Creating more accessible (and search engine friendly) video with Closed Captions

Creating more accessible (and search engine friendly) video with Closed Captions Picture

Whether you care about accessibility or not, it pays to make your video content more accessible. More accessible video = more search engine friendly video. So, even if you don’t care about accessibility, I’m sure you care about SEO. Let’s get started on making your video better for everyone!

Over the past year, we’ve been working on what we are calling #smartvideos. Our idea was to create an inexpensive service to produce and deliver online video for businesses or organizations that didn’t want to invest in equipment or training but still wanted a great looking (and sounding) video.

The ideal project would be a 1-2 minute video, in which a representative of the business comes to our location where a set is already staged, lit and ready for recording. They then read a script (which they’ve written and practiced) off of a teleprompter, speaking into the camera, either directly or off-camera (as if being interviewed) and then leave. The total process takes about 20 minutes. We then complete the post-production and they receive a finished video within 48 hours.

We feel like we have accomplished our goals with #smartvideos. Customers get an amazing video with a minimal amount of effort, cost or inconvenience. If you have an idea for a video (whether a one-off or series), tell us about your project and we’ll help you bring it to life.

You can learn more and see samples of past projects on our #smartvideos page.

Part of the process of starting something new is learning how make the most of what you are trying to accomplish. It would be very easy to simply record a video, throw it online and be done with it. But, when you are an online marketing firm, results matter and part of getting results is reaching an entire market, not just a majority of your market. Enter Closed Captions.

Why bother with Closed Captions? For the Hearing Impaired, Those without speakers and SEO!

Think about how much you use the internet. The internet has transformed our lives in ways that we don’t even think about. We take it for granted.

Now, imagine that you are hearing impaired. Think about all of the video that you consume that has audio content… tutorials, movie trailers, podcasts, Netflix! How would your experience be impacted by your inability to experience audio? It’s hard to imagine, but there is likely a segment of your clientele that fall into this category.

Video that features audio content without Closed Captions (CC) is lost on them. Closed Captions, as you’ve no doubt seen in sports bars and waiting rooms, provide accessibility for those that either can’t hear or don’t have access to the audio in a video.

For the less altruistic in the audience, closed captions also provide access for search engines. Think SEO!

Video SEO

One of the basic tenants of SEO is that if your content is not in a readable, text format then search engines can’t index it. This includes text found in images (think banners created in Photoshop), flash files (thankfully we’re past that) and audio in video files. If a search engine can’t index it then it is invisible to them and you can’t be found for it. In a nutshell, it has no SEO value.

This is where closed captioning can save the day. By providing a properly formatted closed caption file - more on what makes a properly formatted closed caption file below - we can provide search engines with a way to index our audio content.

Whether your clients are hearing impaired or you are looking for a SEO boost, providing a closed caption file is a win / win.

SRT Formatting

SRT stands for “SubRip Text,” which is a basic subtitle format.

The correct formatting for an SRT file is has four parts:

  • The number for each subtitle (begins with 1).
  • The starting and ending time for each subtitle, formatted as hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds, and separated by –>. There should be one space between the starting time and the –>, and one space between the –> and the ending time.
  • The subtitle text. This can be on one or more lines.
  • A blank line before the start of the next subtitle.

Here is a sample srt file that we created for a promo video that we shot for our #smartvideo product.

00:00:02,000 --> 00:00:06,500
I’ve got 10 seconds to get your attention before 20% of you click away from this video.
00:00:07,000 --> 00:00:12,000
But, if I can keep you engaged for the entire length of this video, 64% of you are more likely to take the next step.
00:00:13,100 --> 00:00:20,000
This is what we do! We want to make you a smart video that attracts more viewers and generates loyal, paying customers.
00:00:20,100 --> 00:00:21,200
How does it work?
00:00:22,100 --> 00:00:29,200
You send us what you want to say. Once that’s finalized you show up at your scheduled time, read your lines, and that’s it - You still have time to go grab a burrito.<br>
00:00:30,100 --> 00:00:40,200
Once complete, we deliver your smart video to the service of your choice - your website, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram… wherever your message needs to be seen - that’s where it’s going to end up.
00:00:40,100 --> 00:00:53,200
Now, we know what you’re thinking. How much does this cost?
Well, for the price of a cup of coffee per hour for the next 33 hours you can have your own smart video. That works out to $100 dollars (if you’re doing the math).
00:00:54,100 --> 00:01:03,200
To learn more about getting started with your smart video, fill out the form below. We look forward to helping you attract more viewers and generate loyal paying customers.

Now What?

Now that you’ve created a properly formatted .SRT file you need to add it to your video. This will vary depending on the service but more than likely, if you’re reading this, you probably want to add it to a YouTube video. Google has created a set of instructions for adding your closed caption file to your video.

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  • G. Brad Hopkins
  • About Me: I bought my first computer - an Apple Performa 6320 - when I was in college and have been building websites ever since. These days I spend most of my time writing code and helping to bring interesting projects to life.
  • @gbradhopkins