YouTube Guide #3: Subtitles & Closed Captions

If you’re a new YouTuber there will be many tasks to think about to make sure your videos are fully optimised for search. Tasks such as keyword research, writing descriptions, titles and writing Youtube subtitles are just a few. These tasks take time and thought to implement.

Blog YouTube Guide Part Three - Kanuka Digital

Once upon a time, content creators had to transcribe their videos to produce subtitles. This was a lengthy and laborious process using a .txt file and a lot of patience.

However, these days YouTube has made this task much easier to manage. Once you’ve uploaded your video and it has processed, YouTube automatically generates the subtitles for you.

Now, this isn’t perfect by any means so you’ll need to make sure it’s thoroughly checked and showing accurately. To access and edit the subtitles you should follow the following steps:

Accessing & editing your subtitles

1. Select YouTube Studio from your circle profile picture menu in the top right.

2. Select the video on your channel that you want to view the subtitles for.

3. Click the video thumbnail or the edit icon to reach the edit page.

Then select the Subtitles option on the left.

Why are subtitles for YouTube videos important?

So, what makes subtitles for YouTube videos so important from an optimisation point of view? The simple answer is YouTube indexes your video’s transcriptions and uses them to rank your video for some of the keywords within it.

As YouTube doesn’t create fully optimised transcriptions, your chances of ranking to relevant keywords are small. Here is what subtitles look like when your video is playing:

How to upload your own transcript for subtitles

Firstly you need to write your transcript. Once you’re happy with the contents you will need to upload it to your chosen video as a text file. To do this follow these simple steps:

Before doing so, you’ll need to navigate to the Subtitles page as directed in the steps above.

1. Select your language from the drop-down menu that appears. You can change this later if you wish.

2. Next, click the Add option you will then be presented with the following options; Upload a file, Transcribe and auto-sync and Create new subtitles or CC.

Select Upload a file and follow the simple steps to upload a file from your device.

YouTube Guide #3: Transcriptions and Captions - Kanuka Digital

Please Note: Uploading a transcript file will overwrite the current transcription that’s in place.

How to transcribe and auto-sync

Selecting Transcribe and auto-sync from the three options shown in the image above will present you with an editable box. You will need to type everything spoken in the video and click Set Timings. This will automatically align your text with the speech in the video.

YouTube Guide #3: Transcriptions and Captions - Kanuka Digital

Timings are not applied instantly so you will have to wait patiently and check back at a later time.

Subtitles/Closed Captions (CC)

Videos with subtitles / closed captions display the small logo, shown below, at the bottom of the player in the YouTube search results.

By having subtitles/closed captions you can increase Click Through Rate (CTR), this helps increase your rankings in YouTube Search Results Pages (YSRP).

You can search for videos with captions by choosing ‘Subtitles/CC’ under ‘Features’ in the YouTube filter section.

Create new YouTube subtitles or closed captions

1. To add subtitles or closed captions to your videos you need to select the third option shown in the image below. Create new subtitles or CC.

2. You will be shown the following screen where you will need to type next to the times on the left the words that are being spoken.

3. When completed click the blue ‘Publish’ button in the top right of the screen.


After reading this guide you will be able to use the transcriptions and closed captions with confidence. 

This guide is part three of our series of YouTube guides. Be sure to check out part 1 and part 2 for more help and guidance.

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