Audio SEO: The Definitive Guide to Ranking Your Podcast for Free
Audio SEO is the term that refers to the process of optimizing your podcast for search engines. It’s a relatively new concept, but it’s growing at an incredible rate. A few years ago, Google started using podcasts in their search results and made them eligible to rank on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP).
Now, in 2022, the number of podcast listeners has reached 485 million worldwide. That’s a lot of potential customers for you!
In this article, I will discuss what audio SEO is and explain the types of podcast carousels that Google uses. I will also share some of the best audio SEO strategies that you can use to promote your audio assets to grab more listeners.
What is Audio SEO?
If you're a content creator, you know that ranking well in search results is vital. That's why I want to share my newfound knowledge of "audio SEO"—the practice of optimizing your podcast for the search engine results page (SERP).
Why is audio SEO important? Well, let's start with the fact that Google's goal is to increase revenue by adding podcast search as another product. So it started displaying podcasts along with text, image and video search results. Worldwide, there are around 2 million podcasts and 48 million episodes—and that number is growing every day!
78% of people are familiar with the concept of the podcast; 24% of people listen to podcasts weekly. 45% of podcast listeners have a monthly income over $75K—so if you're looking for high-earning prospects, this is your audience! And Apple hosts over 1.96 million podcasts on iTunes—that's 1 out of every 4 shows on iTunes!
The digital audio advertising segment is expected to reach $5.8 million USD in 2022—which means there's lots of opportunity in this space!
What is a Podcast Carousel?
When you enter search queries into Google that trigger audio results, then the search engine displays a list of relevant podcasts in the form of a carousel known, in this case, as a podcast carousel.
Types of Podcast Carousel
There are three different types of podcast carousels:
First-page podcast carousel,
Position zero podcast carousel, and
Related search podcast carousel.
First-page podcast carousel
This is the most common type of carousel, and it's also the easiest to get into. The first-page podcast carousel will show up for search terms about certain podcasts. It'll have a list of episodes that are relevant to those terms, and you can see an example here.
Position zero podcast carousel
Featured Snippet is the second type of featured snippet, which appears before all results in Google's search results. You need to be able to answer questions quickly and clearly in order for this snippet to work well for you, so if your answers are long or complicated (like if they're full of links), then you're probably better off with a regular snippet. An example query is "best marketing podcasts."
Related search podcast carousel
The third type of featured snippet is at the bottom of the SERP page with other related podcasts on Google's suggested pages. You'll want to make sure that your content is relevant to what people are searching for when they come up with this type of query so that people can find more podcasts they like while they're looking through these results!
Types of Podcast Search Queries for Audio SEO
There are three main types of podcast search queries: navigational, informational, and question-based.
Navigational Podcast Queries
These are the queries that people use to find their way to your podcast. They typically use words like “podcast” or “audiobook” and can be found using Google Keyword Planner or other keyword tools.
Informational Podcast Queries
These are the queries that people use to find information about a particular topic related to your podcast (e.g., “how to build a website”). These are not necessarily unique and often occur more than once. For example, someone may search for “how to build a website” and then come back later and search for “how to build a WordPress website” or “how to build an iPhone app.” These searches will all be treated as one query by Google, so even though there were two separate searches made by the same person, they will not affect each other's rankings in any way.
Question-based Podcast Queries
These are the queries that people use when they want an answer to something specific (e.g., “how long does it take for eggplant seeds to sprout")
Is Audio SEO the Same as Traditional SEO?
No. And yes.
The short answer is that audio SEO is unique to podcasts and it relies heavily on RSS feed, podcast directories, transcriptions, and more. The long answer is that it's all about how you manage your content to ensure that you're reaching your target audience in the most effective way possible (and with the least amount of effort).
Traditional SEO, meanwhile, focuses on websites and landing pages—and those are two things that don't exist in podcasting! Instead of worrying about keywords, backlinks, meta descriptions, and other elements of traditional website optimization, audio SEO focuses on finding ways to optimize your content so that it can be found by people who are searching for it.
