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Optimized Video Transcripts: Should You Automate or Transcribe by Hand?

Posted by Chris Finan on March 13, 2014 at 9:42 AM

Optimized Video TranscriptsVideo is a highly influential form of content among consumers, and its SEO value is on the rise as well. A Forrester study reported at Inc. found that video is 53 times more likely to produce a first-page ranking for a website than traditional SEO techniques. Video must still be paired with other digital strategies to be the most effective, including search engine optimization, but its value as a traffic driver is without question.

As valuable as video is to an online marketing campaign, optimized video has even more to offer. There are tricks and techniques that marketers can use to enhance the online visibility and impact of a video. Transcription of the video's script is one of these techniques. Transcription is a step any business should take when it produces its own video, but there are important decisions to make when it comes to completing this task.

Leveraging Transcripts to Improve SEO

Search engines aren't capable of watching a video and understanding its content, but they can read text and infer its subject. This makes optimized video transcripts highly valuable for SEO. Thanks to advancements in voice-recognition software, there are software solutions capable of playing your video and automatically recording a transcript. These solutions save you time that would otherwise be spent transcribing by hand.

Does this sound too good to be true? That's because it is. While automated transcription is a perfect solution in theory, the actual product has room for improvement.

The Imperfection of Automation

A brief test of automated transcription software reveals an obvious drawback: The transcripts are often riddled with mistakes, including grammatical errors and misplaced words.

Unfortunately, a transcript produced by an automated service will rarely be fit for publishing on its own. When you're paying for that kind of service, this can be a big letdown. Marketing departments at small to midsize businesses may not be able to afford automated transcription of their videos, especially when they'll still have to go through each word of the text to eliminate mistakes.

Budgeting Time to Make Corrections

Even if you're okay with making these corrections on your own, there is an inherent risk from introducing errors into your transcript. A single video transcript could feature dozens — if not hundreds — of mistakes that must be identified and fixed. This takes time and resources away from your staff, even though you're paying to make the transcription process easier. It also increases the likelihood that some errors will never be caught.

Ultimately, a human eye will need to review the copy to make sure it is contextually accurate and error-free. For now, there's no shortcut.

For some businesses, this reduction of quality will be an afterthought. For others, the errors created by automation will be serious concerns that erode the company's credibility. It is likely that voice-recognition software will eventually improve. For now, every business will need to decide for themselves whether they prefer quality or speed when they produce video transcripts for the Web.

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Topics: Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Digital Marketing Strategy, Video Advertising

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