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Kelly Mahoney

By Kelly Mahoney

Content and Partner Marketing Specialist at Brightcove

3 Ways Transcripts Elevate Video SEO


Online video has long been a stronghold of content marketing strategies. Video accounts for 65% of internet traffic, and 91% of businesses use video as a marketing tool in 2023. As the most dynamic content medium, video allows marketers to show off their brand and products in more ways than static web content.

Not only does video content have the potential to reach new audiences, it can also drive engagement with your existing audience. By using video on landing pages and blogs or alongside products and services, marketers can delight customers, inform prospects, and drive fresh leads through the funnel.

However, for video to have the desired impact, it’s crucial that search engines can find, rank, and serve your content. Accessibility-based solutions like transcripts can promote search engine optimization (SEO) while making your content accessible to any audience.

How Video Transcripts Elevate SEO

SEO is a digital marketing practice aimed at promoting pagerank and driving overall site visits. The strategy can vary depending on keyword queries, but it’s important to recognize that video transcripts can bolster a site’s keyword density for relative search terms.

Search engines can’t “watch” a video the way we do. Instead, they crawl text associated with video files and use this information to index and rank results. Metadata and video tags are good examples of text elements commonly associated with video. But a high-quality transcript provides a more complete textual representation of all spoken content in a video.

Of course, marketers should always be wary of “keyword stuffing.” Overusing targeted keywords on site pages to manipulate pagerank has been penalized by search algorithms for many years. Fortunately, placing a transcript below a video is considered a natural way to integrate keywords or phrases throughout a page. It also layers secondary and tertiary search terms, creating a healthier and more diverse SEO strategy.

1) Video Transcripts Match Long-Form Search Queries

If you’re working with longer videos like webinar recordings, transcripts can offer the same benefits as long-form blog posts. According to HubSpot, the ideal blog post length is over 2,000 words. This is because carefully-curated long-form content is more likely to appear higher in search result rankings.

Including a transcript on the same webpage as a video increases its chances of appearing favorably in search rankings. Users may only watch the video and not read the text, but the transcript will make it much more visible to search engines.

Transcripts contribute to your keyword strategy by naturally incorporating target words or phrases into a landing page, which boosts SEO. When selecting relevant targets, consider what kind of search query a user would enter in order to find your video. Then customize your landing pages so keywords and on-page content are aligned to each specific video. For example, the page's URL, title, H1 and H2 headers, image alt text, and anchor text should all incorporate your keyword or phrase.

2) Video Transcripts Engage Your Audience

By using video transcripts to boost SEO and build accessibility into the production process, you also harness the potential of improving engagement with your audience. Transcripts make your video searchable by end users and search engines alike, and more favorable search rankings means more eyes on your content. In fact, 85% of marketers say that video is effective at engaging their audience, with short-form and live video content being the leading formats of choice.

In Brightcove’s 2022 survey on the use of video in e-commerce, 84% of consumers are convinced to purchase after joining a livestream or virtual shopping event. Combined with the brand awareness and recall benefits offered by captions and transcripts, accessible video has the potential to boost audience engagement and influence behavioral intent.

3) Video Transcripts Can Boost Target Metrics

Searchable content served to an engaged target audience also has a positive impact on engagement metrics like view count and session time.

For example, content showcasing a product or service is one of the most engaging types of video, as well as the most likely to generate leads. From the research phase to the final purchase, video content is useful at any stage of the buying journey. When a user finds a product or service-related video, they’re probably looking for more information related to that topic. If there are reviews, support links, or suggested reading available on the same page as the video, it bodes well for average session duration and engagement.

Video Transcripts Only Count if They’re Accurate

One major condition of including video transcripts (and reaping the benefits) is accuracy. Just like high-quality transcripts have the potential for positive influence, inaccurate transcripts can negatively affect your standing with search engines.

Automatic speech recognition (ASR) engines are typically about 80% accurate, but the industry standard requires a minimum of 99% accuracy. While ASR technology has improved over the years, it’s not best practice to rely solely on automatically generated transcripts or captions.

Video has become the preferred method of content consumption by digital natives. So much so that 85% of e-commerce consumers find video essential to their online experience. When your brand provides a transcript or captions, you can ensure your content is effectively indexed and searchable to new and existing audiences. Accessibility is more than just a legal requirement. Prioritizing an equitable user experience brings SEO benefits like boosting keyword density and strategy.

Want to learn more? Read about the ROI Benefits of Transcription & Captioning.

This blog was originally written by Shannon Murphy in 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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