Monday, June 30, 2014

Transcriptions and Captions for Video SEO

Transcriptions and Captions for Video SEO

Your website audience may prefer to watch a video over reading the transcript of the material presented but search engines prefer plain text. So video represents some special challenges to search engines. They have to find ways to attach relevance and significance to different videos. They do that using signals like velocity of comments, number of views, keywords in the title tag and so on. We can help the serach engines and rank much higher if you can supplement the video content with text, transcripts, captions and annotations about the video content.

A transcript is a word for word copy of what's said in the video. You can upload a transcript directly to YouTube and you can put it directly on the page on your site where you embed your video. Either way it's giving the search engines an accurate copy of the video. This will give search engines a full text version to crawl and use to classify both the video and the page.

Youtube may try to transcrib the video but the technology to do that isn’t quite accurate enough to be used as a classification tool. So if you put the transcription on the page in your website where you embed your video. It will provide Google with a very powerful signal as to the content of that video.

Google will assume the text on the page is related to the video itself. Plus it can help you with conventional SEO because you put more content on that page. If you upload the transcript to YouTube then we know for a fact that Google crawls and indexes that text. Google uses that text when it's classifying the video and deciding where it should rank.

Captions are different. Captions are time based and they're synchronized with the video so that the transcribed words or other information appear on the screen right when the actor on the screen is supposedly saying those words. This is much, much harder to do. Captions take a little more effort because they have to be synchronized and delivered in a certain format.

So captions have to be connected directly to the video. If you add captions, remember to put a copy on your embed page as well otherwise they may not provide the same relevance. Use captions if you're going to have a lot of users using mobile devices because they may be in places where there's too much background noise to listen to the audio of your video.

Another way to supplement the content in a video is to use annotations. An annotation is a bit of text that's added directly to the video itself and appears in the video at a particular frame.

While it's not 100% clear how or if these directly impact rankings, they're a useful tool and they can indirectly help video SEO. They do that by providing a call to action. Maybe providing a link to your website or otherwise adding details to the video that isn’t there.
So you can use annotations to create links to other resources on your website or elsewhere. You can point out important details in the video. And you can provide a call to action. So you can provide something at the end of the video like share this video with your friends or rate this video below. Or you can combine it with a link and say visit our Facebook page and like us there.

Use annotations when and if they make sense. Unlike transcriptions and captions which we know get crawled and indexed by Google and therefore impact the rankings. Annotations have a secondary effect on SEO. They get people to take action. Be mindful of that when you invest effort and focus on the transcript or captions first. Then move on to using annotations. Captions, transcripts and annotations are always to supplement your video content.  If you put in all the time to create and upload a video, take the extra few minutes to annotate it and pay for a transcription or a caption. You'll see the results in your rankings.

Steve Steinberger

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