Too often we podcasters are guilty of shouting into the crowd that already knows about us, already listens to our show – and we forget all about Podcast SEO – to establish and grow a NEW audience.This episode is about THAT.It’s a long one – BUT FULL OF PRACTICAL GOODNESS!strap on your seatbelt, grab your note-taking device, and get your show notes rocking for better organic SEO for your podcast.
What you’ll hear on this episode about Podcast SEO
- [2:13] Why our podcasts NEED to be found on Google, etc. – and why what worked in the past doesn’t always work these days
- [4:16] How show notes serve listeners as a resource and how they leverage SEO
- [6:58] Ways that Google has changed in the last few years – and why it matters to podcasters
- [9:26] Let me count the ways your show notes format needs to change – and tell you why
- [12:33] View your approach like a domino effect – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – BOOM!
- [17:45] Keywords: They are still relevant but they work differently for SEO in 2018
- [21:58] Keyword best-practices and tips learned the hard way
- [25:48] Titles: Here’s how to make your titles the best they can be
- [29:05] The text on the page: how to make yours helpful and SEO rich
- [31:20] Image best practices – and how to pull it off
- [34:00] You want to use LINKS the right way – Google cares about this stuff
- [36:07] Rich media resources can make the page BOOM for readers/users
- [37:30] Commenting and Calls To Action: How you can do it in a smart way!
- [39:15] Why an embedded audio player makes a HUGE difference. It’s spelled “Dwell Time”
- [41:14] A non-SEO value page hack: Subscription options!
Other Goodies Mentioned On This EpisodePodcast consulting that makes a difference. https://PodcastFastTrack.com/consultingYoast SEO Plugin: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/Episode 20: Why You Need Great Show Notes: https://podcastfasttrack.com/20Episode 21: 1st Step to Epic Show Notes: https://podcastfasttrack.com/21Episode 22: Step 2 to Epic Show Notes: https://podcastfasttrack.com/22Episode 23: Step 3 to Epic Show Notes: https://podcastfasttrack.com/23Episode 47: Podcast Show Notes That Work: https://podcastfasttrack.com/47
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I understand the struggle we all have to make the most of our time – hobby or part-time podcasters have to make some difficult choices.The subject-matter for this episode is something I believe all of us need to know and learn how to apply well – but you’ll have to decide if it’s the most important fish for you to fry right now.
SHOW NOTES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN 2018 [4:16]Great show notes are not ALL about SEO – I’ll admit that. Show notes DO serve existing listeners as a resource – via app descriptions and web pages.You ARE mentioning your show notes each episode, right?And not just on your webpage, right?You’re making your listeners aware of the notes in their podcast apps, right?But the SEO value of podcast show notes pages (on search engines NOT iTunes) focuses on interested people who do NOT know about your podcast FINDING it through web searchesThis doesn’t have to do with the quality of your audio or the entertainment value of your episodes – not yet. 🙂It has more to do with how you portray your audio episodes before searchers ever click a “play” buttonTHINK: Movie trailer THINK: GEICO commercialTHAT is what you want your show notes posts to do for your audio. They should be so appealing/helpful that people want to click the play button to hear what your notes convey, first-hand for themselvesSo in this episode I’m going to walk through…
- What has changed in how Google TECHNICALLY provides results to people searching for YOUR topics
- What those changes mean for how you display your content for Google to find
- Then wrap up with a longer section about what we can PRACTICALLY do to make our posts more what Google – and searchers – are looking for
The changing SEO landscape these days… Machine-learning and AI are changing the search results game [6:58]It changes the approach you take to your show notes pages in a HUGE way, because people searching for the topics you cover MUST find your content in order to discover it – right?
- They may go to iTunes or their podcast app or YouTube to search for those topics
- But the vast majority of people STILL go to a search engine – most of those go to Google.