Why is Audio SEO important?
Audio content is growing much faster than websites did in the early 2000s: The number of podcast episodes rose by 60% from ~30m to ~48m in the last year alone.
This means that if you're not investing in audio SEO, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
Audio SEO became important right after the announcement Google made at its May 2019 Google I/O Conference: “In the coming months, we'll start surfacing podcasts in search results based on the content of the podcast and let users save episodes for listening later.” This means that if you're not investing in audio SEO, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity.
People are launching about 125 new podcasts every hour! Therefore, it makes sense to start creating podcasts and/or investing in audio SEO to gain the upper hand in the search results. The sooner you begin, the easier it will be for you to reach the top.
Audio SEO Algorithm: How Google Ranks Podcasts
When it comes to audio search, Google's algorithm is a bit of a mystery. But we can make some educated guesses about how they might rank podcasts. Here are some factors we think play into the ranking:
First, popularity matters. If a podcast is popular and has been downloaded or streamed thousands of times, that means it's getting traction and is getting noticed by listeners. It also means there are more people talking about it which will help it rank higher in search results.
Second, niche matters! Podcasts that are very specific to a topic will do better than podcasts with wide-ranging topics because those targeted audiences will be easier for Google to identify than an audience who searches for something broad like "podcast" or "audio".
Thirdly, audio quality matters! A well-produced podcast will have more polish and professionalism than one that wasn't produced as well so Google might give more weight to those types of podcasts over others.
Lastly - duration! How long your podcast is ranked against others is another factor that could affect its search ranking
Can Google Transcribe Your Podcast Content?
Yes, Google can transcribe your podcast content, but it is recommended that you transcribe your own podcast to help the bots better understand your episode. Why? Because Google won’t be able to transcribe your podcast content in the same way that you can. Therefore, you should always publish a transcript.
The transcript will make it easier for Google’s bot to understand what is being said in the audio file because it contains more information about each word than just a sound wave. The transcript also gives you a chance to add keywords that might not have been spoken but are important for SEO purposes (such as names of people or companies mentioned in the episode).
7 Ways to Optimize Your Podcasts to show up in Organic Search
Define your niche
The first step to optimizing your podcast is to define the niche that you want to target. If you're just starting out, this will be pretty broad—just think of a few broad categories that your podcast might fit into and start there. Once you've got a few episodes under your belt, start thinking about how you can narrow it down even further. You might find that some of your listeners are coming from certain cities or countries, for example, and those listeners may have specific interests that aren't covered well in other podcasts (or even on your own). These are also good indicators of what topics you should focus on as well.
Take notes on what types of questions people ask about each episode—this will help you understand what topics are most popular within each niche.
Podcasting is a great way to connect with your audience, and it's really not as hard as you might think.
One of the most important things to remember when preparing a podcast is that you need to use language that your audience can understand. If you're going to be talking about something that's highly technical or esoteric, then it's probably not the best idea for a podcast.
You should also make sure that the ideas you choose for your podcast are ones that resonate with your audience—the topics shouldn't feel forced or like they were just thrown in there because they sound good. They need to feel natural and genuine in order for listeners to get into them.
Finally, it's crucial that you edit your podcast script so that it sounds natural and conversational. A lot of people think they can just record themselves talking into a mic and be done with it; but if you want people to actually listen all the way through an episode, then editing is necessary!
Good equipment and software will help ensure that your podcast comes out sounding great too: microphones, mixers, recording software, etc…
Create a Podcast Trailer
The podcast trailer is a teaser for the podcast. Like a movie trailer, it should build excitement for the podcast and give listeners an idea of what they can expect to hear.
The podcast trailer should include the USP of the podcast. In other words, what is special about it? What makes it different from all other podcasts out there?
Include some music in your podcast trailer that builds excitement. Use a background track that matches the mood you want to create and will make people want to listen!
