Adding captions to YouTube

Why would you want to add captions to your YouTube videos? I can think of a few reasons:

  1. Your videos become accessible to people who cannot hear.
  2. Your videos become more accessible to search. (Check out this search for three terms that only appear in the captions for this video. They’re not in the description text.)
  3. People watching your videos in an office/library can do so without headphones.
  4. Non-native speakers may find it easier to read the text.
  5. Captions can be translated (manually or automatically) into other languages, becoming subtitles and expanding your audience without you having to create multiple videos for multiple languages.
  6. Fun hacks.

Whoa, wait, what was #2 again? Search? Accessible? Did Wysz just give an SEO tip on his personal blog? Yep.*

So, how easy is it to caption your videos? Well, I screencasted the entire process for a video live. I did it for a pretty short video, but you get the idea of what the process is like:

In this demo, I used an application written for Google App Engine, since it’s free and easy. For more information about how to create captions and subtitles, check out this help article from YouTube.

* I work at Google on search quality. Look for me in the Google Webmaster Help forum. Oh, and anything I write on this blog is my own view and not on behalf of Google, etc, etc.

3 thoughts on “Adding captions to YouTube”

  1. Careful if you start giving out SEO tips more regularly, you might end up with 60 irrelevant SEO questions in the comments of every post!

    I can imagine that captioning instructional videos, such as railscasts (, would be extremely helpful for search.

    If only the job of writing captions was easier or more appealing, Google should make a game out of it, like the image labeler.

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