How To Get YouTube Viewers In Multiple Languages

Last updated on June 14th, 2024

If you’ve got an English YouTube channel, and you’re only looking for business from fluent English speakers in the United States, then this tutorial might not be for you.

But how many of us want to turn away business from people who speak some English, but don’t speak it fluently? And, if it were relatively easy and inexpensive, wouldn’t you like the option of getting 10-20% more views, and thus potentially making that much more money?

Well, you may want to consider taking steps to internationalize (or multi-lingual-ize) your channel to some degree. So how can you do this?

a) Make sure automatic captions are turned on for your channel

As a viewer, you may have never personally clicked the “CC” or Closed Captions button on the YouTube player, but video captions have a lot of power on YouTube.

Now this button doesn’t always say CC – the term comes from TV and different countries call it something different, so the button looks different depending on which country you’re watching YouTube in. But regardless of where you are, the user has the choice of having these on by default or switching them on and off. If your English isn’t perfect, you’re more likely to have this button on more often when watching English videos.

But on the channel optimization side, you need to do what you can to make sure YouTube creates automatic captions by default. Most English videos will get this unless they’re on the longer side, or have confusing audio. YouTube generates these “automatic” captions using the same Google voice recognition software that’s on Android.

Why does YouTube do this? In the first place, it gives YouTube more information about the video, to better find out where it should come up in search and Suggested Videos. In the second place, YouTube also automatically translates the automated captions into other languages so people who speak those languages can understand your video better.

Unfortunately, there is no button that turns on automatic captions. But to get the best chance of getting your videos automatically captioned, go to your channel’s upload defaults and under Caption settings, select “This content has never aired on television in the U.S.” You should also double-check this on each specific video, under the video’s “Advanced Settings” tab.

After automatic captions are created, you can always go in and fix the words that are misspelled, but this can be time consuming. Which brings us to our next option.

b) Create manual captions in English

The problem with automatic captions is that they are often comically wrong. And if they do miss a word, it’s often the new word or product that is the main focus of your video. So YouTube enables you to upload more precisely-written “manual” captions. You can write these yourself, or hire a good service like to do it in about 24 hours at $1 per minute of video. It’s best to have all this in place before you make the video public, so the video can get the most traffic possible right from the start.

Some videos with manual captions get very special treatment in Google. For instance, I did Google a search for “How to simulcast to YouTube and Facebook” which presented me with a YouTube video that’s actually cued up to the place in the video that discusses this topic.

You can always tell whether you’re looking at manual or automated captions because automated captions don’t have any punctuation or capital letters. If you click the gear, it will show you which languages have manual transcriptions.

Importantly, if you create manual captions in foreign languages, make sure you also do them in English. If not, the YouTube player will by default play one of the manually-captioned foreign languages. It’s a bug.

c) Do title and description translations

YouTube also enables you to translate titles and descriptions into multiple languages, and even create customized links for each language, which you manually insert into each video under the Translations tab, which can also give you a bump in international viewership.

But what if you want to hire a translator, but they’re too expensive for your budget, particularly if you don’t get a lot of traffic from some of these languages? Well, you can translate your title and description in Google translate, and then paste it in the YouTube fields. It’s not precise, but it will increase your traffic a modest percentage from these countries.

d) Crowdsource your captions

If you have loyal fans like YouTube guru Nick Nimmin, you make sure your upload defaults under “Community contributions” are set to “Allow viewers to contribute translated titles, descriptions, and subtitles/CC.” Nick encourages people to translate his videos into their “native language” and gives them a link in the description to help him out.

If you want to add this link to your video descriptions, the format is:

But double-check that they don’t put any links you don’t want in there and that the text is relatively accurate.

e) Hire a foreign-language manual caption writer and translator

If your videos are being watched by one main secondary language, like Spanish, then you might want to hire someone to do manual captions in that language. There are a number of people that offer this service on UpWork and Fiverr. Tim Schmoyer of Video Creators took a smart approach to selecting his ongoing translator. Since he didn’t speak Spanish, he hired four Spanish translators for the first project. He had three of them do their best on the captions, then had a fourth Spanish translator judge the first three. Tim went with the winner for his ongoing Spanish captions projects.

So to sum up, depending on your situation, you might want to try:
a) Make sure automatic captions are turned on for your channel
b) Create manual captions in English
c) Do title and description translations
d) Crowdsource your captions
e) Hire a foreign-language manual caption writer and translator

What do you think? is about giving you video content marketing tips to help you get your customers coming back to your videos again and again. How do you do this? By sharing your expertise. When you share your expertise and help people do their jobs better or live their lives better, you earn their loyalty, and their trust, and their business.

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