How To Do Closed Captions For YouTube

Two Options For Using Closed Captions For YouTube Videos

image - YouTube Closed CaptioningToday I want to tell you two ways that you can do Closed Captioning on your Youtube Videos. That’s right I said Closed Captioning not annotations!

Annotations can be very useful, but…

If you are going for the better SEO effect, I would do Closed Captions. And here are 5 reasons why you may want to do Closed Captioning.

  1. Closed Captions are readable by the Search Engines.
  2. They can be translated easily. When a user watches the video, they can click the red CC button and pick any language that Google translates (it is in BETA, but I hear it works well). Just think of how many non-English speaking people watch video but may be missing your message because they don’t speak English.
  3. Hearing impaired make up a lot of users. Why would you leave them out?
  4. People can filter their search in Youtube for Closed Caption videos.
  5. People at work may not want volume, yet want to know what you are saying.

Now for those of you disbelievers that say CC isn’t searchable…I say give it a test. I have picked a long phrase out of one of my videos with Closed Captions that you can search for on Youtube. I went with the long phrase and have it in quotations marks so that you are more likely to find it easily. Do a YouTube search (including the quotations) for “you want to be a lion don’t you”. This phrase is ONLY in the CC, not in the title or description. That should pull up a video titled ‘Giraffe Talk with the Anipal Info Puppets’. You will also notice that the search description list the phrase at 29 seconds into the video.

How to get Closed Captions Onto Your Videos

Option One

The first way is to use YouTubes FREE captioning from a transcript. With this method you will need a transcript of the spoken words in the video. If you use a pre written script then after the video is edited and uploaded…simply pull out your script, listen to the video, and edit for any deviations from the pre written script.

You do need to listen for coughs, bangs, music or other non-spoken sounds, because YouTube will think it is a voice and want to place your CC text in conjunction with the sound. This is because your transcript has no time lines for the text to be placed in the video. It simply starts the next bit of text when it hears sound.

As you might figure out from the paragraph above…music in the beginning or in the background of  your video, can cause bad timing for your CC using this method!!!

If you have more than 1 speaker in your video, you can simply use [John] before the text he speaks (Duh, use the name of the real speaker). You can also do this with music in the beginning of your videos such as [music] [music.] [music..]. If you watch the video, ‘Giraffe Talk with the Anipal Info Puppets’, you can see an example of this.

How many times you have to use [music] will depend…this is a trial and error. After you get the entire transcript written and uploaded you can then rewatch the video (with the CC on) to see if you need more or less [music] [music.].

Why did I do [music] [music.] [music..] and add the periods? Because this method will not accept the same bracketed text 2 times in a row. We have 1 video that we added up to 5 periods and then worked back down to 1.

Once you have your transcript written out to match the spoken word, you need to make sure it is copy and pasted out of any type of program like Word and placed into a plain NotePad type doc.

Save the notepad doc to your Desktop or in your My Documents.

Now, log into your YouTube account!

In the upper right you will see your username with a dropdown, click open the dropdown and choose VIDEO MANAGER,

You will now click the ARROW next to the EDIT button under the video you are adding the transcript to,

From the choices in the drop down box choose CAPTIONS,

Click ADD NEW CAPTIONS or TRANSCRIPT,

Click BROWSE and find your saved notepad file that has your video transcript,

Under TYPE – Choose TRANSCRIPT FILE,

Language should already be chosen, but if you have a translation you can pick the correct language to match,

I always place a simple name in just because I’m anal retentive like that,

Now click UPLOAD FILE!

Hint…the process can take a few minutes so don’t freak out. One of ours took almost 10 minutes while the others were much faster. You should see a little “wheel” turning. I say you will see a wheel but since I am not doing the process right now…I’m not positive.

Once the processing is complete you need to watch the video with your CC on to see if it matches up like you want. Using this process is not exact like when you do the entire thing with a program and write out the timing yourself, BUT it is MUCH faster. Did I say it is MUCH faster? Trust me, I did it both ways and I know.

If you find any errors or maybe you have some music that is messing it up, just go back into editing your video and remove the CAPTION TRACK. Make your corrections and then you can upload the “revamped” version of the file once you have made the edits you need to.

