As any marketer knows, the SEO game has changed a lot – and fast.
10 years ago marketers were more focused on mobile functionality and link building, and providing valuable content and authoritative links were distinctive markers of success.
Now, it’s a lot more complicated.
We’re factoring in AI and RankBrain, considering user intent and semantic search, and competing with more content than ever before. Blog content seems to double by the minute (literally, there are 7 million blog posts published a day).
Needless to say, the challenge of setting your podcast apart from the noise can be daunting. Especially because, unlike traditional web content, optimizing a podcast may seem elusive – and that’s not a coincidence.
The audiosphere hasn't always been closely linked with SEO practices, primarily because search engines couldn't readily index audio content until recently. In mid-2019 Google began scanning audio files for relevance, marking an exciting new territory for podcasts and content marketing.
What that means is that marketers can now leverage specific tactics to optimize your podcast, both in written and audio formats, on both listening apps and search engines. This doesn’t just attract more listeners; it drives more website traffic and, ideally, conversions.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare podcast SEO and website SEO and explain why the right combination of both is essential to amplify your brand awareness and broaden your reach. Furthermore, we'll provide tangible strategies and tips to help you optimize both fronts, ensuring your podcast reaches its full potential on listening apps and search engines.
What is the difference between podcast SEO and website SEO?
First and foremost, it's important to recognize that podcast SEO and website SEO are not mutually exclusive; they each influence the other.
While traditional website SEO encompasses optimizing your website's content for search engines, podcast SEO takes a specialized approach, catering specifically to audio content. This symbiotic relationship is the linchpin for discovery and visibility.
Podcast SEO includes factors such as episode titles, show descriptions, show notes, episode descriptions, and more. Podcast directories and listening platforms rely on this information to categorize and recommend content to users; therefore, crafting compelling yet relevant titles and descriptions is instrumental in making your podcast discoverable.
You’re likely familiar with website SEO practices, but we’ll run through them briefly. They include keyword optimization, backlinking, and quality content creation, which contribute to the overall online presence of your podcast. A well-optimized podcast website or landing page serves as a hub for your show, reinforcing its authority and relevance in the eyes of search engines.
Strategies for podcast SEO
With 40% of podcast listeners searching listening apps to discover new podcasts, marketers need to put just as much effort into podcast SEO as website SEO to boost the reach of their shows.
Ranking highly on listening apps is important for the following reasons:
- 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.
- Stand out from the competition: 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 5 million others
- Organic exposure: Podcast rankings are another form of organic marketing; being highly ranked in listening apps generates organic outreach.
Now that you understand why your listening app-specific SEO is valuable, we're going to run through some top-performing strategies to help increase your podcast’s discoverability:
Update your show page
On most listening apps, your podcast will have a show page. Think of it as an in-app landing page for your show.
As you can see from our SickKids VS example, on your show page you’ll find details including:
Just like you would on your actual podcast website, you’ll want to optimize this page with episode titles and descriptions that incorporate relevant keywords that clearly communicate the essence of your podcast to both search engines and potential listeners.
You’ll also want to ensure that all of the information on your show page is as up-to-date as possible. This ensures that your listeners (and potential listeners) are all on the same page and receiving accurate information.
Optimize your titles
Choosing your show and episode titles can be a challenging task as it involves combining creativity, brevity, and SEO best practices.
When it comes to picking a name for your podcast, here are some guidelines:
- Reflect on your podcast’s purpose: Your podcast's name should communicate what the show is about. It should reflect your content's core theme and value proposition.
- Keep it short: 75% of all podcast titles are 29 characters or fewer, according to Dan Misener of Bumper (prev. at Pacific Content). Aim for simplicity and brevity to maximize recall and brand association.
- Conduct keyword research: Integrate relevant keywords into the podcast name, making it more discoverable on podcast directories and search engines. For example, CIBC’s Innovation Banking Podcast features experts on the North American innovation economy. As a listener, when I see the name of CIBC’s podcast, I can quickly decipher whether or not I’m the target audience for the show.
- Consider your target audience: While your keyword research will likely shed a lot of light on what key terms are of interest to your target audience, it’s never a bad idea to put yourself in their shoes and think about what would catch their attention and make them want to listen.
