Increase Your Video’s Value with YouTube Video Transcript

YouTube video with closed caption

You probably know the value of YouTube for your book marketing, but did you know that you can increase its value to both your readers and you?

It’s an ingenious feature of the YouTube site that starts as a service to folks who have hearing problems. But the benefits spread out to folks who for any reason prefer to read and to anyone who wants to make the most of Google search with their videos.

It’s closed captioning. The first two benefits are easy to see, but the way it works with Google may not be quite as obvious.

Google’s robots can’t “see” video or “hear” audio. They only read text, and so the captions you put into your video to accommodate the hard-of-hearing also accommodate the equally “deaf” search engine bots. Captions make the content of your video searchable. And that makes it possible for it to appear in search results.

I’m going to show you how to use YouTube’s closed captioning service, which puts the words in the picture as they’re spoken in the video. Once you see how this works, you’ll be able to add captions in other ways, but I was surprised at how easy it is to work with the machine transcriptions and found them to be a good starting place.

YouTube’s machine transcription, like all voice recognition, is fairly poor in accuracy. That’s not a knock on the transcription, just a recognition that there’s more brain power that goes into understanding what people are saying than most of us give ourselves credit for. You realize that when you see how badly a machine does it.

What the machine transcription gives, though, is the formatting and the time stamps you’ll need to tell the words where to appear in the video. YouTube’s interface makes it easy to edit the transcription to be correct and to make sense.

1. Upload and Save Your Video

When you upload your video, you want to include an enticing headline, thorough description, and relevant keywords. They help your audience find your video, whether they’re searching the YouTube site or on Google.

YouTube "add caption" screen

2. Edit YouTube’s Machine Transcription

After your video is uploaded, go to your list of videos, select the one you want to caption, and click “edit.”

Now click on the Captions and Subtitles tab.

There will be a heading “Available Caption Tracks” and a check box beside “English: Machine Transcription,” and then off to the right side a box that says “download.”

Download that file and edit it in a text program.

3. If There’s No Machine Transcription

There may be a button saying,

Machine Transcription is available for the videos in this Channel. To enable Machine Transcription for this video, please ‘Request Processing’. We will try our best to get some results in a few days.

Click the button below that paragraph, “Request processing (English only),” and come back in a few days. It’s a fairly new service from YouTube, and I’m sure they’re adding transcriptions — and languages — as fast as they can.

It’s also possible to create your own transcription, without using YouTube’s machine transcription.

YouTube closed caption editing

4. Edit the Transcription

To edit YouTube’s transcription, click the download button beside “English: Machine Transcription.”

After you’ve downloaded a file called captions.sbv, you can open it in a text editor.

Now go back to the YouTube video and click on the “English Machine Transcription” link. The text of the transcription will appear beside the video.

You can watch the video and observe the captions alongside. You can also click the words, and the segment of video will play back.

Correct any errors that you find in the text file you have open.

As you’re editing, pay attention to the time stamps before each group of phrases.

For example, “0:00:05.220,0:00:10.029″ means that those words will appear between 5.22 seconds and 10.029 seconds of the video. You can change where the captions fall on the video by changing those time stamps, but be sure you keep the formatting the same, including all the zeroes at the beginning of the numbers.

When you’ve finished editing your transcript, save the file.

5. Upload the New Captions

Now that you have your transcript just the way you want it, it’s time to upload it to YouTube. Click “Add New Captions or Transcripts” under “Add a Caption Track.” Make sure the settings are correct and upload the file.

Watch the video, and click the small CC symbol on the lower right of the video screen to watch the captions as they appear with your video. Correct errors to your text file and then click “remove” and upload the revised file into the system.

Put Your Transcription to Use

Now your video has clear and accurate closed captions for people who have trouble hearing the words. At the same time, the search engines have a complete catalog of the words used in the video.

And if you want, you can take your transcription file, remove the time stamps and edit it, and use it for an article, blog post, or to appear under the video on your website.

Video is a powerful way of communicating with your audience, and YouTube has made it even more valuable with these free tools.


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