Discover how CoHost can improve marketing performance

book a demo

Resources / 

Podcast Marketing


If You’re Not First You’re Last: Podcast Charts and Rankings Explained

Last updated on

November 2, 2023

If You’re Not First You’re Last: Podcast Charts and Rankings Explained

Explore the inner workings of podcast charts in this insightful guide. Learn why podcast rankings matter, how to climb the charts, and boost your podcast's visibility.

Tianna Marinucci


 min read


Whether we like it or not, podcast success often hinges on more than just producing quality content. 

Podcast charts and ratings wield a significant influence, shaping your podcast's visibility and discoverability

They hold the power to expand your audience, which translates into a remarkable return on investment for your marketing efforts. Not to mention, they naturally gain popularity simply by occupying the coveted top spots on the charts. 

But the perks don't end there.

Even if you're confident in the quality of your show, new listeners browsing for their next podcast might need a nudge in the right direction. High rankings bolster your credibility, making it more likely for newcomers to choose your podcast over the countless others out there.

In this comprehensive guide to podcast rankings, we're here to demystify the intricacies of top charts and rankings. We'll talk about what podcast rankings are, shed light on their significance, and most importantly, equip you with the strategies you need to propel your podcast to a coveted top spot. 

What are podcast rankings?

Podcast rankings refer to charts or lists that showcase the popularity and performance of podcasts within a specific time and category. These rankings are determined based on various metrics and factors, including:

  • Downloads: The total number of times a podcast episode has been downloaded or streamed by listeners
  • Plays: The number of times an episode has been played, which may include repeat plays by the same listener.
  • Subscriptions: The number of listeners who have subscribed to a podcast, indicating an ongoing interest in the show.
  • Ratings: Numeric ratings given by listeners, often on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, which contribute to a podcast's overall rating.

These metrics are typically collected and analyzed by podcast hosting platforms and directories, as well as third-party podcast analytics services. Podcast rankings can vary by platform and may be specific to different categories or genres of shows.

  • For podcasters, high rankings in these charts are a sign of popularity and success, which can attract more listeners, advertisers, and opportunities for collaboration. 
  • For listeners, these rankings serve as a valuable tool for discovering popular and trending podcasts in various genres, making it easier to find new and interesting content to enjoy.

In a nutshell, these charts offer a dynamic view of the podcasting ecosystem, showcasing what's hot, what's new, and what's capturing the hearts and ears of audiences worldwide.

“The reality is that podcast charts are one of the only methods of podcast discoverability that have truly withstood the test of time. We know that for podcasters, organic marketing can reach a qualified audience but can often fail at converting impressions and engagement to downloads, and many paid advertising tactics in podcasting can fall short when it comes to bringing in a qualified audience that will be engaged in the content. A podcast ranking on Apple Charts will reach an audience that is implicitly already interested in finding a new show in a given category, making them more likely to tune in and stay engaged.”

Stacey Orth, COO, Quill Inc. and CoHost

Why do podcast rankings matter for my show?

Podcast charts aren't just a vanity metric for podcasters; they're a reflection of trends, tastes, and industry dynamics. 

Creators can glean insights into what works and what resonates with listeners, helping them refine their content and marketing strategies. For listeners, these charts supply recommendations, making it easier to discover the latest and greatest in podcasting.

Let’s dive into some more benefits for brands and creators: 

Increase discoverability: 

Securing a top spot in podcast rankings translates to increased exposure and discoverability. It's just like having your book featured as “the book of the month” in a bookstore. 

When your show is among the top-ranked, potential listeners are more likely to come across your content. This elevated visibility is invaluable for scaling your show and attracting new audiences. It provides an opportunity for curious listeners to give your podcast a try, expanding your reach.


As the barrier to entry is relatively low, the podcasting arena is becoming increasingly crowded (there are currently 5 million podcasts with 70 million episodes between them), 

Because almost anyone with a microphone and an idea can start a podcast, achieving a place in the top charts is an effective way to distinguish your show from the multitude of others. It establishes your podcast as a standout choice, giving you a competitive edge. Being in the top rankings serves as a signal of quality and relevance.

Increased credibility: 

High-ranking podcasts benefit from the passive endorsement that comes with their position in the charts. When potential listeners see your podcast among the top performers, it automatically enhances your credibility. 

People are more likely to trust and invest their time in podcasts that others have already validated. Your podcast's presence in the top charts conveys a sense of authority and trustworthiness, making it more appealing to a wider audience.

Organic exposure: 

Podcast rankings are a form of organic marketing. While you should continue your proactive marketing efforts, being highly ranked in podcast directories generates organic outreach. It's like word-of-mouth advertising in the digital age. 

Listeners who have enjoyed your podcast are more likely to recommend it to others when they see it ranked among the best. This organic growth can further expand your listener base without direct marketing expenses.

Monetization options: 

While not an absolute prerequisite for securing monetization and advertising deals, top-ranking podcasts have a distinct advantage. Advertisers and sponsors are naturally drawn to podcasts with higher popularity ratings. 

