Want to know how to make a podcast?
I’ll show you how in this step-by-step guide.
What You’ll Learn:
- The Rise of Podcasts
- What are Podcasts?
- Why You Should Integrate Podcasts to Your Content Strategy
- How to Optimize Your Podcasts for Search Engines
- How to find Podcast Guests
- How to Enable Schema and Google Actions
- How to Start Building Your Own Podcast Audience
What’s Behind the Rise of Podcasts?
As of December 2019, the total number of podcast episodes reached an all-time high of 30 million.
Google Trends data show that the number of searches for ‘podcasts’ significantly increased in the past year compared to ‘blog’ and ‘blogs,’ suggesting that the interest in ‘podcasts’ will continue to grow steadily over the next few years.
According to Google Insights, the volume of mobile searches for ‘podcasts’ has grown by over 80% in the past two years alone.
Though podcasting emerged along with the iPod and smartphones, streaming services like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play have pushed pods into the mainstream. As a result, it’s easier than ever for listeners and creators to stream, download, and publish episodes.
Additionally, podcasts allow a diverse range of voices to connect with an audience—whether they’re super niche or a big-name star.
What are Podcasts?
In a nutshell, a podcast is an audio program, much like traditional talk radio that consists of one or more episodes.
The format isn’t exactly new; after all, humans have been listening to radio programs for over 100 years. The only difference is that today, listeners can take in their favorite talkies while on the go.
Podcast topics cover everything from informational news updates and serial journalism to fictional episodes, celebrity interviews, and comedy of all flavors.
While you might think of podcasts as an entertainment platform or a news source, the beauty of this format is that it works for just about any topic—whether you’re all about personal growth or want to take in the history of the Earth one download at a time.
The majority of podcasts are an audio-only experience; however, video podcasts do exist.
That said, if you’re creating a podcast, you’ll likely be better off sticking with convention.
Part of the appeal of podcasting is that it’s a medium that can inform or entertain, while at the same time functioning as background noise.
Why it’s Time to Make Podcasts a Key Player in Your Content Strategy
Podcasts are convenient, accessible, and engaging in a way that doesn’t apply to other types of content.
Unlike, say, video or blog content, listeners can take in their favorite casts during their commute, while they’re washing dishes, or finishing up some mindless paperwork.
They can catch up on news stories, hear from others with a shared interest in a niche topic, or hear a great story–anytime, anywhere.
By some estimates, roughly two-thirds of podcast listeners tune in on their mobile devices.
For marketers, that’s huge.
As more and more consumers say they prefer their smartphones to all other devices, podcasting is one of the most effective tools for reaching your ideal audience on their terms.
You can also add content to a wide range of directories, optimize for SEO, and use many of the same promotional strategies you’ve been using for years to drive traffic to your website.
Podcasts Can be a Fast, Inexpensive Way to Create Content
Recording a podcast episode is far less time-consuming than writing an article or recording a video. At its core, podcasting is essentially just recording a conversation, so you don’t have visuals to worry about or copy to polish and refine. Sure, not everyone is ready–or comfortable
Like video, graphic design, and photography, podcast quality does tend to improve when you put some money into your equipment. But all you’ll need is a decent microphone, as well as software for recording and editing your episodes.
As you grow your following (and budget) you can upgrade to pro-grade audio equipment.
I’ll talk about this a bit more in a moment, but part of the appeal of podcasts is that “homemade” quality. It’s intimate and authentic, meaning audiences are more forgiving if there’s a rough spot here and there.
A Platform for Connecting with Other Experts
No matter your niche, hosting an interview-style podcast is an opportunity to offer valuable insights to your audiences from another perspective. They’ll relish the chance to learn from your guests’ successes, failures, and insights.
For guests, making a podcast appearance is a lot less work than collaborating on, say, a joint webinar or writing a guest post. Even if they’re far away, they can call in for a casual conversation. And on your end, hosting expert guests could mean increased exposure; in most cases, your guests will be happy to promote the episode within their own networks.
Podcast Audiences are Known for Their Loyalty
As I briefly touched on above, podcast hosts have a unique opportunity to connect with their audience.
Listeners get to know the voices that get them through long drives and tedious chores. They’ll learn your speech patterns, inside jokes, and look forward to hearing authentic conversations that begin to feel like listening to friends.
What’s more, nurturing that bond will likely encourage your audience to rate and review your show—increasing your visibility on platforms like Spotify, Apple podcasts, socials, and so on.
While encouraging your audience to engage is essential, make sure you’re prepared to respond to comments, questions, and shoutouts. You might not know most of your followers personally, but engagement is a two-way street.
Podcasts Offer Serious SEO Power
Want to increase your visibility in the search results? Making a podcast will do just that.
They’ll Help You Beef Up Your Branded Search Performance
Podcasts can influence more people to search for a company’s name if the podcast includes the company’s name.
Those potential increases in branded search can, in turn, increase overall ranking.