The bonus of doing your Closed Captioning this way is SPEED! It takes about 20 minutes total since our videos have a prewritten script and I only need slight edits. I have transcribed other people’s videos from scratch and it just depends on the length of the video as to how long it takes.

Once you have the Closed Captioning on the video, you can then go in using the same steps and DOWNLOAD the Caption Track file to use when you upload the same video to other video sites. When you download this file from YouTube, it will have the timing marks. Many sites will only add Closed Captions with timing marks!

Option Two

The second option for Closed Caption is writing the timed text manually. There are many free programs you can use to do this. These programs are free, but is your time?

To do the manual timing method, you will still need a complete transcript of the spoken word.

You will then watch the video (in the special program) while starting and stopping every 3-4 second to write in the time of when the text is to show. The timing will be written with a Start and Stop time for each set of text.

Once you have went through the entire video and made your time stamps you can then download or save the file and upload to YouTube basically the same way. Only this time after you get to the Add New Captions or Transcript page, you will choose CAPTION FILE under the TYPE. You will also get a choice of languages using this way of adding CC.

The advantage you have with doing this option is you do NOT have to stick strictly with the spoken word. Since the program is not “listening” to when it hears a word, you can write in extra words, take out bleeps, to many and ums…Yes, you can make the Closed Captions read smarter than you sound. Oh snap, did I just say that?

Another advantage to doing the manual timing is if you have music in the background that is loud enough to disrupt the CC using the 1st option. We do have 2 videos with music playing during the video and because it was quietly playing…we could still use option #1.

Let me say once again that doing the manual timing takes MUCH longer. If you don’t believe me, then give both options a try.

The Bonus 3rd option is to hire someone to do all of it for you. There are places that will transcribe and do the timestamps for you. Some places will then just send you the file while others will go ahead and upload it completely for you.

Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to make sure you had complete instructions.

If you have any questions, just ask them in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them. Hell, even if you don’t have questions, leave us a nice comment anyway!

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41 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Sheryl_Loch

    Hi Samuel, the CC text is searchable but we really shouldn’t tell anyone about it or they might try it. LOL!

    I’ve done closed captioning for some of my videos and for other people. Writing the text is what takes the most time.

    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. ShirleyFai

    Thank you for the two ways that I can do Closed Captioning on my Youtube Videos and I really wasn’t aware with this before…Thank you for your help…

  3. Vestuvines Sukuosenos

    Wow that’s pretty good trick. I wasn’t aware of that. I will start using CC. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sheryl_Loch

      Hi Vestuvines Sukuosenos, thanks for visiting Hot Blog Tips! I hope that the info on Closed Captions help you out.

  4. sai krishna


    Twitter: saithegeek
    @Sheryl_Loch .. really you are a expert in you tube Sheryl_Loch .. you weekly you tube tips was very interesting on HotBlogTips newsletter :)

    • Sheryl_Loch

      Awe thanks sai krishna! You’re going to make me blush. ;-)

      Be sure to check back later today as I have a post coming on How To Connect Your Google Plus and Youtube Accounts.

      Youtube is really doing some exciting things that will change the marketing world for those that are willing to do videos.

  5. Anonymous (Read Comment Policy)

    This is interesting study to me as i never looked in to the cc. caption… this is interesting as this will help me rank my video better on youtube…

    Great stuff!

  6. Cat Alexandra


    Twitter: alexandra_cath
    Wow, this is like literal GOLD. I had no idea how to do this efficiently, thanks for both strategies!

    I’m sort of new to the video marketing, but have been working those in over the past couple of weeks in order to do a better job of multiformatting my content and creating better links back to my primary site. I will absolutely be playing with this technique!

    You guys rock over here! Much thanks for the great 411!

    Cat Alexandra

    • Sheryl_Loch

      Thanks for stopping in Cat Alexandra!

      Good on ya for giving video a go! We all have to learn as we go and getting started is the hardest part.

      Be sure to check back later today as I have another post coming “How To Connect Your Google Plus and Youtube Accounts”. If you are on G+ you will want to check it out. Youtube is implementing a new feature today.

      If you have video/Youtube questions you can use the contact page to ask them. I will try my best to answer them in a post or video.

  7. saha


    Twitter: sahaali1
    Completely new information for me. I did not know closed captions are readable by search engine. Very well explained. Thanks for sharing this useful info.

