How to increase your podcast listenership with enticing episode titles.
Quick question – what made you want to read this article? Why are you here? Most likely, it was the title. What you name each episode of your podcast clearly reflects the contents and attracts listeners, both regular and new.
You know the expression ‘It does what it says on the label’? It may be stating the obvious, but those few words are very precious to the whole package. There’s a real art to composing a title that is honest, descriptive and compelling. Here are 3 important guidelines for writing podcast episode titles.
Use Catchy Keywords
Keywords are those which best describe your episode topic, so it’s natural to use these for a distinctive title. There’s a double benefit in giving prominence to keywords. They’ll help your search-engine optimization (SEO) on the internet and in podcast directories. Also on a human level they’re just straight-up relevant, cutting straight to the chase.
If you regularly interview people, make sure to include the guest’s name in your an episode title. This maximises the potential of people coming across your podcast when typing the person’s name (or their brand) into a search engine.
Catchy titles are ones that set up an expectation. Use keywords in combination with language that offers a bit of intrigue and is emotionally charged. There’s a reason why you see titles like ‘You Won’t Believe How this Entrepreneur Turned his Cash into Millions’ all over the web. While you don’t want to patronise your potential audience obvious clickbait tactics, it’s a tried and tested way to give away just enough in the title to get encourage people to click through to satisfy their curiosity.
Structure: Numbering and Number of Words
Try and keep your podcast episode title concise, fitting it in five words or less. If anything, this directness suggests a sense of confidence in what you have to say, promising that your content will also be the point and articulate. Plus, think of how cramped episode titles can appear on a busy page on iTunes! You can always go into more detail in the episode’s description.
There is also a tendency to entitle episodes like chapters, e.g. ‘Episode 1: How to Write a Great Title.’ The numbering in itself is not an issue. It’s a helpful reference for the podcaster as well as the listener. But considering the limited space, you want to make sure your keys words aren’t getting lost, e.g. ‘Episode 1: How to Writ…’
Daniel J. Lewis of The Audacity to Podcast recommends shifting the number to the end of your episode title, so not to waste precious space in a small display, therefore allowing listeners to immediately spot from first few words what the episode is about.
He also points out that “leading with an episode number can also conflict with well-written titles. See how confusing “#10: 3 ways to succeed” looks?” List articles get a lot of shares, so if your episode includes a numbered list, it’s good to give that visibility. Give the content the pride of place in your podcast episode title.
Focus on Your Audience
It’s tempting to come up with a cute title, maybe with an inside joke or a pun. That may exhibit your clever way with words, but it may risk alienating new potential listeners who don’t know what your podcast it about yet. Keeping in mind that it’s not just your regular audience that reads your titles and taking a broad focus will help appeal to a wider audience.
Shift the focus in the title to your listeners, and you put them in a position of strength. You can do so by using second person pronouns (you, your). Also implying that you are personally answering a conundrum that your listener may have is more compelling than an impersonal description of your content. Using words such as how, what and why in your title really appeals to this sensibility.
So a podcast episode entitled ‘How to Strengthen Your Audio Marketing Strategy’ is just more inviting than one called ‘Strong Audio Marketing Strategies’, isn’t it?
These are subtle but very effective ways in which your episode title can help reach out to listeners. Then let your podcast do the rest!