Top-ranked podcasts typically have a larger and more engaged audience, making them attractive prospects for revenue generation. Being in the top charts broadens your reach and increases your podcast's appeal to potential sponsors, creating more monetization opportunities.

Now that you get a sense of why ranking on podcast charts matters, we’re going to explain the most popular podcast charts and share some tips on how to rank highly:

Apple Podcast Charts

At its core, Apple Podcasts' Charts provide a dynamic snapshot of what's resonating with audiences across the platform. 

Here's a closer look at the key parts of Apple Podcasts' ranking system:

1. Top Shows and Top Episodes: 

These charts are the heartbeat of Apple Podcasts' rankings. They serve as a real-time reflection of what listeners are tuning into. Updated throughout the day, they encompass a range of genres, offering a comprehensive view of the podcasting universe. 

Whether you're interested in a specific category or want to explore diverse content, these charts provide an accessible roadmap to discovering captivating shows and individual episodes.

2. Top Subscriber Shows: 

It’s no secret that creators are always exploring different monetization strategies – that’s where the Top Subscriber Shows chart comes into play. It highlights podcasts that offer subscribers exclusive perks and content. 

This ranking not only celebrates content creators who go the extra mile to engage their audience but also sheds light on the growing trend of subscription-based podcasting.

3. Top Subscriber Channels: 

Podcast networks have grown in prominence, hosting multiple shows under their umbrella. Apple's Top Subscriber Channels chart highlights these top networks that offer subscribers access to a collection of shows.

Tips to rank on Apple Podcast Charts

Securing a prominent spot on Apple Podcast Charts can be a game-changer for brands, marketers, and content creators. It not only boosts visibility but also attracts a broader audience. 

But how can you crack the code to Apple's ranking algorithm? 

Here are some key tips to help you rise through the ranks:

1. Understand the algorithm

Understanding and catering to Apple's podcast algorithm is the first step towards climbing the charts. Apple's rankings are determined by a combination of factors, including:

  • Listening: The number of listeners your podcast attracts is crucial. The more people tuning in to your episodes, the higher your chances of climbing the charts.
  • Follows: When listeners follow your show, it signals to Apple that your content is engaging and worth promoting. At the end of each episode, we suggest encouraging your audience to hit that 'Follow' button.
  • Completion Rate: Apple takes note of how many listeners stick around until the end of your episodes. A high completion rate suggests that your content is engaging and of high quality.

For podcasts with subscriber-based content, the number of subscribers and their interaction with exclusive subscriber-only episodes also influences your ranking.

2. Ratings, reviews, and shares

Contrary to popular belief, ratings, reviews, and shares do not directly impact your position on Apple Podcast Charts; however, they are not entirely irrelevant either.

Positive reviews and high ratings can attract new listeners who stumble upon your podcast. Sharing your episodes on social media and other platforms can also expand your audience. 

So while these factors might not be part of the algorithm, they indirectly contribute to your podcast's success and, consequently, its ranking.

3. Stay honest

Resist the temptation to manipulate the system to boost your rankings artificially. Apple actively discourages any attempts to alter your podcast solely to climb the charts. 

Such tactics may lead to penalties or even removal from the platform. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content and engaging with your audience genuinely.

Spotify Podcast Charts

Spotify has a few different podcast charts that are all updated daily. 

Here are your need-to-knows:

1. Top Podcasts: 

This chart is a snapshot of the 200 most popular podcasts in a specific country. It provides valuable insights into which podcasts are dominating the local podcast scene. It's a go-to resource for listeners looking for high-quality content in their preferred language and region and creators who are looking to break into specific global markets.

2. Top Episodes: 

For those moments when you're looking for individual episodes that are making waves, the Top Episodes chart is your guide. It lists the 200 most popular episodes at any given time, giving you a glimpse into the hottest topics and conversations in the podcasting world.

3. Trending Podcasts: 

Staying ahead of the curve in the podcasting realm is made easier with the Trending Podcasts chart. This chart reveals the latest listening trends and showcases podcasts that are rapidly gaining popularity. It's a great place to discover new and exciting content.

4. Top Podcasts by Category: 

Sometimes, you might be interested in a specific niche or genre. Spotify's Top Podcasts by Category chart narrows down the top 50 podcasts within a particular category, making it easier for enthusiasts to find content that aligns with their interests and for creators to see how they’re stacking up against other shows in their genre.

Tips for ranking on Spotify’s Podcast Charts:

Achieving a prominent ranking on Spotify's Podcast Charts is a goal for many podcast creators, but it requires more than just producing quality content. Here are some valuable factors Spotify considers when determining podcast rankings and how to strategically approach them. 

Focus on unique listeners and follower counts:

For the Top Podcasts Chart, unique listeners and overall follower counts play a crucial role. This means you need to not only attract new listeners but also encourage them to follow your podcast on Spotify. Ask your existing audience to follow your podcast to boost your follower count.

Pay attention to recent listening changes: 

To rank well in the Top Episodes category, Spotify looks at recent listening changes, such as growth and audience size. This highlights the importance of consistently engaging your audience and producing episodes that keep listeners coming back for more.

Invest in audience growth: 

Growing your audience is paramount to ranking highly on Spotify. 

The platform's mantra is clear: "The more listeners that hear your podcast on Spotify, the better chance you have of charting." To achieve this, consider the following strategies:

  • Marketing and promotion: Devote time and resources to marketing and promoting your podcast. Utilize social media, email newsletters, collaborations with other podcasters, and even paid advertising to reach a wider audience.
  • Cross-promotion: Partner with other podcasters or influencers in your niche for cross-promotion. Promoting each other's podcasts can help expose your content to new audiences.
  • Consistent release schedule: Stick to a consistent release schedule to keep your existing audience engaged and attract new listeners who know they can rely on your content regularly.
  • Engage with your audience: Interact with your listeners through social media, emails, or listener feedback. Building a strong connection with your audience can lead to word-of-mouth recommendations and increased loyalty.
  • Share your podcast: Make sure your podcast is available on various platforms and directories to maximize its discoverability. Encourage your audience to share your episodes with their friends and networks. The more your podcast is shared, the more likely it is to gain traction and chart on Spotify.


Owned by Spotify, Chartable offers its Top 200 charts and Trending charts, which are dubbed “the podcast industry’s first global, weekly rankings.” 

What sets Chartable apart is its use of data from various listening platforms to create these charts, providing a more comprehensive view of the podcasting landscape.

Global Reach: 

Unlike some charts that focus solely on specific countries, Chartable's charts have a global reach. They encompass podcasts from around the world, allowing you to explore content from different parts of the world.

Genre Specific: 

Much like Spotify, Chartable's charts are organized by genre, helping you dive deep into specific areas of interest. Whether you're into true crime, science, or comedy, you can find the top-ranking podcasts in your favorite genre

General tips on how to get your podcast on the charts

Platform-specific advice aside, if you’re looking to get your podcast the exposure it deserves, here are some tried-and-true ways to increase your ranking across the major podcast charts. 

Produce great content: 

The foundation of a successful podcast is excellent content. Focus on creating content that is interesting, engaging, and valuable to your target audience. Ensure that your podcast offers something unique or provides a fresh perspective on a topic, define (and re-define) your niche, and create an exceptional listener experience.

Optimize metadata and assets: 

Pay attention to the details that can make your podcast stand out, for instance:

  • Podcast name and episode titles: Create catchy and descriptive titles that pique curiosity.
  • Episode notes: Provide informative and engaging descriptions of each episode.
  • Cover art: Design eye-catching cover art that reflects the content and brand of your podcast.
  • Description: Write a clear and concise podcast description that tells potential listeners what your podcast is about and what they can expect.

Remember – people have decreasing attention spans. 

Currently, the average human has an attention span of 8.25 seconds – that’s 25% less than in 2000. Because these elements are often the first things potential listeners see, they should be well-crafted, appealing, and engaging right off the bat.

Match your category: 

Make sure you categorize your podcast correctly. This ensures that your podcast appears in the most relevant charts and rankings. You want to compete against similar shows in your niche or genre.

Ask for reviews and ratings: 

While asking for user feedback may seem obvious, the vast majority of podcasts have no ratings or reviews. Of the 1.3 million podcasts Pacific Content analyzed, about 850,000 of them had no ratings.

With this information, they were able to extract some useful benchmarks:

  • 4 or more star ratings, you have more ratings than 50% of all shows
  • 11 or more star ratings, you have more ratings than 75% of all shows
  • 34 or more star ratings, you have more ratings than 90% of all shows
  • 81 or more star ratings, you have more ratings than 95% of all shows
  • 595 or more star ratings, you have more ratings than 99% of all shows

Encourage your listeners to leave positive reviews and ratings on platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can also offer incentives such as shout-outs, exclusive content, or giveaways to motivate listeners to review and rate your podcast.

Promote your podcast: 

Beyond the steps mentioned above, actively promote your podcast through various channels. 

Utilize social media, your website, email newsletters, and collaborations with other podcasters or influencers in your niche to increase your podcast's visibility. Remember to engage with your audience and take note of their preferences and feedback.

Analyze your data: 

Spotify provides podcast creators with data and analytics. Regularly review these insights to understand your audience's preferences, track growth, and identify which episodes are performing well. Use this information to fine-tune your content and marketing strategies.

Make your show the next chart-topper

In the dynamic world of podcasting, reaching the pinnacle of the charts is a formidable challenge that demands dedication, strategy, and adaptability. 

As we've explored, it takes more than just wishful thinking and a headliner guest to secure a top spot. High-quality, engaging content, a consistent release schedule, well-optimized podcast metadata, and an ongoing commitment to refining your approach are the building blocks of success.

Remember, the podcast charts reflect not just the popularity of your show but also the persistence of your efforts. Continuously analyze your performance, adapt to the ever-evolving podcast landscape, and keep experimenting until you discover the winning formula for your unique podcast.

If you’re looking for guidance on where to start, please reach out to our team.