Caption YouTube Videos to help with your SEO

YouTube SEO

About 500 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded and almost 5 billion video views happen on YouTube every single day.

YouTube is a major video streaming platform with almost every industry in some way trying to build out its brand and bring in revenue. YouTube is a platform that all businesses should take seriously!

Here are some strategies that you could use to increase your viewership. One of the most important ones is video captioning.

We put together this article to help you understand a bit about YouTube SEO and how video captions can elevate your YouTube game.

What is Video Captioning?

Video captioning is the process of adding texts onto your video for a better understanding of the content by the viewers, as well as the YouTube search algorithm. 

Video captioning is usually done with the help of automatic video captioning software or with the help of a human captioner. But a mix of both automated software and a human counterpart generally tends to yield better results.

But more than just the audio, the perfect video caption is also used to highlight the actions, and the cues used by the speaker in the video.

Captions like “High – pitched” or “extremely happy” can be used to give the viewer a better context on how the speaker uses his energy and expression.

In short, a caption gives an idea about the video without needing to watch through the video. The captioned text will serve as the secret sauce in improving the User Experience and the SEO rankings of the video.

YouTube SEO 101:

The Alexa Traffic ranking states that YouTube is the 2nd most-visited website worldwide. YouTube is much more than just a go-to platform to watch videos when bored.

YouTube has become a popular search engine with an average of 500 hours of content uploaded every minute, i.e. 720000 hours of videos. 

Just like every other search engine, you cannot rank your videos if you just upload content and don’t work on the optimization. There comes a need to apply search engine optimization as part of the content creation strategy to make sure that your content ranks at the top of all the YouTube Search pages.

The Nitty-gritty of YouTube SEO

The title

The title of your video carries a heavy rank on the YouTube SEO list, as this affects the click-through rate of your video by a phenomenal percentage. Titles must always be written in a magnetic way that pulls in the person scrolling through his YouTube feed.

Implement simple copywriting tricks and some basic psychology to draw the viewer in!

Video Thumbnail

Thumbnail is the cover picture that is displayed on your YouTube videos. It is crucial to pull in the person to click on your videos.

Thumbnails give an idea about what the video will be and give a valid reason for the user to invest their time in your video.

Spend ample time on thumbnail design before uploading your video.


This is the open playground that a good number of YouTube channels fail to invest their time in. You could include brief descriptions about your video, include a Bio section about yourself or even provide links back to your website.

You can use this space to include long texts about your paragraph or even jot down a story to make the about section a bit exciting.

This is your Prime Real Estate – Make sure you use it to your advantage.


And finally, to the reason why you have clicked on the link to this article. Video captioning is a brilliant way to improve the SEO rankings of your YouTube Video, for a good number of reasons. (We will explain the reasons below)

More than relying on the automatic captions provided by the video, take some time to include a well-defined caption to improve User Experience and thereby have a better chance at grabbing the #1 Ranking from the lesser-known YouTube algorithm.

You can use an automatic captioning tool, such as Maestra, to help you automatically caption your videos in just seconds. Maestra works by using Machine Learning to automatically transcribe and caption your audio to text, helping you save time and reach a larger audience.

Creators who want to learn more about adding captions to a video should always practice on a regular basis.

Here’s a Look into the YouTube algorithm:

The YouTube algorithm places your video in six different places from where the viewer can gain access.

  1. In the Search Results
  2. In the recommended section
  3. Homepage
  4. Trending page
  5. Channel Subscriptions
  6. Notifications

These are the points from which a user can access your video content on YouTube. However, some basic factors decide if your videos appear to the visitor.

  1. Impressions
  2. Watch time
  3. View Velocity or View the Growth rate
  4. Frequency of new videos
  5. Session time
  7. Dislikes

Let’s understand one of the most important factors to rank your videos on YouTube – Using captions for SEO benefit.

8 reasons why Video caption Benefit SEO

Videos with Captions Rank Higher

This serves as the best reason to allocate some time to work on your video’s caption. Closed captions work with a set of readable text files that are attached to the video. The words in these files are read by the Search Engine bots on YouTube.

When there is a Closed Caption present in your video, YouTube automatically slips a little ranking juice into the video and brings it a little higher in the ranking.

Simple as that!

Captions Increase Search Traffic

The YouTube Search engine does not understand the content in a video unless it is given a text-based counterpart to scan through. The title and the description are the only parts read through by a Search Engine, whereas the video content becomes invisible to it.

