Have you ever wondered if it’s worth taking the time to transcribe audio or add captions to a video you post online? Here we explain why adding a video transcription and video captions is a must.

If you have ever uploaded a YouTube video or video file onto social media, you may have noticed the option of adding a transcript or caption before you publish.

A transcript is a written or printed record of what is spoken in a video or audio file. When you convert audio and transcribe speech, it can be saved as a document, which is separate from the audio and video files but can be stored or displayed nearby on the same webpage.

Captions are a visual representation of the audio recording that takes place in a video. Unlike transcripts, however, video captions play in sync with a video so that what is being audibly transmitted is visually represented at the same time.

*It is important to note that in this article we are referring to closed video captions. Open video captions are encoded into the video or audio files, meaning that a search engine is unable to index them. Closed captions, on the other hand, come from a text file that is readable by search engine bots.

Whilst many people often skip this step in the upload process, we at Digital Willow understand the importance of transcribing audio files for any video content we post.


For a webpage to gain significant organic traffic, it must be search engine optimised. Search engine optimisation is the process of maximising the rate of organic traffic to a webpage by getting it to rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP), such as Google.

How do I get my webpage to rank higher?

Getting a web page to rank higher when a user conducts a Google search means matching the content on the page to the users’ search query. To get a webpage to rank higher on a SERP, it must be easily indexed. Search engines perform an action called a ‘crawl’ in which they index all the text written on the webpage to identify what topic it is discussing.

The more relevant the content and keywords are on a page to a particular topic, the higher authority the search engine will assign the page. This is a key element of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which is essential to any digital marketing strategy. Therefore, by converting audio recordings to text, the search engine can register the content of the page and index it with greater accuracy.

Do videos help SEO?

Whilst video is by far one of the most popular mediums to view content online, it has its drawbacks related to SEO.

Unlike pages that primarily display the written word, video pages have comparatively small amounts of text as the video itself becomes the audible and visual source of information.

Therein lies the problem for SEO: with limited text, a search engine has no way of fully understanding what a video webpage is about. This results in a lower ranking in the SERP and less overall organic traffic.

Why adding transcripts and captions to your online videos is essential

When you transcribe audio files and add a transcript and/or caption to your online video, you’re adding a rich textual element to the webpage. Video transcriptions and captions allows a search engine to perform a more effective crawl so that it indexes the webpage with greater accuracy.

For more on SEO, check out our SEO Superpower.

When it comes to the importance of adding transcripts and captions to your online videos, the statistics speak for themselves…

A study that polled 5,616 US consumers revealed that ‘69% view video with sound off in public places and 25% watch with sound off in private places‘ (Forbes, 2019).

Other benefits

Asides from increasing a webpage’s ranking on the SERP, there are several other benefits to including transcripts and captions to your online videos…

Closed Captions:

As aforementioned, closed captions are a time-synchronised textual representation of audio in a video. This is the transcript of the text broken up into fragments called ‘caption frames’ which are then synchronised to the audio. This includes both speech and non-speech audio (e.g., ‘[police sirens]’). Closed captions appear at the bottom of the video and can be used as a supplement or substitute for audio.

Not only does this make your webpage more indexable by a search engine, it benefits those viewers that are deaf or hard of hearing; viewers whose first language is not the language being spoken; and viewers who want to reference names or places but want to ensure the accuracy of spelling.

Attention Retaining Qualities:

In a digital age where users’ attention span is short and they are often on the go, insatiably scrolling for interesting content, video captioning can help captivate them by making content easy to understand without audio.

For example, a commuter on a train might scroll to reach a video on their feed. However, they don’t have headphones on. Without sound, the video is impossible to understand, and the user continues scrolling. With captions, the user can grasp the concept of the video and is more likely to become engaged, watching the full duration of the video.

The data backs this up, revealing that ‘80% of consumers are more likely to watch an entire video when captions are available‘ (Forbes, 2019).