HOW GOOGLE HAS CHANGED (2018 VERSION)PREVIOUSLYKeyword stuffed posts with over 800-ish words of content could get you toward the top of search results.NOWMachine-learning algorithms can search context, not just the words.In addition: Search engines are moving away from word count as a primary factor. Don’t misunderstand, word count is still a factor but ONLY as it is required in order to make the content truly beneficial to the reader.Search algorithms are moving toward genuine helpfulness for the searcher as a higher criteria for placement in search results (which will usually REQUIRE a higher word count, but the focus is different).That means the format of the posts needs to change to become more helpful.
HOW SHOULD WE CHANGE OUR APPROACH? [9:26]Gone, Gone, GONE are the days when you can expect a two paragraph summary of your podcast episode and a bullet point outline to be enough.It may be SLIGHTLY beneficial to the casual reader or podcast app user, but you can NOT expect that kind of post to do anything of value for your podcast SEO with Google, Bing, or even Yahoo.Those posts simply WON’T RANK AT AT ALL in 2018.l
You need to re-think your show notes – both from a user perspective and a ranking perspectiveGoogle is looking for posts that are truly HELPFUL to the searcher/reader – and the algorithms are smart enough these days to use a wide variety of “observations” about search behavior to know if your post is useful.Given that helpfulness/benefit is a consideration we have to ask a related question…
Are transcripts a good idea?There are some definite benefits to transcripts when it comes to keywords – they will naturally be on the page. But keywords aren’t everything in 2018.You want to ENGAGE searchers with what they discover on your show notes page – you want them to be SO BLOWN AWAY with what you’ve provided that they stay on the page longer. SEO folks refer to this ias “dwell time.”
Dwell Time: What is it? Why does it matter?Dwell time is the time between a searcher’s click on your amazing episode title that they found in the search results, to the time they click BACK to search after viewing your page. Here’s why it matters…A 2 second dwell time tells Google: “I didn’t find what I wanted/expected on the site I just visited. So, I quickly went back to the Search Engine Results Page to find something better.A 2 minute dwell time tells Google: “I found the page I visited useful and stuck around a couple of minutes to read it.”A 15 minute dwell time tells Google: “I found the content behind the link I just clicked to be super-useful and I was heavily-invested in learning all I could while I was there.”You get the point? People aren’t just going to hang around on your show notes page to pass the time of day.It’s up to YOU to give them a reason so stick around – and that reason is amazing, helpful content, rich media, and more.But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take this step by step.
My suggestion: Approach Podcast SEO like creating a DOMINO EFFECT [12:33]Do you remember setting up the dominos when you were a kid? One by one by one you put them in a curvy line, with the intention of knocking down the first one to start a chain reaction that made them all fall?THAT is what you want to do with good SEO. You want to start a series of dominos falling. The cool thing is, it’s the SEARCHER who pushes each of them over, resulting in a new subscriber to your podcast. Here’s how it works…And I’ll explain how to do ALL of this later in the post.STEP 1: Keyword optimize your show notes page around the topics you address on the episode. (This is an important part of moving the page higher in search rankings when people search for the topics your podcast episode is about).STEP 2: Create a winsome, intriguing title for the post that effectively uses your keyword phrase (This helps you “win the click” when people see your post in their search results).STEP 3: Format your post to be a great, helpful, engaging representation of the topics you’re addressing on the episode. You want it to reveal details readers can take action on, but not TOO much. Why? You want your post to be the “bait” that provokes the next action – the reader pressing the “PLAY” button on your page to actually LISTEN to the content you’re highlighting.STEP 4: Provide a great, easy-to-use audio player on the page. You want the reader to have the opportunity RIGHT THEN to listen to your episode. And if they do, the DWELL TIME on your page will increase. And if your audio content is optimized and truly helpful/entertaining, DWELL TIME will go through the roof!STEP 5: Be sure to provide subscription options on the page. This one has less to do with SEO and more to do with building your listening audience. That IS your end goal, right?The later part of this episode walks through this DOMINO EFFECT step by step to more fully explain what each of them mean, why they are important, and how to accomplish them.
