Written by Roger Montti –
Podcasts have increasingly gained acceptance as a part of a comprehensive SEO strategy since Google announced in 2019 that it would surface podcasts in the search results and make them playable.
That change significantly raised the visibility of podcasts in search results because potential listeners can discover podcasting content when searching with the word “podcast.”
Podcasts For Discovering New Ideas
Podcasting is more than a way to pass the time at home or in the car. People are increasingly turning to podcasts to learn about a topic.
According to research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Oxford University, over 50% of U.K. podcast listeners aged 25+ were more likely to listen to podcasts to learn something.
That aligns with the findings by Edison Research of United States podcast listeners, who listed learning new things as a top reason for listening to podcasts.
While entertainment is still a reason for listening, the trend toward learning about new things, both in current events and evergreen topics, makes podcasting a valuable channel for sharing expertise in the same way that writing articles and publishing videos are.
Podcasts Can Be On Any Topic
One can find podcasts on virtually any topic because consumers of content look for information wherever they happen to be, which means across a variety of media types.
Here are a few examples:
Florida Real Estate Podcasts
Home Improvement Podcasts
Personal Injury Podcasts
Although there might not be a huge audience for every niche, it’s not a bad idea to be there with a podcast when a potential client is searching.
And as briefly mentioned earlier, podcasting has benefits related to networking with others and creating opportunities to build awareness.
How To Optimize A Podcast For Search
A podcast description is a summary of what the podcast series is about. The podcast description is what a potential listener reads when they’re searching around on Spotify.
Make the description relevant by describing the series using the words a listener might use.
Summarize Each Podcast
Always create a summary that describes what the podcast is about. This means writing the topics, the main points covered, who the guest is, and some details of essential parts that someone might search for.
For example, if a guest shares an anecdote that might be of interest, write a sentence or two about that anecdote so that someone who might be interested in that information can find it.
The Most Popular Sites For Podcasts
According to a 2022 Edison Research study, podcast audiences listen to their favorite shows through multiple platforms.
The following represents the percentages of people who answered “yes” to each service. That means the percentages won’t add up to 100% since listeners use multiple services.
In a poll, respondents were asked to choose from a list of services they used for listening.
The top five places to listen to podcasts are:
- YouTube – 55%
- Spotify – 49%
- Apple Podcasts – 38%
- Amazon Music – 27%
- iHeartRadio – 27%
The sixth to 10th most popular places to listen to podcasts:
- Facebook – 27%
- Pandora – 25%
- Instagram – 24%
- Google Podcasts – 22%
- Audible – 19%
The top 11 to 20 podcast listening services and sites are:
- The podcast’s own website – 18%
- SoundCloud – 17%
- NPR One – 10%
- The podcast’s own mobile app – 10%
- Stitcher – 7%
- TuneIn – 7%
- Wondery app – 7%
- Pocket Casts – 6%
- Castbox – 4%
- Luminary – 4%
Optimize For YouTube
YouTube may be the most popular way audiences listen to podcasts (followed closely by Spotify).
That means it’s important to upload a version of the podcast to YouTube.
Be sure to add a descriptive title and description, including the use of important phrases that will help listeners find the podcast.
Optimize For Spotify
Spotify is the second most popular platform for listening to podcasts, so it’s important to understand how to optimize a podcast so that most people can find and listen to it.
Spotify published a useful article about optimizing a podcast worth looking at.
Here are some of the takeaways:
Spotify Podcast Show Page
Every podcast has a show page. The show page is a podcast home page (or a landing page) where a podcaster tells what the series is about.
A show page consists of five elements:
- Logo artwork.
- Follow button.
- Episode list.
The artwork for the Spotify show page is recommended to be high resolution (3000 x 3000 pixels). Spotify offers an artwork generator at their Anchor website (registration required).
The artwork should pop out. It’s useful to use complementary colors, especially ones that stand out and call attention to themselves.
Bright colors can be helpful for this, but high contrast color choices work well, too.
