Read This Video… A Look Into YouTube Captions by Marcin Struzik

Captions (also called „subtitles”) are a great element of every video marketing strategy, but also one that is often treated as a fifth wheel. But you know what? That’s as true as saying that YouTube is only for cats and pranks.

Captions are basically a textual representation of audio that was used in your video production.

But wait a minute, you have a great voice over, smooth music, and the final effect is just „wow” so why bother? Take a look at if from a different perspective, cover your ears and imagine that you are having trouble hearing…or put yourself in these situations:

  • At a library
  • In a bus
  • The airport
  • With broken sound in your notebook
  • At night with half asleep toddler

…there you are sitting and you don’t have your headphones with you. Wouldn’t it be awesome to watch the video and read what it is said? Mobile is now your go-to screen and there are more and more situations when you simply can’t hear as good as you want, well, because it’s mobile.

What’s more, that’s not the only thing people forget as far as captions go. Repeat after me: S E O… Yes, captions affect SEO, which leads to increased views, better search traffic, greater user engagement, awesomer search rank, and so on. This notion was tested and proven by a video SEO study on Discovery Digital Network’s YouTube channel.

Another important thing to remember is something called hardcoded subtitles. It requires more work than just simply uploading transcripts to YouTube, but on the other hand there is a perfect explanation as to why we should use them…and it’s called autoplay.

Yes, autoplay simply throws a video in front of your eyes – with no sound, so the only way to get the most of it is by:

  1. Enabling sound
  2. reading captions

And yes, many, many people are too lazy (or the simply don’t want to listen) to click the „enable sound” button while they scroll through Facebook so we need to make way for our content to be delivered fully!

The perfect way is to provide some eye-catching subtitles. If we do it right in the video, there is no need to add extra voiceover to it. Take a look at the following examples:


YouTube Caption Examples


How to start? 

Ok, now we know that we should use subtitles. But to be honest – making a captions file AFTER you publish a video is like peeling potatoes after they’ve been cooked. It’s possible, but it’s not efficient.

Nevertheless, ave no fear, there is still hope! I recommend that you check out Upwork ( where you will find tons of professional transcribers that do this for a living. They have right tools, experience, and not to be captain obvious (again) – it’s their job to transcribe!



Once you have a transcript, you can create a caption file and upload it to your video. You don’t have to worry in which second a sentence should start – YouTube automatically time-syncs the text to match the captions ideally.

To do this simply follow these steps:

  • Go to your Video Manager by clicking your account avatar in the top right > Creator Studio > Video Manager > Videos.
  • Choose the video you want to add captions to, use the dropdown, then select Subtitles and CC.
  • Click the “Add new subtitles” or “CC” button.
  • Choose how you want to add or edit subtitles to your video.


And now it is time for some YouTube magic.

Shia Magic


Upload a .txt file and YouTube will use its speech recognition software to synchronize every sentence to its audio equivalent. So, basically you don’t have to worry about anything, the guys at Google are on your side! 🙂

However, if you’re the kind of person who loves doing everything from a to z alone, you can take advantage of tools provided by YouTube. Just select “Create new subtitles” or “CC” and type as you watch the video. The beauty of this method is that the video automatically stops as you write so it is a lot easier than just using a YouTube player and a text document to get this done.


But are those the only options that we have?

If you don’t want to make any transcriptions by yourself without having to pay anyone to get this done for you – you have a third option. Use the so-called Automatic captions. YouTube can generate captions for you using its speech recognition software. But you should be extreme cautious with them. In most cases the speech recognition works fine but still it can make some major mistakes, so it’s highly recommended that you go through the script as you watch the video and just correct anything that need some tweaks.

Automatic captions are available in English, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


How does GetResponse deal with captions?

At GetResponse we’ve tried basically every method and throughout the years we’ve managed to find, what we deem to be, the best way to tackle captions:

  • Find the perfect transcriber (upwork!)
  • Send URL to a video,
  • Receive a text file with transcription
  • Upload it to YouTube
  • Download your captions with timestamps
  • Send those time-stamped captions to your translation team
  • Once again, upload many languages to your video.

It is a very important and time saving habit to send a file that is equipped with timestamps for translation. Once you get them back you will just need to upload everything again and your work is over. You will then see something like this:




This is the most efficient way to get your video translated into many languages.

Ok so now we know that is should be done but it is often hard to decide on which video we should put more attention and which can wait.

You should definitely put subtitles (in Multiple Languages) in videos that you wish to put higher in search results. And what is more important – you should focus your attention on those that are being watched worldwide (yes, YouTube can show you this). This lets non-English speakers enjoy your video.


How To Force Subtitles to be shown?

If you want to force your captions to be shown (so people don’t have to manually click the captions button to enable them) you can use this simple trick.

Adding a tag: yt:cc=on to your video will lead to displaying captions by default.

So if people from around the globe visit your content – they will see the right translation in an instant (if there is one uploaded). This is handy especially when you have your video transcripts translated into other languages.


Subtitles YouTube


So, if you have some free time or resources – it is highly recommended to bring this feature into play. It will not only get your videos higher in google rankings but also in peoples hearts.

Just imagine the smile on someone’s face, who assumed that they won’t watch the video, and then bang! There are captions made especially for him! Its like a Christmas present…but times 1000!

Do you use captions in your videos? What’s your favorite implementation method? Share in the comments below!





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