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I’ve always been taught to make transcriptions of your videos then upload them to youtube because youtube will be able to properly index and rank your videos quicker. My question is since youtube and google are essentially the same company but different search engines, are close captions indexed by google?—so I did some research to find out.

Closed Captions or transcriptions are not indexed or crawled by Google or YouTube if the only place the transcript is uploaded is on YouTube. Transcriptions are indexed by Google only if the transcription is posted on a website.

Transcribed videos can be indexed by Google if the video is embedded on the same website as the transcribed text. Although, this is not the only way a video can be indexed by Google

Closed Caption Tests

In order to search for what has been indexed, you need to type into Google’s search engine—in quotations—verbatim what the video was saying. When you use quotations, Google will only bring up the search results that meet that exact wording of your search query.

By doing this, we can see whether the transcription file is being indexed or not.

In this test, we need to account for two different types of closed captionings—Auto-generated transcriptions from YouTube and manual transcriptions created and uploaded by the user.

Test 1 – Auto-Generated Transcriptions Older Than 1 Year

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imxRr8sn118
Search Query: “that’s it let me jump out the doctor new your city 6:57 a.m. 7 hours and 48 minutes until totality”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT indexed

  

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58Ra-cNqZZY
Search Query: “okay now you all live and this it’s for real and actually public oh is it really well”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT indexed

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPfKsdPsS5w
Search Query: “If you haven’t heard yet we have a sale going on right now we have 40% off all of our”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Test 2 – Auto-Generated Transcriptions 6 to 11 Months

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9XLv7ItVCg
Search Query: “kind of thing maybe this is too much i think we crossed well i was feeling it right there as well like the whole”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRLef9KkJAA
Search Query: “you know yet heart disease you don’t get diabetes you don’t get dementia you can get a cold but you don’t get these things”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VBkDNzeRZM
Search Query: “a room full of boys a girl child hardly nine at yet years old she is sitting in the center of room surrounded”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

From observation, the reason this video was able to be searched was not because of YouTube, but because this video’s transcription was found on the actual TedTalks page along with the video embedded.

This tells me that if you have the transcription on your site with an embedded video, Google will index the video in Google’s search results, but not YouTube’s.

Test 3 – Auto-Generated Transcriptions 3 to 5 Months

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNQEpCcDElo
Search Query: “you know what’s crazy the thing that we spend the most time working for in our lives”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Initially I was surprised how this video was able to be indexed from YouTube’s auto-generated transcription. When I clicked on the link, the results came back as a page 404 error, so I couldn’t see why exactly. However, the link referencing the video was youtubehub dot info. Perhaps they transcribed it initially and the video became indexed that way.

In either case, this still validates everything I’ve been taught—auto-generated transcriptions are not indexed and searchable by Google or Youtube.

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDwilffCJgw
Search Query: “hey guys caleb here with dslr video shooter and welcome to part 2 of our prores series of videos in part one we talked about”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

I’m almost certain that this video’s transcript isn’t indexed, per se, but that there were enough key words at the beginning of the video for it to get picked up by his channel’s optimization.

We’ll see what happens once we start to get into the manual transcription section coming up.

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76DnYiQdeP4
Search Query: “recently I’ve been already getting into music and thinking about the connection between songs and films you know both”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Test 4 – Auto-Generated Transcriptions “New” 2 Months

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq19eyAv7gU
Search Query: “if you want to be successful then let me give you some advice if you want to be”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJbTloTx9eo
Search Query: “what’s up guys jeff cavaliere athleanx.com that is not how you kill a bell clean and okay all right it’s a joke”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

This is interesting to see up to this point. Even though the auto-generated transcriptions are not 100% accurate and some are still getting indexed by google, the ones that are getting indexed by Google are 3rd party sites that are embedding the video on their site along with YouTube’s auto-generated transcription. So it’s not YouTube’s efforts that are behind Google’s indexing, it’s the “human’s” efforts in leveraging YouTube’s work that Google is indexing or crawling the content—interesting stuff.

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl0Muy06FGE
Search Query: “i’ve been working as a professional makeup artist and wardrobe stylist and set designer in the film television”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Test 5 – Manual Transcriptions Older Than 1 Year

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCTPonTQOGA
Search Query: “can i do this episode like this? i think my feet are fantastic.”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Right off the bat, I can already notice a huge difference between a manually transcribed video and one that has an auto-generated transcription. Manually transcribed has uppercase and lowercase letters, punctuations, everything about looks better than what YouTube can produce.

With this specific video, at first, I wasn’t surprised that this came up in the Google search results, but then when I took a second look at the URL, it was definitely a 3rd party site other than YouTube—so I’m not sure whether I should be confused or upset, but either way, this is just the first transcribed video I Googled. Let’s move on.

