- Mar 24, 2021
- BY: Soundstripe Team
Podcast SEO: How to Get Your Show to Appear In Search Results
I remember when ‘podcast SEO’ was brought to life.
It was in mid 2019, when Google officially announced that episodes would be indexed and begin appearing in search results.
This was a really big deal, but it got even better. Episodes that are shown have their own media snippet and can be played, or downloaded, directly from Google Podcasts!
In other words, there is a significant opportunity to grow a show's audience organically.
Done successfully, podcast SEO can tap into new traffic that simply was not available or accessible before. As a result, it significantly increases episode visibility, grows download numbers and, ultimately, gets your show more listeners.
And, the best bit…
It’s not as difficult or as technical as you might think. In fact, anyone can learn how to get their show to appear in Google search results with the following SEO practices.
I’ll walk you through every step, just stick with me - let’s get your show the attention it deserves.
Podcast Keyword Research
Let’s start by going back to basics.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about maximizing the chances of content on a given topic showing up in Google results after people search for it.
Podcast SEO is exactly the same.
Successful SEO starts with planning, so that the content you produce is something people are searching for. A podcast episode on some obscure topic that no-one is interested in won’t be searched for, and thus won’t get many downloads.
Let’s say your chosen topic is ‘adding music to podcasts’. To optimize your content for this topic, you need to know what keywords and phrases people are searching for.
There are a number of SEO tools to do this, but Ubersuggest is one of the most user-friendly and allows 3 free searches per day (notably, their paid plans are also the lowest priced in the industry).
The first step is to find out where the bulk of the traffic is using the ‘Keyword Analyzer’. Do most people search Google using the term ‘adding music to podcasts’?:
No, they don’t.
In fact, there are zero searches per month for this specific term on Google. Ideally, we’re looking for 1,000 searches or more.
Ok, we’ll try again. Do they search for ‘music for podcast’?:
Yes. That’s more like it. Typically, the traffic lies in the most obvious and natural term.
If you’re unsure, just search for your core topic in Google a few times and pay attention to the terms used in the search result titles. There will be a common term other sites are using to rank in Google on your topic - that’s the one you want.
Note, also the SEO difficulty is ‘green’ too which means competition to rank for this term is low. Ideally, you want this number to be 30 or under in my experience.
Now we know where the majority of the traffic lies, the second step is to work out what the different search intentions are within our high level topic of music for podcasts.
To do this, simply click on ‘Keyword Ideas’ in the toolbar to the left:
Here, you can see I’ve immediately identified 4 keyword terms. If you look carefully, I’ve picked these because the search intention is subtly different.
Ultimately, we’re trying to break down our high level topic into subtopics, whilst recording the most searched for keywords respectively.
So, write them down in a list and make sure you take note of the search volume (under ‘Vol’), which should be around 200 or above (preferably higher).
Under the Related tab, there are at least 2 more worth listing (note how they’re subtly different in intention than the first four we already collected):
So far, I’ve uncovered the following keyword terms and have this list:
- ‘music for podcast intro’
- ‘music for podcasts free’
- ‘licensing music for podcast’
- ‘music business podcast’
- ‘royalty free music for podcast’
- ‘background music for podcast’
The terms we have in our list are, in fact, potential subtopics. We know they’re interesting to people in some way because of their search volumes.
Now, we want to do keyword research on each bullet point keyword term (i.e. subtopic).
So, in my example, I would search ‘music for podcast intro’ (my first bullet) under Keyword Ideas:
As you can see, there are 2 worth noting which are specific to intro music, so they need to be sublisted under that specific term (i.e. under the subtopic of music for podcast intro).
Check for terms in the Related tab also - remember, volume of 200 or above, and SEO difficulty of under 30.
At this level, we also want to note down question terms but we’re not bothered about search volume on these (more on this later).
As you can see, in my example there are several in the Suggestions tab:
Check the Related and Questions tab for question terms also, listing them all under the same bullet point term ‘music for podcast intro’ (i.e. the intro music subtopic).
Repeat this process for each subtopic (bullet point).
By the end of this task, you should have:
- A high level topic keyword - music for podcasts;
- A list of subtopic keywords (my bullet points above), each with its own list of associated keywords and question terms.
If you’re still with me, well done. You’ve just performed professional keyword research for your podcast SEO.
Optimize Your Podcast Episodes
Now, that you know more about your topic and associated subtopics, it’s simply a case of creating your content around them.
The Google update means that an individual podcast episode in which a keyword is mentioned is more likely to rank for that search intent. For this reason, I’d always build each episode around a single subtopic and search intent.
So, in my example, I would probably put together a 7 episode series where the first show is an introduction on Music For Podcasts. The other six episodes would each cover my subtopics respectively.
Record your audio for the episode and make sure you mention that subtopics keyword terms that you listed in the research phase. Obviously, prioritise using those with the highest search volumes.
In fact, the subtopic keyword with the highest search volume should be used in the episode title (preferably at the beginning).