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How to use KEYWORDS effectively in 2018 [17:45]As I mentioned earlier, the technology behind web search has changed significantly. Bots, AI, and machine learning are changing the game almost daily.That means algorithms and smart-tech being used approach keywords in a different light.Keywords are still relevant – but they work differently in 2018.Now the algorithms being used in search can TELL THE DIFFERENCE between posts that are being repetitive just for the sake of putting lots of keywords in the post, and posts that use the keywords and related phrases naturally – in a way that BENEFITS THE READER (make note of that).So in summary: keyword research is still important because you need to know what people are searching for – BUT you need to work at understanding the WHY behind the search.
Here’s a quick keyword exercise you can do to learn the difference…Search for any 3 word search phrase right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.Look at the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) to get a feel for how Google is interpreting the intention of searchers.In other words, what does GOOGLE “think” you’re searching for by keying in that phrase? The results Google provides will show you.EXAMPLE – a search for “Google Adwords” is most likely being done by people using Google to find the actual adwords page. They may be interested in setting up a Google Adwords campaign for themselves.So creating a post about “How to use Google Adwords for higher conversions” is likely not going to get many meaningful clicks from people who ONLY search for “Google Adwords.”You’d need to shoot for a longer-tail keyword.What IS a long-tail keyword?It basically the same keyword but with more words alongside to give a SPECIFIC intention to the search query.So, if you want to know how to use Google Adwords effectively to drive more traffic, you’d want to key in something along that line in the search field on Google – maybe, “How to use Google Adwords effectively” or “best Google Adwords tips.”Do you see how the long tail search is more likely to find EXACTLY what you’re looking for?What do long tail keywords have to do with keyword optimizing a show notes page?Everything.You want to ask yourself, “If I were searching for information relating to the EXACT TOPIC of this podcast episode, what would I type into Google in order to find it?”When you can answer that question clearly and precisely, you’re able to choose a keyword phrase that is more likely to bring the EXACT people you want, to your page.
Keyword research is the art of finding keywords people are ACTUALLY searching for that relate to your topic.You have to take an addition step if you are going to do keyword research that is based on actual user searches.That step is to find and learn how to use a good keyword tool. The Podcast Fast Track team of writers uses a tool called Keyword Finder: https://kwfinder.com#a5884ea3c285f734cac71b97d (affiliate).We like it because…
- The graphical display is easy to understand
- The findings are clear
- It shows us pages CURRENTLY ranking for the phrases we are considering
- It tells us how difficult it will be to rank for a particular phrase and how many people are searching for it on average, every month.
- And it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. 🙂
Keyword best-practices in 2018Once you find the right keyword phrase for your podcast show notes page you’re creating, you’ll want to use that phrase STRATEGICALLY, in ways that Google is programmed to recognize and value…
- Make sure it is toward the beginning of the title
- Include it in at least one header and in the meta description of your post
- Naturally include it in image metadata (I’ll cover this more specifically later)
- Don’t forget, you can include your keyword phrase in bullet-point outlines
- Use “related phrases” to your keywords. Google can tell they mean the same thing
- As always – don’t over do it, don’t “stuff” your post with keywords. When it becomes unnatural and forced, you hurt yourself instead of helping yourself.
- Have someone else read your post and give you feedback on keyword density and flow of the post. Is it natural? Does it make sense? Is it helpful?
- ADVICE: Yoast & other plugins are good, but learn it for yourself instead of relying on those tools. They are not perfect in how they advise you to use keywords.
Creating the best title for the best podcast SEO [25:48]The title of anything – a movie, a book, a blog post (like show notes) – is vitally important. Compare the following two titles and tell me, which would YOU most likely click on?“How to Lose Weight, Keep it Off, and Feel Great”OR“The Science Supporting Decreases in Body Fat, Ideal Weight Maintenance, and Increased Metabolic Function and Energy.”Get the point?The first one is a “how to” – motivating – simple and easy to understand. The second… well, not so much.
