How to use SEO to Grow Your Podcast in 2020
Updated August 24, 2020 | Jon Street
If you’re a podcaster (or considering becoming one), the thought of gaining listeners has to cross your mind in some way. Let’s face it, podcasting is more popular now than ever before, but it’s popular because real people are listening in. It’s not hypothetical or theoretical. Real people are giving up their time to tune in to podcasts & are consuming the content at increasing rates. These are people who have ears that hear your message & hopefully, a mind to affirm what you’re saying. The question becomes, how do you tap into this?
How do you gain traction for your podcast with this in mind? Well, we have offered lots of thoughts over the previous weeks on some ways to do this. A few more recent entries included utilizing Show Notes or Transcriptions for your podcast as a way to add value to the listener at a new level. We also discussed the real value of engaging with your audience through effective content, catchy intro/outro music as well as appealing cover art. And those things are real, tangible ways of capturing your listeners & having them buy into the message you’re offering. But the reality is, there has to be more that’s done. There has to be an effective plan of attack on how to get your face (ok, your voice) in front of the world.
This is where promoting your podcast comes into play. And while we’ve already touched on some great, basic principles for marketing your podcast, I want to focus on the pseudo-Mecca of marketing opportunities. What is that you may ask? Podcast SEO.
SEO has become so popular as of late that everyone. No. Literally. Everyone. Is trying to figure out this animal that is supposed to be the answer on how to get real results for marketing your brand, company or podcast with the greatest success. But the questions in many people’s minds though are “What is it?”, “Why does it matter?” & “How do I do it?”. Well if you stick with me for our next few entries, I will begin to unpack these for you with an aim of giving you a little bit of guidance on how to understand Podcast SEO more effectively & to do it well while gaining the traction for your podcast that you are looking for.
Honestly, this is the million dollar question. As I’ve referenced before, in the magical world of technology, everything you put out into the tech world mystically finds its way onto Google & other such search-enginery. You don’t have to “register” your company, your blog or your podcast with Google to have it be found in a search result. As strange as that may seem to you, the real selling point here is that by targeting SEO keywords with your podcast, you are helping yourself be found on the interwebs. The more relevant the information you offer, the more it will result in higher numbers of people having the opportunity to stumble across your podcast when looking up those target words in a search engine.
And while that’s all well & good, that doesn’t answer the questions of what it is. If you’re new to the SEO game, SEO simply stands for Search Engine Optimization. Plainly put, it is the methodology of getting your content (or your brand) to be recognized by a search engine (think Google) ahead of the next guy. If you’re feeling rusty (or…downright lost), some simple research can help you cover the basics & get things going. But in real life it looks like this. Have you ever Googled something & wondered “Why’d that link pop up first?”…that’s SEO. SEO is what drives the rankings of content when people look for something on the worldwide web. As an SEO expert has said:
“Despite the acronym, SEO is as much about people as it is about search engines themselves. It’s about understanding what people are searching for online, the answers they are seeking, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume. Leveraging this data will allow you to provide high-quality content that your visitors will truly value.”
So to really understand SEO for podcasts correctly, we have to be thinking about what the people punching the keys are really after. The reality is that the better equipped you are in improved SEO, the greater the chances & higher the rate your content will be seen, clicked & reviewed. And that is what everyone is looking for.
SEO is so important that entire marketing agencies are created to help their clients focus on SEO generation improvement. It is so critical to business success in our modern day, that no viable company can be sustainable without putting a lot of time & effort into refining it. And the truth is, it’s not always who has the best content, but who has the most relevant SEO optimization that gains the greatest traction. For example, one way SEO is rated is calculated off of the length of time someone stays on your website or your link. The longer the stay, the more engaging the material (so it’s believed), the more “valuable” it is & the higher it eventually rates.
Now I hear what you’re saying. “I’m not a small business, I’m a podcaster”. “I’m not looking for better marketing strategies, I’m looking for listeners”. “I’m not trying to rank in Google, I’m trying to rank in iTunes”.Well, while that may be true (though many in the business sector are now seeing the profitability of podcasting) & this idea may seem somewhat disconnected to the overall idea of podcasting, it does begin to set up the next question then, which is why it even matters.
