How can I get featured in the iTunes store?
The holy grail as a Podcaster — your name in that big banner within easy clickable reach! People always ask me how the iTunes store works and how they can nail it. Here’s how each of the most requested store features work and some tips to help you get to the top of the pile.
1. iTunes Search
When iTunes searches, it organises results by:
- The title first;
- The author second; and then
- Sorted by the total number of subscribers of ALL time.
What is in your description is not searched by the iTunes store. Loading your Podcast with keywords in this description does nothing to make your Podcast appear higher in search results.
PRO TIP: insert your most important keywords in the show title itself. Consider listing the show name, putting a dash, and then a short (3–4 keywords) description in the title.
For example: if my Podcast was about cats, dogs and rabbits — I would call my show “Matt’s Podcast — The ultimate guide to cats, dogs and rabbits”.
2. The Top Featured Banner
Once someone asked on a Podcasting forum that I’m quite fond of,
“How can I give iTunes the artwork for featured banners?”
Unfortunately it’s very much a case of “don’t call us we’ll call you”. The iTunes Store Editor is the person doing this job. They make the system watertight so no-one can influence it unduly and it’s not something you can pay for either.
Apple usually makes these banners themselves, using the artwork supplied for your show. But if you ever get emailed asking for the dimensions, then huzzah! You’ve made it!
3. New and Noteworthy
These rules apply to featuring in all the other sections and once again are up to the discretion of the iTunes Store Editor.
This is a great spot for your show to appear.
There is a myth circulating around the internet that you have only a 8 week window to get featured in this section.
Apple’s god-like editorial control adheres to no observable limits. It’s true most do fall within this window but it’s definitely not a hard and fast rule. However, we’ve had a lot of shows we’ve hosted appear here. Here’s what we’ve noticed:
- A show starting from 0 downloads that was featured here earned 15,000 listens a month (partly from the publicity of being featured itself). Episode downloads do appear to be a part of the formula.
- Good looking artwork is a must — take a look at other featured shows for inspiration. Make sure it scales well, from small icons to large banners.
- Quality Production is a must — don’t be in a large tiled room with one iPhone in the middle of the table. High quality audio recordings with a nicely produced intro is recommended.
- Not break any of iTunes listing rules. This includes — accurate show and episode descriptions, using any MLB or sports teams logos, using pictures of Apple products, valid authors and proper language, category, and explicit tagging.
- Launch with more than one episode! If 1000 people try your show, if there’s 3 episodes and they listen on — you could double or even triple your launch numbers.
- Regular episodes also appear to increase your chance of being featured here.
4. Top Podcasts
Entering the Top Charts are based purely on NEW subscribers. The chart is calculated by observing the number of subscribers from the past week, with weighted averages for the last 24/48/72 hours.
In our experience, 5000 subscribers in 48 hours should get you to number 1.
This is where marketing comes into it. Where will your 5,000 subscribers come from? Friends and families, leveraging an existing audience on social media and of course the best word of mouth generator — quality content. Make something good and ask your listeners to subscribe so that you do climb the charts.
Pro Tip: How to get the word out there
Getting the most activity on your Podcast in the shortest time possible definitely helps. The more subscribers, reviews, released episodes and downloads you get in the first few weeks, the better your chances of your Podcast earning Apple’s editorial attention.
In this way social media is your best friend. Sharing an entire 30–60 minute Podcast on your Facebook wall isn’t going to land you subscribers. People will scroll past a long audio clip in Twitter. However a post with a small 1–2 minute audio grab, with a link to your Podcast asking for subscriptions.
1. Use a tool like Omny Studio to create a 1–2 minute grab of your Podcast.
2. Create a Facebook Post with the share link of this audio.
Omny Studio will automatically build an inline player for Social Media so people don’t need to stop browsing Facebook/Twitter for the audio.
TIP 1: Use bitl.y (or other link shorteners) to track the success of posts across different social media. You can even customize the links. For example: http://bit.ly/itunestips redirects to this blog post.
TIP 2: Add ?ls=1 to the end of your iTunes Podcast link to create a link to your Podcast that will automatically open the iTunes store if available on the device. This is great for instant subscribing!