The length of your podcast trailer should be 30 to 40 seconds long—the shorter, the better!
Create a Website for Your Podcast
Every podcast should have a website.
If you're starting a podcast, you may be thinking "why do I need a website?" Well, we've got good news: you need one!
We've talked about the importance of SEO for podcasts before, but we wanted to take some time to talk about why you should make sure that your podcast has its own website.
First off, every podcast should have its own website because it's an easy way for people to find your show and check out new episodes. It also gives people another way to interact with your show—they can join your mailing list or follow you on social media from within the site.
Secondly, having a website makes it easier for people who want to share your show with other people—they can just send them the link rather than having to remember all of the information about when and where it airs every week.
Thirdly, having a website helps with brand recognition. Having branded keywords in the domain name and in all of the content on your site will help with search engine rankings and make it easier for potential listeners and advertisers to find you online.
Landing Page and Transcripts
Creating a landing page for each podcast episode is a great way to increase your visibility on Google.
We recommend creating a landing page for every new episode so that you can build up more content. This gives you more chances of showing up when someone searches for the specific topic or keywords of your episode.
Each episode should have its own landing page with relevant keywords and a transcript with timestamps to help Google understand what you're talking about in that specific episode.
Every podcast hosting platform will have an option to add transcripts to your episodes.
Optimize Podcast Metadata and RSS Feed
In this section, we'll go over how to optimize your podcast metadata and RSS feed.
First, you'll need to create a unique title, description, and compelling headline for each episode.
You can do this by using the show notes from your first episode as a template. Save these as a Word document or as an excel spreadsheet, so that you can easily copy and paste them into your new episodes. Then just tweak them to make sure that they're unique for each episode.
Second, you don't want to over-optimize your titles or descriptions in order to rank higher in search results. Google has been penalizing sites that use keywords and keyword stuffing for years—so don't put yourself at risk! Stick with just one or two keywords per description.
Thirdly… don't add episode numbers in the title tag! All it does is confuse potential listeners who might want to listen to an older episode but don't know what number it was released under (they might not even know if they're looking at the right show).
Finally… optimize your RSS feed with required tags like <item>, <link>, <title>, <googleplay:owner>, <googleplay:image>,<enclosure>.
Get listed on all Platforms
You've done it! You've made a podcast and you're ready to share your work with the world. But before you do, there's one thing you need to do: make sure your podcast is listed on all of the major podcast platforms.
First, let's talk about Apple Podcasts. If you use this platform, your podcast will automatically appear in the iTunes library and can be found by searching for keywords like "podcast" or "audio" in the iTunes store. It's easy to get started: just create an account and submit your podcast.
Second, let's talk about Google Podcasts. This platform works similarly to Apple Podcasts—you can submit your podcast here as well and have it appear in the Google Play library.
Third, let's talk about Spotify. This platform also allows you to upload your podcasts through their website and have them appear in their library, as well as allow listeners access through their app or website interface.
Fourth, let's talk about Audible! If you use this platform for audiobooks or podcasts (or both), then this is another great place for your work to be seen by readers who prefer listening over reading text-based media like books and magazines.
SoundCloud is a great way to share audio content with the world. You can create playlists and share them with anyone who wants to listen. It's also a great way to get your podcast heard by other podcasters!
If you're more into video than sound, YouTube is another great place to share your content. Just like SoundCloud and Audible, this site allows you to create playlists for different topics or episodes of your podcast so people can easily find what they're looking for or binge-listen if they want!
Podchaser is an online community where people review podcasts—both new and old ones—and leave comments about their favorite parts so others can learn from them as well! It's also a great place.
So, that's it! We've covered all aspects of podcast and audio SEO in this post.
If you make podcasts and are how you can take advantage of this new opportunity. The answer is simple: do what you do best and let us help with the rest.
We know how to optimize podcasts for search engines, so if you need help with anything from keyword research to content creation and promotion, we've got you covered.