Here are some principles behind the creation of a good title:Make it appealing – provoking – funny – wild – anything to grab attention and make it stand out from the rest of the titles in the SERP.But with this caveat – make sure it is ACCURATELY communicating what your post is about.We’ve all clicked on those titles that promise some intrigue or insider knowledge, only to find they don’t provide it at all. That’s called “click bait” and it’s a big NO-NO to search engines.If you want your post to fall off of search results immediately, use click bait titles.Keywords as close to the beginning as possibleStudies show that keyword placement in your title matters. The closer to the beginning of the title, the better.But sometimes it’s impossible to place your keyword phrase near the beginning and still have a natural, compelling title. What should you do?Make sure it stays HUMAN – not awkward for the sake of keywords. A keyword phrase that comes later in the title but is natural is BETTER than one that comes first but feels awkward.Don’t forget that colons can be your friendFor example, you could create something like this and it will be PERFECT!Podcast SEO 2018: Everything You Need to Know🙂Familiarize yourself with best-practicesYou don’t have to figure out how to write good titles all on your own. There are lots of copywriting and web copy professionals out there who teach best practices for this kind of thing.Learn from them.Use the principles they outline.Here is a handful of BEST PRACTICE POSTS I recommend
- How to Write Catchy Headlines and Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/a-simple-formula-for-writing-kick-ass-titles-ht
- How to Create Epic Content Titles & Headlines: https://expresswriters.com/how-to-create-epic-content-titles-headlines/
- The Step-by-step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines: https://expresswriters.com/how-to-create-epic-content-titles-headlines/
The TEXT on the page matters for podcast SEO [29:05]This is where I need to say it again – you should NEVER “keyword stuff” your show notes page just to get more instances of your keyword on the page.Use your keyword naturally and in ways that are beneficial to your readers.But more than that – you’ve got to create a page that truly ENGAGES your reader. The best way to do that is to remember why you chose the keyword phrase you did – because it’s WHAT READERS ARE LOOKING FOR.When you offer your podcast show notes page as a result to people searching for that phrase, you’re making a promise: MY PAGE WILL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR.So make sure it does.Here’s how…
- Make sure your page is accurate – not misleading.
- Make sure it reveals practical, actionable, helpful information along the line of what you believe searchers to be searching for
- At times, you’ll want to format your page like good ad copy – introduce a need, pose a solution, tell the benefits of your solution, then explain how to apply your solution
- But because you REALLY want the person who finds your page to listen and subscribe, you don’t want to give EVERYTHING away (like transcripts do). Ask them to listen to hear all the details.
- Format your page with sufficient white space (it’s easier on the eyes, which makes for a better reader experience).
- Use shorter sentences rather than long ones (bullet point outlines like this are great)
- Inject your personality, make it winsome, make it funny or fun to read
- Break it up with headers / images / colors / captions / quotes
- BUt, try to balance the page so it’s not too busy
- Include two different kinds of links on the page (I’ll cover that a bit more later in this post)
What role to IMAGES play in good SEO? [31:20]We all like images. We are visual creatures, so it makes sense.Google likes images too. It likes when you include them on your show notes pages FOR YOUR READER’S BENEFIT.Did you catch that point? Images need to SERVE your readers just like anything else.That means….The images you choose to include should be relevant to the topic of your entire pageDon’t include logos or cool images just because you think they are cool. Tie them into the content in some way. Images can serve as…\
- Illustrations of a point
- Thought-prompters (gets people thinking in a different way ABOUT what you’re saying)
- Identifiers (logos, etc. can be used for brand-recognition purposes)
- Demonstrations (how-to posts with screen captures of the steps are very useful)
- Create your own. You have a smartphone, don’t you? You can do screenshots, can’t you?
- Draw them yourself, then scan them for digital use. Here’s a great example of doing this.
