How to Make Your Podcast SEO-Friendly

You may already know that going niche is a key to success while podcasting. While you may be putting out the most entertaining content in your field, none of that matters if potential listeners can’t find your podcast. Cue podcast SEO.

Thanks to recent changes at Google, podcasts are now included in search results. This means that there has never been a better time to optimize your search engine results page (SERP) ranking. Podcast SEO, helps you increase the chances of people stumbling across your show while searching online. But, If you don’t know the right methods, don’t fret, we’re here to help. 

SEO & Keywords

Search Engine Optimization: What is It?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of driving traffic to your website through your visibility on SERPs. While “search engine” can refer to a number of websites, the majority of searches are done through Google.  

If you ever need to hide something, throw it on the second page of Google. It’s 2021, and hardly anyone reads Google search results past the first few entries. If you want your content to be ranked highly on result pages, then podcast SEO is a must. Why? Because it boosts your visibility and allows you to snag new listeners. 

The key to successful podcast SEO is in the keywords. But what are keywords?

Keywords: keywords and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engine.

Keywords are important because they are the linchpin between what people are searching for and the content you are providing to fill that need. Your goal should be to drive organic traffic to your podcast from SERPs. As a result, the keywords you choose to target (the ones you include in your content) will determine your traffic.

Understanding and implementing podcast SEO means discoverability. People who have never heard of your podcast can accidentally find it on Google. This is the power of keywords.

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How to Find the Right Keywords

To create content that ranks well organically and drives visitors to your site, you need to understand the needs of those visitors — the language they use and the type of content they seek. You can do this by talking to your customers, frequenting forums and community groups, and doing your own keyword research.

There are a number of free tools available that can help you find the right keywords, like UbersuggestGoogle Keyword Planner, or Google Trends. There are also a number of paid tools, one of which is Keysearch — an affordable keyword research tool that is not only easy to use but also provides relevant and low competition keywords for your website. 

When you know what people search for, you can focus content around those topics.

All keyword research starts with a topic, idea, or head keyword also called a “seed keyword. Create a list of these seed keywords. Then do your keyword research. It’s important to understand the popularity of each keyword and how difficult it would be to rank on SERPs.

Basically researching keywords gives you a better understanding of how high the demand is for certain keywords. It also helps you understand how hard it would be to compete for those terms in organic search results. This is where you’d use a keyword research tool. If you are starting out, remember that you can’t compete with keywords like “branding” “marketing.” The competition is too fierce. So instead you need to find related keywords with lower competition.

Once you have your keyword(s), then you can focus on optimizing your content with that keyword.

Let’s look at a tangible example

It’s Yvonne again, Spreaker’s Content and Social Media Manager. I have a podcast called The Branding Lab, which specifically focuses on the topic of, you guessed it, branding. The tools that I have used for keyword research have included: Ubersuggest, SemRush & Keysearch. Overall I would recommend Keysearch as it is one of the easiest SEO tools I have used and works perfectly if you need basic podcast SEO.

Now, let’s look at a specific keyword: branding. It is almost impossible to rank organically for that keyword. Why? Well because huge websites, like 99Designs and Canva, dominate the first page of Google. They have strong domain authority and therefore it will be impossible for me to beat them out for the top spot. Instead, through keyword research, I’ll look for related keywords or keyword variations that have lower competition.

Branding, according to Ubersuggest, has a SEO difficulty of 76. Pretty high. But the SEO tool also recommends some other easier keywords: branding manager [24], branding in marketing [19], brand equity [21]. The list goes on but I think you got the point.

How Google Displays Podcasts

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of podcast SEO, let’s look at how Google is legitimizing podcast content. Podcasts are now indexed, ranked, and included in Google search results, which means that your content is much easier to find. Being inclusive of auditory mediums like podcasting is a natural move, considering that around 50% of people now use voice search while searching. 

In order to appear in search results, there are a number of things that you, as a podcaster, can do, which include:

  • Set up Google Podcasts Manager. If you didn’t already know, Google has its own podcast application, which allows you to see things like subscribe count, minutes played, and even top search terms.
  • Use the keywords in an episode’s title as well as its audio or video. That will ensure those words are in the critical SEO elements: title tag, URL, and transcript.
  • Build your episodes around specific keywords. Make sure to also use those keywords in the episode title and description.