  8. Daniel Sander


    Twitter: howtospecialist
    I hadn’t a clue that closed captioning is visible to search engines. This tip changes everything from my point of view. As for the method, though using a soft is quicker, I still like to have control, therefore I’ll write the timed text manually. I’ll hope that my videos will rank a lot better from now own.

    • Hi Daniel, a lot of people don’t know much about using Closed Captions on Youtube so don’t feel bad. In fact that is why I figured I should share it with the readers here at Hot Blog Tips.

      The manual timing just takes to long for me. You may be much faster at it than I was. LOL!

      Do try out the faster method and just see how it works for you, especially if you are just speaking and don’t have music. Youtube has gotten much better at getting the text in the correct places over the last year.
      Sheryl_Loch recently posted..Connecting Google Plus And YouTubeMy Profile

  9. KäsereiAllgäu

    Yeah quite interesting. Didn’t know it either. I always found the CC pretty annoying, from a users point of view. But as you think of it as a SEO instrument, this could get very exciting. Have to try this… Thanks for the hint!

    • I sometimes find the Closed Captions a pain also. It just depends on what the video is about and if I need to watch the “action”. It is very easy to click the CC off so, I figure I can get the benefit and viewers can chose if they use it.

      Thank you for stopping in and commenting.
      Sheryl_Loch recently posted..Connecting Google Plus And YouTubeMy Profile

  10. Amit Shaw


    Twitter: itechcode
    Sheryl_Loch Thanks for your awesome tips. I am not very much interested on youtube but your tips makes me crazy to use it :P.
    BTW thanks.

  11. Lennart Heleander

    Thanks for the advice and information, we will start using those in our houses videos on our site.

  12. gladys

    VERY CLEVER!!! thanks for this,didnt know closed captions are readable by search engine. cheers mate, will definately come back for some more of your great tips n info

    • The Closed Captions are when you can see the text being said acrossed the bottom of the screen. Many TV shows have Closed Captions for hearing impaired people so you may have seen them there.

      When you go to a Youtube video look right under the video for a lit up red CC that means they have Closed Captions on that video.

      If you go to this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8j0Q8nrIbU you will see the CC button. If you watch the video you will see the text.

      If you click on the red CC button then you can turn the captions off or even choose a different language for the text. Since people can choose a language, it opens up a whole lot more users to your message. I only speak English so, with CC’s people that only speak another language can still read the Captions and get the message.

      I hope that helps you understand the closed captions. You are not a newbie, we just used a word that you didn’t know before, :-)
      Sheryl_Loch recently posted..Connecting Google Plus And YouTubeMy Profile

    • I think that a few years ago Annotations were searchable, but once Youtube got into Closed Captions…the annotations fell out.

      Annotations are still very useful as a Call to Action, they just do not have any SEO power.

      I bet since annotations are so easy to use that spammers really took advantage of them. Most spammers wouldn’t take the time to do Closed Captions.

      Thanks for stopping in and the comment!
      Sheryl_Loch recently posted..Connecting Google Plus And YouTubeMy Profile

  13. Cindy

    I really didn’t know they are indexable ! (am not alone as i see) That could make a lot of difference given how G likes content !

  14. Val Adams


    Twitter: valadams014
    Cool. Very cool indeed. And it’s readable by Search engines.

    If I think my video is cool, I’ll place my bet with this one even if it takes a longer time to finish. But if my video sucks, I won’t bother wasting my time with closed captioning. :)

    Thanks for the info.

  15. Danica Green

    This can be conveniently used by the viewers and an easy lookout for those who have a hearing impaired. Hope this will help us manipulate YouTube so well. This is another learning and basic key technique to the viewers.

  16. Ardafinil

    I really not aware of this before reading. Thanks for sharing two ways to do closed captions in you tube video.

  17. Lex

    Nice tip! Incidentally I did the search on Google and the only result that came up was this blog – but on Youtube your vid is still #1 in the results.

  18. I also did closed captioning on youtube videos because of its many benefits.You well explained both option for closed captioning but I prefer option 1 because I am comfortable with this option and I have been using this option from when I first started doing closed captioning.

  19. Whats the difference between closed caption and description that we add to youtube video? I am asking so because we have description and custom desciption, i thought ‘description’ i sread by search engine. can you please make blog on this too. Thanks!

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