This, then, is invaluable if you’re using social media for promotion. The boost in viewer attention retention means they will be more engaged in your video and, if you’ve optimised your video, will be more likely to carry out a meaningful action such as clicking through to your website to find out more information.

Aligning Your SEO keyword strategy:

Video transcriptions can be useful for helping you realise the discrepancies in your SEO keyword strategy. An easy mistake to make is to assume that when you’re talking about a certain topic in your video, you’re using the same language as is written in your description. However, there can often be subtle differences that go unnoticed when just listening to the audio.

For example, you may have written in the description of your video that you will be discussing ‘personalised logos’. However, in the video, the terminology being used frequently is ‘customised logos’. When later watching this video in review, the addition of a transcript can help you identify this distinction and unify the written and spoken word.

Creative inspiration

Having video transcriptions on record means that you have extensive written text to come back to in the future. For example, the statistics mentioned could help contribute towards a case study you create at a later date.

Transcripts can therefore be a great resource to have on file and a source of inspiration for content creation further down the line.

Best Practices

Making sure keywords and phrases are relevant to your topic of discussion

This is an obvious one, but very important to get right from the off. This means checking your initial video script carefully to make sure that when you’re talking about a subject, you’re using the exact keyword phrases that when written down will help improve SEO and therefore drive more meaningful traffic to the webpage. These are also the keywords that are most aligned with user search intent.

Automatic transcription software

Some websites and online programmes such as YouTube provide their own automatic transcription software. This software has the ability to automatically transcribe audio to text by using advanced speech recognition technology.

Whilst this type of online transcription software is popular, its accuracy is questionable. In fact, a study by the University of Minnesota Duluth revealed that ‘YouTube automatic captions typically provide about 60-70% accuracy, which means that 1 in 3 words can be wrong‘. The success rate for these technologies also heavily relies on the audio quality being good enough for it to be able to operate effectively, otherwise it will scan the recording file and mislabel speech in the ‘txt file’ it creates.

Whilst it can be tedious and time-consuming, manual transcription helps guarantee a certain level of accuracy when producing this written content. When you manually transcribe, you go over the whole script slowly so are therefore more likely to recognise any inaccuracies. 

Use a variety of keywords and avoid keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO technique where website owners try to manipulate search engine rankings by excessively repeating keywords or phrases in their content, meta tags, or other elements of their web pages. This practice is intended to make a website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for those particular keywords, even if the content is not relevant to the user’s search query.

Keyword stuffing can take many forms, such as adding irrelevant keywords to the content or repeating the same keyword multiple times.

Search engines have become more sophisticated in detecting and penalising keyword stuffing, as it goes against their goal of providing users with high-quality, relevant content.

Websites that engage in keyword stuffing can be penalised by search engines and may see a drop in their search engine rankings or even be removed from search engine results altogether. Therefore, website owners need to focus on creating high-quality, relevant content that provides value to their users, rather than trying to manipulate search engine rankings through keyword stuffing.

Moreover, people search for information in many different ways. By using a variety of keywords, you can ensure that you are reaching a broader audience and that you are more likely to be found by people who are searching for information in different ways.

Using keywords at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs

Placing keywords at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs can help to improve the visibility and relevance of your content to search engines and users. Placing keywords at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs can indicate to the crawl/indexing algorithms that these words are the most important and may be more relevant to the user’s search query.

It can also improve the user experience by making it easier and quicker for the reader to identify the main topic or idea of the content. Users are more likely to engage with content that is easy to read and understand.

Get in touch

By now, the benefits of implementing transcripts and captions in your next video upload should be apparent. With a team of experts ready to help businesses like yours implement these on your website and various other online locations such as social media platforms, outsourcing your digital marketing to Digital Willow can improve your chances of being seen online, increasing brand awareness, and boosting your business. Get in touch with our team today by filling in the form down the right-hand side of the page.