Buzzsprout Head of Marketing, Alban Brooke, joins this week's episode of Podcasting Q&A to give SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips and how to optimize your podcast's discoverability with easy SEO techniques.
Thank you, Taylor for your question! You can check out Taylor's podcast, Eros Rising, at https://www.taylorjohnson.life/podcast/
Links & Resources:
Have a question?
Record & submit your question at podinbox.com/buzzsprout to be featured on a future episode!
We all know that there are resources and methods to make a website rank higher in search engines. But how do you make a podcast rank higher in podcast app searches? I'm Jordan, host of Podcasting Q&A, where we answer your questions about how to start, grow and monetize a podcast. This week's question is from Taylor.
Hey, my name is Taylor. And I run the arrows rising podcast, a sex podcast for men. And I'm curious about search engine optimization for podcasts and wondering how important that actually is. When I'm looking at the podcast world, it doesn't really seem like there's as much benefit. I'm just wondering if that's not as much part of the territory of podcasting, or if it's something that you think I should still be focusing a lot on. And for context, I have for each episode, an individual page on my WordPress website, specifically to help boost SEO in the long term. It's something I'm considering because it's taking a lot of my time, and I'm trying to figure out if it's worthwhile. Thank you. Hopefully, that all makes sense.
Amazing question, Taylor. To answer it, who better to bring in and the Head of Marketing at Buzzsprout, Alban Brooke. So one of the things that podcasters really struggle with is SEO for podcasts, because SEO is kind of an elusive thing to a lot of people. So I guess it's probably a good idea to start off with what is SEO,
SEO can actually be two things. SEO stands for search engine optimization, optimizing your content for search engines. The search engines can be Google, but they can also be YouTube, or Bing, or a podcast app like Apple podcasts, this are all things that are taking an input, and they are trying, you know, like a question or a phrase. And then they're saying, we think that this is the best content. And you know, that's what a search engine is. Sometimes you'll also hear the acronym SEO used for a search engine optimizer, you know, the job title for someone who is optimizing content for search engines. One thing I would like to distinguish for our listeners, when they hear the kind of catchphrase SEO, there's kind of like two levels maybe of SEO, there's a lot more, this is gonna be a very simplistic version of it. But there's some things that are just like findable. So I'm thinking of the terms. This has to be something that that basically there's no competition, search, Albin Brook Twitter. Okay, that phrase, I know what the top result will be, it will be my Twitter account. If you search somebody with a unique name, and LinkedIn, you will find their LinkedIn. Yeah. Because there's really only one answer for this. And sometimes you'll even see like, multiple ways of finding the exact same page on the search results, because there's literally one answer, and that's just findable. Someone's actually trying to find this exact piece of content they'd been to before. There's a nother type of fuel called SEO, which is really search engine marketing, which is trying to get goods or services in front of customers by optimizing your content. And these are mostly done for things that are like high volume blasts, people search it, but they're also really valuable people find it. So kind of like the top line here would be best credit cards and American Express and all the credit card companies are like we want to rank top here. And we want any pages to do rank top here to recommend us because it's really valuable if you pick their credit card, or something like personal injury lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida, those are highly competitive as well. So maybe I'd like to distinguish between well call search engine marketing, which is getting your content in front of people who've never seen it before. And find the ability, people finding your content, when they already know about it. And they're just trying to get Google to remind them of where it's located.
So probably the most important type of optimization or search engine engine optimization is going to be the marketing version, as opposed to the Find version. Because if someone knows the name of your podcast, well, that's really easy for them to search, but it's a little bit harder to do the marketing side of it, where if someone's looking for a specific topic, then your podcast comes up first thing, right,
exactly. I mean, the gold standard here, like what we would love the most is the SEM version, the search engine marketing that were all of a sudden our podcast is getting in front of tons of new listeners all the time. And wow, now the show is growing organically without any additional work. But if you were ever to hire an SEO consultant for your website, or you actually hire someone full time to do this, the first thing they'll do is call technical SEO. And they will really be looking at that find ability thing, the very first thing like does Google know about out this website. does Google know how to crawl it? Is there anything really broken with this website? And they're figuring out okay, cool now that I know it's at least can be found. Now I'm going to try to optimize it so that Google thinks this is might be one of the very best internet results on the entire web that if for certain search terms, let's show it in
sort of the the difficult thing that podcasters run into is that podcast apps don't function the same as Google. Right? So that's kind of where things get a little tripped up.