 Let’s break down what everything really means. How does podcast SEO work exactly?

How Does Podcast SEO Work: Best Practices

SEO can be a beast to learn. But if it can also up the visibility of your podcast. Here are some podcast SEO tips that you need to consider.

Start strong with a keyword-friendly title  

Before you can hook listeners with your exciting content, you’ll need to snag them on the title. Your podcast title needs to explain what the show is about. It also needs to be SEO optimized so it can be discovered in a search. To make your podcast as Google-friendly as possible, you need your title to be somewhat self-explanatory, which is doable using keywords. 

While your episode titles will likely have keywords as well, your most important ones should go into your podcast title. Keep in mind that your title should still be fun and interesting to your audience, so don’t go overboard. If you overstuff your title with keywords, your content could be penalized. This will make your podcast SEO suffer.

If there’s a certain podcast title that you’re attached to but doesn’t contain keywords, consider using a subtitle. For example, let’s say you are dead set on calling your photography podcast Red Room. Well, you could turn it into something like Red Room: A Film Photography Podcast.  

“Better content is outweighing more content.” 

Rand Fishkin

Place your keywords properly 

Your podcast name isn’t the only place where you can insert keywords; you can use keywords in the titles of your episodes as well. When you are writing an episode title, try not to use the same keyword over and over again. Choosing different keywords will allow you to appear in a wider variety of searches. And will allow you to avoid keyword stuffing

You can also include keywords in your podcast description. The podcast title needs to be clickable and grab people’s attention. The description needs to take it a step further and explain exactly what they should expect once they start listening. The description should include:

  • As many keywords as possible (but avoid keyword stuffing)
  • A call to action (such as “subscribe”)
  • Links that direct them somewhere else online. Take them to a place where you can control their experience. For exampless like your social media pages, show notes, or a website.

Below is an example of a description that includes a variety of keywords and branding questions. Another great example is Jenna Kutcher’s Goal Digger Podcast.

Finally, we can assume that the keywords associated with each episode will naturally occur throughout each episode’s running time, so don’t worry about working certain words or phrases into the actual script. 

Target questions in your episodes

Remember how half of Google searches were voice searches? When voice searching, people typically ask their phones an actual question, rather than saying a few random words out loud. Titling your podcast episodes with the exact question you are trying to answer will make your content easier to find. It will increase the chances of your podcast SEO ranking higher. Also as shown in the previous section, add these questions to your podcast description.

For example, let’s say you are a fine art podcast for young adults. If you are doing an episode that weighs the pros and cons of doing an MFA, don’t beat around the bush: call the episode “Is Art School Worth it?”

Leverage your reach with a website

Having a website or blog is a great way to increase your podcast SEO. Having a page will allow you to appear in more searches, as you are increasing your online footprint. Readable text will widen your audience from solely an audio one. This allows you to reach people who might not have the time to listen to a full hour of you speaking. 

Furthermore, there may be hearing-impaired individuals who have an interest in your content and would prefer to consume it in a written format. This is a great opportunity to reach them and ensure that they can also enjoy your work.

With written content, it is important to put your keywords in the right place. Google scans your web pages for keywords in crucial places like the title of the post, title of the podcast episode, subheadings,  URL of the webpage, and file names for any images you have. 

But above all else, a website gives you the power to create your story. A website is created and designed by you, as is the copy that you can write about your podcast episode. A website gives you the freedom to do many things all at once. For example, an episode webpage can include: 

  1. an embedded player that features your podcast or episodes, allowing you to direct listeners to your own page while still having your hosting, play counts, and other analytics provided by your hosting platform, like Spreaker. Furthermore, if you decide to use an advanced tool like fusebox, you can include a podcast player that acts as a single track player and site-wide sticky player, while also giving you the option to add a CTA on the player itself, like a sign-up button for your podcast’s newsletter. 
  2. a transcript of the episode filled with SEO rich keywords that will help drive organic traffic to your website and/or;
  3. links to other distribution platforms like Apple Podcasts if your listeners prefer accessing episodes on a different medium. 

