Closed Captioning: Your SEO Friend

By: Louis J. Rebecchi

Examine the description of any popular YouTube video and you may notice something you hadn’t previously- its length!  Sure, the short descriptive paragraph just below the title likely gives you all the info you’re looking for but click “more” and you may be surprised to find how much more text is suddenly revealed. You may find paragraph upon paragraph unfurling before you, detailing all kinds of material loosely related to the video you are watching.

Until recently this block of text was the primary way to make video visible to search engines. By loading up the descriptive text with keywords and details of the video, authors would be leveraging SEO tactics.

But as times and technology continues to shift, we now see another aspect of video becoming important to its SEO- transcriptions and close captioning. Thanks to auto-generation tools built into many popular video hosting sites, the actual audio from within the video is now transcribed, captioned, and searchable. Meaning we no longer need to rely on our ability to create lengthy video descriptions that may or may not reflect the actual content, as the primary resource for SEO.  We can quite literally let the video itself do the talking.

Closed captioning on video has other benefits as well.  Besides ranking higher in search results for the aforementioned reasons, closed captioning increases video engagement.  Or perhaps rather, it allows engagement with audiences regardless of their ability to hear the video.  Most video appearing on social media feeds default to a muted state- meaning closed captioning is paramount to communicating any message not immediately obvious from its visuals. Either way, including closed captioning on video, only helps your message reach an audience.

As technology develops and more aspects of video SEO are automated, we will need to think less about how we leverage them. For now, though, it’s important to recognize and ensure the use of transcription and closed captioning in video marketing efforts. The days of lengthy video descriptions may not be behind us just yet, but they certainly have gained a companion in their SEO efforts.

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