Why subtitling and transcription of video content are beneficial for online findability

19 July 2023  
Illustration. Stairs with a location pin at the top. Fingers run up the stairs towards the location pin.

Scribit.Pro provides online videos with accessibility features to make them more accessible and compliant with WCAG, the applicable guidelines for digital accessibility. We add audio description, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, a transcript and if desired a sign translation. This makes the video in question more understandable for a large group of people, including the blind and visually impaired, the deaf and the hard of hearing, but also people with a cognitive disability, autism, brain injury or reading or learning difficulties. But adding these supporting files also makes the content easier to find by Google. By providing online videos with support, you not only increase accessibility, but also findability and thus your target group, market share and impact. This blog explains exactly how that works.

Why is subtitling important for the deaf and hard of hearing?

'Regular' subtitling, also known as translating subtitling, aims to provide viewers who do not (well) speak the spoken language in an audiovisual production with a translation of what is being said. Sometimes this form of subtitling is also used when a speaker is difficult to understand or speaks a dialect. These viewers can generally hear the audio, but require a translation into their own language. Although Scribit.Pro certainly also counts translation subtitling among its services, subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing is the specialty. With this form of subtitling – in addition to what is being said – if necessary, it is also stated who is saying what, and in what tone. Background sounds, ambient noise and music are also included. All auditory information from a video can be found in these subtitles. With this support, people with a hearing impairment can also experience the story of the video or get the message. For them, this form of subtitling is essential for a good understanding of an audiovisual production. But, as mentioned earlier, people with dyslexia, brain injury or an autism spectrum disorder, for example, can also benefit from this subtitling. In addition, it can also be useful at times when a video cannot be viewed with sound, such as in public transport, a lecture hall or the gym.

What is the point of text alternatives such as a transcript?

A text alternative is a tool with which all information from a production, such as a video, can be gathered without actually (having to) watch that production. A text alternative can be displayed in a short way so that visitors or users know what a video is about and can decide whether to watch the video based on the text alternative. In addition, a complete transcript can also be added. In a transcript, all auditory and all visual information from the video is recorded as completely as possible. It is a text file in which all this information is completely written out into a kind of film script. The text makes clear what and who can be seen, what happens, is said and done and by whom, what can be heard and where all this takes place.

When Scribit.Pro makes a video accessible, the subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are first created. Audio description can then be added in the remaining space. Both these files – the subtitle file and the image description file – are combined into a .txt file. This text follows the chronology of the video. The file forms the basis of the text alternative, which is further elaborated and completed into the above-mentioned transcript.

With Scribit.Pro's accessible video player, all these files can be consulted by the viewer; the subtitles appear on screen, the audio description forms an extra sound layer with a voice-over describing the image during the video playback and the transcript can be read as text or read aloud under the video.

This is what subtitling and transcription do for findability in Google

A large and – as was shown above – diverse group of viewers or users benefits from the various forms of support when watching or experiencing videos. But it also offers many benefits to the content provider or video maker. Adding subtitles and a transcript ensures that files are easier to find in search engines such as Google and YouTube. Google can analyze a text, unlike a video. The search engine indexes all words from that text. All textual information is collected, including the most important keywords. And the transcript is in fact a textual version of a video – a text alternative – in which the visual information is also included in textual data. This ensures that this text ranks higher in the search results. This in turn leads to better findability and thus to more views of the video. It is of course important that both the subtitles and the transcript are worked out as accurately as possible.

In short, a video with subtitles and transcription is beneficial for the SEO strategy. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is an important part in online marketing, because the influence of search engines on content is very large. The better a video scores on Google (and therefore on YouTube), the easier it is to find and the greater its reach and impact.

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