On your website, don’t hesitate to include social proof that demonstrates your podcast has great content. Including five-star reviews that you have received, or referencing places you have been referenced on (ie: As seen on….) will boost your credit for anyone who has just stumbled across your page. 

Example: Jenna Kutcher, Digital Marketing Expert

As a Digital Marketing Expert, Jenna Kutcher has her own website, which she also uses to promote her podcast. One of the menu items in the main menu is a link to her podcast, Goal Digger.  Each of Jenna’s podcast episodes has a separate blog page, which includes a highly shareable image of the episode’s topic, an embedded player, external links to the podcast on other distribution platforms like Apple Podcasts, a transcription of the podcast (for SEO purposes) and even a thank you (with links) to the sponsors of that particular podcast episode. 

Jenna Kutcher is a great example of a podcaster

The importance of transcriptions

On the subject of websites, transcribing your episodes is something that will help boost your podcast SEO.

Transcriptions are an easy way to increase the content on your website and in turn reach new audiences. Having your episodes transcribed on your website enables search engines to ‘read’ your website for keywords, which increases the chance that someone will find you on Google search.

Also, having an interview and episode transcriptions will enable you to turn your audio into keyword-rich blog posts, newsletters, and articles. Podcasts like Reply All tend to embed episode transcriptions on their website, while Fresh Air uses transcribed interviews to build out ‘interview highlights’ for each guest. For embedded scroll-through transcription windows, check out Happyscribe

If you want to go above and beyond, you may consider turning your podcast episodes into Youtube videos. Since Youtube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Turning your audio into a video could be an interesting podcast SEO strategy. There are plenty of free services that can help you convert your files, and transcribe your episodes. You can also easily add your own subtitles, which will help people with different learning styles or those who do not speak English fluently. 

Build and share on social media 

Podcasting is an auditory medium, but you should be able to access it across your social media channels as well. The types of social media accounts are up to you and should be chosen accordingly in relation to where you’ll have the best access to your ideal audience. Word-of-mouth marketing remains one of the strongest ways to grow your podcast following, so any social media shares or shout-outs you can get will only help you.

Use your social media to share episodes, interact with your community, and connect with fellow creators in your industry. Interacting with other people in your industry could get you more exposure, as could partnering with any businesses that have a similar audience as you. If you feature a guest on your podcast, they will likely share your podcast link with their following, consequentially widening your reach. Aligning yourself with already-established experts in your field is a smart way to learn from those with different experiences than your own, and also boost your podcast SEO.  

Reminder: Quality Over Quantity 

Podcast SEO is important to grow your audience, but don’t forget that at the end of the day, it’s your content that your listeners care about. If you’re constantly working to stuff your content full with keywords in ways that don’t occur naturally, your listeners or readers will be able to see that. You don’t want to hurt your own voice in your quest to be heard, so be sure to keep a balance between listener-friendly and Google-friendly content. 

“My rule of thumb is to build a site for a user, not a spider.”

Dave Naylor (@DaveNaylor)

At its worst, if you focus on podcast SEO too much you’ll end up keyword stuffing all your pages. Your keywords should appear as natural as possible, and never out of context. As a rule of thumb, if your copy sounds unnatural, it probably is. Google will pick up on this quickly, so if you want to keep your podcast SEO in check, aim to appeal to the listener experience. 

With podcasting in particular, you need to be careful as Apple Podcasts has been known to crackdown on keyword stuffing. While it doesn’t hurt to have some keywords in episode descriptions, you shouldn’t aim to stuff the full text box with every relevant phrase you find on Ubersuggest. You don’t want Apple or Google taking down your podcast after all the hard work you’ve put into it, so don’t aim to over-represent yourself. Put your actual name in the author’s field, fill out a proper episode description, and write with another human being in mind, not an algorithm.

Remember, podcast SEO might be crucial to being discovered, but putting out quality content that you can be proud of is the most important in the long run. 

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