Captions were introduced by YouTube in 2006, and according to a blog post today there are 1.6 million videos that have uploaded caption files. That's... pretty pathetic, considering the huge boost for video SEO that captions can bring (I've ranted about the under-use of captions before). Considering the vast number of videos on the site, 1.6 million is barely a blip on the radar. And it seems YouTube's thinking along the same lines, as they've announced a bunch of new changes, improvements, and enhancements to the YouTube captions system.
YouTube Captions Changes For Viewers
Captions now support new languages beyond English. YouTube can now create automatic captions in Japanese, Korean, and English. But if creators upload their own caption files, there are now a bunch of languages supported--as many as 155!
Here's a screenshot they shared of the language options for Life In A Day:
Captions Search Filter
If you're hearing impaired, you can now filter YouTube search results by captions, returning only videos that have them. Check it out:
Customize Your YouTube Captions
Viewers can now get pretty deep on customizing how the captions look, including font and color options to help set up the captions in the most unobtrusive and helpful way possible:
YouTube Captions Changes For Creators
The captions updates and benefits don't end with the viewers... creators get some new bells and whistles too.
More Format Support
There are now more supported caption formats for creators to choose from when uploading captions. This includes .SCC, .CAP, EBU-STL, and more. This is even a bigger deal for larger brands, with YouTube saying, "If you have closed captions that you created for TV or DVDs, we'll handle the conversion for you." Awesome.
MPEG-2 Caption Import
If the video format you use to upload is MPEG-2, and that MPEG-2 file just happens to have captions encoded with it (CEO-608), then YouTube will create the caption files for you automatically. Pretty sweet.
Here's your list of action items from this article:
1. Use captions
That's it. If your videos aren't a part of the 1.6 million YouTube clips uploaded with captions, I strongly urge you to consider using them moving forward, especially now that there are so many new options and features.
The benefits go way beyond helping the hearing impaired enjoy your content--even though that alone should be enough. But even if the only benefit to using captions was related to video SEO... it would still be worth it.
Read our in-depth look at YouTube closed captions for more background on the benefits as well as details on the SEO implications.