Transcripts And Captions Explained: Differences, Benefits, And Where To Get Video Transcription

The numbers are in, and it’s official: videos are better for engagement. According to a recent study from Wyzowl, 91% of consumers prefer video content from their chosen brands. Making your videos stand out through quality content and visual flourishes is essential to increase your chances of ranking and boost your engagement. And do you know what else improves ranking and boosts SEO? Video transcripts and closed captions. 

In this article, you’ll learn how: 

  • Captions refer to overlaying spoken words, sound effects, or music on videos. Video transcripts are complete text versions of audio recordings. Captioning and video transcription may have different results, but their process is similar. 
  • Both captions and video transcripts offer different benefits for online video content, like increased viewership, accessibility, and engagement. 
  • Audio and video files can be transcribed or captioned using manual transcription or speech recognition technology. Manual transcription services like Ditto provide higher accuracy rates (over 99%) than automated transcription (86%), making them your best bet for online transcription. 

The Difference Between Captions And Video Transcripts

While they’re often used interchangeably, video transcripts and captions have marked differences. To those who say this is nitpicking, I say it’s important for people who want more customers to watch their online videos. And so, nitpick we shall. 

Transcription is the process of converting video or audio content into text. The resulting transcripts are saved in a text format but, crucially, not on the video itself. Those transcripts are available through the video platform’s options or can be provided to your viewers as a standalone download. 

On YouTube, for example, transcripts can be shown alongside the videos. However, they cannot be downloaded. Content creators can provide transcripts to interested viewers with a download link in their video descriptions. Otherwise, they’d have to resort to using third-party options. 

Meanwhile, captions are done through the same process—converting video and audio content to text—but are placed directly on the video. That means they are synchronized, appearing usually at the bottom of the screen just as the audio or video element comes in. (Quick history trivia: Closed captions began in 1973 on PBS broadcasts.)

Here’s a quick table for a deeper look at their differences.

AspectVideo TranscriptsCaptions
ContentIncludes every spoken word in the whole video. May contain descriptions of background noises, music, and other sound effects. Often includes speaker identification, especially in videos with multiple speakers.Contains all spoken dialogue. It may include descriptions of significant sound effects, music, and non-verbal communication.Sometimes, it provides speaker differentiation, especially in closed captions.
FormatPresented as a standalone text document, separate from the video. Text is not synchronized with the video’s timing, meaning it does not match the exact moment something is said or occurs in the video unless created with timestamps.Appears as a text overlay on the video screen.Synchronized with the entire video audio, captions appear at the exact time the corresponding audio is delivered. It can be in the form of closed captions (can be turned on or off) or open captions (permanently visible and part of the video).

The Benefits of Video Transcription And Captioning

Let’s talk about how transcripts make your video content better

Broader Audience Base

I don’t know about you, but I prefer watching videos with captions on. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Studies have found that captions can positively impact viewership numbers by an average of 40%. Transcripts and captions can also make content more inclusive by providing access to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, which can expand your potential audience base. 

And, with easy access to the internet, translated transcripts and subtitles can potentially entice global audiences into viewing and engaging with your content.

Remember, transcripts and captions can expand your reach. 

Improves Accessibility

Captions and transcripts provide valuable benefits like enhancing accessibility for people with hearing disabilities. Additionally, captions and transcripts make it easier for non-native language speakers to understand your content, making them more likely to watch your videos. For example, when I was learning Italian, I often watched Italian videos with English subtitles.

On top of making your content accessible to hearing-impaired and non-native speakers, native English speakers can benefit by adding captions to videos to better understand different accents. For example, I find the Scottish accent interesting but sometimes hard to understand. 

Increases Engagement

Viewers are likelier to watch YouTube or Facebook videos until the end if they have captions. On average, viewers only watch about 66% of uncaptioned videos to completion. Meanwhile, captioned or subtitled videos enjoy a 91% viewing completion rate. 

Video-sharing platforms like YouTube and Facebook now consider watch time one of the most crucial metrics for ranking and watching videos. Elevated watch times make your content more appealing to the algorithm, increasing your chances of showing up on trending pages.