SEO Your Spotify Podcast Description
Spotify recommends using keywords in the podcast description that include the overall topic and subtopic keyword phrases that a potential listener might use to find the podcast.
Optimize Podcast Episode Descriptions
Spotify recommends using the first 20 words to entice the listener in by using keywords that indicate what the topic is about.
Don’t waste time repeating what’s in the title or waste space welcoming the listener to another episode. Be straight to the point in describing the specific episode topic, and do it fast.
Create A Podcast Trailer
Spotify encourages podcasters to create a trailer for their podcasts and to break them up into seasons. Create a new trailer for each new season.
Here’s a video offering tips on making a podcast trailer:
Topics For Podcasts
Whether you already have a podcast or are interested in starting one, it’s critical to understand best practices for optimizing podcast episodes for search.
Podcast episodes are content – that’s all it is.
The type of subject matter for podcast episodes can be broken down into at least two kinds:
- Evergreen topics – subject matter that remains relevant year after year.
- Trending topics – subject matter that is a hot topic at the moment.
- Interviews – interviewing famous people helps attract an audience. This is more than just ego bait.
The evergreen subject matter is created for the long run to please content consumers who might be new to the topic and want to learn the basics.
Trending topics are great because they tap into what’s on the public’s mind at that moment in time and get an immediate boost, particularly in Google Discover.
Be Creative With Podcast Topics
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, people listen to podcasts to learn new things and for many other reasons.
It’s easy to get frustrated about creating topics for a podcast, especially for a business that might not lend itself to podcasting.
For example, how does one make personal injury law a podcasting topic that attracts an audience? How can one podcast about plumbing?
One genre of podcasting is storytelling. People love to listen to stories, to narratives.
So, one way to think about it is to consider all the stories that are connected to the trade or business.
Ultimately, for some podcasting topics, especially business-related ones, the goal might be as simple as communicating traits like honesty, sincerity, and a passion for doing a good job.
Research Trending Topics
What’s of interest and concern to people now is a great way to build an audience and appeal to Google’s algorithms that rank trending topics.
Creating content around a current event is a great way to rise to the top through Google’s freshness algorithm and to be seen in Google Discover.
A trending topic doesn’t have to be “news” in the sense of dramatic events.
A trending topic could be the release of a new product, in which case it might be a good idea to use.
One way to identify up-to-the-minute trending topics is to examine Twitter’s trending topics, which are organized by Trending, News, Sports, Entertainment, and Covid-19.
Google’s Trending Searches
Another approach is to visit Google’s Trending Searches webpage, which shows what people are searching for today.
Once the subject matter is identified, the next step is to observe Google Trends.
A great way to unlock interesting insights is to use Google Trends “categories” drop-down to find trends specific to your topic area.
Google News For Trending Topics
Another way to research is to see what’s trending in Google News.
Breaking news is a powerful engine to hitch your podcast to.
People are eager to learn more about important events, so it’s vital to move fast on creating podcasts related to current events.
A successful podcast can’t always rely on current events for topics week after week.
If current events aren’t relevant to a topic, then the next form of content to turn to is the evergreen subject matter.
Use A Feed Reader
The work of keeping up to date with trending topics is easier when using a feed reader to organize sources of breaking news.
Whenever you see an article that’s on the right topic, find the category that the article is in, then look for an RSS feed to follow it.
Note: If appropriate, be sure to link to the article from your podcast summary, as that will make it helpful for users.
Some feed readers can follow a page with just a URL.
Following a topic in Google News is easy.
Just search for the topic, and on the right side of the search results, there will be links for following a more specific topic.
Topics that are useful year after year are called evergreen.
Typical evergreen topics tend to answer questions about how-to, how does, how can I, why, where can I, and so on.
Identifying evergreen content topics can be fairly easy.
Wikipedia is a good source of topics for evergreen content.
A list of topics covered in Wikipedia can then be used to search on YouTube to see what angles others are using.
Book Chapter Names
Another of the best sources of ideas for evergreen content topics is to search on Amazon.com to see what topics are published in books.
This is a technique I’ve been using and sharing at search conferences for over 15 years for text content, but it should work just as well for podcasting, too.
