Captioning your YouTube videos not only makes them more acessable for the hearing impaired, but they also make the contents of your video more accessible to YouTube. Once YouTube knows exactly what is being said it your video you will be more likely to rank when people search for related words or phrases.
There are numerous ways to create transcript or caption files that we’ll cover in detail later, but a very simple way already exists in the YouTube interface. Follow along with one of your own videos and watch your views increase.
Find a Video You’d Like to Caption
Navigate to your YouTube Video Manager and find a video you’d like to caption. Click the drop-down arrow on the ‘Edit’ button and select ‘Captions’.
Click on YouTube’s Automatic Caption
YouTube will create an automatic caption file within a day or so of your video upload date. This automatic caption file is created using Google’s own speech to text technology and, while correct some of the time, is usually hilariously wrong.
To get started we’ll need to click on the automatic transcript button and see just how hilariously wrong it is.
Correct YouTube’s Mistakes
Once you click on YouTube’s automatic caption file you’ll be able to see their best guess of what you’re saying and when you say it.
Take a moment to enjoy how ridiculous the automatic captions are. This is what YouTube thinks your video is about.
In the example above YouTube thinks I’m talking about “printers” and “real estate mideast” in my video’s opening. I most certainly am not.
So, I simply begin by typing what I’m actually saying in each text box.
If I play the video on the left, the editor on the right will automatically move to corresponding text box based on the time of the video.
Once I make a correction, the editor will cross out YouTube’s old version and use yours instead.
Keep making edits until you reach the end of your video (I told you this was easy, not quick). This process is much easier if you have a script you can copy and paste from, or if you’re able to have a team-member or virtual assistant do it for you.
Name & Save Your Caption File
Once you’ve made it to the end of your video you’ll need to give your caption track a name. This name is visible to viewers if they click on the closed caption button, so don’t name it anything weird like “Venti Captions, No Whip”. I usually just name it “Manual Captions”.
Disable The Old Captions
There’s probably no reason why anyone would want to switch back to the automatic captions, so you may as well disable them. To do this you just click on the old automatic captions and click ‘Disable’.
What if there are no automatic captions?
If you don’t see an automatic caption to work with, it’s still easy to get a caption track loaded. Start by opening up a simple text editor like Notepad on a PC or TextEdit on a Mac and type out everything you say in your video. This is even easier if you worked off of a video script when you recorded your video. When you’re all done, save your document as a .txt file.
Back on YouTube, click the upload transcript or caption button and select the text file you just created.
Since our document doesn’t have any time codes, mark it as a transcript, give your track a name and hit the upload button.
From here your transcript will go into processing mode where YouTube will take the text you entered and do its best to match it up with the audio in your video. How cool is that?
You’re video now has a caption track, so go see it in action by clicking the “Closed Caption” button on your video’s watch page. If you have any questions on captioning your video on YouTube, leave them in the comments below.
For more information on optimizing your video, head on over to my YouTube Meta-Data Strategy Guide.