- Competitor research: Think of successful podcasts that have a similar target audience to yours. What do their titles convey? Are they straightforward? Descriptive? Funny?
Once you have the name of your show settled, you can then start to dive into specific episode titles. These will likely come a lot easier, but the points we laid out above still ring true.
Of course, the main objective of your episode title is to entice potential listeners to tune in, but you can still fill your titles with relevant keywords and phrases to help your episodes rank higher on listening apps and search engines.
Optimize your show and episode descriptions
Podcast descriptions should be concise, consisting of just 2-4 sentences. This is because your goal is to capture the attention of potential listeners and convey the theme of your show in just a few seconds.
Here are some things to keep in mind when crafting your podcast description:
- Research keywords: We suggest generating a list of keywords and phrases that directly relate to your podcast's content. These could include general topics, specific niches within your subject, and related terms that potential listeners will search for. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, Moz, SEMRush, or even Google's auto-suggestions to gather a list of potential keywords.
- Highlight the value your show will provide audiences: Your podcast description should tell your listeners why they should listen to your podcast. Speak directly to your intended audience and tell them “what’s in it for you.”
- Set expectations: People are busy and their time is valuable, so letting potential listeners know what to expect from tuning into your show is something you should lay out right off the bat. This includes what your show is about, how frequently you release a new episode, what day you post, and what format you use.
- Front-load key information: This is especially important in your episode descriptions, as you can rank individual episodes in search. Spotify recommends using the first 20 words of your description to hook new listeners and increase your ranking, so we suggest getting right into each episode’s topic and guests and avoiding repeating general information about your podcast.
Let’s take a look at Powering Travel by Expedia Group.
“Powering Travel welcomes travel industry leaders to share how they’re building, innovating, and evolving their businesses for the future. Along with his guests and regular guest co-hosts, host Brandon Ehrhardt, Senior Director of Partner Programs, explores the latest trends, reveals best-kept secrets, and tries to predict where the industry is headed next. Each episode shares actionable tips and trends backed by cutting-edge research and data to help travel industry leaders stay current and ultimately benefit the entire ecosystem."
This description Introduces the host and establishes their credibility and listener expectations, and shows what value the show offers all while featuring their target keywords, like “travel,” “travel industry,” and “travel industry leaders.”
Leverage platform-specific features, such as tags and categories, to fine-tune your podcast's visibility. These elements play a pivotal role in algorithmic recommendations and user searches within podcast directories.
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.
Ratings and reviews
Contrary to popular belief, ratings, reviews, and shares do not directly impact your position on listening apps; 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, newsletters, and other platforms can also expand your audience.
Lastly, some brands opt to feature listening app reviews on their website. This not only acts as a trust signal but can help their ranking with relevant keywords and phrases.
Because of these benefits, we suggest that you 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.
Strategies for website SEO
While podcast SEO focuses on audio-specific elements, traditional SEO tackles the broader digital landscape.
Below we’ll outline some strategies and channels that you can add to your marketing mix to help increase your podcast’s discoverability and reach outside listening apps.
Podcast website or landing page
Having a podcast website or a dedicated podcast landing page is the first (and I would argue the most important step) to increasing your podcast’s visibility and discoverability beyond listening apps.
They typically take two forms: Some brands opt to make a dedicated podcast website, while others simply carve out a dedicated podcast space on their existing website.
Whichever route you choose, they both serve as a centralized hub of podcast descriptions, host biographies, new podcast content, an archive of podcast episodes, and much more. They help you connect and engage your existing audience and get discovered by new listeners. On the listener side, they provide a central location for updates, episodes, and bonus information,
HubSpot found that 75% of searchers don’t go past the first page. To achieve favorable rankings, it’s crucial to create high-quality content for your website.
Here are some best practices to consider when building or updating your podcast website/landing page:
- Promote RSS feed subscription: You want to make tuning into your podcast as easy as possible. To do this, we recommend incorporating subscription logo links to prominent platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify on your podcast website. This is commonly known as embedded website players which many hosting platforms will provide.
- Consolidate your marketing efforts in one place: By integrating social media links, contact information, newsletter sign-up forms, updates, blogs, behind-the-scenes footage, videos, and other podcast-related content, your website offers a comprehensive experience for your audience to discover and engage with. It also allows you to visualize what platforms and what kind of content your listener base engages with most.