Well, the questioner hit on this as well, when he asked, it seems like SEO isn't as important in the world of podcasting. And I think what he's probably focused on there is, Google is the very best search engine in the world. It's why when we say if you want to search something, we don't say, oh, search that online, we say Google it, yeah, however, because it is the best. And the second best is YouTube. And it's also made by Google. So they're so far ahead of everybody else. And if you're looking at other search engines, like Apple podcasts, or even Google podcasts, or any of the other podcasting apps, they're pretty far behind. So I almost feel like we should let's talk about these separately. Because what I'm going to do for Google is in a tirely, different landscape, you know, it's tons of blogs, it's tons of content out there, and they're ridiculously good at finding the very best ones. Whereas the world of podcast apps is a little bit more primitive, the way that it's searching things, it's a little bit more basic. And you're in a very different environment, because you're only competing against other podcasts.
What is a way that a podcaster can rank better on Google?
Sure. So first thing you should know, in 2019, Google launched Google podcasts. And it was a podcast app for Android. But it was also a way for podcasters, to actually have their episodes start showing up in the Google search results. And when that launched, it was very exciting for the podcast world, I loved it. And it was super exciting for me when I was doing research, and I would all of a sudden start seeing podcast episodes that we've created showing up in Google results. But over the years, we've definitely seen Google D prioritize those, to the extent that you rarely see podcast episodes showing up in search results anymore. So when we're thinking of Google, for our podcast, SEO, I want to prioritize our podcast website, rather than the podcast episodes, because we're seeing those episodes are not really showing up much. Podcast websites, however, are showing up all the time. So podcast website best practices, the first would be keep your website together, if you are doing a YouTube channel, and a blog and a podcast. Let's try to keep all this content on one domain itself. So he said he's got a WordPress site. And he's putting each episode on there as a separate post. That's great. What I don't like seeing is maybe somebody has a Buzzsprout website, and is just on that buzzsprout.com domain. And then they've also got a WordPress page on their own site, and a YouTube channel that's totally disconnected and an Instagram. And these all look like separate things. The best would be have your WordPress site, embed your own video, maybe put your podcast episodes on the blog. And all that content is available in one centralized location. The second one would be whenever you're posting audio content always include written content as well. We know that Google actually does listen to the episodes and probably transcribe them to find out what they say. But you also want to make sure that there's written content as well, because that's often prioritized. So best practices here would be if there's an associated blog on the same topic, we'll put those together. So it's like one page, or if it's just the podcast, we'll maybe transcribe it include the podcast transcript, that's going to make it so much easier, at least for find ability. So imagine you want to find a specific episode of a podcast that you really enjoyed. Well, when you search about it, you may not remember the title or even what podcast was bail, probably remember some of the conversation will Google will say, Oh, what they're searching is very similar to the transcript on this page. And that's made the transcript very findable. It's now that podcast episode is very findable. And the inclusion of the blog content will actually provide the opportunity for people to find the blog itself and then they see oh, there's a podcast Well, I put For listening to a podcast anyway, so now I'll click play here or subscribe in my app. Rather than reading a big, long post.
I've actually heard of a lot of podcasters in our Buzzsprout community Facebook group that will transcribe their podcast and then use that transcription to kind of rebuild really quickly a blog post,
One of the misconceptions I see often is that podcast transcripts are going to solve all of your SEO problems. And I don't think that that's the case, what is going to be a better reading experience, a blog post that's written to be read, or a transcription, that is just the literal word by word transcription of a conversation. The answer is obviously, the blog post, because the way that we talk is very different from the way that we write written word is much more concise and easier to skim. And we do a really good job of breaking up the content. And so the blog is almost always going to be superior to the transcript. So if you have the time to take that transcript, and then clean it up, so that it's more like a blog post, that is kind of the gold standard for trying to get an episode page to rank. I guess now that I've set the gold standard, I'm gonna tell you what the Holy Grail for your podcast website is, the Holy Grail is you want to rank for this one keyword. And that keyword is the subject of your podcast. So if it's a bodyweight fitness podcast, you need to rank for bodyweight fitness podcast. If your podcast is about crock pot cooking, you need to be able to search crock pot cooking podcast and get yours to rank number one. Those are the people who are looking for your exact podcast. So you definitely want to show up at the top of that page. So when we're thinking about podcast titles, and descriptions, and episodes, and everything else, later on, when I'm giving you practical tips, we'll make sure that once you're implementing all this stuff, periodically, open up an incognito browser and search the subject matter that you want to rank for.
And why do you do incognito mode as opposed to regular mode? If you are searching your own podcast enough, does it just automatically rank it for you on your browser?
