What will make Google like my video content?
I’m glad you asked.
There are multiple ways to improve your site’s visibility with your videos, but another simple way is to create your own subtitles and captions (aka SRT Files). Now, you may be thinking…
- Subtitles aren’t that big of a deal. I’ve put much more work into this video, and a small thing like subtitles won’t make a difference.
- I’m sure the auto-generated subtitles will work just fine.
- This is going to be way too hard, and I should just leave it out.
You’d be wrong.
But, in this case, that’s a good thing!
How do SRT files help?
The addition of SRT files to native video platforms like Facebook and Instagram helps Google crawl and index your content. I make SRT files for one of our clients at Modthink Marketing, and we’ve seen greater engagement with the content since we started. Our client loves the addition to his video content, and the numbers have shot up since we’ve replaced auto-generated captions.
Taking the time to make your own SRT Files will help your site’s visitors understand your content better and your overall SEO.
So what are they?
SRT Files, or “Subrip Subtitle” files, are scripts that provide subtitles instead of using auto-generated ones. They enable greater satisfaction and improve traffic as well. There are many different ways to create these files if you do not want to manually do it yourself.
Time to build your subtitles from scratch.
1. Use TextEdit if you’re an Apple user or Notepad for Windows.
This is the format your website will want in order to merge the two together. I use Windows, so it will look a bit like this:
2. Label each stanza with the number it chronologically appears in:
This signals the order that each set of lines will appear on the screen.
Some sites like LinkedIn are very specific with their requirements. These sites want you to leave the number with no space before or after. Make sure to avoid using periods after the number, just hit enter.
3. Create your time.
The time will look like this:
00:00:00,000 –> 00:00:00,000 or Hour:Minute:Second,Millisecond.
I’ve bolded these since they are essential to the format. You’ll mess up 99% of the time on these tiny details (or not, if you have better luck than me). The order most websites look for is 2 numbers, colon, two numbers, colon, two numbers, comma, and three numbers. Make sure you remember to include the two dashes with the arrow at the end.
Some resources like YouTube will give you a different format like .sbv if you use their help, but it’s important to keep things SRT formatted if a site asks you for only SRT.
4. Next, hit enter and write your text.
Some sites recommend keeping each line to about 32 – 36 characters so you don’t overload the screen. You are allowed to have as many characters as you would like, but if you use too many you’ll lose some subtitles on mobile or other mediums that aren’t desktop.
I’ve found each sequence works best with just two lines of text. You aren’t limited to how many you can use, but I prefer this way for best screen visibility.
5. Change your font to Plain Text.
Once you’ve changed the font to the correct text. Save your file as a .srt instead of .txt.
6. Test your files on another platform for compatibility.
I will usually upload a test post of my video content along with the SRT File on LinkedIn. Depending on your formatting, LinkedIn will give you one of these results:
This is perfect. LinkedIn is telling you your files are good to go.
Don’t forget to check if your files are viewable on all platforms (desktop, mobile, etc) even after passing the LinkedIn test.
You have some work to do.
I’ve found LinkedIn’s checking process is not always accurate, so you’ll want to revise the script yourself and look for common errors. For example, putting 00.00.00:000 instead of 00:00:00,000. It looks like you had forgotten the sequence numbers and the special arrow –>.
Third Party providers shorten this process too. YouTube is one of my favorites since it transcribes the video, so you type without manually pausing and resuming.
Your screen will look like this:
Next, scroll down to the Subtitles option on your video, and click the hamburger icon (three dots) once you scroll over the video. This will take you to your transcribe page.
Your screen will look like the one above once you’ve typed all your text from listening to the audio. YouTube conveniently pauses the video every time you begin the type, then resumes once you’re finished. No more “Pause-resume-pause. Wait what did he say again?” for you!
Now, hit the Return to YouTube Studio button and download the script.
You’re almost done!
Hit download and the file you receive will be in .sbv format. This is the only downside since you’ll have to fix the number formats and add sequence headers like this:
Once you’ve wrapped that up and checked the script with another site like LinkedIn, congrats! You’ve officially made your first SRT file. Users have enjoyed our video content more since the addition of these files, and I hope the same for you!