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5 tips for podcast SEO – How to increase the reach of your audio content

Podcast SEO begins even before the production stage: Alex Wunschel chats with Chris Denson at DMEXCO 2019.
Image: © Koelnmesse GmbH / Michael Berger

A special home for audio content: Google puts podcasts right at the top

Audio content of all kinds has become incredibly popular in recent years, ranging from podcasts to dramas and books. A wider selection of podcast, streaming and audio platforms is also offering online marketers and advertisers new playing fields. The trend and success of Amazon Audible and other audio services obviously haven’t gone unnoticed by Google either. Since May 2019, Google has been displaying suitable podcast episodes and other audio content at a prominent spot in its SERPs to match relevant keywords that have been entered.

Google has said that it hopes that its own podcast app, Google Podcasts, will double the amount of audio contributions consumed. In addition to the app, podcasts are now presented just like videos in a separate carousel display with a preview of three simultaneously visible episodes in the usual SERPs of the search engine. When users click on the play button, they are taken to the Google Podcasts site where they can listen to the episode directly. Below, you can see episode 44 of the DMEXCO podcast as an example:

If content makes it onto the carousel thanks to podcast SEO, users are taken to the Google Podcasts site at the click of a button.
Image: Screenshot via google.com

If you want to reach a wider target audience with your audio content for the purposes of online marketing, it is worth exploring the topic of podcast SEO. Here, we share five simple tips on search engine optimization to make your audio content heard.

Podcast SEO tip #1: It won’t work without the written word

Even if your main focus is audio content and although Google is constantly getting better at transcribing, the on-page text continues to be one of the most important criteria for search engines when it comes to detecting, understanding and appropriately ranking content on a website. This also applies when the website is a PWA (progressive web app).

Regardless of the type of content you offer on your website, you need textual content for ranking purposes. That means you have to provide a description on the landing page of the podcast that explains exactly what the listener can expect and what user needs will be fulfilled by the audio offering. This lets Googlebot identify the users and search queries relevant to your content.

For each individual podcast episode, create a dedicated landing page to introduce it. However, it is not necessary to transcribe the entire podcast content word for word. Before you record a podcast, you should have already defined a clear topic anyway, researched it thoroughly, and created a script. You can then use these preparations to write a page text.

Podcast SEO tip #2: Follow the basics of SEO – keywords and structure

When writing the text, focus on the actual topic of the discussion, because it will contain the important keywords. When planning your podcast, you should already be researching keywords in order to identify topics, questions, sub-aspects and related issues that are relevant to the target audience. Don’t just address these topics and questions in the podcast itself, but mention them in the description text as well.

You should also structure your description text using the following elements:

  • For stucturing your description, use headings starting with h2 since h1 is reserved for the main heading, i.e. the title of the page
  • Text-structuring elements such as paragraphs, bullet points, lists, and highlighted text elements
  • Internal links to your other landing pages with additional podcast episodes with similar content

Tip: Include timestamps in your podcast and add a corresponding table of contents to your landing page in order to incorporate relevant SEO questions and keywords and improve the user experience at the same time.

Research a relevant, unique focus keyword, and provide a title and meta description for the snippet of every page as well as a title and alt tags for images. Where appropriate, you should not only insert the keyword and the word “podcast” or related terms in several places in the text, but also in the headings, title, and image title. Moreover, incorporating SEO questions is also an effective measure for voice search optimization. Also link your research sources on every landing page. This will let you build up a substantial backlink profile over time.

Podcast SEO tip #3: Enhance the podcast with structured data

Structured data helps Google obtain information about the meaning of your page. In the standardized format of this data, you can provide information about the page and classify content. Add to this data wherever possible. What you enter in the structured data should also be displayed on your webpage. In the case of a podcast, providing the following details are recommended, among others:

  • Information about the people featured in the podcast
  • Episode number and season number
  • Series name
  • Mention of the production company
  • Episode duration
  • File format
  • URL
  • Content preview
  • Credits for any music used

If you offer audio books instead of a podcast, you need to enter structured data suitable for books.

Podcast SEO tip #4: Make your podcast mobile friendly

Users mainly listen to podcasts on their mobile devices when they’re out and about, as opposed to on desktop PCs. The corresponding landing page for each podcast episode should therefore be mobile friendly. Avoid overloading the pages with data-intensive content such as images or additional video content, because this would slow down the page load time considerably, leading to an increase in bounce rates and quickly impairing your rankings in the long term. Remember: page load time is a ranking criterion!

Podcast SEO tip #5: Submit your podcast to Google Podcasts

If you want your podcast to be found easily through Google’s services, you should use Google Podcasts. To offer a podcast via Google, we advise following the steps below:

  • Create an RSS feed according to the guidelines,
  • create a specific homepage that links to the RSS feed and where you can provide users with additional information about the podcast, and
  • have the podcast indexed; for this purpose, Google requires access to the RSS feed and the homepage.

If you request Google to crawl your site, your new feed should be listed on Google within a week.

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