- SEO optimization: Leverage SEO tactics like keywords, backlinks, internal links, meta descriptions, and alt-text to enhance your podcast website's visibility and attract more visitors.
Lastly, always remember to monitor your website data and analytics on software such as Google Analytics. This way, you can access detailed traffic information, such as the number of visits, average time spent on a page, and other useful data about audience demographics.
Analyzing this information can offer insights into the browsing habits of your listeners. For instance, if a particular blog post or report receives high traffic, it may be worthwhile to explore its content in a future podcast episode.
Let’s take a look at Expedia Group’s Powering Travel landing page.
This page provides everything a new or returning listener needs to get a good sense of the show or jump into the latest episode, like show and episode descriptions, host and guest information, and six different listening options without the site feeling busy or overwhelmed.
CoHost Tip: Check out our complete guide to podcast landing pages which covers what makes a great branded podcast landing page, why you need one, and some considerations that our team has learned along the way working with global brands.
Podcast show notes
Podcast show notes provide listeners with a holistic understanding of the episode's content, making it easier for them to engage with and share the material.
Show notes are a great way to tell/show listeners the action that you want them to take next – or your written call-to-action (CTA) and, as you’ll soon see, are a great opportunity for SEO.
Show notes typically include:
- Timestamps of important subtopics or questions
- Resources referenced throughout the episode (i.e. books, blogs, videos, articles, etc.)
- People mentioned throughout the episode
- Advertisers mentioned throughout the episode
- Contact information for you and your guest(s)
Your show notes must be skimmable, easy to read, and SEO-optimized (think PowerPoint, not Power Paragraphs).
Some ways that you may optimize your show notes are by adding:
- Font variations, i.e. bolding, underlining, italicizing your text
A Transcription is the written-out format of your podcast. They increase accessibility for those who are hard of hearing, cater to people who prefer reading over listening, and offer immense opportunities for SEO including:
- Keywords: These will likely already fall into your podcast organically, but you can also add headers to rank for specific keywords and make your transcripts easier to skim.
- More web pages: The more SEO-optimized pages your site has, the more opportunities you have for ranking.
- Content repurposing: You can transform your transcripts into other content like blogs, social media posts, newsletters, and even reports.
There are plenty of transcription software that exist. Some of our favorites are:
- CoHost leverages AI-powered podcast transcriptions to create additional content to share across channels as well as streamline editing and distribution.
- Trint AI is capable of converting audio and video files into text across more than 30 languages
- Scribie is a human-verified solution for high accuracy and conclusions.
Repurpose your podcast content
As we touched on above, you can use your podcast transcriptions to easily convert your show into other types of content like:
- Social media posts
- Reports and whitepapers
94% of marketers repurpose their content and according to the State of Content Marketing report by SEMRush, updating and repurposing existing content is the second most effective content marketing tactic for driving traffic and generating leads.
Plus, repurposing your podcast content is now easier than ever with AI tools that can easily turn your transcript into digestible content in just a few clicks.
Here are a few we recommend:
By transcribing your podcast episodes or creating related written content, you increase the chances of appearing in search engine results for relevant keywords and topics, improving your SEO efforts and attracting organic traffic to your website or podcast.
Plus, by repackaging your content into different formats, you can engage with people who prefer consuming information in different ways. This lets you tap into new audiences and attract individuals who may not typically listen to podcasts.
Unlock the full SEO potential of your podcast
Recognizing the equal importance of podcast-specific SEO alongside traditional website SEO is the cornerstone to unlocking your podcast's full potential.
Website SEO lays the foundation, ensuring that your online presence is robust and optimized for search engine algorithms. On the other hand, Podcast SEO makes your show discoverable in the increasingly competitive world of listening apps.
Whether you're crafting compelling website content or optimizing your show page on Spotify, the principles of SEO remain consistent—strategic use of keywords, audience-centric content, and a commitment to user experience.
Remember that your audience exists in diverse spaces—from search engine result pages to podcast directories. Embrace the challenge of optimizing for both, ensuring that your brand, message, and content resonate seamlessly across the digital spectrum.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to optimize your podcast online and on listening apps, reach out to our team!