- Use free image resources (see resources below)
- Pixabay free use images: https://pixabay.com/
- I’d Pin That free use images: http//www.idpinthat.com/
- Gratisography free use images: https://gratisography.com/
- Morgue File free use images: https://morguefile.com/
- Unsplash free use images: https://unsplash.com/
- Free image compression tool I use every week: https://tinyjpg.com
What kind of LINKS are needed to rank in Google? [34:00]We all know what links are. They offer a path for readers, a number of “choose your own adventure” type options they can take from your blog post to other resources,At first glance, it may seem that you DO NOT want to include links on your blog pages. After all, why would you want to send people AWAY from the content you so diligently created for them?Because Google says so. 🙂When you place links on your page, you should do so in SERVICE to your readers. You provide resources, additional helpful articles and resources, etc.And you want to provide those links in TWO forms…
EXTERNAL LINKSThese are links to resources that are NOT on your website. Ideally, they should not be on any website you own, though it’s not entirely a No-No – Google is THAT smart.Outbound links show Google that the sites you’re linking to are considered reputable BY YOU – which lends to THAT site’s credibility in the search ranking universe that is Google.The same will happen FOR YOU as you get others to place external links TO YOUR SITE on their web properties.Think…
- Podcast guests
- Service providers
- Companies you work alongside
- Strategic partners
- Authorities in your niche (you have to ask in most cases)
- Guest posts
INTERNAL (DEEP) LINKSInternal links (also known as deep links) – go to related pages on your own website.Think of them as providing your readers more insight into the things you’re talking about on your show notes page – from YOUR unique perspective.Make sure these serve the reader. You don’t want to put links to other pages just because it’s good SEO practice when the pages you link to have LITTLE to do with the page you’re creating.Shoot for 2, possibly 3 on every post.A site that does this well is Wikipedia. 🙂
What about Affiliate linksAffiliate links don’t appear to have ANY impact on SEO – period.However, I should say that if you’re going to post affiliate links (like the one I did above for Keyword Finder) – make sure they are clearly labeled AS affiliate links (that’s the law).To cover your bases even more, you may even want to create an OUTBOUND LINK to a definition of affiliate so your readers know EXACTLY what you mean (see how that works?).
Make your pages more engaging with RICH MEDIA [36:07]When I say you need to include “rich media” on your show notes pages, I’m referring to anything that makes the page more engaging, entertaining, or “sticky.”The first and FOREMOST rich media item that should be on EVERY podcast show notes page is an audio player that plays the podcast episode (Have I beat that drum long enough?).But you can include OTHER media items to make the page more interesting. Here are a few ideas…YOUTUBE VIDEOSThere is some conjecture that embedding YouTube videos on a blog post page (like show notes) helps to increase its rank in Google search.It kind of makes sense – since Google owns YouTube. I even know of one podcaster who ONLY includes a YouTube video of his episode (with a still image over it) instead of an audio player. That way his page visitors MUST use the YouTube video if they want to listen to the episode.He says it has increased his search rank a lot. Maybe.SLIDE SHOWSThere are a handful of slide sharing services out there that qualify as “rich media” resources that could make your posts more engaging.But naturally – YOU have to create the content that goes into them – unless you’re using someone else’s slide deck as an example.So – SlideShare and Prezi could be good options to use here.IMAGES – INFOGRAPHICS – GIFSWe’ve already covered the best-practices for image use on your show notes pages, but they deserve a mention here – especially when you expand it to include infographics and gifs.Both can make your pages come alive (literally, in the case of gifs).But I encourage you to go EASY on the gif usage. They personally drive me crazy (and off the page) when I’m seriously trying to absorb the content.
This has nothing to do with Podcast SEO, but it’s a best-practice for every show notes page – CALL TO ACTION [37:30]It’s kind of a pity the way many podcasters short-change their readers by short-changing their show notes pages.If someone has taken the time to go to your page (or the description in their podcast app) – you want to give them the opportunity to do something!You may have something episode-specific to ask them to do (maybe your guest has an offer for your listeners) – or you may not.Regardless, create a CALL TO ACTION on your show notes pages.Here are some ideas
- Do you have an email list? Ask them to Opt-in to get more goodness from you?
- Along that line – have you considered adding a lead magnet to your show notes pages? (https://podcastfasttrack.com/lead-magnet)
- Ask them to contact you. And you ARE including contact info on the page, right?
- Ask them to join your conversations on social media (mention a show-specific hashtag so you can track them and respond)
- Post topic-relevant products/groups/courses you offer on the page
And should you allow COMMENTING on your show notes pages?While providing a commenting function on your show notes pages COULD potentially increase the dwell time on the page, I don’t think there’s a hard and fast rule on it.So it’s up to you.Seth Godin doesn’t allow commenting on his blog- others equally big-names do.It has to do with what you want your pages to function as…
- Information only?
