The Fundamentals of Podcasting SEO

There is more than meets the eye when someone selects your episode from the first page of their search results. Search engine optimization, known as SEO, can significantly impact the discoverability and growth of your podcast. This article will jump right into what traditional SEO means and how the fundamentals of podcasting SEO can help you attract the right audience and growth.

SEO and PDO Explained

Search engine optimization is the practice of increasing quality and quantity of traffic to a website, blog post, or video through organic (non-paid) search engine results. Google, YouTube, Bing, and Yahoo are examples of search engines.

When it comes to podcasts, the goal is no different. It’s our goal as a podcast creator to increase organic quality and quantity traffic to our podcast using the power of traditional SEO and what I like to call PDO, podcast directory optimization. Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Deezer are examples of podcast directories.

SEO and PDO are about making it easy to convince the reader to click play and listen. Focusing on the experience you’re giving your existing and potential audience, you can follow the methods below to increase your SEO and PDO.

Having a Podcast Website

Having a website for your podcast is so essential for discoverability and SEO that to get your show listed on Google Podcasts, you have to “make sure the podcast has a dedicated homepage that follows our requirements.” Spoiler: you’ll need to inject a line of HTML somewhere in the page code which can only exist on a website, not your RSS feed. Following these requirements also gets your show listed natively in Google search results. This implementation increases the chances of capturing new listeners!

Here’s a list of items to include in your podcast website:

  • Custom show-branded domain
  • About this podcast page
  • Episodes page listing all your published episodes
  • Episodes notes
  • Contact form/page
  • Episode/show web player/s
  • Podcast app badges/buttons
  • RSS link
  • Social links

Unlike standard build-your-own websites, Simplecast Sites are fully optimized for podcasts being Google Podcasts, mobile, and responsive ready. Each Simplecast plan includes an easy-to-customize-website to help you get back to doing what you do best — sharing stories and conversations.

Episode Notes

Podcasters love to talk (obviously), and most of us are not excited about typing up episode (show) notes. One of podcasting frequently asked questions is: are show notes necessary? At the time of writing this article, search engines cannot hear audio and therefore cannot direct an audience to podcasts. Even as technology such as artificial intelligence with transcription start to help audio become more discoverable, there are other essential benefits to episode notes like accessibility, highlighting the resources mentioned, and an opportunity to promote relatable content that will keep your audience hooked.

Supportive and well-formatted episode notes will greatly impact SEO. Make sure they have the following elements:

  • Short, relevant and enticing episode titles
  • Formatted text with paragraphs, headlines, and bullet points
  • Audio web player
  • Hyperlinks
  • Image/s with alt text
  • Sharing capabilities to social channels and email
  • Podcast apps badges or buttons
“By implementing alt text and basic metadata to images, SEO results can increase by 20–25%.” — Belo Cipriani of Oleb Media

RSS

Switching over from SEO to PDO, the technical foundation and engine to your podcast is your RSS feed. The RSS is syndicated out to podcast directories, and the information or lack thereof can determine how easy (or hard) it is to find your show and episodes. Optimizing your RSS is about sticking to the basics while not overlooking the necessary fields, (technically known as tags). In the order of importance, here are the RSS tags to fill out and keep current for PDO:

Show Level

  • Show title
  • Author name
  • Show categories (exhaust all three)
  • Well designed show artwork
  • Explicit marked appropriately
  • Show description
  • Keywords/tags
  • Show owner name
  • Show owner email address
  • Copyright
  • Format type (Episodic, Episodic with Seasons or Serial)

Simplecast customers can complete these fields under ‘Show Settings’ and when creating new episodes.

Episode Level (each time you publish an episode)

  • Strong and relevant episode titles
  • Episode author/guests/contributors
  • Episode type (full, trailer or bonus)
  • Episodic artwork (optional but effective for the audience’s experience)
  • Short episode summary
  • Formatted episodes notes with hyperlinks
  • Keywords

In addition to the above, following the requirements and guidelines of podcast directories will also impact your show’s PDO. Stay away from keyword stuffing and other black hat techniques. Those types of practices will get your show removed.

Show Subscribers

How is a podcast placed on the podcasting charts (i.e. Apple Podcasts Top Episodes & Show list)? Those charts and main-stage promotions are curated by the teams behind the podcast directory. Just as search engines can’t hear audio to help with discoverability, podcast directories are in the same boat. Similar to search engines, increasing the amount of traffic via listener subscribers, plays and downloads can get the attention of the directory’s algorithm and the team behind it. Always encourage the listener to subscribe rather than the good ol’ leave a rating and review request. Ratings and reviews are excellent for social proof but play little to no role in PDO.

Quick Wins

Not all SEO and PDO efforts require a lot of your attention to detail and strategy. Here are a few quick wins to help you out:

  • Submit your show to the top directories.
  • Promote your podcast on your social channels.
  • Include the link to your podcast website in your social bios.
  • Get others to link out to your podcast and podcast website.
  • Collaborate with other podcasters by joining them on their show and yours for a fun conversation.

Let’s face it, the fundamentals of podcasting SEO and PDO are simple to implement. They require ongoing effort after the initial setup (like the website and RSS feed) to ensure search engines and podcast directories push organic traffic to your show. Expanding your reach beyond the regular podcast consumer is about making it easy to convince the reader to click play and listen. Ultimately, if you continue to genuinely share your stories, conversations, and keep the experience of your audience in mind, your podcast will do great.

Need more information on growing your show? Learn everything you need to know about transcribing your show or consider the benefits of YouTube for your podcast.