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Using Auto Caption to Increase SEO for YouTube Videos

Posted by Tim Lorang on June 8, 2012

One of the goals of putting a video on YouTube is to increase the chances of someone finding the video and driving web traffic back to your website. Just like your website you should do search engine optimization (SEO) for your video. My last blog looked at how to Optimize YouTube Video with Tags and Keywords. In the past year Google and YouTube have made some big changes that will increase SEO with their Auto Caption Program.

How Captions Increase SEO

One of the biggest problems with online video has always been its invisibility to search engines. Search engines cannot tell what is on a video and the metadata was the only way to tell the search engine what the video was about. To optimize a YouTube video for search engines you had four areas where you could make a difference: the title, description, category and tags.

Now YouTube will automatically attempt to capture the audio from your video and attach the transcription to your video for closed captioning. The best part is that YouTube Search and Google Search will crawl these YouTube caption files and the videos will turn up in search results for keywords contained in the YouTube Subtitles.

Now search engines will look at the CONTENT of the video rather than just the METADATA for keywords. The most important thing is that people looking for content will be able to find it within videos. As a video producer and marketer you will need to be sure that the YouTube caption files are correct. The auto transcription service is a long way from being fool-proof, especially with background noise, music, technical jargon and accents. You will need to download and edit the transcriptions and make sure they are correct. Our free eBook Search Engine Optimization for YouTube Videos goes into more details on how you can do this. The best practices for increasing the SEO for your video’s transcript are:

  • Correct Script: Download and correct your video transcript
  • Timecode: Maintain the integrity of your time code
  • Review: Review and check the accuracy of the transcripts and subtitles
  • Keywords: Incorporate your keyword strategy into your video scripts as you do with all online copy
  • Post Scripts: Publish your video script, along with your video, on your website
  • SEO Integration: Be sure the keywords in your title, description, categories and tags matches the content of your video script.

More important than having large numbers of people view your video is to have the right people view your video. The added SEO clout of an accurate video transcript will greatly increase the likelihood your video will be found. Visit my blog for more information How to add Closed Captioning on YouTube Videos.


  1. Wow… I had no idea YouTube and Google can actually read the captions on YouTube videos. And this was written in 2012! Thankfully I’ve had auto captions on my videos all this time, but I’d never bothered to manually caption any of them, which probably would be a good idea if it affects my SEO. Looks like I’ve got some work cut out for me.

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