If you’re not a podcaster, you probably won’t want to read this. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, it’s probably a good idea! We wanted to bring you, the podcaster, and article we originally found that we believe clearly spelled out how to increase your podcast rankings in iTunes. While it’s not a full-proof system, it certainly can help.
This originally appeared on METHODSHOP.COM and we hope you find it useful. We editorialized the content based on the great data they reported on. Again, if you’d like, you can read their article directly here!
Nothing is worse than spending a lot of hard work and time making a podcast that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Apple doesn’t disclose exactly how they calculate their podcast rankings for iTunes. However we can make some educated guesses based on multiple podcasters that have experimented and shared their success stories online. The following tips will help boost your podcast SEO by helping audiences find your podcast content on iTunes, increase your podcast ranking and create additional opportunities for discovery, downloads and subscriptions.
SEO Means Something In The World Of Podcasting Too
How many times have you tried searching for your podcast only to see it flounder far back in the search rankings? You want your podcast to become very popular despite your niche content, especially since you worked so hard at getting your content out there for the world to hear.
Have you heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? That’s the practice of optimization a web page or website so Google notices it and moves it closer to the front page of search results based on various factors.
You can do the same thing for the podcast on iTunes. Factor in these 13 tips to grow your podcasts’ audience, boost your rankings, and increase the opportunities for more downloads and subscriptions.
1. Include Well-Placed Keywords
Research the most important keywords regarding your podcast. The iTunes service lets you input 12 keywords per episode, so it’s vital that you choose the right ones. Duplicate these keywords in the description of the podcast. Use keyword tools, such as Google Adsense, UberSuggest and Keywordtool.io, to find the best possible keywords to get the most traffic. Even better, research these keywords beforehand as you come up with topics for your podcasts.
The description and your keywords you select are part of metadata, which is one way search engines identify good websites for content. Don’t worry about long-tail keywords that are all the rage on Google algorithms right now. Podcasts on iTunes only use short keywords.
For example, if your content revolves around the best fruits and vegetables to grow in your fall garden (and how to grow them), include any relevant vegetable names in the keywords. If you spend four minutes each on five subjects, try including squash, gourds, pumpkins, apples and wheat in terms of keywords.
2. Jazz up the Artwork
Great-looking artwork can make your podcast’s album stand out from the crowd. Going back to the fall garden example, an image or illustration with all of the crops, or maybe a fall harvest image, would be appropriate.
The key here is that good artwork leads to better clicks because of the visual appeal. More clicks increases your search ranking on iTunes. Consider stock images, or hire a graphic artist/graphic designer, to create unique artwork for each podcast. You might search Fiverr for any budding artists who might do some freelance work for you for $5 per job.
3. Make Titles Short and Sweet
Typically, just the first four or five words of the title appear in podcast previews and search results. Keep your titles short and sweet while creating descriptive words that make the podcast stand out.
Avoid putting episode numbers in the title. Those types of results are useless because no one searches for podcasts by episode numbers. People concerned with the episode numbers already have access to your podcasts because they keep track of when you release content.
4. Describe Each Episode
Avoid using generic episode descriptions for each new episode. Write a new description for each podcast you upload. Build your description around your chosen keywords, and include those keywords in the description. Great descriptions don’t have to be filled with long words or technical jargon, they just have to let potential listeners know the topic of your podcast while capturing the attention of search engines.
5. Talk About One Main Topic per Show
Don’t jam too many topics into one podcast. Each episode should have a single theme. This makes generating keywords and descriptions easier. If you want to discuss the latest Marvel superhero comic release for Deadpool, your podcast should talk about that one niche topic and nothing else. Rather than making a 60-minute show on the Marvel comics universe, break it into three 20-minute segments to create a niche. You can record 60 minutes at a time, but edit it into three episodes. Keep in mind the average commute in America is 25 minutes, so most people may only have time to listen to something as long as 25 minutes on the way to or from work.
Shorter, targeted episodes do several things.
- Lets you add more keywords and metadata.