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0k0TQfZGSc
Search Query: “Guys, today we are tackling probably the number one issue that I get emailed about, tweeted about”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

This is very interesting. I figured researching videos older than a year old would be in the favor of giving a matured or ripened video time to get indexed and rank with Google. So far the first two results were indexed, but by a 3rd party resource. Maybe the videos were not transcribed at the beginning of being uploaded—I’m not sure if that plays a factor in how it gets indexed or if transcripts even get indexed—but it seems that manually transcribed videos are more in favor for user experience and not searchability.

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlAYjwXtPfQ
Search Query: “one of my favorite parts of my job is how much i get travel. obviously we’re in chicago”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Test 6 –  Manual Transcriptions 6 to 11 Months

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPytBIKUD-k
Search Query 1: “i’ve been a lot of places and taken a lot of photos, but one thing that i’ve never enjoyed particularly”
Search Query 2: “so, not much light is coming through there, because i’m letting tons of it in by having that shutter open for two seconds.”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Ok, at first I thought my browser was glitching because normally I some sort of warning that tells me to try the search without quotations. After refreshing my browser, I see that this video is heavily indexed, but it’s not the video exactly, it’s the transcript.

For this particular video, there were nine other sites using the transcript verbatim as their content. Places like Steemit, Linkworld, and others were using this script. Doing a little bit more diving, the Steemit article was using the transcript for traffic to a Steemit profile while the other sites were using parts of the script for spammy link building.

So I thought, “what if I take verbatim content from the middle of the video to see if I’m still getting the same results?”

The result that came back was just one indexed site—the Steemit article—and that was all.

What’s even more interesting—because I’ve seen it where a video gets indexed with Google simply because the video transcript is uploaded to a site with an embedded video—because this transcript was only found on Steemit and NO REFERENCE to a video, this video is not indexed with Google.

So up to this point—obviously more research will have to be done—if a video’s transcript is uploaded to a site and the video it’s coming from is embedded on the same site, that video will become searchable and indexed by Google. Unfortunately that same video will not be indexed by YouTube using exact wording.

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BVSEnJte84
Search Query: “They’re actually the mechanism through which we process our experience of being alive. they’re the way that we understand the world”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Interesting, again this is another example that transcribed videos getting indexed by being put onto a 3rd party site with an embedded video of the source. Now, even though the video wasn’t on the first page of Google, it was on the first page and the only video in Google’s video search results.

I’m a little upset that YouTube’s search engine isn’t capable of looking up verbatim results. If it doesn’t leverage video transcriptions for search, is there any real benefit to adding a transcription other than making it user friendly?—let’s move on.

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TwPi91AWOM
Search Query: “to adopt well the most effective way to learn something is by using what’s called the faman technique invented by the legendary professor faiman a nobel”
Google Results: INDEXED
YouTube Results: INDEXED (1st in search)

Wow, now I’m starting to have some trust issues with this whole transcription thing. I’m not finding any evidence on Google that transcription is in favor of making the video searchable.

I am, however, finding consistency that if there is a transcription provided, the TRANSCRIPT is getting indexed, but not always is the video. And if the transcript is getting indexed, it’s not from the original creator which is a HUGE oversight in my opinion.

It’s almost worth the effort to create a video page by itself for the video transcript and embedded video for it to be searchable on Google. Also, this would prevent other copyright issues with people using the transcript as their own writing.

Test 7 –  Manual Transcriptions 3 to 5 Months

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMHeXn42W_8
Search Query: “i’m gonna be doing something that might help you get more exposure on your youtube channel. I’m gonna tell you what it is in the details and all that stuff and we’ll start right now.”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbuVDbfgy1s
Search Query: “this week i’m challenging myself to make something all from this one camera angle let’s see what we have we could use this as a metaphor”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

 

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-SckJKAEQs
Search Query: “wrapping up our series here on the big three. we’re going deadlift here. another impressive lift for you.”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Test 8 –  Manual Transcriptions “New” 2 Months

Video Source A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM5JZXvkWtE
Search Query: “judge pratt thank you so much for making the time for being here. as i was telling you off camera, when i saw a clip of your talk, i was like”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: INDEXED (1st Video)

I was almost certain that this video would be indexed by Google. Marie Forleo has a full on-production team that I’m almost certain has the videos transcribed before getting published.

This video is 100% transcribed and even though it’s not indexed by Google, it is indexed by YouTube—which is surprising in and of itself. For as big as Marie is with her social following, I was almost certain that this video would have been picked up by a 3rd party site, but that just isn’t the case with this one.

Video Source B: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRJl4KMO96I
Search Query: “if there is one thing that we productivity guru, rockstar, modul ninja samurais love to go on and on about it is our schedules, how utterly customized and tailored they are”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: INDEXED

Video Source C: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgfWeBBPJNw
Search Query: “now i know a lot of people like to talk about things like speed reading. about reading at least one book every single week.”
Google Results: NOT Indexed
YouTube Results: NOT Indexed

Conclusion

If you’re gonna index your video, you might want to have that transcription on your blog somewhere so that a 3rd party resource doesn’t use it and claim it as their own.

