Does Adding Captions Improve The SEO Of Your YouTube Videos?

Have you spent hours optimizing your YouTube videos only to find little traffic or engagement coming from YouTube search results? You may be missing out on one of the simplest ways to give your video content a major SEO boost — adding captions and subtitles to your YouTube videos.

Captions do more than just help viewers who can’t hear the audio. They create a transcript of your video that helps YouTube and Google understand your content. This means your videos become more findable, are suggested to more interested viewers, and can rank higher in results.

For just a few minutes of your time adding captions, you gain a powerful SEO tool. Your videos get discovered by more people who are actually interested in the content. And you build more views and subscribers. It’s a win all around.

So stop wondering why your YouTube SEO strategy isn’t quite cutting it. Start adding captions to give your videos the SEO benefits they’ve been missing out on. The results might surprise you. This article will discuss the benefits and strategies for adding subtitles to your YouTube videos. Let’s get started!

How Captions Can Improve Your Video SEO

Captions in the YouTube video

Adding captions to your YouTube videos does wonders for search engine optimization (SEO). Here’s how:

Reach a Global Audience

Captions allow people who speak other languages to enjoy your content. If you have an international audience or aspire to reach viewers from other countries, captions can help increase your global reach. People who don’t speak the language in your video can still follow along with captions in their native language. YouTube offers the ability to add captions in over 100 languages, opening you up to new audiences worldwide.

Accessibility for More Viewers

Over 15% of the world’s population has some form of hearing loss or impairment. Captions open your content up to this audience by allowing them to fully understand and enjoy your videos. More views and engagement from this additional audience can signal to YouTube’s algorithm that your video is of high quality, which may lead to increased promotion on the platform.

Increased Search Ranking

By including a transcript of your video content in the captions, you’re essentially giving Google more text to index and rank your video for. The captions provide semantic meaning and context to help Google determine what your video is about. This can lead to higher rankings in search results for relevant keywords.

Viewer Retention

Studies show that adding captions to video content can increase viewer retention and watch time. Captions provide an additional way for people to comprehend and follow along with your video. For those watching in loud environments or on mute, captions are essential. The longer people watch your videos, the more YouTube will promote them to new and relevant viewers. Your video may be suggested to viewers watching related content or appear in ‘up next’ queues.

Social Shares

When people can understand and enjoy your video, they’re more inclined to share it on social media. More shares mean greater visibility and traffic back to your video. Some of those viewers may subscribe to your channel or engage with your other content.

By enabling captions on your YouTube videos, you gain benefits for both search optimization and viewer engagement. The small amount of effort required to add captions can have a big payoff for your YouTube channel and content strategy. 

Best Practices for Creating Quality Captions

Adding captions to your YouTube videos has some surprising SEO benefits. Here are a few key principles to keep in mind:

Choose High-Quality Captions

Opt for professionally created captions, not auto-generated ones. Professionally created captions are more accurate and coherent, which search engines prefer. Additionally, even the viewers will be satisfied with better-quality captions.

Manually review auto-generated captions and correct any errors before publishing. Inaccurate or nonsensical captions won’t help your SEO and will frustrate viewers.

Use Keyword-Rich Captions

Include relevant keywords, synonyms, and related phrases in your captions. This helps search engines understand what your video is about and ranks it higher in search results. But don’t overdo it, as captions that sound overly keyword-centric won’t resonate with viewers.

Add Captions in Multiple Languages

If your target audience is multilingual, add captions in as many languages as possible. This makes your video accessible to more people and also tells search engines your video is relevant in multiple regions. The more people who can understand and engage with your video, the better for your views and rankings.

Optimizing your YouTube captions with these best practices helps ensure your videos are found by more viewers and rank higher in search engines like Google. Put in the effort to create quality captions, and you’ll reap the SEO rewards.

Tools to Make Captioning Your Videos Easier

Once you’ve recorded and uploaded your videos to YouTube, the next step is adding captions. Adding captions to your YouTube videos can improve their ranking in search results and make them more discoverable.