- Makes each podcast more listener-friendly.
- Creates more episodes for your podcast, which increases searchability.
- Helps you understand the types of content your audience wants.
6. Promote Subscriptions
On YouTube videos, you hear people say “be sure to like, comment, share and subscribe.” The same is true for podcasts. The best podcasters say somewhere in the recording to subscribe to my podcasts. The reason is that iTunes values subscribers more than individual downloads.
Tout your podcasts by reminding your audience to subscribe, posting about your podcasts on social media, and then blogging about your series. Blogs can include relevant summaries of each show, but don’t place the entire show in text form because then people won’t listen in. Include links to each show in the social media and blog posts.
7. Request Reviews
Ask your audience to leave reviews and rates for each show. Millennials love to interact with their shows. Plus, iTunes places higher-rated podcasts above those with lower ratings. Offer to give away prizes for reviews to encourage listeners.
8. Try Video Podcasts
The iTunes system puts video podcasts ahead of audio-only versions. If you can make a video while you make the audio, post the video to iTunes. The default search for podcasts is “All,” and that includes video and audio-only options.
9. Create a Traffic Spike
You don’t have to do this for every episode, but consider a traffic spike for a special podcast in your series. Spend more time marketing this special episode with extra buzz on social media and more mentions on your blog.
Consider spending less than $50 on targeted advertising for your upcoming podcast. Use the money for Facebook ads and small ads on Twitter. The reason for the traffic spike is that iTunes places buzzworthy podcasts towards the front of the searches. If you get one podcast that appears on the front of iTunes, you may get more subscribers that way. This could lead to more listeners in the future.
10. Encourage iTunes Users
There are many different websites that aggregate podcasts. However, iTunes is the most popular simply because Apple started podcasts in the first place (the very name comes from Apple’s iPod).
Drive more and more traffic to iTunes by suggesting to your listeners that they go to the official iTunes store to download the podcast. Explain to listeners that this is the best way to support this content, and it may encourage you to produce more high-quality content in the future. When more people go to iTunes to find your podcast, your search ranking improves.
11. Older Is Better
Older podcasts show you’re an authority on a particular subject. Don’t wait to produce that dynamite topic you’ve wanted to talk about for months. Post it soon so it starts generating traffic. However, you do need to have a longer-range plan.
12. Make an Eight-Week Plan
Apple’s iTunes has a New and Noteworthy section that touts podcasts that are eight weeks old and newer. This clock starts as soon as you upload your podcast to iTunes. This section of the search can land you a massive amount of subscribers and listeners if you work it correctly.
Here are some tactics to get your podcast noticed in the eight-week period. These may take some extra effort, but the rewards are worth it.
- Consider being a guest contributor on another podcast, especially if it gets more listeners and subscribers than yours. To do this, be a subscriber to another person’s podcast while having similar topics and interests to your topics.
- Create a multi-part series to keep your listeners interested. This is just like old serial programs on the radio that ended in cliffhangers to bring listeners back for more.
- Have an advertising budget for each new episode.
- Pre-record multiple episodes at once and then download them at different times. This makes less work for you and gives you time to market your podcasts.
- Establish an audience through social media and blogs before podcasting.
13. Stick to a Publishing Schedule
Once you have weekly podcasts that upload every Thursday morning at 9 a.m. ET, your audience expects a podcast every week on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. ET. When you miss a week, some of your listeners may let you know by asking you what happened. Shows with a regular release time do better on an iTunes search ranking.
You can still record multiple podcasts in one sitting. However, you want to upload them to iTunes during different days or the same time each week. Space them out to give your audience time to listen to each podcast.
Finally, good luck in your endeavors. Apple doesn’t publish how, precisely, its search algorithm works to rank podcasts. However, these tips could take your podcasting to new heights. If you find some techniques on this list work better than others, stick with what works. You don’t have to have a comprehensive plan for your podcasts, but remember that diversification is one key to success.
Editorial Note: Original article written by Jon Accarrino, of Methodshop – we editorialized and pull data from his article