Knowing the basics is only the part of the battle. Understanding what SEO is & how it functions is great, but there has to be more to connect the dots for you as a podcaster so you see it as a tool to be used, not an idea to hypothesize about. You have to understand why it matters in order to see the real value in focusing on it for your podcast. I think the connection is fairly straightforward though.
When we understand that it is your content’s exposure & relevance to the world, the reason it matters is because when it’s neglected or ignored, you’re leaving your potential listeners out to dry without an effective way of finding you. One way of putting it is that if someone is interested in the topic or content of your podcast & they search for it on a search engine & you aren’t speaking their language through SEO optimization, you’ll never be found, or at least not before a good game of hide & seek. In reality, not only will your audience not likely find you, but plainly put, your competitor will be the one who finds them.
SEO matters because getting your name & your message out to the world matters. If you don’t think that matters then you will have to be satisfied with minimal results, minimal listens & sending out a few personal social media invites to your friends asking them to listen to your latest audible rant. But I think you want more than that. I think you’re looking for real results. I think you’re wanting your message to be heard by as many as will listen & to do that, you have to focus on what really matters. And to do that well, you have to pay attention to what your proposed audience will be looking for & incorporate that into your SEO optimization gameplan.
When we talk about implementing SEO, this is where the dirty work comes in. Discovering what it is & why it matters isn’t the end of the journey. You have to identify some practical ways of implementing it in order to achieve the goal you’re looking for. Honestly, the biggest challenge is knowing where to begin. And the reality is it can be somewhat overwhelming, which is why this article is being offered! Well, the reality is developing a game plan for SEO takes some time & attention. Kind of like love.
When you find that special person, you have to invest the appropriate amount of time & attention needed to reap the desired outcome of a strong relationship. In many ways building your SEO is no different. As we mentioned before, when we talk about SEO presence, we are talking about influencing the search engines with your content so that your material is populated when the keywords are searched for. But influence takes time. It takes love. And content. Lots & lots of content.
To build your SEO presence you have to show the search engines you are an authority on your topic of choice. By using keywords in your content that appeal to the group you are trying to reach, you influence the search engines to see you as a voice on that topic. So, the more content you push out on those topics, the greater your chances of influencing the search engines to recognize that you are a worthwhile voice on the matter. And while this is a rather simplistic view, this is essentially what you are doing in your strategy. But it’s not that cut & dry. The challenge is not just developing the initial strategy, but being willing to change & adapt as the marketing of SEO changes & adapts.
Just like anything, there is change & adaptation that takes place over time. Search is no different. When the internet stormed onto the scene it was very different than it is today. And what it has matured into today is considerably different than it will be 10 years from now. Though we don’t know how exactly there will be changes, we realize we have will have to be flexible. In the same way, our approach to SEO & marketing has to be flexible as well. But that still requires that we draw up a plan of attack for today as a starting point. So where do we go for that? Well for a basic, yet thorough treatment of an initial gameplan, don’t be afraid to look to the experts. This is a growing area of focus in all of business & there are tremendous resources available. But some initial, practical points of application are needed. With that in mind, I offer the following.
To get the ball rolling on SEO you have to watch your mouth. Or at least your keyboard. You have to remember that everything is being driven by your word usage. The word you use are being translated into the content being published to be recognized in search. That means that you have to be intentional about your word usage.
Now this isn’t meant to be an overwhelming task that makes you shutter & roll up in a ball fearing you might not get it right. This is something you can use to your advantage. Even something as simple as the title, description & content of your podcast episode is impacting your SEO presence positively or negatively. Meaning? Well, meaning that rather than just slapping a title on your episode or punching out a description to satisfy your hosting platforms empty text box, you have the opportunity to appeal to your audience & boost your presence by being intentional with your content.