Also, take some of the question terms you listed (again, for this subtopic) and use them as chapter markers where possible. This is because Google likes answering search questions and pays attention to them in content.
The only thing to be mindful of is not forcing multiple mentions of any keyword terms into the podcast episode. Google penalises unnatural usage which has become known as ‘keyword stuffing’.
By keeping the focus of each episode to a specific subtopic you’re maximising the chances it will be listed in the results for that search intent.
Quality Audio Content
So, you’ve taken the time and put in the effort to do the all important core podcast SEO. Now, it’s about doing everything you can to maximize the chances it’ll be successful.
Google’s ability to understand and transcribe your podcast episode is impressive and seemingly effective.
However, it’s not perfect so it makes sense to put out the best quality audio you can so Google can interpret it correctly. If not, there is a chance it’ll miss a keyword mention and not rank your episode accordingly.
Here are some guidelines to follow when recording:
- Talking intelligently and smoothly is challenging without practice; prepare a script using a template with the appropriate keywords in place;
- Find your best podcast voice by practicing out loud a few times before recording - speak clearly, remove filler words and control your tone;
- Make the most of the audio equipment you have to ensure the raw audio capture is as good as possible;
- Edit your shows with proper recording software to rid of any mistakes, mumbling, background noise or other interference.
Write Up Each Episode
If you really want to give SEO the best shot, your podcast needs a website of some kind.
This is included in many podcast hosting services, but a standalone website in WordPress is without doubt the best option for full blogging functionality.
Whatever you chose, the key here is to provide Google with at least one text version of your episode because it ‘reads’ this more easily than audio (at least for now). These can come in two forms, which are:
- Full transcription - type out what you hear in a word processor, or use automated tools like Rev, for instance, to speed up the process;
- Blog post (a.k.a. Show notes) - write an article that explains what the episode is about.
The best podcast hosts have an option to add a transcript to the episode on their platform, which should also show up on embedded podcast players.
Before you upload it, however, make sure you include associated keywords (i.e. for the subtopic) accordingly and naturally; don’t ‘stuff’ obviously! Additionally, add a podcast description; these are usually quite short so, as a rule, only mention the most-searched-for keyword once.
Publish the blog post on your website, but don’t include the transcript per se.
Instead, use the blog post as an opportunity to provide a full commentary on the episode content whilst including the relevant keywords for SEO purposes. The most-searched-for keyword needs to be in the title as well as in the content, along with as many of the subtopic keywords as possible.
If in WordPress, add higher-searched-for keywords to H2 heading tags where possible. You could also use the Yoast SEO plugin to get other insights that are specific to WordPress blog posting.
By writing up your audio content, you’re inviting Google to crawl and fully understand what your podcast is about so it can display it in search results when relevant.
Upload to Google Podcasts
This is a really obvious one, but also easy to forget because the big directories were always Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Play…
When Google got serious about podcasts it brought us ‘Google Podcasts’. Getting setting up on their platform is essential for podcast SEO because it enables audio snippets to show in search results.
It’s a top notch user experience though, and episodes are easy to upload by adding your podcast’s RSS feed just like every other major directory.
What’s more, the Google Podcast Manager provides useful insight on your rankings so you can further optimize where necessary.
Social proof is important to SEO because it signals the most relevant and useful content to Google.
The truth is, there is no hard and fast rule on how to build your podcasts reputation. It is more a series of small actions that when added together has a big impact on your success.
Ask your listeners for a review directly by including a quick, and humble, request at the end of each episode. The major podcast directories all have this functionality built in: getting more reviews on them will also grow your reach.
Furthermore, utilize podcast discovery sites like Podchaser to garner more support.
Simply claim your podcast (after adding it if it’s not already on there) then seek out reciprocal reviews by offering your support to other podcasters.
Over time, your podcasts will become more popular for their quality content which, in turn, will be reflected by the search engines.
Link to Social Media
Love it or hate it, there is a positive correlation between a well-developed social presence and search engine rankings. And, a key indication of an episode’s success is how many shares and comments it’s gained on social media.
Whenever you publish a new episode, or podcast series, make sure you share the link on your chosen social media platforms.
The more people that chat about your content the better, but don’t wait for others to do it for you. Start conversations, join topical groups, comment on other podcasts and stay active in your space.
If you really want to boost engagement, use a tool like Wavve to create short teaser videos of your podcasts to increase your reach and draw in new listeners.
Building up your social media presence and word of mouth references will take a little time but ultimately underpin further success. It’s important for growing your podcast’s numbers, but most significantly, has a very positive impact on search engine ranking.
Podcast SEO Takeaway
That’s a wrap.
I hope you feel more confident with podcast SEO and manage to put everything I’ve covered into practice. The opportunity is huge but only if you make it as easy as possible for Google to understand your podcast content.
By sticking to the strategy and techniques in this post, you’ll maximize the chances of your show appearing in search results.
Even better though, you’ll inadvertently create a more structured and engaging listening experience for new listeners when they come along.
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