Benefits of Transcripts and Captions for Your Videos and Podcasts

This post is the first in a series about transcripts and captions for videos and podcasts.

Every week I hear from friends and colleagues about the launch of their new podcast or video series. They’re excited about their work and love the ability to share their knowledge and advice.

I’m happy to hear the news, it takes a lot of planning to produce a podcast or video.

Their audience has responded with positive feedback. My friends and colleagues are thrilled to expand their reach.

When I ask them if they’ve added transcripts or captions to their videos and podcasts, 100% say no.

And when I ask why, I hear “We don’t have the money.” or “How do I do it?” or “I don’t have time.”

They’ve spent time researching how to create videos and podcasts, invested money purchasing recording equipment, learned how to upload their videos and podcasts online, but are missing a great opportunity to reach a wider online audience.

If you want to reach more people and have your videos and podcasts be found online, read on and learn how captions and transcripts can make that happen.


Face it, if you’re publishing videos and podcasts, you’ve got a lot of competition.

According to YouTube Statistics, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. And with the low point of entry (you can record on your smartphone), hundreds of podcasts are launched each week.

So, what can you do?

Why You Want to Add Transcripts and Captions

Transcripts and captions make videos and podcasts findable and searchable. You want people to find the information they’re searching for.

And you want more people finding your videos and podcasts. Here are some of the benefits of adding transcripts and captions:

Better rankings in search engines. Search engines can’t “listen ” to audio; they can’t “view” video. They crawl text.

By adding transcripts and captions, search engines can index the text and make your podcasts and videos available to people who are searching for specific topics or terms. Given Google and YouTube are the top two search engines, you want to make sure your content is easily found and ranks well.

Note: many people think the automatic captions provided by YouTube are indexed. They aren’t, due to the large number of errors. Automatic captions are a great place to start as a first draft; I’ll share more information about creating captions in an upcoming post in this series.

Text can be translated and/or read. Your audience includes people who speak another language or speak English as a second language, as well as people who may not understand English well.

With 80 percent of views on YouTube coming from outside of the United States, you have a huge opportunity to grow your audience with non-English speaking viewers. Transcripts and captions make your content accessible to more languages.

For people who are searching for specific information, having a transcript means they can scan your content.

You have may spoken quickly and the person listening/watching didn’t understand what you said. Having a transcript means they can quickly follow and/or scan the text to more easily understand what you’re saying.

Improved accessibility. Your audience also includes people who are hard of hearing or deaf, those people in a work environment with background noise, as well as people using assistive technology.

Give everyone an opportunity to discover your podcasts and videos. Don’t create barricades that prevent them from accessing your content.

Video captions mean anyone can watch and understand your content, even if there’s no sound.

If you’re on a plane, like I was last week, and have no headphones (I gave them to my son, who was traveling with me, and forgot his earbuds), I can still watch a video and understand it.

Accessible content is required for government agencies, educational institutions, and many organizations who do business with or receive funding through the government through various regulations and laws. You can learn more about accessibility legislation in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Captions/subtitles increase video viewing time. According to studies of online video by PLYmedia, captions/subtitles can increase the time a user watches a video by 40 percent.

For videos with captions/subtitles, 80 percent more people watched the entire video. Which means they’re more engaged and more likely to come back to watch more videos.

Hopefully, the reasons I’ve described for adding captions and transcripts have convinced you they’re an important feature for your podcasts and videos.

In the next posts for this series, I’ll share information on cost and how to add captions and transcripts with third-party services or on your own.

Photo of author

About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.
%d bloggers like this: