This post outlines the strategies and tactics of using podcasting as an SEO & link building strategy. If you’re looking for our daily SEO podcast, brought to you by SEO.co’s team click on the previous link.
Podcasting is having a moment. More than half of all Americans over the age of 12 have listened to podcasts in the past, and 32 percent of Americans listen to podcasts at least once a month. In addition, there are more than 750,000 active podcasts right now, with a collective 29 million episodes to listen to in more than 100 languages.
It’s a landscape ripe with opportunities for savvy marketers.
There are many good reasons to start a podcast, including entertainment, education, and pure personal interest, but in this guide, we’ll be looking at the utility of podcasts for a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy (and link building by extension).
With the right podcast link building strategy, you can use podcasting as a way to expand your link building (and improve your rankings in search results), while simultaneously generating more search traffic to the podcast itself.
Let’s take a deep dive and explore how to use podcasts for SEO and link building in 2023 and beyond.
Table of Contents
The Symbiotic Relationship of Podcasts and SEO
First, we need to address the symbiotic relationship between podcasts and SEO, since it’s definitely a two-way street.
In case you aren’t familiar, podcasts are pieces of audio content, usually episodic in nature, distributed for free via a highly accessible podcast network. You can make a podcast about anything—there are comedy podcasts, informative podcasts, review podcasts, interview podcasts, and even serialized fiction (like radio plays). For our purposes, we’ll be focusing on informative and/or entertaining podcasts, since these are the most likely to generate traffic for a business.
If syndicated properly, podcasts can improve your brand reputation and visibility, and provide new opportunities to earn and generate links that boost your SEO strategy.
In the opposite direction, organic traffic from your SEO strategy can bring more traffic and more listeners to your podcast. This is especially powerful if you’re monetizing your website with the help of your podcast as a separate stream of revenue.
Eventually, you’ll have a self-sustaining feedback loop—a content engine that consistently yields more results.
The SEO Benefits of Podcasting
Let’s start by touching on the SEO benefits of podcasting. Merely producing podcast episodes and distributing them to an audience isn’t going to increase your domain authority or improve your SEO—but there are some distinct advantages and opportunities afforded to you through the art of podcasting.
Let’s take a look.
- The relative ease of podcasting. One of the reasons podcasting has become so popular is its friendliness to newcomers. The audio format and ease of publication means you won’t have to invest much time or money to get started—yet the potential audience you can build with a podcast is practically unlimited in size. Compared to other link building strategies, this can be incredibly affordable, meaning it can actively increase your ROI.
- Syndication. If you use sites like Libsyn or Podbean, your podcast episodes can–at your request–be syndicated across a myriad of high-authority websites. And, more importantly, many of the syndicated links are dofollow, which means the links provide some SEO juice.
- Personal brand development and guest posting opportunities. Podcasts are typically hosted by one or two people, who serve as the charismatic leads for the show. If you’re trying to fit your podcasting strategy with your SEO campaign, it’s ideal to have your primary guest authors as your podcast hosts. Remember, the best way to build links for SEO is through guest posting, and guest posting is at its most effective when you have strong, personal brands to author new works for high-profile publishers. If you can build up the perceived authority and reputation of your guest authors through podcasting, you’ll gain access to much more lucrative publication opportunities.
- Relationship building and content collaboration. Podcasting is also a fantastic gateway for relationship building and collaborative content development. By networking with other podcasters, conducting interviews, and guest hosting on other podcasts, you’ll expand your network of content collaborators and partners. As a side effect, you’ll trade links with a wider range of industry authorities, and you’ll open the door to more co-author and co-publication deals.
- Linkable assets. Think of your podcast episodes as high-quality articles, or whitepapers; they can serve as high-quality, linkable assets on your own site. If you have an amazing interview, or if you discuss some original research or unique thoughts on a podcast episode, you can cite it in your offsite content, linking back to your site.
- Podcasting as a social media channel. You can also consider your podcast as an alternative social media channel. Just as you might syndicate and popularize your best content through channels like Facebook and Twitter, you can talk about your best content on a podcast, increasing its visibility and capacity to earn links.
- Medium transformation potential. Podcasting is also unique because of its ability to serve as multiple mediums simultaneously. For example, let’s say you interview people on your podcast. You can film the interaction between your host and your guest, then release it simultaneously as a YouTube video, a podcast episode on various networks, and a written transcript on your blog; this way, you’re creating video, audio, and written content all at once.
Now you’re starting to see why it’s so popular.
For a podcast to benefit your SEO strategy, link building strategy, and brand reputation, you need to adhere to these important podcasting fundamentals:
- Invest in quality equipment. Your podcast is only going to be listenable if you invest in decent equipment. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy the most expensive microphone on the market, but you should at least strive for mid-range territory. Make sure you’re recording in a location that’s acoustically favorable, and monitor yourself with good headphones. It shouldn’t cost you more than a few hundred dollars to get started with the basics.
- Differentiate from the competition. The topic of your podcast needs to be something that stands out. There are already a million podcasts about general education, politics, comedy, and marketing—so what makes yours different? You can differentiate yourself by appealing to a different demographic, covering a specific niche topic, or by podcasting in a different format (like very long or very short episodes). Use this uniqueness as the focal point of your marketing strategies in the future.
- Speak as an expert. People want a podcast host who knows what they’re talking about (for the most part). Make sure you come across as an expert, in whatever field you’re trying to cover. It’s easiest if you’re actually an expert in this area, but if you’re not, make sure you do adequate research, reading, and planning before the episode so you’re not caught off-guard.
- Market and support your work. Even the best podcast would fail to generate an audience without ample support. It’s critical to market your podcast to new audiences, and go out of your way to get attention for it. Social media distribution and paid ads work wonders, but as you might have guessed, our top recommendation is link building.
- Engage. People like to listen to podcasts because it makes them feel like they’re a part of something. If you want them to get the warm-and-fuzzies when they listen to you, you have to engage with them. Depending on the rest of your strategy, that could mean starting discussion threads with your listeners after the episode is over, conducting surveys to discover what people want to hear next, or even occasionally featuring listeners on the podcast itself. Just like in social media, the more engaging you are, the more loyal your followers will be.
Podcast SEO 101
Now, let’s turn our attention to “podcast SEO,” or the art of getting more listeners to your podcast with the help of SEO strategies.
Maximize your search engine opportunities
Source: Google Search
We’re used to talking and thinking about SEO as it relates to Google, but when it comes to podcasts, you’ll have to broaden your horizons. In addition to optimizing your podcast for Google search (since a 2019 update allowed podcast episodes to display in Google search results), you’ll have to optimize your podcast for visibility in various podcast distribution networks, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more.
Each of these networks will have nuances that make them slightly different, but they all adhere to the same fundamental principles, which we’ll discuss below. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need to approach each platform slightly differently, filling out as much information as possible for your podcast, in whichever forms are available to you.
Create web space for your podcast
No matter what, you’ll want to create a standalone space for your podcast on the web. Depending on your strategy and priorities, this could be a subdomain of your main website, a series of pages on your main site, or an entirely different domain. For the sake of simplicity, and to increase the power of your inbound links, we recommend utilizing your existing website to serve as “home base” for your podcast.
Here, you’ll write an extensive description of the podcast overall, include descriptions and liner notes for each podcast episodes, provide podcast episode audio for download, and ideally, include written transcripts on separate pages for each podcast episode. You can use these as linkable assets for your primary SEO strategy or to funnel visitors specifically to your podcast pages.
Research and target keywords strategically
Much of your podcast SEO success will come from your ability to research and target keywords strategically. Like a typical SEO strategy, your keyword selection will determine not only which phrases you’ll rank for and which users you’ll target, but also how easy it is to achieve higher rankings.
Like in conventional SEO, podcast SEO requires you to choose keywords with high volume (number of searches) and low competition (number and authority of competing sources). You’ll then need to integrate those keywords into your podcast title, episode titles, descriptions, and other sources of data as efficiently as possible.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to conduct keyword research not just from straightforward SEO keyword analysis tools, but also from keyword data from podcast distribution networks.
Title, describe, and tag your podcast episodes strategically
The best opportunities for including keywords are in your episode titles, episode descriptions, and your choices for options like categories and tags. Follow standard SEO best practices here, like:
- Only include relevant keywords. No matter how attractive your target keyword is, make sure it’s relevant to your content. If you mislead people or shoehorn in awkward phrases, it’s going to hurt more than help.