Putting a little thought & time into the details may make a greater impact in your SEO results. When you develop the idea for your episodes content you should also be thinking on how to best develop the word packaging that it will go with. Find ways to creatively & intentionally name your episodes & use keywords to help drive the impact. The more you watch the words & format used through giving a little creative thought into it, the more impact you will have in your SEO presence.
Another great way to gain SEO traction is to have a landing pad for your podcast episodes. What I mean is simply this. If you are a podcaster who is utilizing show notes or transcriptions to leverage your credibility & increase your exposure, many experts highly recommend posting your show notes & written text to a blog/site. Why is this? Well, while it might seem unnecessary or fruitless, this will give the content a place to live & be accessible other than the just hosting platform or directories.
Again, the name of the game is influence. While the content you submit to the hosting platform & therefore the directories through your RSS feed will find their way onto the web, having a dedicated site that is accessible with the written content provides a more suitable (not to mention reader-friendly) content of getting your content out for others to read. This means is more effectively accessible by search as well. The more ways you have the content available to your audience (and on something that has your personal branding & your content just a click away) the better. Developing a landing page or website for your podcast will give the capabilities for search to reach it much more easily & impactfully. Need help making a website for your podcast? Call the Resonate team today & see how simple it is.
For this point I’m asking you to harken back to the elementary school days when the spokesperson (for whatever organization cares enough about it to send some poor sap to a school to talk to disinterested kids) came to talk about recycling. Remember the message? Take your trash, give it new life & save the world. Or at least, that was the essence of it. Well in some ways the true is the same for your podcast content. There is real value in reusing your content to build SEO presence. While this might seem strange, silly or perhaps downright pointless, you have to adapt your thinking. While many think just regurgitating your content shows you to be a one-trick pony, it practically shows you to be a leader who is an expert on your topic of SEO word choice.
When you saturate the web with content rich in the same, consistent words, you are showing yourself to be someone who produces a lot of content on the topic, therefore a voice that need be heard. When you record an episode, don’t stop there. Turn it into show notes or transcription. Turn those who notes into a blog post and social media blasts. Link those things to your website or landing page. Follow up with email campaigns. Do whatever you can to repurpose your content as many ways as you can. But not only just at once, but repurpose it through linking to previously written content on a similar topic. See what I did there? Now to be fair it’s not just as simple as re-posting or republishing old content. There is a right way to do it to be most impactful. But the reality is that you can continue to be found by keyword & get discovered by using your old content in a fresh, inviting way.
The last tip I will offer is to utilize video to help boost your SEO. Now I can hear you laughing at me. I get it. You’re a podcaster. You aren’t an actor. You didn’t sign up to be on camera. Maybe you have a face for radio (or at least podcasting). Well just bear with me. Utilizing video is an extremely powerful method of helping to skyrocket your results with SEO. In fact, this is something that SEO experts are touting higher than just about anything else. When you utilize video in your marketing strategies, some say your content is valued up to 53x higher than just written content alone. That’s absolutely insane.
While this might seem strange, especially as I’m positioning this to you as a podcaster, there are effective ways to do this that won’t break the bank & that won’t require you to get in front of the camera. There are simple, unique ways to use video to appeal to your audience & boost your SEO results without having to altar the way you are recording your content. For example, turn your podcast episode into a YouTube video, or perhaps utilize something like an Audiobite to broadcast your audio medium into a video platform. If you aren’t sure what this requires, call our team. While it might mean you need to become a little more creative, the reality is that the dividends may be extremely worthwhile & worthy of your additional efforts.
Now there is much more that could be said. And the intention, as is usually the case with our articles, is not to be thorough, but merely to offer some food for thought & get the wheels turning. But there is enough here to get you started & to get a plan together to gain some real traction with your SEO. By implementing these simple steps you can start to see real results & gain real traction for your podcast, After all, that’s what you’re after isn’t it?
As the Operations Manager at Resonate Recordings, Jon leads the production team and ensures that all our podcasters have everything needed to release consistent high-quality episodes. Jon and his family are from West Palm Beach, Florida and now live in Simpsonville, KY.