A little while back, I was on a client call and I got stumped. Yep… It happens.
The client wanted to know how they should go about translating YouTube videos.
After doing a little research, here’s what I came back with.
What We’ll Cover:
First, What’s the Benefit of Translating YouTube Videos?
Well, there’s plenty.
And if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of international SEO, you’re likely already familiar with many of them.
The first and most obvious is that translated videos will allow viewers from other regions who speak different languages to understand and enjoy your videos. If your audience is international, or you’re thinking of expanding, translating videos is a no-brainer.
In fact, over two-thirds of watch time comes from viewers who are living in places other than the creator’s home area. This means that learning how to translate Youtube videos can really help you grow your audience substantially.
But keep in mind, adding subtitles -in any language – isn’t just for people who speak another language. It is also useful for the hard-of-hearing or deaf viewers. Making accommodations for viewers such as these really go a long way in generating more views and bringing in more subscribers (and help ensure you stay ADA compliant).
Translated subtitles can also be handy for viewers who are in a loud or noisy environment. Sometimes people can’t hear over all the commotion or maybe they forgot their headphones. Having subtitles will broaden your viewership by enabling people to read what’s being said while watching the video in noisy surroundings.
YouTube now has a handy feature that allows you to automatically add subtitles in your own language. This is an easy way to broaden your audience with little effort on your part.
Now, you may find yourself wondering if translating your videos is worth it.
A good place to start is your YouTube Analytics. Under your “Build an Audience” tab, you’ll be able to see where your audience is watching from. If a considerable amount is coming from places outside your home country, it’s a good sign that translation could aid your video strategy considerably.
Translate Your YouTube Captions
You’ve more than likely come across these before.
Closed captions (CC) are written translations of a video. These display in the language spoken on the screen. As a rule of thumb, it’s always a good idea to include captions in your videos as an astounding amount of viewers watch videos with the sound off.
You can choose to write and upload your own YouTube captions, or use YouTube’s auto-generated captions (only available in certain countries).
You also have the option to add translated subtitles, which are translations of your captions in other languages. Again, you have the option here to translate your own, or you can use community contributions.
Enabling community contributions allows the YouTube community to contribute subtitles to your videos. If you go this route (which can save you a considerable amount of time), you will always have the option to review the captions they submit.
Keep in mind, this isn’t always the best way to ensure your videos are translated as accurately as possible.
If you’d rather create or outsource your own captions and subtitles, you can upload them manually to YouTube. Make sure that the files have been created in one of the accepted formats.
Get started by navigating to your YouTube Studio, and select Creator Studio Classic from the left-hand menu.
To upload your file:
- Go to your Video Manager.
- Next to the video you want to translate select Edit. Make sure the video isn’t set to private and has at least one subtitle or closed caption track.
- Under the video, select the Subtitles and CC tab.
- Click ‘Add New Subtitles or CC’ and select the correct language.
- Then, click ‘Upload a File’.
- Choose your secondary language
Translate Your YouTube Titles and Descriptions
You also have the option to translate your titles and descriptions.
By translating this kind of metadata, viewers who speak another language will be able to find your videos in the search results, which will, in turn, increase your video’s discoverability and boost your organic reach.
To add titles and descriptions in another language:
- Go to YouTube Studio
- Scroll down the right-hand menu and select Subtitles
- Set the original language (if you haven’t already)
- Click the Add language button and choose the language you’d like to translate to.
- Under “Title & description”, select Add.
- Enter the translated title and description
- Click Publish
Translate Your Playlists
I always recommend creating playlists for your YouTube channel.
They give viewers an easy way to navigate your content and find what they want and creates helpful content categories so you can make sure you’re covering your major topics thoroughly.
But this is another area where you don’t want to leave any international viewers hanging. Luckily, YouTube allows you to translate your playlist titles and descriptions as well.
To do so, you’ll need to navigate back to the Classic Creator Studio in the left-hand menu of your YouTube Studio.
- Select ‘Playlists’ from the Video Manager
- Click ‘Edit’ by the playlist you’d like to translate
- Click the three dots on the right-hand side and select ‘Translate playlist info’
- Under “Original language,” set the playlist’s primary language
- Then, Under “Translate into,” select or add the language you want to add
- Enter the translated title and description, then click Save.
Change the Default Language of Your YouTube Video
The language you choose under your video settings is important because it lets YouTube know what the primary language spoken in your video is.
If you accidentally set your language setting to the wrong one, you can easily change it to the language spoken in the video. Follow these simple steps:
- Login to YouTube Studio.
- Choose Videos from the left menu.
- Select the video you want to edit by clicking the title or thumbnail.
- Open the Advanced tab.
- You can then choose the appropriate language from the Video Language drop-down menu.
You should also be aware that if you change the original language for your video settings, all future subtitles will use this newly selected language to base their translations off of. Closed captions and subtitles from your draft will not be affected by the change.
So, What Do Translated Videos Look Like?
In case you’re wondering what your viewers will actually end up seeing after you’ve implemented the steps above, here’s a quick rundown.
The cool part is that the user doesn’t really have to do anything; video’s will automatically play with the appropriate subtitles for a user’s given location.
YouTube is an advanced platform that uses certain triggers to match the video language to the viewer’s native tongue.
These triggers are based on the viewer’s chosen interface language, recently watched videos, and location. YouTube uses these signals to determine the language that is the best match for the current viewer.
If a viewer changes their chosen interface language on the site or through the app, they will not automatically be shown every video in their new chosen language. This takes time to reset.
If you just learned how to translate YouTube videos and you want to see what it looks like to you viewers, here are a few easy steps to follow:
- Using Chrome, Firefox, MS Edge, or Opera, open an incognito browser.
- Visit YouTube and scroll to the bottom of the homepage.
- You will see a drop-down menu labeled Language.
- Choose the language you want to check.
- Go to the desired video’s watch page.
- Run a search for it using the video ID or title.
Should You Shoot New Videos in the New Language?
YouTube’s pretty advanced, but it can’t translate the actual video speaker for you. And unless you want to invest in some shoddy dubbing, it’s probably not a route you want to explore anyway.
So, should you invest, instead, in shooting a video in several languages?
The answer to this depends entirely on the ability of the people in the video to speak that language and the amount of time and resources you have, as well as how big your international audience is.
Let’s chalk that one up to a business decision.
Wrapping It Up
Having a YouTube strategy in place is pretty important. If you’re investing in the channel, you may as well do the (little) extra work required to make sure your entire audience can enjoy your videos.
Set up is relatively easy, and remember, you always have the option to allow Community Contributors to help the process along.
Bottom line: translating your YouTube videos is well worth it. So get to it!
Have questions? Let us know in the comments!