of your unscripted video content also makes it easier to repurpose this content, as well.
Say you’re looking to create an infographic or blog post detailing the step-by-step process discussed in a video interview. Instead of having to watch the entire video (or skip around looking for specific moments within the video), you can simply refer to the transcript to immediately find the information you’re looking for.
Note: It’s worth noting that in some cases, the video’s plaintext transcription can actually be used as a piece of repurposed content itself. In other cases, though, you’ll want to tailor the transcript’s contents to the applicable format as necessary.
In addition to opening the door for content repurposing, adding captions to videos can also help you identify topics for further exploration.
Are there other ways to go about uncovering these high-ranking search terms? For sure.
Is there more to improving your video content marketing efforts than simply identifying hot topics and trending terms? Absolutely.
But, as we said in the beginning, the search engine and video content landscape is becoming increasingly competitive. You need to use all the available resources you can to not just create high-quality content, but to also ensure this content gets noticed by your target audience.
Let’s put it this way:
If your marketing team experiences an “A-Ha!” moment simply by analyzing your videos’ captions, it will be well worth the effort in the long run.
Caption Your Videos—and Dominate the Search Engines
Whether aiming to boost your video search engine rankings immediately, or supercharge your content marketing efforts altogether, captioning your videos is a must.
While transcribing video content in-house is possible, it can become quite the time-consuming process as your content library grows larger and larger. The longer it takes to complete this more menial work, the longer it will take to experience the benefits of doing so.
Instead of wasting excess time transcribing videos yourself, check out how the team at Rev can help. All you’ll need to do is send us the video you need transcribed, and we’ll transcribe it with near-100% accuracy. You’ll then be able to publish the video with captions on a number of platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook.