Videos are a very effective and popular form of content for reaching your target audiences. But did you know that many viewers now prefer to watch videos with the sound switched off? In fact, researchers have found that 85% of videos played on Facebook are viewed without sound.

You may be thinking, is this the start of a new silent film era? The latest retro flashback trend? Actually, there are some pretty simple reasons why more viewers are turning off the volume these days. Imagine your viewer is sitting at their desk and wants to watch an informative video without disturbing the people working around them. Or maybe they’re viewing on their smartphone while sitting in a waiting room, an airport lounge or on a train.

Your viewers don’t always have their earbuds at hand when they want to get a quick information fix from your video. And that’s exactly what makes subtitling so important. In this article, we’ll look at how subtitling increases the impact of your video content, even in some ways that you might not expect. We’ll also give some tips on how to make subtitles an integral part of your video production process.

The benefits of subtitling your videos

For some of us, the idea of subtitles brings up images of arty foreign-language films or muted TVs at the gym. But subtitles are actually a powerful way to broaden the reach of your company’s online video content and boost the return on investment for video production.

According to market research conducted on behalf of Contentoo, video is one of the fastest-growing formats used in content marketing right now, second only to blogging. By 2024, experts predict that video will account for about 21% of all content. This is no surprise when you consider that video already accounts for over 60% of web traffic.

Subtitling your videos brings four major benefits:

  1. Subtitled videos perform better on social media: Facebook, which streams an astonishing 8 billion videos every day, says that by simply adding subtitles to your videos, you increase view times by 12 percent. This is again due to the fact that people today are often watching videos in settings where they cannot play audio, such as at work or in public spaces. They will only keep watching if the video has subtitles.
  2. Subtitled videos have greater SEO value: Researchers find that subtitling boosts the SEO ranking of video content, such as vlogs. It’s a good idea to include a full transcript of your video on the same page with your video. This increases keyword density and makes your video easier to find through search engines. Plus, page views are longer on average for subtitled videos. This also improves the video’s SEO ranking and makes the video easier to find in YouTube searches.
  3. Subtitled videos reach more people: Subtitles and closed captions are convenient for modern viewers who are watching informative videos at work or on the go. Yet they are absolutely essential for viewers who are hearing-impaired or deaf. In the European Union alone, there are over 34 million people who are living with hearing impairment. Subtitles help ensure that these viewers also have access to your video content. Plus, you can include subtitles in multiple languages, which opens up your video to a much wider international audience.
  4. Subtitles help viewers retain information: In addition to making videos more accessible, subtitles actually make them more engaging and effective. Researchers have found that adding captions or subtitles to videos improves information retention and enables viewers to engage more fully with the content, even if they watch with the sound turned on.

Video with subtitles

Options for subtitling your videos

There are many options for subtitling your videos, including free applications you can use to generate effective subtitles.

Because of the importance of subtitles, it’s important to take the subtitling process seriously. Think of it as an essential part of your company’s video production process. Here are a few useful do’s and don’ts to consider:

Best practices for subtitling

  • Use professional subtitling software or work with professional subtitlers. These are creative professionals who know how to perfectly capture your video’s message in easily readable subtitles.
  • Avoid overly lengthy subtitles. Ensure each subtitle is concise (no more than one complete sentence on the screen at a time). Professional subtitlers can compact information into shorter, more readable phrases to avoid overloading the viewer.
  • Use a large, easily readable font size and style.
  • Place subtitles at the bottom centre of the screen to avoid clashing with other on-screen text or images.
  • Have your subtitles professionally translated (localised) and give viewers the option of viewing your video with subtitles in multiple languages that are relevant for your markets.
  • If you are posting the video on your own site or on YouTube, consider including a full transcript on the page or in the video description. This boosts the video’s SEO ranking and gives viewers the option of reading every word that is spoken in the video.

Why you should add subtitles to your videos

Avoid these common subtitling mistakes

  • Subtitling is not the same as transcribing. Be sure to avoid word-to-word subtitling. The full transcript contains everything that is said during the video, but the subtitles must often be abbreviated to ensure that they are readable.
  • While you may prefer to automate the transcription process, always be sure to have the transcript reviewed and post-edited by a professional before posting it.
  • Avoid automatically generated captions and subtitles, such as the auto-captions in YouTube. These often contain inaccuracies or they are not optimised for readability. Leave it to a professional subtitler to perfectly capture your video’s message in text.
  • Avoid unnatural line breaks to ensure the text is clearly readable and understandable.

Subtitling your videos pays off

As you know, video production is one of the more expensive budget items for content marketing. Yet, in return, video is a highly effective format. Video quickly and efficiently delivers information and has an immediate emotional impact that is harder to achieve with words alone. To ensure that your company is getting the maximum return on its video production investment, it makes sense to start adding professionally written subtitles.

With strong subtitles, you cater to modern viewing preferences and open your videos up to a much wider audience. Plus, you enable your video to transcend language barriers and reach audiences who are hearing-impaired. All of this adds up to longer watch times and stronger SEO performance for your video content. And that makes your brand and its message more visible and easier to find online.