Transcriptions are great to increase user engagement, but if you’re planning your video around a transcript and counting on it being searchable from that—don’t—it’s not worth the effort.

Instead, title the video in such a way that makes it searchable right off the bat, then create supplemental content within the video to keep it relevant and engaging. Naturally, this will help in ranking your videos more than the technicalities of transcribing and video optimization.

UPDATE: When doing a search in YouTube’s help center to get any clues or evidence if transcriptions are searchable content, I found queries of other users asking blatantly if you can. However, YouTube’s approach to transcriptions and close captioning is primarily focused as an accessibility feature rather an a video optimization tool.

It seems that Google and YouTube’s primary agenda goes back to its core purpose of getting people’s attention by putting the correct and relevant content in front of them.

How Can You Tell If A Video Has Been Transcribed?

When you look on any channel on youtube, go to the channel’s uploaded video section to see their library of video content. Below the video view count and age, you will see a small box that says “CC” which represents the Closed Captioning symbol. This means that the video has been manually transcribed and that transcription has been uploaded to that video. Not all videos will that this.

If a video does not have the Closed Captioning symbol, the video may have an auto-generated transcription that YouTube’s algorithm compiled.

A user’s uploaded transcription will trump whatever YouTube auto generates.

Why Should I Transcribe My Videos?

Your focus for transcriptions, at this point, is to make your video user friendly to a wider audience. The more your video is able to adapt to other people’s circumstances, the more likely your content will be found and consumed.

Transcriptions is just one aspect of it. You have language translating, adding cards for mobile engagement, end screen elements to help keep viewers watching your content or YouTube’s main reason, to keep viewers on their platform.

PRO TIP: Do not share your youtube video on Facebook. I will get into this later, but if you do share your video on facebook, you can download YouTube’s transcription file from your video as an .srt file and upload it to Facebook. Your video must be uploaded to a fan page or business page as you’ll get more video customization options opposed to uploading it to your personal profile.

Other benefits of transcribing your videos could be to make content creation super easy to do. Personally, I like to transcribe my videos to create my blog posts. I’m not a very good writer nor do I always know what to write about, but when I create a video, I can easily polish up the transcription and post it on my blog.

Also, you can easily create a downloadable PDF of the transcript as a lead magnet so people sign up for your newsletters.

These are just some of the opportunities you can leverage with creating your transcriptions.

What Transcription Tools Can You Use To Transcribe Videos

Personally, I use the app Transcriptions on a Mac. It allows me to playback the video and type all in one app. The video playback is at 40% speed, so it’s ultra slow and slow enough for me to be able to keep up with typing as it plays.

Transcriptions also has keyboard shortcuts for pause, play, and replay which is prevents me from having to rush back and forth from the mouse.

Transcriptions is about three dollars in the app store and is worth every penny seeing that it takes me about two to three times the video length to produce a final copy of a video transcript.

Transcriptions App Alternatives

I’ve tried some tricks out with my iphone to see if it can transcribe videos for me if I were to press the dictation button from the keyboard. Surprisingly enough, the iphone does a decent job transcribing and keeping up with the pace of the videos.

The only drawback I’ve seen is that after about 10 seconds, it will begin to fall a little behind and then after about 15-20 seconds it will stop dictating and try to process the last few lines it picked up.

To help Siri stay with the pace, you can pause every few seconds to allow her to catch up before pressing play. But even then, Siri will stop dictating and revert back to the manual keyboard.

This is good alternative if you’re not wanting to type a whole lot, but even in this method you trade, the no typing to going back and making edits with punctuations and word mispronunciations.

As for Google’s voice typing in Google Docs, I was somewhat impressed with how well it was able to do for being a 100% free option.

It does great with dictating your initial thoughts on paper. Let’s say you want to write a post or take some quick notes off the top of your head, using Google’s voice typing will keep up with how fast you’re talking if you’re talking in segments.

But once you play a video back and try to have Google follow along, it will do ok for a few seconds before it loses its place and picks back up in the middle of another sentence.

One of the biggest drawbacks from having a software do the transcribing for you is the amount of editing you’ll have to do after everything is laid out on paper.

Similarly, the biggest drawback from doing it yourself with an app like Transcriptions is the time and the amount of typing you’ll have to do. If you’re not an ok typer, it make take you a little longer.

And finally we have YouTube, itself, as being a transcription tool for your videos. In 2008, Google implemented the capability of being able to add automatic transcriptions to videos and even made it super easy to do it yourself using their own platform.

After uploading your video and enabling closed captions for your video, it will have auto-generated an extremely accurate edition of your transcript. You can then review the auto-generated transcript with the video at its side and make any edits you need. You’ll see right off the bat that you’ll mostly be adding punctuations and adding uppercase letters here and there.