Google is never showing, well, rarely showing the exact same results to two people. If you search something in Idaho, and I search something in Florida, yeah, well, different content is going to show up. If they know that I'm a male and you're female, they might show different content. If they know that I really liked the website Health Line and often click on their links. While they may prioritize that a little higher, if they see that I've searched other things similar to this in the past, they may present different results. So there's so many variables going into it, it's not just website a is the very fast and website B is pretty good. They're also looking at other characteristics about the searchers. One of the benefits is that if you'd go incognito, they are going to remove a lot of that, but they're still going to see things like while I'm searching on a phone and you're searching on a computer, they're definitely going to prioritize a page that's optimized for a phone for me. Whereas for you, they may be a little bit more okay with the page that wasn't optimized.
Okay, so once we have our podcast website optimized, now we need to have our podcast optimized for the podcast apps because they are so different from search engines.
Yeah, they are really different. They're much more basic in the way that they're searching things. And we're definitely going to take that into account as we are optimizing our podcast for the podcast apps. The very best resource I could give you here is a really good article called podcasts, SEO, who indexes what I think is the title of it, it was on pod news. We'll link to it was written by Mark Steadman and James Kirkland. Excellent article where they basically went through and figured out what every single podcast app was indexing, what information were they even looking at and checking when they were getting search results? A couple of the main takeaways from this post podcast is SEO is definitely pretty basic. It mostly is focusing on the podcast level, not the episode level. So the actual name of the podcast is the most important thing. So just imagine the difference that the world would be if every time you searched Google, you weren't getting blog posts, instead, you're getting entire blogs, and they're like, I think somewhere on this blog, there probably would be the right answer. I mean, that's the world that we're in for podcasts. If you search rheumatoid arthritis, the only thing that you might get is going to be the rheumatoid arthritis podcast and we'll go seems like there should be good info In here, they're not giving you a health podcast with an episode about that. The next one of their takeaways from this article was to podcast SEO, is it a viable strategy? I agree with this, that using SEO is the only marketing channel for your podcast, it really isn't the way to grow your podcast, it actually started getting a ton of new listeners, it doesn't mean you should disregard it, though. So I don't want people to take the wrong conclusion from it, you still want to be following best practices. So that the little bit of benefits that's there they are capitalizing on it quite a bit. Apple podcasts, which is the biggest podcast app in the world is really only looking at three categories. They're looking at the podcast name, the episode name, and the author of the podcast. And that's it. So they're not looking at your podcast description, a handful of apps will do that. But most don't. indefinitely, the largest in the world does not. They're not listening to the audio and transcribing it often. If you include a transcript, only some of them will check that at all. Like a lot of these categories are not being indexed. They're not even considered when deciding what to show. So we really need to focus on those three areas, your podcast title, your episode title, and then the author tag for your podcast.
You know what's so interesting is that I have searched I have used Apple podcasts as a search engine when looking up like I did a constellation Greek myth series, right for my bedtime stories. And when I was doing that series, I was often researching a lot of myths. And I would use Apple podcasts to search like, let's say Heroku, please. So type in Heroku, please, and is so interesting, because I see a lot of conflicting stuff from people, but I've had Apple podcasts, pull up a description and it bolds the words like Hercules or Hercules in the description on the search results. And then also with transcripts, too, I've had it pull up tidbits of transcripts with the phrase I'm looking for in bold.
What you might be seeing there is that the podcast title and episode title, those are what are being indexed. That's what Apple's using to find these episodes. But then they can say, Okay, I know that you're looking for here, please. And now I'm actually seeing that word show up in these other pieces of that page. So we're going to bold it. So that could be it. There's a difference. That's the difference may be between I see it on this individual page. And it's been indexed as this is a highly relevant piece of information.
Yeah. Now, obviously, the ones that, you know, it's called like, let's talk about Miss Hercules, part one, obviously, that is topic list, you know, but I just, it's interesting, because like I've seen it, pull up little tidbits of things, bolded and stuff before.
And hopefully this is an area that continues to improve. Apple podcast is been around for over 15 years for like 16 years now. So I know there's a bit of the old way things were done. And it seems like apple pie has been improving quite a bit the last few years. And so I would hope that this is an area that they lean into making the search engine even better. What I personally use if I'm trying to find a podcast about something is Listen, notes.com Listen notes is the best podcast search engine. That's I think their tagline, but also the tagline I would give them. If you want to find anything, go there and search it. And it's not going to just pull up podcasts, though it will. It'll also pull up podcast episodes, it might transcribe the podcasts and serve up ones that the phrase is showing up in the search results. Like there's tons of different things that are being searched. And so you can find tons of great information listeners, you can also find out how big your podcast is related to other shows. So that's a little reason to go check them out.
Let's just wrap this up real quick with the last little practical tips of how a podcaster can optimize their podcast for search engines.
