So many of us prefer to watch YouTube videos over reading articles or how-to guides. So, why then, is in-video text so important when creating video content on YouTube?
Well, that’s exactly the question we’re going to be answering today.
Even though YouTube videos are primarily concerned with visual information, text still plays a formative role in video content creation. Text is a great way to make videos more accessible and to emphasize important points or transitions over the course of a single video.
So, without further ado, let’s discuss what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to effectively incorporating text into your YouTube videos.
In this article, we’ll explore the following topics…
- What is YouTube text?
- Why is text important in YouTube videos?
- How to add text on videos
- Top 4 mistakes to avoid when adding text on-screen
So, without any further ado, let’s get started!
What is YouTube text?
YouTube text simply means any written text that appears during a YouTube video. That could mean annotations that quickly link viewers to other pages, videos, or channels. Equally YouTube text could take the form of plain text. Sometimes creators will want to add some extra information on screen that hasn’t been included in the video footage itself.
In other instances, formal videos might require text-based headings, or labels, to help viewers navigate through the content. Finally, many YouTubers are now advised to add closed captioning to all of their content (this is essentially subtitles). Closed captions make video content more accessible to deaf audiences and for those whose first language is not the one spoken in the video.
All-in-all there are a plethora of different reasons why text might be added to a YouTube video, and in most cases, it serves a largely practical use.
Why is text important in YouTube videos?
There are many advantages associated with adding text to YouTube videos, from generating more views to increasing engagement and making videos accessible to wider audiences. Let’s take a look at a few of these top benefits in more detail below.
1- Captions generate more views and aid ranking
In-video text can actually help your content perform better on YouTube. I know right? Who knew? Well, turns out quite a few people are already in on the secret.
If you know anything about digital marketing then you’re probably familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short).
Search engine crawlers pick out and index keywords and terms to identify if a piece of content (in this case a YouTube video) is relevant to the searcher. If you add closed captions to your videos, YouTube can pick out relevant search terms that could end up boosting the SEO value of your content. For even better results try to extract key search terms from your content and use these in your video titles and descriptions.
2 – Text aids engagement and increases video view times
Adding text to your videos is a great way to keep audiences interested for longer and increase video view times. View times are key performance indicators that tells YouTube crawlers that your content is high-quality and relevant. Anything that generates engagement also boosts SEO on YouTube.
3 – Captions make videos accessible to wider audiences
Finally, as we’ve just mentioned, YouTube captioning is a great way to increase the accessibility of your content and reach out to wider audiences. Not only do captions help deaf viewers enjoy your content, but they also help those for whom your content is not in their first language.
In fact, captions help us all.
Many of us watch YouTube videos here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes it can be difficult to hear what is being said in a video – especially if you’re watching from a crowded place. Furthermore, sometimes people prefer to watch YouTube content with the volume turned down, in which case captions are absolutely essential if you don’t want to lose out on those views!
How to add text on videos
So, how can we actually go about adding text to our videos? Below we’ve listed five ways to effectively incorporate text into your YouTube content.
1 – People and brand introductions
If your video involves introducing people and/or brands to an audience, text can be a real asset. You can use written text to provide viewers with information about the people on screen without disrupting the flow of the video. For example, in the case of an interview.
Placing the name and position (e.g., Fiona Pascoe, CEO of x company) of the interviewee on screen immediately establishes that person as an authority that your audience can trust.
2 – When emphasizing words or sentences
Another great way to use on-screen text is to provide emphasis. For example, if your video contains a detailed discussion of a technical nature, then you could emphasize key points, terms, and ideas on screen (or below in the description box) in writing.
Even if your content is much more informal and fun, it’s still good to use emphasis to keep your viewers engaged in whatever you are talking about. Even better, make your written text snippets pop by using stand-out graphics.
For example, say you have a travel vlog channel. Why not enhance your vlog content by emphasizing the names of places, foods, and local traditions in-text, on screen. That will really help your viewers connect with your experiences and keep them watching.
3 – As a way to organize video segments
When making longer videos it’s important to divide the content up into shorter segments. This helps keep viewers on track and engaged, whilst allowing them to skip through to the sections that are most relevant to them, should they wish to.
Text is really important when segmenting video content. It helps break a lengthy narrative down for viewers so that it is more easily digestible.
