Should your website add transcripts to videos, or are captions sufficient?
To optimize accessibility, both captions and transcripts are necessary. They serve different purposes: Captions accommodate people with hearing disabilities and people who browse without sound, while transcripts are useful for people with vision disabilities.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), the consensus standards for digital accessibility, require captions for pre-recorded videos. WCAG’s rules for transcripts are slightly murkier: Websites must provide an equivalent alternative for synchronized media (such as videos). That’s not necessarily a transcript — an audio description track provides an effective alternative for users with vision disabilities.
But while transcripts aren’t always required for digital compliance, they’re always a good idea. Here’s why.
1.Transcripts help you reach a wider audience
If you’re investing in video, you want your content to reach as many people as possible. Transcripts can act as an alternative for your video, but they’re also useful as a reference.
Many users will read your transcript after watching the video, while others may decide to skip the multimedia entirely. An accurate transcript provides a better experience for:
- People who don’t speak the language of the video fluently
- People with attention disorders who may prefer to read at their own pace
- People with neurocognitive differences
- People with vision disabilities
Internet users appreciate options. When your website provides users with different ways to interact with your content, your audience can grow quickly.
2. Transcripts can improve SEO
Transcripts are an excellent tool for search engine optimization (SEO) because they provide text content that search engines can index. Without a transcript, search engine spiders may not be able to identify the content of the video, which prevents your website from establishing relevance for important search terms.
In 2011, National Public Radio (NPR) began providing transcripts for radio show This American Life and tracked engagement. About 7% of all unique visitors viewed at least one transcript, and over 6% of unique visitors who came from search traffic landed on a transcript page.
More people could access the content — and find the content through search.
3. Transcripts can help you create other content
Whether you build a library of transcripts, you’re also building a library of useful, searchable text. That may help you create other types of content as your website grows:
- A sales video transcript may help you create an infographic for social media.
- Blog writers can reference transcripts to write within your business’s brand voice.
- A tutorial video transcript can be rewritten as an eBook, white paper, or checklist.
If you’re struggling to think of ideas for your next marketing project, your video transcripts can provide inspiration. You’ll have statistics, calls-to-action, and other essential information at your disposal, which can save you a lot of time.
4. If your videos have captions, adding transcripts doesn’t take much extra work
Transcripts should serve as an alternative to your media. Typically, they’ll include descriptions of visual elements, which you’ll need to add manually.
However, if you’ve already written captions, that’s not too difficult — and if you think about transcripts when drafting your scripts, you might not need to do any additional work before publishing your video.
Quick Tips for Writing Transcripts for Videos
Ultimately, transcripts are a simple, obvious way to add content to your website. They’re important for accessibility, but like many of the best practices of inclusive design, transcripts are useful for everyone (including marketers).
Some quick tips for writing your transcripts:
- Speech recognition tools can help you translate speech to text, limiting the time you spend on your captions and transcripts. However, artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t perfect, so review the output carefully.
- Describe all visual elements, important sound effects, and musical cues.
- If you’re also creating an audio description, you can use the audio description script as your transcript. Review our guide to audio descriptions for additional guidance.
- Provide a link to your transcript on the page that contains your video. You can also post the transcript directly below the video, which can be beneficial for SEO.
If you’re ready to add accessible multimedia to your website, we’re ready to help. Send us a message to connect with an accessibility expert.