August 2019. Google started indexing and ranking podcasts. This is an earth-shaking change that directly benefits podcasters. Recent statistics show that Google reports seven billion searches a day; this change virtually opens the floodgates for people to discover your podcast. Google is not the only company with an algorithm to search for podcasts.
Apple recently announced one million podcasts. Many go to the Apple podcast directory and search by scrolling through thumbnail images or even type in a search term.
If you want to increase downloads and not spend money on advertising, you should optimize your presence so you can be found both by Google and Apple with images and text.
Millions of words have been written on optimizing your website for Google search. That horse has been beaten to death. Let us look at one small, but a significant, aspect of getting discovered on the Apple podcast directory.
Make sure you don’t fall into any of these traps.
Mistake #1: Poor Cover Art
Statistics show most podcasters listen with a smartphone. Because of that, your cover image must be easy to read on a small screen. If you design an image to look good on a desktop, you are ignoring the way people search for podcasts.
Technically, it needs to be at least 1400 x 1400 up to 3000 x 3000. This is like pointing to a piano and saying, here we have 88 keys, write something like Mozart’s piano concerto #21.
Podcasters may have verbal skills, but many cannot draw a straight line. Please relay the technical information to a graphics art professional. You may have some on staff. If not, you can hire a local graphic artist, or use online services like 99 Designs, Upwork, or even Fiverr.
In October of 2019, Apple has added a small, but frequently overlooked, link to the Apple podcast directory. If you look at the lower left, you will notice a small “website” button link.
Do not make the mistake of linking to your company home page. Do not send prospects to your LinkedIn page. Send them to your show notes page. The show notes page gives you the stage to tell your story on a larger scale. You can include quotes, images, internal links, a wide variety of methods to convince a potential listener to subscribe to your podcast.
Get the best checklist ever: “12 Proven Ways to Promote your Podcast Without Spending a Dime”
Please do not forget about image congruency. The image you select for your podcast should be identical to the one on your show notes page. People are busy and will notice the images are similar and have arrived at the correct page.
Mistake #2: Wrong Category Selection
Many will pick one of the 20 categories and thumb through to look for something they like. Apple will give you 200 of the top podcasts in that category.
You should give some thought to this selection. Apple just added a category called “True Crime.” They may create a category that is a better fit for your offering. For example, I have a podcast called Federal Tech Talk. Should it be in the “Government,” “Technology,” or “Busines” section?
Mistake #3: Sloppy title
At Apple, we have a tale of two titles. The title I am referring to is not the name of the podcast, but the title that Apple will use to identify it for searchers. Think of mobile users, the title must be shorter than 60 characters.
That short title will make it easy for mobile viewers, but do not forget the Apple search algorithm – include a keyword in the title. For example, the name of the podcast, and some keywords were included in the title shown below.
Mistake #4: No Rating & Reviews
Most marketing professionals will say that Apple’s ranking algorithm looks at the number of new subscribers, the number of downloads, and then the number of new comments to determine how it will rank it.
Ratings & Reviews may give someone social proof if they want to listen to your podcast. A person may look to see if anybody else has liked the podcast before they invest their time. Make sure you have good reviews, but don’t fool yourself to think it will impact your ability to be found.
Apple released Ratings & Reviews, marketing folks viewed as part of the algorithm. People thought if your podcast has more ratings and reviews than your competitor, than you would get placed higher in the search returns. Unfortunately, research has not borne this theory out.
Mistake #5: Description not optimized
This is your chance to include main keywords as well as variations on them, commonly called long-tail keywords. Use all the 4,000 characters you have. Best practice is to reinforce the main keywords and from there, sprinkle in some longer phrases that are related. These are commonly called long-tail keywords.
If you look at Constellations, the description includes the name of the podcast (Constellations) some main keywords (New Space and Satellite) as well as long term keywords (High Throughput Satellites)
Everybody knows a picture tells a story, select a good one. You cannot find bread if you are in the detergent aisle, choose the right category. There is the title to your podcast and then there is the title to your presence on Apple iTunes, a distinction with a difference.
Best practice for a show notes page is to have a 250-word summary of each episode. In a similar vein, you must write about 250 words for a description that is easy to read and includes keywords so you can be found.
You may think these suggestions are merely common sense. You can spend 15 minutes trolling through podcasts at Apple and will see large companies who have not given even a moment’s thought to how to present themselves. Do not make that mistake.
Why bother spending a dime on advertising if you do not have the basics down. This starts with a written digital strategy, a strong show notes page, and a thoughtful presence on Apple.
Take an hour and optimize your presence on Apple iTunes. Cost: zero Benefit: outstanding
Go forth and podcast.
Here is a free checklist for you to see how you compare with best practices for promoting your podcast.