Podcasts Offer a Path Toward Authority and Trust.
Sure, content creators typically consider a sale or a conversion as the driving force behind what they do. After all, offering customers valuable insights, guides, and demo videos helps you establish credibility and trust online, which helps customers feel good about buying from your brand.
Podcasts are another way you can position yourself as a go-to source. Additionally, they come with a unique advantage that doesn’t exist in a blog post or white paper—they get to hear words straight from the source.
Podcasts Can Help You Claim More SERP Space.
Since May 2019, Google has been indexing podcasts into search results.
So, if your competitors are already ranking for your target keywords, jumping on the podcast wagon can help you gain a competitive edge by being one of the first to optimize your podcasts.
In this example below, you can see how the Ignite Visibility podcasts appear in the SERPs. They stand out a lot more than the link to the blog that appears above them, right?
Because podcasts are often so personal, there’s a huge opportunity to interact with audiences through polls, questions, in-person meetups, and online communities.
For example, Patreon often acknowledges donors and commenters during episodes, and reviewers play a direct hand in driving subscriptions and downloads.
That accessibility brings listeners into the experience, which takes those audience connections to the next level.
How to Optimize Your Podcasts for Search Engines
Optimizing for podcasts is similar to optimizing any other kind of content for SEO. Specifically, you should focus on doing the following:
- Keyword-optimize. Having a memorable, keyword-rich title, subtitle, and descriptions matter just as much with audio content as it does with your articles and videos. Generally speaking, the same rules (writing for search intent, targeting long-tail question keywords, etc.) still apply.
- Link when appropriate. Link to your podcasts on your various platforms and social profiles. Make a point of scheduling posts that promote each new release and drive new listeners to top-performing episodes.
- Upload to all directories. Share podcasts to all online directories, or at least the big ones like Spotify, Google, Apple, Stitcher, and iHeart Radio. Just like your NAP listings, consistency is huge, here. You’ll want to make sure that your contact information, descriptions, episodes, and imagery are the same across each channel.
- Encourage listeners to rate and review. Receiving ratings and reviews from listeners is key in raising your profile on Apple, Stitcher, Google, and more. Just about every podcaster, regardless of niche, isn’t shy about asking for reviews, and listeners are used to hearing the ask. Again, the key is to show your fans some love when they take the time to support you.
- Add and optimize images for each podcast episode. From choosing the right file size to getting your ALT text right, images can help podcasts rank, too. If you need a quick refresh on image SEO, I recommend checking out this short video, How to Optimize Your Website Images for a quick rundown of best practices to know.
- Speak Clearly. Speaking clearly/enunciating is important to ensure Google’s NLP can interpret the audio for keywords/phrases.
- Transcribe Your Cast. Google relies on podcast transcriptions to help match search queries to the right content. Transcriptions also allow users to add more keywords into the transcriptions, edit out unnecessary pauses or stutters, create a table of contents for each episode, and markdown the exact moment (hour: minute: second) a topic comes up. It also allows users to skip to the part they wish to learn more about. Due to natural language processing, Google can use these chapters of a podcast to satisfy voice queries and improve user experience.
- Add Supporting Content. In addition to your transcription, you’ll get more “SEO mileage” if you create a summary of each episode or add supporting content to each description. While this might seem like a lot, adding descriptive text offers a couple of distinct benefits. For one, it allows you to organically include more keywords into the text—aka, it’s another shot at ranking for your target queries. The other benefit is that descriptions improve the user experience. Examples of supporting content include lists, notes, timestamps, and takeaways.
Repurpose Podcasts into Other Content Types
Repurposing content is one of my favorite strategies for getting more mileage out of a blog post, but it’s also worth noting that you can use a podcast as your original source, as well.
Turning podcast content into articles, infographics, SlideShares, and more allows you to boost your authority on the topics covered in your podcast content on other platforms.
You might try recycling your podcast audio file or record a video of yourself while recording the audio, then use those assets to create YouTube videos or shorter clips you can share on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to make your YouTube video SEO-friendly using optimized titles, links, podcast transcriptions, and so on.
Seek Out Podcast Backlink Opportunities
Podcast backlink strategies look a lot like processes you’d use to promote text-based content.
Earn high-quality links using the following strategies:
Interview Others in Your Industry
Interviewing other industry players is the podcast equivalent of guest posting or cross-posting on social media.
The benefit, of course, is that both parties can tap into the other’s audience, thereby increasing the size of your audience by tapping into their sphere of influence.
In this example; Is the Biggest Change in the History of SEO Coming?, I interview Dixon Jones.
How to Find Podcast Guests
You’ll also want to find guests who will benefit from being featured on your podcast. That might mean new business owners or authors, journalists, or brands that you’ve worked with in the past.
In any case, if a guest sees the value in appearing on your show, chances are, they’ll promote the episode on social and link to it on their website.
Many podcasters start out asking friends or colleagues to appear on their show as they start to build a following.