The most important thing is naming the podcast itself. When you're doing your podcast title. Let's avoid the puns or the kind of clever names that people often use buzz cast. People know it's a combination of podcast and Buzzsprout. The company but no one's actually searching podcast unless they know about us. So we're findable, but we're definitely not optimized for search engine marketing. If you wanted to have a podcast about podcasting that was ranking, I almost would just call it a podcast about podcasting. That is going to probably show up so let's find a unique name and let's try to include the main keyword that you want to rank for If you were using this naming strategy, keyword, and then the word podcast, that's the only time I'd ever include the word podcast in the title, I would really shy away from ever using your personal name, unless you are a celebrity. So it makes sense for celebrities to do that, because people are searching their names already. It would not make sense for me to have the Alban Berg podcast because no one's searching for me on their own.
So what should podcasters do when they're content planning for their podcast episodes?
Keeping SEO and search engine marketing in mind, when you're planning your content has really two benefits. One, you have a chance for your content to rank. But the real benefit is you're making sure that you're creating the content that people actually want to hear. Think of this podcast, for example, by answering people's questions. Well, there's naturally going to be an overlap between the questions people are asking us and the questions that people are asking Google, those are going to be highly similar. few ways you can do this, if you don't have a Question Show would be keyword generator. H refs has a beautiful and really useful keyword generator, this free will link that in the description, you can put in the term. And they will tell you all sorts of associated terms that people are searching, and how often people are searching them, and also how difficult it would be to rank for them. So it's a really great tool that's free. If you ever decide to upgrade to H refs complete plan. That's really wonderful as well, second would be a Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere. This is really awesome. Because whenever you search anything on Google, it will on your page actually include some information and say what other terms are associated with this term? And how often those are searched and how difficult those are. So it's really helpful when you're kind of searching things online, they are naturally seeing like, Whoa, that's a really powerful keyword that a lot of people are searching, but maybe there isn't anything great written about it yet. I should podcast or write about it myself. And then I've got one more for you. It's called Answer the public. This is one where you just put in any phrase and it tells you all the most common questions, things actually ending in a question mark that people are asking. So if I put healthy vegetables, then it's going to come up with every question what are the healthiest vegetables? What are the benefits of healthy vegetables and it would give you a you know, a dozen different questions. And that's really useful if you're trying to content plan and come up with an episode especially if it was related to healthy vegetables. Once you've gone through and you found some ideas of what your episodes may be about, the big thing we really want to focus is on our episode titles. Now there's two ways to do episode titles one is kind of this community building maybe intrigue building vague title is show I see do this a lot is accidental tech podcast, one of the latest episodes is called I should probably get reading glasses. You know, the episode is about technology. It's not about reading glasses. But one of the hosts said that during the episode, they thought it was funny. And so they made it the title Reply All does a lot to reply all does this pod save America, they've got a episode that I pulled up recently called stoking hate in primetime. Nobody is actually searching the phrase stoking hate primetime. Instead, they think, Oh, this is a funny title. And it will be interesting for our audience to listen and then find when that phrase was used, and it builds little intrigue for them. Instead, you should be thinking about search building titles, where if people want to find specific content, and this is one of the areas that are being indexed, you definitely want to show up. So example of a podcast that does this is the Joe Rogan experience every episode is the person who's being interviewed. Their name is the first thing in that title. They're not doing kind of an interesting, vague title. It's Elon Musk in this episode. So you know, if you search Elon Musk in Spotify, well, that episode of The Joe Rogan experience would probably show up at the top. If you're doing a health podcast, we use this example earlier, but include what the episode is about in the title. If it's an episode about rheumatoid arthritis, that needs to be the main thing in the title, rheumatoid arthritis, the causes and ways to prevent it or something. You'd want to include that in the title so that people could find it. Then over on the podcast website side, we talked about including transcripts, mainly for find ability, and also doing a bit more of actually trying to write out a blog post if you want to actually rank for a high competitive key. Word, I can't tell you looking at over 110,000 active podcasts on Buzzsprout. There are 1000s and 1000s of podcasts, they're ranking for pretty moderately high keywords like 1000s of searches a month, and their podcast pages are ranking near the top for all those keywords. So it is possible for your podcast episodes to rank in Google. But there needs to be more than just the audio file included there. You know, when you're thinking about all this podcast, SEO things, these are part of your overall marketing strategy, being intentional following these best practices, but in the end, this is probably not like that pod news article said, a viable strategy for growing your podcast long term.
That's good to know. And good to keep in mind that you don't need to kill yourself over trying to do SEO for your podcasts for the podcast apps and stuff like that. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of podcasting q&a. Alvin, I always appreciate your insight.
Thank you so much for having me. I love being on the show.
I hope this episode of Podcasting Q&A has been helpful to you. If you have a question you'd like us to answer on a future episode, go to podinbox.com/buzzsprout or click the link in the show notes to leave us an audio message. And as always, Keep podcasting!