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3 YouTube Translator Tips Expand International Reach

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YouTube translator

The YouTube translator tool gives businesses a way to reach a wider international audience for their videos.

The output of the tool is no different than closed captions on a TV. A video with an English speaker will attract English-speaking audiences, but obviously it won’t attract non English speakers.

A video with an English speaker that has closed captions in another language does attract non English speakers who will read the closed captions.

The YouTube translator increases the reach of these videos because it identifies the country of origin for a site visitor. It is more likely to list videos in “suggested videos” or search results in the language of that country.

Secondly, it is more likely to show a video with an English speaker that also has a closed caption translation.

Reaching these international audiences is a matter of taking three steps. The first is understanding the international audience potential for a video. The second is creating a clean English version of closed captions. The third is implementing the translation. All three are easy steps to take.

1 – Review Top Geographies Report

The YouTube analytic reports offer plenty of clues about which countries are good targets for the YouTube translator. The starting point is the Top Geographies report.

In the YouTube account, click on Analytics in the far left column, scroll down to Top Geographies near the bottom and click on it.

The resulting report will list the country of origin for viewers of the entire channel. One actual channel had the Netherlands in fourth place after the United States, Canada and United Kingdom.

A click on Netherlands shows the account of traffic from the Netherlands for each video in the channel. Again, the video with the most time and views is at the top.

The video with the most views from a non English speaking country is a good place to start translating.

2 – Create English Closed Captions

YouTube closed captions

Publishers can add translations in multiple languages using this YouTube closed caption box.

YouTube already offers its version of closed captions for a video, but the quality is often rough.

Manually edited closed captions are not only helpful for people with hearing difficulties, but they also act as the foundation for translations into other languages.

Use the following steps to create closed captions in English.

  • Click on Video Manager in the left column and then on Edit for the video that will get the translation.
  • Click on Subtitles / CC in the tab on the upper right.
  • Under the blue button on the right that says “Add new subtitles or CC”, take note of “English (Automatic)”.
  • Click on the blue “Add new subtitles or CC button”. It will default to the English language. Click on it.
  • YouTube will display its version of the closed captions in the left column with the start and stop times for each caption. Click in the box under each one and write the clean English version of the caption.
  • When done, click on the blue Publish button.

3a – Use the Auto Translate Option

The YouTube translator makes it easy to translate closed captions with an automated function. Use the following steps.

  • Click on “Add new subtitles or CC”.
  • Choose the target language.
  • Click on the white button that says, “Create new subtitles or CC”.
  • Each speech segment will appear with a series of boxes on the left side. Simply click on the dropdown that says “Autotranslate” and “Autotranslate” again. YouTube will fill the translations boxes below with its version of the language.

Anyone familiar with the translated language can edit each box for any changes.

3b – Create Translated Closed Captions

YouTube autotranslate

The autotranslate button allows publishers to make the translation in just a single click.

Some publishers may want to use Google Translate, which takes a little more time and requires copying and pasting the translation into each box.

  • Look for the button on the left that says Actions and click on it.
  • Under Download, choose an option such as .svb and download it to the desktop.
  • Open the file in a text editor.
  • Copy the entire text, go to and paste it in the box on the left side. Make sure the language it set to English.
  • On the right side, choose the language for the translation and click on the blue Translate button.
  • Go back to the Subtitles / CC page in YouTube for the video and click again on the blue “Add new subtitles or CC” button.
  • In the search box, type the target language, i.e., “French”, and click on it.
  • The result should show two white buttons on the right: “Upload a File” and “Create new subtitles or CC”. Click on the CC option.
  • Google will display the clean English version of the closed captions on the left. Look for a box under the first closed caption. Copy and paste the translation from Google Translate into that box. Copy only the text and not the start and stop times.
  • Click under the second closed caption to display the next box and fill it with the next translation. Do the same for the remaining closed captions.
  • Once all boxes are full, click on the blue Publish button in the upper right.

How much time it takes to do a translation depends on the video length. Despite the list of steps above, it may take as little as five minutes to translate a two- or three-minute video.

Tracking Results and Adjusting Strategy

YouTube videos usually climb slowly in the ranks because YouTube wants to track user response as a quality measure. So publishers should not expect to see many views in the first few weeks or even a few months of publishing a translated video.

What matters is the growth rate. The odds of success are good if YouTube has a strong audience from a specific country.

For publishers who get advertising revenue, measuring the value of the translation comes down to the amount of time it took to create it versus the number of views it attracts over time.

For example, if the translation took five minutes and time is worth $20 an hour, the labor cost to do the translation is only about $1.67.

If a YouTube video generates a $2.50 net CPM from advertising, the effort breaks even at 670 views. Because the translation is permanent, a translation that attracts merely 30 views a month has a 54 percent return on investment and becomes profitable in about 22 months.

Even the stock market can’t produce those kinds of returns.

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