- Calls to action?
- Community hubs?
And did I say you should have an audio player on the page? [39:15]I’ve already mentioned how important it is to have an audio player on your show notes pages – it can increase your podcast SEO via Google and Big and the boys… so now I want to offer you some tips about players as well as some resources.
First – Make sure you use an attractive, embeddable playerDo this on every show notes page that plays the audio for THAT episode.
- Embed it
- Make sure it works right
Second – Choose wiselyYou can get a decent player from most media hosts – Libsyn, Podbean, Blubrry, Spreaker, Fireside.fm, others – but there are also some popular 3rd party players out there…Smart Podcast Player – https://smartpodcastplayer.com/Coolcast Player – http://coolcastplayer.com/Simple Podcast Press – http://simplepodcastpress.com/And you can get decent functionality from players that come from directories like Stitcher, RadioPublic, PlayerFM, etc. – but remember that in so doing, you’re promoting THEIR brand, not yours.
WARNING: NEVER USE SOUNDCLOUDThis is my opinion, but it’s one shared by many podcast consultants and professionals. There are lots of reasons behind this… some are…
- Soundcloud stats are not reliable and are easily “gamed”
- The company is not focused on podcasting, which has proved problematic at times
- There are rumors the company could be folding soon…
A Review of the benefits of an on-page player
- Increases dwell time/time on page
- Can serve to walk listeners through the page itself
- Losing SEO juice without it in most cases (t qualifies as “rich media”)
- Provides an immediate opportunity to hear what they have seen demonstrated on the page
- Can more easily and effectively prompt that initial listener to subscribe
Don’t forget to include the option for readers to SUBSCRIBE to your podcast [49:14]There are lots of food subscription services out there these days. I guess they’re OK.But for me, it’d be great to have my favorite pizza delivered every Friday around 5:30 PM. Now THAT is a subscription service I could go for!Your podcast subscription is the same sort of thing!When you offer people the opportunity to subscribe to your show, you’re offering them listener-pizza delivered automatically every time you publish an episode.This really IS your goal – more subscribers – it’s the only way you have to regularly influence/serve a person (besides an email list, chatbot, group membership)I’ve tried MANY ways to do this – from only offering Apple Podcast subscription links, to offering every conceivable link. I’ve finally reverted to only offering TWO…Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.To me, I’m covering my bases by providing one subscription option for each operating system that is typically used to listen to podcasts – IOS and Android.And if people use Castro, or Downcast, or Podcast Addict, or Pocketcasts or some other player – they’ll know how to find me on their player of choice if they are that addicted to podcasts already.You’ve got to make your own decision about this. But MAKE A DECISION and offer something.
Subscription Resources you might be interested in
- Subscribe via Android: https://subscribeonandroid.com/
- Apple Podcasts guidelines: https://www.apple.com/itunes/marketing-on-podcasts/identity-guidelines.html#apple-podcasts-icon
- Google Podcasts tools: https://search.google.com/devtools/podcast/preview?utm_source=podnews.net&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=podnews.net:2018-06-20
- Images for Apple and Google: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1NxFkD5Vb1KtDJljqm041pc4YhXkd8cg0?usp=sharing
That’s IT – All done with this LOOONNNGGG post on Podcast SEO best practicesI did research the topic quite a bit and had a number of resources I consulted. I have listed some/most of them below…
- Simple infographic on main on-page SEO factors: https://backlinko.com/on-page-seo
- Definitive guide to SEO 2018: https://backlinko.com/seo-this-year
- Rand Fishkin: How to Rank in 2018:L The SEO Checklist: https://moz.com/blog/rank-in-2018-seo-checklist
- Dwell Time: Is it really a ranking factor (and if so, should you care?): https://ahrefs.com/blog/dwell-time/
- The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2018: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/seo
- Most Important SEO Metrics to Consider in 2018: https://www.semrush.com/blog/most-important-seo-metrics-to-consider-in-2018/