Including a Video Caption provides the Search Engine with a way to scan for keywords and search terms. With this little trick, you can enable search engines to display your video on the higher positions of the results page.

Video Caption Increases User Experience

Who doesn’t love a video with a defined set of subtitles?

Video Captions help more than just your SEO rankings on YouTube. You can also use them to take your User Experience to a whole new level. It can help your audience understand your video efficiently, as captions allow the user to:

  1. Get the right spelling of new words they come across in your video
  2. Understand the video even if they don’t understand the language used in the video
  3. Get a better picture of what the speaker is trying to convey
  4. Takedown running notes of noteworthy sections in the video

Video captions could be a game-changer for people who have hearing difficulties and hence open up a world of opportunities for you and them. That’s what we call a win-win situation.

Captions Increase Engagement

By engagement, we mean the time spent by every person watching the video. Captions are dynamic and keep changing as the video progresses. This feature helps users decrease monotony and keeps the video exciting.

This can be of great use when watching 

  • Videos on your smartphones in public without audio
  • Videos on a device that has problematic audio output
  • Videos in a language the viewers are not fluent in
  • Videos in a language the viewers don’t understand

Captions Allow You To Implement A Keyword Strategy

Captions give you a chance to replace frequently used terms with similar phrases. Phrases that are better keywords than the terms used in the video.

For example:

Let’s say that you make a video on a spaceship and mention the word aliens throughout the video.

You later find that extraterrestrials have a lower difficulty and a higher volume.

So without changing the content in the video, you can change the captions of the video. You could easily replace aliens with extraterrestrials and gain some search volume that your content has been missing.

Video Captions offer a way to understand your video in multiple languages.

Videos are generally hard to produce due to ton of technical difficulties involved in the process of creation. Out of all the forms of available content, a video might be the hardest content format to produce consistently.

So most brands resort to creating videos at a bare minimum, covering topics that are important. These videos can be made in multiple languages, but as you might have already guessed, keeping up with post-production and dubbing for the same video is hard in the long run.

Even when brands try to create videos in multiple languages, it might pose a serious problem due to the inefficiency of resources or lack of time. So the simple alternative would be video captions that help you stream native videos with subtitles in multiple languages.

Let’s say that you are a digital marketing agency and make two videos a week on the latest trends in digital marketing. You have 183,000 subscribers out of which only 40% are from the United States whereas 50% are from India.

Wouldn’t your content be able to connect better if you could also make videos in the local languages of India?

You could definitely produce videos in multiple languages if you had an extensive production team or even a budget to hire a team of videographers and editors.

But most small businesses don’t have that kind of budget and are not ready to invest the same amount. Captions serve as the ultimate cure by offering translation that could help all the native language speakers in India.

Adding a caption in multiple languages can increase your local reach and make your videos the go-to resource in every language.

Create Other Forms Of Content With Video Captions

Once you lay your videos with relevant captions, you can break them down to produce content based on the topics and subtopics mentioned in your video.

Videos can be a spectacular way to act as resource-relevant content. You can use videos as a guide and create pieces of content from the original video. If you think about it, it can be beneficial for your video SEO and bring ideas for your content creation choices.

The video can act as a pillar content and the video transcribes can be given to your content management team or even hire freelancers who can create:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Images and Carousels
  • How to guides
  • List-based posts
  • And landing pages

All these pieces of content can be linked back to the video to drive more traffic and increase your YouTube SEO rankings. Moreover, videos tell you what works and what doesn’t work for your target audience, giving you a resource to break down chunks of content, whenever needed.

Captions Lower Bounce rates and increase watch time

The final point we would like to state here is how captions increase video watch time and lower bounce rates. As we’ve stated before, captions increase the user’s experience of a video. They also make the video more dynamic and therefore decrease your bounce rate.

The bounce rate and watch time are considered important factors for SEO ranking on YouTube. The video-only platform takes these factors into consideration while allocating a suitable rank for your video.

Start creating captions consistently and your videos will start ranking on the top pages of the YouTube search and recommendations pretty easily.

We hope that this was helpful and gave you ample insights about YouTube captions and their importance!

Contributed by:

Aaron Johnson is head of business development and content creation at Maestra, automatic cloud-based editing software that can transcribe, caption, and voiceover video & audio files to 50+ languages in just minutes, enabling content creators to reach a wider audience all over the world.

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