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Reaching a Wider Audience through Accessible Video, SEO and an Enhanced User Experience

Reaching a Wider Audience through Accessible Video, SEO and an Enhanced User Experience

Brightcove technology partner 3Play Media provides premium captioning, transcription and translation solutions to higher ed, enterprise and government organizations.

The Internet is an increasingly integral part of business, education, recreation, interaction and more. And video's ability to communicate quickly while creating engaging and memorable stories via the Internet is profound. But as marketers, we are not just receiving information but also providing information and interacting with audiences. In light of this, online video marketing strategies must be thoughtful and deliberate, yet effective. While we're all willing to agree on this, accessible video is another issue. Most of us don't think it is necessary, but that is a mistake. Not only are companies losing out on an additional market, but they're also forgoing a better user interface and increased search engine optimization (SEO). Furthermore, accessibility practices reduce legal risks and demonstration of corporate social responsibility. Keep reading to understand why your brand could benefit from accessible video.

The User Experience
User experience (UX) is described as a person's emotions when using a particular product, system or service. Because of technology, face-to-face interaction isn't necessary, so a positive online user experience is vital to the growth of all businesses. For online-only businesses, a user's perception of the site is very important, with its utility and ease-of-use being the most essential.

User experience is very much a relationship between the customer and the brand. It is always changing due to circumstance and innovation, yet marketers know a bad user experience can be hard to shake. Peter Moreville of Semantic Studios's user experience hexagon (below) is a brilliant representation of the numerous components necessary when designing a site visitor's experience.

This being said, we know user experience isn't just for website designers and information architects anymore. Marketers craft content around the buyer's journey; adding product videos, blog articles and whitepapers to every access point off of Yahoo, Google and Bing. Furthermore, video marketers evaluate the desirability, usefulness and value of ideas before they make it to video production. This is because we fear audiences won’t share, tweet or like videos that don’t carry some sort of significance. But do we always evaluate accessibility? No. This is the missing element in many video marketers' strategy.

Web Accessibility, Online Video and SEO
At this point, you may be wondering what all this has to do with SEO. What you may not realize is that many accessibility best practices also make content digestible by search engines, increasing their capacity to index and rank your content.

So what is Web accessibility? Web Accessibility is the practice of creating websites that are usable by people of all abilities. Roughly 20 percent of Americans have a disability that impairs access to websites and Internet content. Interestingly enough, designing for assistive technology is a lot like designing for Web bots. For example, alternative text for images and multimedia available to search engines can also be understood by a blind person utilizing a screen reader. Headers which are given more weight by search engines are again, also understood by a blind person to be a point of emphasis. As we discussed in a previous guest blog article, How Transcripts Boost Video SEO, transcripts are the text translation of your spoken content. Transcripts allow video content to be accessed by deaf users but search engines as well.

We add multimedia to sites to enhance the online experience, often not realizing that a multisensory approach done incorrectly actually keeps users out. This is because even with assistive technology, disabled users hit roadblocks due to poor design or technical incompatibilities. A lack of care can negatively impact SEO and bounce back rates when users aren’t patient enough to wait for long loading times or work around an interface problem. This is why user-centered design is so important.

How to Make Online Videos Accessible
Google seeks to classify and arrange the Web's abundant amounts of information, ideally in a way that makes it universally accessible and useful. Wanting to allow access to information in multiple formats, Google ranks videos with captions and transcripts higher in search engine results. Captions vastly improve your "findability" and accessibility. In recognizing the importance of user diversity and different user requirements, how can you make the videos housed in your Brightcove Video Cloud player more accessible on the Web?

Captions are time-synchronized text that can be read while watching a video. Captions assume that the viewer is completely deaf and include all spoken content as well as non-speech elements, such as sound effects and speaker identification.

Transcripts are an important part of video and audio accessibility because they provide a textual version of the content that can be accessed by anyone. Transcripts are valuable to both deaf and blind users. Deaf users can read the transcript, while blind users can digest a transcript with a refreshable braille reader or screen reader. For Web video, both captions and a text transcript should be provided. For content that is audio only, a transcript is sufficient.

Very important to SEO and the user experience is how much time is spent on your site. Studies show that transcripts increase engagement and that captions increase the completion rate of a video from 40 percent to 80 percent. If you want to make sure your audience is getting the message, add a transcript.

How to Caption Brightcove Videos
3Play Media offers a round trip Brightcove Video Cloud integration for captioning, transcription, and translation. Through this automated workflow, video files can be transferred directly from Brightcove Video Cloud to a 3Play Media account for processing. After captions have been processed, they're automatically sent to the Brightcove Video Cloud account and added to the appropriate videos.

Why Accessible Video Makes Sense for Your Business
Let's examine the benefits of accessible video for corporations and small to medium-sized-enterprises.

Increased: site use, customer loyalty, potential market share, SEO, usability and mobile device responsiveness
Reduced: cost of legal action, legal expenses or negative business image

You may recall a circumstance when Netflix chose to mitigate any negativity surrounding a court case involving video accessibility. In 2012, the National Association of the Deaf alleged Netflix was barring deaf users from enjoyment of their streaming video service by not captioning content. After unsuccessfully asserting that the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III did not apply to their online business, Netflix decided to settle. Netflix took a proactive stance and agreed to caption all videos by 2014. This tells us that in the future accessibility won't be an added feature but a usability standard of the Web.

A solid video SEO strategy plans, creates, delivers and amplifies great content. While video marketers are starting to realize the link between video captions and SEO, many don't understand how video accessibility plays a vital part in the user experience. Google's repeated message is that quality content and an excellent experience are crucial to SEO. After all, there are people on the other end of these screens! Don't let your video become impersonal; optimize video for the enjoyment of all.

Shannon K. Murphy is the content marketing manager for 3Play Media, an online video captioning and transcription service located in Cambridge, Mass. Prior to 3Play Media, Shannon worked as a marketing consultant at HubSpot and Dow Jones Local Media. Shannon has been passionate about SEO, inbound marketing and content creation since 2008.