YouTube’s Auto-Caption Tool

Automatic captions are enable by default

YouTube offers an auto-caption tool that can automatically generate captions for your videos. While not perfect, the auto-captions provide a good starting point that you can later edit for accuracy. By default, YouTube generates these captions automatically for a few select languages. 

Third-Party Captioning Tools for captioning services

If you want higher quality, more accurate captions, you can use third-party tools like Rev, 3Play Media, or TranscribeMe. These services employ human transcribers and captioners to manually create and time-code your video captions. The downside is that they do charge for their services, though the rates are often reasonable, especially if you only need occasional captioning. They may also offer bulk captioning deals if you have a large video library.

DIY Captioning

Auto-Sync captions feature

If budget is a concern, you can create your own captions manually. While time-consuming, DIY captioning does give you full control over the captions and is free. YouTube allows you to modify and produce more precise and comprehensible subtitles by uploading a caption file (.srt) or using the auto-caption text. All you need to do is enable Auto-Sync and change the caption wording. The text will now be automatically mapped to the appropriate time stamp by YouTube’s Machine Learning (ML) algorithm. You can choose Type Manually if you want to do everything manually.

Measuring the SEO Impact of Video Captions

Once you’ve added captions to your YouTube videos, it’s time to see if it’s actually helping your SEO. There are a few ways to measure the impact of your video captions.

Check Your Search Ranking

Search for some of the main keywords and phrases in your video titles and descriptions. Do your videos now rank higher in the results? Captions add more keywords and context for search engines to find, so you may see your videos climbing up the ranks, especially for searches containing words actually spoken in the video.

See if Views Are Increasing

Adding captions opens your content up to a wider audience, including the auditorily impaired, as well as non-native speakers. You may find more people are now watching and engaging with your videos. Look for an uptick in views, especially on older videos where captions were recently added. More views signal to YouTube your content is valuable, which can help with search ranking.

Check Your YouTube Stats

In YouTube Studio, look at the “Reach” reports under which you can check the “Traffic Source” tab to see if more people are finding your videos through YouTube searches. This shows captions are helping viewers discover your content. You can also view your top videos report to see if any videos with captions have jumped in rankings.

See How Long People Are Watching

Captions keep people engaged for longer since they can still follow along even with the sound off. Look for increases in your average view duration, especially on videos with captions. The longer people stick around and watch, the more YouTube sees your content resonating with viewers.

While the SEO benefits of captions may take time, adding them to your YouTube videos is worth the effort. Keep an eye on your key metrics and search rankings to see captions in action and help skyrocket your YouTube views and subscribers.

Optimizing Captions for Maximum SEO Benefit

Just adding captions will not be enough. Optimizing your YouTube video captions for SEO is crucial to improving their ranking and getting more views.

Use Keywords

Include important keywords and phrases in your captions that relate to your content and niche. Using the same keywords in your video title, description, captions, and tags helps search engines identify what your video is about.

Add Timestamps

Adding timed captions with timestamps allows viewers to follow along and speeds up translation. It also gives search engines more information about your video content at specific points in time. Include keywords in captions at key points in your video.

Include Speaker Names

If there are multiple speakers in your video, be sure to label who is talking. This helps search engines attribute captions and quotes to the correct people. It also helps viewers follow conversations and understand who is saying what.

Check Grammar and Spelling

Carefully proofread your captions to ensure there are no spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors. Accurate captions appear more professional and are easier for search engines and viewers to understand. Double-check any transcripts you may have used to generate automatic captions.

Caption Length

Aim for captions that are short and to the point, around 1 to 2 lines of text. Don’t crowd your captions with too much text at once. Break up longer speeches or complex ideas into separate captions. Keep your audience and search engines in mind with caption length.

Optimizing your YouTube video captions with these tips can significantly improve your search ranking and viewer experience. While it does require some manual effort, the long-term benefits to your channel’s growth and success make it worth the investment.


So there you have it. Captions on YouTube videos aren’t just for accessibility or appealing to international viewers. They offer some real SEO benefits as well. By adding captions, you make your content more findable, give Google more to index so it better understands your video, and keep people engaged on your channel for longer. Everyone’s happy! 

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We hope this post has helped you understand the importance of adding captions to your YouTube videos!

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