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4 benefits of using Closed Captions in your video content

Closed captions are an easy and great resource for increasing engagement with your video content.

Buzz Aldrin on the moon

Closed captions are a form of subtitle. They allow users to see spoken dialogue as text on their screens. 

Closed captions are a great resource for increasing engagement. They are so good in fact we highlighted them as one of the steps in our blog post 5 steps to increase engagement on your social media videos

Unfortunately however, closed captions are often forgotten about when sharing video content online. But they shouldn’t be.

In this post we’ll be going through 4 key benefits of using closed captions in your video content. 

  1. Accessibility
  2. Extend Audience Reach
  3. Indexing for SEO
  4. Increase Watch Time

As of 2020, closed captions are supported on almost all platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

Twitter currently supports closed captions via its Media Studio but that feature isn’t available to all users. Instagram is yet to support closed captions. 

Captions might sound like a small thing that you can not worry about. But as with most things, big results come from the aggregation of small tasks. 

1. Accessibility 

Undoubtedly the most important reason, and benefit, of adding captions to your video content is to increase its accessibility. 

Over 5% of the world's population have hearing loss - that’s approximately 360 million people. It’s important to make sure that your video content is available to everyone, regardless of disability. 

It’s important to make sure that your video content is available to everyone.

Access is a universal right, and captioning video content is a small inclusive step with dramatic impact on a significant portion of the population.

2. Extend Audience Reach

People spend a lot of time watching videos. I don’t need to convince you of that, you already know it from your own personal experience. 

Except sometimes, we’re not always in situations where we can watch video content with that sweet sweet sound. 

On the bus home and left your headphones in the office? In the office but left your headphones at home? In the bathroom stall? Patiently waiting hours for your doctors appointment?

These are just a few scenarios where closed captions are your saving grace. It’s like a superpower. You can watch as many videos as you want, and no one will ever know. 

But what if your videos don’t have any captions? You’re probably not going to get their engagement.

There’s another great benefit of captions when it comes to extending your audience reach - multi-language support. 

We live in a globalised world and it’s not unreasonable to assume that not everyone watching your content is a native English language speaker. 

Adding English captions to your videos can aid those learning English, but uploading captions in multiple languages will make your video content accessible to a vast audience of non-English speakers.

3. Indexing for SEO

Google is smart. So smart that it is able to search a query and fetch millions of results in fractions of a second. 

To do this Google uses web crawlers, also known as spiders or Googlebots. These web crawlers are constantly reviewing web pages and indexing them on Google. That’s how Google knows what to show you when you search. 

However, web crawlers can’t watch videos - not yet, at least. As a result, tons of video content goes without being indexed. 

The good news is that closed captions are crawlable!

So if you uploaded closed captions to your videos, web crawlers can use that text information to index the content of your video. Helping you rank higher than your competition and land that coveted top spot on page 1 of Google Search. 

It’s important to note that only closed captions can be indexed by Google. Closed captions are separate text files that are embedded with the video file. Open captions that are burned into the video content cannot be indexed. 

4. Increase Watch Time

The final big benefit of using closed captions in your video content is that they can increase your video watch time. 

A study by PLYmedia found that captioned videos received 40% more views than uncaptioned videos. They also found that viewers were 80% more likely to watch a video to completion when closed captions were available.

Viewers were 80% more likely to watch a video to completion when closed captions were available.

Furthermore, with video autoplay featuring on almost all platforms it’s more important than ever to include captions on your video content. 

The news site Mic crunched reviewed their video content and discovered that 85% of their Facebook video views are in silence. If it wasn't for captions, you can guarantee that number would be considerably lower. 

Make sure you read our recent post if you want to learn how to master video autoplay and increase engagement.

Matt Eastland-Jones
Matt Eastland-Jones
Managing Director & Founder of Story Ninety-Four
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