Additionally, YouTube requires prospective Partners (i.e., video creators with monetized content) to reach 4,000 hours of watch time within the last 12 months. Every minute of watch time helps—and transcription can help you reach your goals. 

Depending on your location, regulations may require you to include captions in all your video content to enhance the user experience for everyone. For example, The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 enforces accessibility standards in certain states. 

According to their Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA, published in 2022, “People with hearing disabilities may not be able to understand information communicated in a video if the video does not have captions… For these reasons, the Department has consistently taken the position that the ADA’s requirements apply to all the goods, services, privileges, or activities offered by public accommodations, including those offered on the web.” 

Repurposing Content

Repurposing content allows you to take resources that you’ve already put a lot of time and effort into making and convert them into a new medium that can be used to reach new audience members, convert new leads, or even turn one-time active income into passive income generating additional income.

Some people, for example, won’t want to pay $500 for a webinar, though they would happily pay $100 for an online course that covers the same information via transcripts. This course can be sold repeatedly with little marketing and will continue generating income without extra work.

Another example is turning your videos into blog posts. Same principle—edit your transcripts, introduce visual elements, format according to preferences, and tune your video SEO keyword strategy. You have another potential source of income on your hands! 

Whether you’re using the repurposed video content to generate leads, create branching businesses, or sell it directly for immediate profit, transcription is key to scaling your business and maximizing profitability.

Boosts Ranking And SEO

Companies uploading video content without taking advantage of transcription services are not maximizing their potential reach. Google utilizes crawlers to search text content and pick up keywords within the text to help guide their search results. Google ranks these pages through algorithms and guidelines like EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) and shows them in relevant search engine result pages (SERP). 

Now, the key point in that explanation is text content. Currently, crawlers only go through text, not audio or video content. 

That means captions aren’t good for these—however, adding transcripts makes your content searchable and allows you to increase and diversify your keywords without keyword stuffing. It allows search engines to crawl through your videos for indexing, giving them a better chance of ranking in search results. This, in turn, makes your content more visible through SERPs, allowing you to reach a wider audience base. 

Options For When You Need Video Transcription And Captioning

Now that we’ve established how transcripts help improve your content let’s look at how to get high-quality transcripts.

Transcribing Your Video In-House

Hiring in-house transcriptionists can become very expensive. Hiring costs, salaries and benefits, equipment, and office space expenses can cost as much as $100,000 per year per transcriptionist. 

I firmly believe that video transcription should be a core consideration for content creation. Without video transcription, you lose out on all the benefits I outlined above. However, $100,000 a year is a bit too much. Remember, businesses need to balance the cost of production against its potential returns. 

Automatic Transcription Tools

Automated audio transcription converts audio or video recordings to plain text content using artificial intelligence (AI) or automated speech recognition (ASR) technologies. This type of transcription leverages the speed of AI and produces lightning-fast audio and video transcription. Automated transcription software and speech-to-text services are often cheaper than manual transcription. So, if hiring humans is too expensive, surely getting an AI to do podcast transcription is the best option? Not really.

Transcripts also need to be accurate to provide the benefits discussed above. 

Running your entire video library through automated transcription might be fast, but the results won’t be accurate. Speech recognition software has only reached 86% accuracy in the best instances. 

Increase Video Views With Ditto’s 100% Human, 99% Accurate Transcripts

Your best bet is outsourcing to human-powered service providers for video transcripts, captioning, and your other transcription needs. Ditto Transcripts offers 99% accuracy guarantees for all projects, so you don’t need to sit and proofread your video transcripts. Our 100% human, U.S.-based video transcription staff can beat AI’s 86% accuracy 100% of the time. On top of that, we offer affordable pricing, fast turnaround times, guaranteed security, customizable transcripts, and the best security in the industry right now. 

Ditto Transcripts is a HIPAA-compliant and CJIS-compliant Denver, Colorado-based transcription services company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcripts for individuals and companies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial.

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