Here’s a couple of examples…
- If your content takes place over multiple days try to demarcate time periods with on-screen text. Let’s take the travel vlogger example again.
Say you’ve made a vlog traveling across Europe and you’ve condensed your whole trip into a 45-minute YouTube video.
You might segment your content by displaying the date and location of each scene.
Day 1, arriving in the UK
Day 2, taking the Eurostar to Paris!
Day 3, a German adventure
Day 4, a quick-stop in Prague
You get the idea…
- If your content includes a questions and answer section, it’s always a good idea to feature the questions on-screen. That way, your viewers can reference the question as the interviewee provides their response.
Oftentimes interviews deviate from the original topic quite a lot, so having the original question there in writing is very grounding for viewers and can help your audience maintain focus and stay engaged.
If your content includes a how-to guide or a demonstration of some kind (e.g., a baking or cooking video), then highlight the key instructions in-text and on-screen. This will help your viewers follow along and apply your instructions themselves when they try it at home!
4 – To add a call to action (CTA)
Text is a fantastic way to incorporate CTAs into your video content. CTA is short for the call to action. It’s a marketing term commonly used to describe anything that triggers a response or encourages action from a potential customer. And, in most cases, a CTA will take the form of a snappy line of text and/or an image that directs customers to a sales page.
Needless to say, nobody can click on a sound so in order to incorporate CTAs into your video content, you’re going to have to use visuals (either text or an image/icon that views can click on). If you’re posting marketing or sales content on YouTube, a CTA is a must. You need to be inspiring your viewers to engage with your brand in actionable ways.
We recommend adding a text-based CTA link at the end of your videos (and repeat it in the description box below your video) that viewers can quickly click on whilst your products and/or services are still fresh in their minds.
Keep it short and sweet. Ideally, a CTA should be no more than five words in length.
5 – In the form of closed captions
Finally, it’s worth considering adding closed captions to your video content. We’ve already discussed the benefits of captioning for accessibility and SEO purposes. And it’s worth re-emphasizing. Many videos are watched on mobile phones, with the sound turned off, so captions are going to be key to capturing audiences.
When your videos are enabled with closed-captions, anyone can watch your content from wherever they are in that moment, whether that be at a noisy bus stop or under the table in a meeting (shhh I won’t tell if you don’t).
Top 4 mistakes to avoid when adding text on-screen
Okay, okay, so that’s how to do it right. But what about what not to do when adding text to your YouTube videos?
Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to be discussing next.
There are definitely some YouTube don’ts when it comes to adding text to visual content.
Let’s take a look.
· Color & font
Avoid using color that is too garish or difficult to read over the video content. This will do nothing but frustrate your audiences and make your content seem unprofessional. Similarly, some fonts are horribly difficult to read, so keep things as simple as possible. No fancy French-style script, please!
Text size is another thing that many YouTubers get wrong at first. Adding text to your videos is all well and good, but if the text is teeny tiny then its not going to be very effective. And it’s certainly not going to get the desired message across.
It’s an honest mistake. Most people reduce the size of on-screen text so that it isn’t distracting or obtrusive. The important thing is to strike the right balance.
On the other hand, you’ll also want to avoid massive blocks of text. Your Youtube video isn’t a movie blockbuster so keep things proportional.
Where you put your on-screen text can have a big impact on the flow of your video. Don’t place masses of text over a person who is speaking, for example, or over the main object of the scene. Try to find a spot in the frame that is prominent enough to be noticeable without detracting too much from the video content itself. The text should enhance, not taken over.
Finally, it’s important to consider the duration. How long do you want the text to appear on-screen during your video? We’re not really talking about closed-captions here. Obviously closed-captions will run throughout your video should the viewer wish to make use of them.
Rather, we’re talking about other types of on-screen text. On-screen text should always be used to create emphasis and to provide context. For that reason, it’s important that it does not dominate your content. Avoid placing too much content on screen for too long. Aim for quick summaries or keywords that appear at important moments during your content.
It’s time to get texty!
Adding text-based messaging to your video content on YouTube improves accessibility, SEO, and engagement. It’s a no brainer really. It’s time to start incorporating text into your YouTube videos as part of your editing process.
No time for that?
Our expert editors at VidChops can do it for you! Send in your content and receive a beautifully edited, text-enhanced video ready to download and share with your audience. No need to hire an in-house editor or freelancer. Simply use VidChops as and when needed.