Video translation is vital to any global SEO strategy. The statistics don't lie: less than 27% of Internet users speak English as their primary language. Further, 80% of YouTube views come from outside the US, and 67.5% of YouTube views come from non-English speaking countries. This means that if you're not translating your videos, you're missing out on an opportunity to reach nearly 70% of YouTube users. Clearly, there is a huge opportunity to expand your viewership globally by adding multilingual closed captions to your videos.

Increasing YouTube views is obviously a huge benefit of translating your videos. But how else can video translation benefit SEO? We take a look at:

SEO Benefits of Video Translation

Translations will help your video rank higher on YouTube, Google, and other search engines for multiple reasons. First of all, neither YouTube nor Google penalizes duplicate content across different languages. This means that Google and YouTube will index your video in each language you translate into, allowing your video to rank in each language. This gives your content greater authority and Internet presence, which both help SEO.

If you're not translating your videos, you're missing out on an opportunity to reach nearly 70% of YouTube users (Tweet this)

Another benefit of translation is that there is simply less competition across different languages. By translating your videos, you are more likely to rank higher against competitors who are not implementing a global SEO strategy.

Finally, the number one factor that YouTube considers in their ranking algorithm is watch time. Watch time is a gauge of user engagement, and while views can be of note, they are not necessarily correlated with the video's quality. Watch time takes into account audience retention, estimated minutes watched, and watch time per user session: video translation helps increase all of these factors, leading to better YouTube ranking for your videos.

spanish closed captions youtubeThink about it: by translating your videos, the 70% of YouTube users from non-English speaking countries are more likely to watch your videos for longer, watch more of your videos, and spend a longer time on YouTube because of it. If a Spanish speaker happens upon your video and it is not translated, they are much more likely to abandon the video.

What Languages Should I Translate Captions Into?

Now that you're sold on the SEO benefits of video translation, you're probably wondering what languages you should translate into. Good question! There are a couple of factors to consider here. First of all, you should think about your content and whether it is pertinent to certain countries or cultures. If it is, you should translate into those languages. You can also look at the demographics analytics in your creator studio to see the top locations by views for your channel. If there are countries outside of the US on this list, consider translating into those languages to increase your presence for that demographic.

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Another great way to choose languages to translate into is to look at which countries outside of the US have the most YouTube views. While the UK and Canada appear in the top 10 non-US countries, the other eight countries on the list provide good insight into languages to consider for translation. These countries are:

  • India
  • Germany
  • France
  • South Korea
  • Russia
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • Mexico

How to Publish Multilingual Closed Captions

So now that you've decided which languages to translate into, how do you do it? The first step is to create English captions for your videos. YouTube has some tools for creating closed captions, or you can outsource to a captioning vendor. Once you have captions and a transcript, it is easy to translate these into subtitles. Again, you can use YouTube's translation options, or outsource to a vendor.

Once you have your translations, you will need to upload them to YouTube in SRT format. From your video manager, select the video you want to add subtitles to and select Edit, then Subtitles and CC. Select the language of your subtitles and upload your SRT file. Complete this process for each language.

You can add subtitle files in as many languages as you want to your YouTube videos. Note that the closed caption/subtitle language that displays automatically for a particular user depends on their language settings while watching YouTube. Users will be able to select languages or turn subtitles off from the Settings icon on the video (right next to the CC button).

Keyword Strategies for Other Languages

Keep in mind that your keyword strategy for other languages might be different than it is for English. Outside the US, Google is not always the predominant search engine, and other search engines prioritize content differently. For instance, Baidu gives the greatest weight to meta-tags while Yahoo! Japan prefers higher keyword density. Aim your SEO strategy at the most popular search engine for your target language.

international search engines and closed captions

You should also be aware that direct translations do not always take into account the intricacies of a language. Keyword phrases in English may translate into awkward or unused phrases in other languages.

Translation Take-Away

While closed captions and transcripts are key for any video strategy, if you are trying to go global with your channel, it may not be enough. Remember that almost 70% of YouTube views come from non-English speaking countries: translating your videos into targeted languages will boost your views, watch time, retention, search rank, and overall SEO strategy.