That’s all well and good, but you may want to look for some fresh voices to add to the mix:
- Search Apple Podcasts for shows with similar keywords, or browse the Apple Podcast Directory to search by category.
- Spotify and Stitcher also allow you to scroll through shows based on category and make recommendations based on listening history or what’s new.
- Of course, you can always search for podcasts on Google by typing in “podcasts + target keyword” or “best podcasts, x niche.”
- Or, you might poke around in the Google Assistant Directory. Navigate to “music and audio,” then “podcasts” and you’ll see a long list of shows you might not find on the bigger podcast channels.
- Check out other online podcast directories like cast.market for more recommendations–particularly if you’re looking for less “popular” shows.
- Outside of the “podcasting world,” head toward your usual sources to find qualified guests. Who’s in your LinkedIn network? Who have you partnered with in the past–have you hosted a conference or webinar with other thought leaders? Worked together on an industry report?
How to Enable Podcast Schema
Adding schema to your podcasts allows you to become eligible to appear in Google’s rich results.
Use structured data to highlight things like episode names, descriptions, cover art, or whether your podcast contains explicit content, and other things that help Google’s crawlers understand what your show is about and who it’s for.
Before you can enable podcast schema, you’ll need to make sure that you meet all of Google’s RSS feed and Homepage requirements; otherwise, the markup features won’t appear in the SERPs.
As a quick point of reference, to appear in Google Podcasts, you’ll need to include the required podcast-level and episode-level tags, which include the following.
According to Google’s RSS feed requirements, adding relevant, recommended tags gives both searchers and search engines more information about your podcast.
The second piece of the puzzle is the Homepage requirements, which refer to a homepage specifically for the podcast, not your website’s homepage.
The homepage should clearly describe what the podcast is about and be available to Googlebot using the URL specified in your RSS feed.
How to Make a Podcast Into a Google Action
Why should you turn your podcast into a Google Action? Isn’t that for apps?
For starters, turning your podcast into an action improves your off-site presence and opens up even more opportunities to show up in the Google Search Results, in Google Podcasts, Google Play, and the Google Assistant Directory.
In May 2019, Google added a feature called Deeper Podcast search that lets users search for audio files podcast using Google’s transcriptions.
This allows listeners to search for a specific topic covered within an episode making it easier for users to find podcasts in the Assistant directory.
They can also play episodes directly from their phone’s mobile results, smart speaker, Google Home display, or any other device with Google Assistant installed.
Steps for Turning Podcasts into a Google Action
Creating an RSS feed for your podcast tells Google to auto-generate an Action for your show.
While you’ll need to make sure you follow the instructions to a T, once you’re set up, Google takes it from there.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to turn podcasts into Actions:
- Sign in to the Google Play Music Podcast Portal.
- Click “Add Podcast” from the menu located in the top right corner
- Then you’ll add the RSS feed and apply required tags.
- List the required podcast tags and required episode tags.
- Follow Google’s podcast markup guidelines, then double, triple check that every item is correct. You may even want to get an extra set of eyeballs on the case, just to be safe.
How to Start Building Your Own Podcast Audience
Here’s a quick rundown on how to get started:
- First, Pick a Name. Remember, if you want it to be associated with your brand, be sure to incorporate your brand name into your title.
- Design Your Artwork. As is the case with your name, your podcast cover art should fit right in with your website, social profiles, blog, and any other branding elements floating around online or in-person.
- Decide How Often You’ll Publish. Like your blog or social media channels, you should decide on a posting schedule and stick to it.
- Set a Target Podcast Length. Generally speaking, most podcasts are 30 minutes to an hour. While there aren’t any official “rules,” that range seems to be the most common, though there are plenty of outliers. Dan Harmon’s Hard Core History Episodes are longer than a lot of audiobooks, with some hitting the ten-hour mark. By contrast, NPR’s Marketplace and the true-crime podcast, Criminal, tend to keep things to a tight 20 minutes or so.
- Consider Working with a Co-Host. Not only will this lighten the load, but audiences also enjoy listening to the rapport between cohosts. Some.
- Pick Your Categories.
- Assemble Your Podcasting Stack. Pick the tools and software you’ll use to record, edit, and upload your podcasts.
For beginners looking for a deeper dive, this article offers more tips on how to start a podcast.
Podcasting offers some distinctive benefits to marketers in 2020 and beyond. It’s an engaging, personal medium, mobile-friendly, and built for today’s on-the-go, multitasking consumer.
For marketers, podcasts offer more opportunities to reach new audiences. It’s no longer just your website, social channels, and YouTube channel. It’s Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, the Assistant Directory, and if you play your cards right, a prominent place in the Featured Snippets.
As is the case with blog posts, videos, and other types of content, set it and forget it publishing won’t cut it. Again, an SEO-friendly podcast strategy depends on backlinks, optimized transcripts, and a consistent omnichannel publication plan.
As podcasts continue their meteoric rise to the top, marketers can no longer afford to ignore this opportunity.