How Subtitles Help Boost Your Video SEO

How Subtitles Help Boost Your Video SEO

Add subtitles to gain video SEO. Tips on how to optimise your video SEO. 

Did you know that Google robots do not detect the visual and audible content of a video? Meaning, that all the effort you put into making a killer video will not be considered in SEO. 

The content of your video will not directly benefit the video SEO – unless you add subtitles, captions and/or transcripts to your video. Adding subtitles or a transcript to your video when uploading it to different video player platforms will enable Google Search engine optimization robots to detect the keywords in your video. 

This is the most important reason why subtitles will enhance video SEO.

Over the past decade a revolution has taken place on the internet. Videos have become the number one prioritised form of content shared online. Watching a video usually doesn’t take much effort and it’s even something most people associate with relaxation. This makes videos one of the most powerful tools for businesses in many fields. Hence today’s big focus on improving the quality of the video content produced.

Video SEO

What is SEO? SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and is the process that helps to improve website traffic, based on the relevance of content being presented on a website. Basically, it decides the ranking of a website in the search engine, considering several factors, such as relevant keywords, user experience and engagement metrics. 

The way SEO works is that Google’s computer robots, called Google bots/spiders, crawl websites to examine their content. They detect keywords, number of views, bounce rate, engagement rate, and when it comes to videos also view duration. The frequency of them crawling a website depends on factors such as how often the website is being updated with new content, prioritising newly updated content.

There is just one obstacle when it comes to the intelligence of Google bots – they are not able to understand the visual and audible parts of videos. A pity when we know videos are the easiest way to reach our audience. 

So how do we solve this? How do we make video content count in SEO? You might have already guessed the answer to this question, as it’s not that complicated at all. We need to add subtitles, captions and/or a transcript to our videos. 

Benefits of subtitling your video

Subtitles are the written presentation of the spoken words in a video and can in addition to this display other audible details such as footsteps approaching or emotional background music. 

Originally subtitles were used for silent movies in the 1900s to contribute with some explanation to what was going on, on the screen. After it became possible to make movies with audio, their purpose changed towards assisting the general viewer and those hard of hearing with understanding the movie better.

As for what is happening today, subtitles have many benefits and purposes. 

Think of how most people watch videos on the go with the audio turned off – either to avoid disturbing those around or to keep discrete. Yet another reason why subtitles are important for video performance.

In this article we will try to give you a better understanding of how you can improve your video SEO.  

What kind of subtitles increase video SEO? 

OK, now that we know we must add subtitles, captions and/or transcripts to our video in order to improve video SEO, how do we actually add them? 

First, it is important to understand that there are different types of subtitling, and that, in order for the Google crawlers to read them, we have to use a specific type of subtitles. This type is called closed caption subtitling, and it is the most common type of subtitles used today. 

Closed Caption refers to the fact that the subtitles can be turned on and off, which gives the viewer the opportunity to watch the video with or without subtitles – often with more languages to choose between. These are the kind of subtitles you can see on for example Netflix or BBC iPlayer and as an option on some YouTube videos as well.

Closed caption subtitles are attached to a video as an external subtitle file such as an SRT, VTT or TXT file. This is what makes them readable for Google bots. When uploading a video to YouTube for example, you must upload your SRT/TXT/VTT file separately as well. This is opposed to Open Caption subtitling where the subtitles are burned into the video visually in the editing process.  

How to add automatically generated subtitles 

Manually subtitling a video is a very time-consuming task and hiring a professional to do it for you is expensive. Luckily computer technology has evolved, and over the past decade we have been enriched with AI tools that can help us auto generate subtitles. Even though most AI software nowadays are quite advanced with an accuracy up to 98%, some do work better than others, so make sure to do some research before you commit to your subtitle tool of choice. A concern can be whether the AI software is able to properly convert speech to text. What if it mishears everything and you end up with something completely unintelligible? We highly recommend you find a software provider who offers a free version, so that you can try it out first and avoid wasting money on anything that doesn’t work for you. 

Tips on how to increase video SEO

Obviously the first step towards improving video SEO is to make a video of high quality to keep viewers’ attention. This decreases bounce rate and increases dwell time and engagement rates. It always helps to make videos that add value to your specific audience and is a topic of interest that leads to a juicy debate.

By adding subtitles to your video, the comprehension of the video will increase, meaning viewers will understand your video better, and as a result they are more likely to share it or embed it in an article or a blog post. People sharing or embedding your video provides you with a free external link – increasing the visibility of your video and boosting video SEO.

Adding subtitles can improve engagement rates with up to 80% and hundreds of studies show that subtitling a video improves comprehension, attention, and memory of the video. (1)

Here are some tips on how to gain better video SEO: 

1# Add subtitles (closed caption subtitling!) 

This will not only help search engines to understand the meaning of your video by judging your keywords relevance – it will also help increase viewer engagement rates by clarifying your video content and its message.

2# Add video captions for the same reason as mentioned above.

3# Add a video transcript to the video description when you upload it to an online platform such as YouTube, Vimeo etc. If the video is going on your website, add the transcript to the page where the video is presented. This will also help Google bots detect the keywords and increase video SEO even more. This can be useful for more than just SEO – it increases the comprehension of your content. For example, it is great for studying purposes, where it allows viewers to easily recall what your video is about.

4# Save time by getting AI to transcribe and generate subtitles for your videos automatically. The good news here is, that you don’t need to sit down and type everything into a document in order to get a transcript of your movie/video. You can simply send your video through an online, automatic transcription software and download your subtitles as a text file (SRT, VTT or TXT file).

5# Try to add a few strategically placed and relevant keywords in your subtitles when no one is speaking – this will increase your keyword profile.

6# Make the video content and the keywords in your subtitle text correspond well! If your content answers the viewers’ queries and are aligned with what they are looking for, bouncing rates will decrease. Meaning viewers will stay on your page and explore it more in depth – rather than ‘bouncing’ away just as they have arrived. 

7# Choose your title and subheadings based on the right keywords. This will make it easier for Google and other search engines to get it right!

8# Include descriptive captions in your video thumbnail. The video thumbnail is the image representing your video, and often it is what decides whether viewers will click on your video or not. Make sure it captures everyone’s attention!

9# Host your video on the right platform. This means choosing onethat will allow you to upload subtitle files to your video. Select a fast video delivering platform, so that your users can watch the videos comfortably without too much loading time.

10# To save time and resources, use automatic subtitling software.

Regardless of whether your ambition is to achieve higher search engine rankings, to reach out to new audiences or to engage better with your target audience to build a loyal community, adding subtitles to your video will tremendously help you achieve your video goals.


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