Pay attention to the chapter titles because those can be a goldmine of topics to podcast about.
Pinned Discussions In Forums
And, of course, forums about a given topic can be useful.
Many forums get the same questions asked over and over.
So to keep the forums from being inundated with members discussing the same thing repeatedly, they pin evergreen questions at the top of each forum category.
Those pinned discussions are usually the most important evergreen topics people are interested in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Another way to discover evergreen podcast topics is to search on Google and Bing for your topic keyword phrase plus the words “frequently asked questions.”
Another variation can be: How to (topic phrase) frequently asked questions. After that, cycle through the what, where, who, and when type questions for even more variations.
New To (Topic)
People who are new to a topic are often looking for evergreen topics.
Naturally, searching in the way someone who doesn’t know much about the niche is an excellent way to find evergreen topics.
Search using words and phrases such as:
- New to.
- Tips for beginners.
- Training for.
- How to start.
Segment Searches By TLD
A way to really dig in and discover great evergreen topics is to do the above-noted research by segmenting your searches to specific top-level domains (TLD).
This may result in different but interesting takes on the topic.
Examples of segmented searches:
- Search phrase site:.edu
- Search phrase site:.gov
- Search phrase site:.gov
Don’t Forget YouTube
YouTube is a search engine, too. It can be an excellent place to identify evergreen topics.
Interesting Evergreen Topics Versus Keyword Inventory
Put everything you discover into an extensive list of topics on a spreadsheet if that works for you.
Some might want to go to Google Trends and refine the list by the most popular keyword phrases or topics.
Focusing on keywords with the highest search inventory is a traditional way to decide what evergreen topics to podcast about.
But I’d like to suggest another way: Focus on what’s interesting.
Going with interesting topics rather than keyword inventory may make the podcast more interesting because it will lead listeners on a journey of discovery.
Listening to topics one hadn’t thought about is a delightful experience; along the way, the listeners may become fans who enthusiastically refer the podcast to friends.
Interview Popular And Important People
Interviewing interesting people is a great way to keep the podcast content self-generating.
But even more important is a useful way to attract an audience.
Even if the podcast is about home improvement, a discussion with a celebrity about how their favorite decor, floors, fixtures, or whatever might be really interesting.
Keeping with the theme of home improvement, one can interview people who have shows on the topic or professionals who install dishwashers to get tips on what is the best dishwasher to get.
Interviewing people with knowledge is a great way to create useful and interesting content and takes the pressure off the host for having to talk and talk and talk, week after week.
Transcribe The Podcasts
Transcribing means turning the spoken words of the podcast into text.
This is important because it will help the podcast find an audience of people who are deaf, so this is an accessibility consideration.
Transcribing the audio will also feed the search engine something to rank.
There are numerous apps and services for accomplishing this task.
Microsoft 365 users can upload using Word to transcribe audio to text by playing the audio directly into Word.
Microsoft 365 can also transcribe five hours of audio per month via upload. More information here.
Google Docs has a similar feature.
Create Podcast Chapters
Podcast chapters are a convenience to listeners because it gives them a way to fast forward to parts of a show that interest them.
Anything that improves user experience will, at the very least, indirectly impact SEO.
An interesting way to think about a podcast regarding how it’s useful to a business is that everyone would love to be featured on a podcast favorably.
So, it makes sense to create the best podcast on a given topic and give the business a plug at the beginning and/or the end of the podcast.
Podcasting is a great way to connect with an audience and to make connections in a broader community to which the topic belongs.
The podcast can grow an audience fast by incorporating interviews with popular people and celebrities, which will then grow word-of-mouth and links.
Focusing on being interesting (instead of keyword search volume) may be a good approach because everyone loves the experience of discovery.
Promoting the podcast can be as simple as reaching out to content sites like online magazines and letting them know about a podcast or that someone interesting was interviewed.
Don’t wait for multiple competitors to establish their authority as podcasters.
It’s always best to get a head start at building loyalty for your brand and establishing signals of popularity.
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