Close Captioning YouTube Videos: Why & How to Do It

As of 2020, YouTube boasted 2 billion users all over the world. From this figure itself, you must have realized how popular YouTube is. If you are already a YouTuber or planning to become one, you must ensure that your videos reach the maximum audience possible. Apart from creating quality content, you should effectively use the various tools YouTube offers to drive more engagement to your YouTube Channel and videos. One of the easiest methods to grow your audience is by adding closed captions to your videos.

Here is everything you need to know about how closed captioning can help you and how to make the best use of them.

Meaning of Closed Captions (CC)

Captions are often confused with subtitles. While they are very similar, they do not meat the same. Both captions and subtitles are visible on videos as text overlays. While subtitle denotes translations of the audio into a different language, captions refer to the transcription of the audio.

Essentially, there are two kinds of captions- open and closed. Open captions are embedded in the video, and so, they cannot be removed. On the contrary, closed captions offer you a choice whether you wish to show the captions in your videos or not.

Both captions and subtitles are important in enabling smooth communication. Closed captions particularly help in sharing videos with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Hence, the use of closed captions enables you to reach a greater audience by targeting these groups of people.

Benefits of Adding Closed Captions

1.Gives Greater Number of People Access to Your Videos:

More than 300 million people in the world suffer from hearing disabilities. Most of the time, the ability of these people to watch and understand videos remains limited due to the absence of proper captions. Adding accurate closed captions to YouTube videos gives them access to your content. This helps you to expand your reach as well as enable people with hearing disorders to get accessible videos and thus, an “equivalent experience.”

2.Increases User Experience:

In 2020, a study conducted by the UK’s Office of Communications revealed that around 80% of people in the UK who watched videos with close captioning had no hearing disorders. One of the major reasons behind this observation is that close captioning allows people to enjoy videos in places where they might not be able to play audio. For example, people prefer to turn off the videos when traveling on a noisy train, sitting in a library, working at the office, and so on. In short, forgetting earphones or being in certain places would not stop viewers from watching your content if you add accurate YouTube CC.

3.Enables Easier Comprehension of Content for Non-Native English Speakers:

You will be surprised to know almost 60% of total YouTube views are from countries with a majority of non-native English speakers. You can tap this huge audience by making your YouTube content easier for them to understand. One of the ways to do this is by adding closed captions. Non-native English speakers may not be able to easily grasp what is spoken in your audio but reading the captions will make their understandability better.

4.Increases Number of Views on YouTube Videos:

When you do video captioning, you are able to target a greater audience such as those with hearing issues or non-native English speakers. This automatically increases the number of YouTube views on your videos. But that’s not all. Closed captioning also boost your SEO ranking. Google and YouTube index the captions and thus, enhance the possibility of people discovering your content. Also, Google allows higher preference to YouTube videos that include captions and ranks them on top as they are more informative. Usage of captions also helps in creating internal and external links. This also increases SEO ranking as Google considers these parameters.

5.Drives More Engagement and Increases Watch Time:

Lastly, close captioning ensures higher engagement from YouTube viewers. This is essential for the growth of your YouTube channel. Captions also attract better responses and increase social reach. Apart from engagement, video captioning also helps in increasing view time. According to experts, videos with closed captions have a 12% higher view time as compared to those without them. Most of these videos are viewed till the end.

Adding Closed Captions on YouTube

YouTube allows content creators to add closed captions manually as well as automatically. Let’s check out the various ways of adding Closed Captions on YouTube.

Steps for Adding Closed Captions Automatically

  1. .Log Into your YouTube channel and visit the YouTube Studio.
  2. From the menu appearing on the left side, select ‘Subtitles.’
  3. Click on the video you wish to add captions to.
  4. When you click on the video and select subtitles, a search bar will open where you can select your preferred language.
  5. On the selection of the relevant language, YouTube will automatically create captions for your video.
  6. Before saving, go through each caption frame in the YouTube caption editor to correct any errors.
  7. Hit publish once you are done editing.

It is possible that you might not find automatic closed captions for your videos. This could be due to:

  • The audio is too complex in the video for building automatic captions.
  • The length of the video is too long.
  • At the beginning of the YouTube video, there is a long silence.
  • There is overlapping of speech as multiple speakers are present.
  • YouTube is unable to recognize the speech or the sound quality is poor.
  • Automatic captions are not available for the language chosen.

If you face such issues, do not worry! You can add captions manually as well.

Steps for Adding Closed Captions Manually

To manually add closed captions to your YouTube video, follow these steps:

  1. Log Into your YouTube channel and visit the YouTube Studio.
  2. From the left menu, select ‘Subtitles.’
  3. Choose the video you wish to add captions to.
  4. Now select ‘Type Manually’.
  5. Play the YouTube video and type the captions.
  6. After typing all the captions, click on ‘Publish.’

Steps for Adding Closed Captions Via Transcripts

To upload your ready transcripts as closed captions on YouTube, you need to have both your text file as well as time codes. Once you have correctly framed the caption format for your video, you can upload the same on YouTube by following the steps mentioned below:

  1. Log Into your YouTube channel and visit the YouTube Studio.
  2. From the left menu, select ‘Videos.’
  3. Next, click on the ‘Advanced’ tab.
  4. Now select ‘Upload Subtitles/cc.’
  5. Choose from the options- ‘With Timing’ or ‘Without timing.’ Click ‘Continue.’
  6. Select the file with the transcript.
  7. Click on the ‘Save’ tab.

Tips for Closed Captioning

To make the most efficient use of closed captioning, keep in mind the pointers given below.

  1. You cannot reap the benefits of anything unless you have a comprehensive understanding of the concerned subject. In the same way, to reap the highest benefits of close captioning, you must be aware of the different formats of close captions. You must also carefully go through the closed caption format requirements of YouTube. The most recommended formats for closed caption are WebVTT formats, Scenarist (.scc), and TTML. Knowing which closed caption formats enable you to get a certain degree of control over the way your content appears on the Internet.
  2. Low-quality captions can affect your performance. Using automatic caption generating services may prove to be inexpensive and easy to use, but they might also produce low-quality captions. Therefore, before publishing closed captions on YouTube videos, check them carefully to avoid any errors.
  3. To ensure that your videos rank high in terms of SEO, create video captions accordingly. Research and add necessary keywords in your captions. This will help search engines in driving traffic to your YouTube videos.
  4. It works well to keep your closed captions short, simple, and relevant. It is advisable to not exceed more than three lines of text at a given point on the screen as it hinders users reading ability. At the same time, you need to present captions on a single frame for at least a second so that the viewers can read them easily.
  5. Synchronisation of closed captions with the audio is essential. If the audio goes faster than the captions or vice versa, it can disturb the viewer experience and they might stop watching the video altogether.
  6. In YouTube videos involving multiple speakers, you should mention the name of the speakers along with their dialogues as and when they appear in the video. Doing so will prevent viewers from getting confused about who said what.
  7. Grammar check is a must. The captions should be free from spelling errors. Other things that content creators often do not pay attention to are punctuation marks. Incorrect use of punctuation marks can alter the whole meaning of the said thing. Hence, take care of them as well.

Overall, using closed captions in YouTube videos can expand your reach and attract more views and subscribers to your channel.