captions and transcripts

The typical visitor spends 88% more time on a website with video than a site without video according to Forbes Magazine. Getting the search engines to find your video and site is something we’ve discussed in Metadata for Video. In that article we learned that manually written video metadata can include text descriptions of the video content and can help search engines find your video. Two other text elements that can help this discovery include captions and transcripts.


To make captions, begin by dividing transcript of the spoken word into chunks which are called “caption frames.” These frames are time-coded to synch with the audio. The resulting output is captions which are usually at the bottom of a video screen. Viewers can to follow along with the written text and hear the audio simultaneously. It’s very important to use only closed captions. Open captions cannot be read by search engines. Closed captions offer search engines a readable text file. Open Captions do not. Closed captions can be turned on and off, but open captions are burned into the video.


Transcripts are not synchronized with the audio like captions are. Transcripts are fine for audio-only content such as a podcast, but captions are required for videos.
Both closed captions and transcripts are helpful to viewers. Many viewers use captions to help follow the story or to watch a video silently. There are many settings where playing the audio of a video is disruptive or rude to others in the room or vehicle. Transcripts, on the other hand, are ideal for a viewer who wants to scan the entire content of the video more quickly. Transcripts can also be used to create additional content such as articles, ebooks or infographics.

But for search engines closed captions and transcripts are most helpful for indexing and ranking a video and this is the key concept. Give them text to read and the search engines will reward the video with more viewers. Captions also entice viewers to watch significantly more of a video. See 85% of Facebook Video is Viewed Without Sound.
It’s smart to provide both a transcript and closed captions, but captions will take longer to create. So if you’re in a hurry to release the video include the transcript first and then follow up with the closed captions.