- Use keywords and phrases sparingly. You don’t need to stuff 20 keywords into every podcast episode. Focus on one or two per episode at the most.
- Use synonyms and variants. Google (and most other modern search engines) use semantic search to interpret the meaning behind user queries—not just to blindly find exact match keywords. Accordingly, you should feel free to use a variety of synonyms and alternate phrasings.
- Avoid keyword cannibalization when possible. Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have multiple pages competing to rank for the same phrase. Try to distribute your strategy more efficiently. If you find your site is cannibalizing itself, it may be time for a comprehensive content audit.
Your exact strategy will vary based on which distribution platforms you’re using, since you may have access to different types of fields.
Also keep in mind that your podcast performance (including reviews, downloads, and subscribes) will significantly impact your search rankings in all platforms. Your episode titles and descriptions will influence people’s first impressions, and possibly dictate whether they download your episode—so optimize them for conversion as well.
Include transcripts and videos
Part of the power of podcasting rests with its ability to manifest in multiple forms. Take advantage of this by syndicating your podcast in audio, video, and written transcript form. You can offer all varieties on each episode page on your main site, while also taking advantage of separate platforms like YouTube.
Google is working on automatically transcribing podcast content, so keep watch for this feature in the near future; it may eventually render written transcripts unnecessary.
It’s hard to identify a “most important” variable for podcast SEO, but a good contender is the quality and quantity of your platform reviews. Podcast networks understandably favor podcasts with the best reviews, so every new positive review you attract is going to have an impact on your success. The best way to get great reviews is to offer great content, but beyond that, you’ll need to ask your listeners for reviews, and respond to your reviewers to incentivize more engagement.
Good reviews are also important for establishing your authority in this space, which is vital if you want to build more links.
Expanding Your Link Building Strategy With Podcasting
Ultimately, podcasting is best utilized as a feedback loop for SEO; not only will you use SEO to fuel the visibility and popularity of your podcast, you’ll also use podcasting to attract more links to your main site. Some of this will happen naturally, but you can expand your link building strategy through podcasting in the following ways:
- Make quality your top priority. This is baked into every facet of SEO, but it’s worth mentioning again: make quality your top priority. If your podcast is in-depth, entertaining, and unique, it’s going to attract an audience inevitably—even if you don’t optimize them for strategically valuable keywords. Great content is your gateway to everything, including new links, more podcast listeners, and higher brand authority.
- Create personas for new content opportunities. The best way to build links is by reaching out to new publishers, and getting content published as a guest author. The more recognizable and authoritative your guest authors are, the better the publishers you’ll be able to reach. This is one of the coolest effects of podcasts; they give your team members the chance to show off their expertise and charisma. Focus on your company’s best personal brands, and use them across your podcast episodes, onsite blogs, and offsite blogs.
- Use strategic partnerships to expand. Podcasters love to network with each other; meeting other podcasters is a great way to learn from each other, swap tips, and commiserate about the experience of producing new episodes. Use this to your advantage. Not only will meeting other podcasters give you more insights you can use to improve your podcast, it will also provide you with opportunities to collaborate. Working with other podcasters will grant you valuable content and marketing incentives; for example, you can interview each other on each other’s podcasts, or work together on a piece of written content that both of you publish and share. Ideally, you’ll both earn links and new listeners in the process.
- Build links for recursive growth. Make sure to spend time building links to your podcast page, and pages for individual episodes. Take advantage of the recursive nature of podcasting and SEO; as your podcast becomes more popular, you’ll earn more links, and you can use links to fuel your podcast’s popularity. The hardest stage of your podcasting strategy will be the beginning, when you don’t have much authority or followers to work with. Link building is one of the best ways to generate that much-needed initial attention, since it’s both relatively inexpensive and completely under your control.
Podcasts are experiencing an impressive golden age, but SEO will always be important. If you’re not seeing results from your link building company, or if you need help perfecting your content strategy, contact SEO.co for a free analysis, or check out our new podcast to get a firsthand perspective on how it works! We’re an SEO company that loves to help our clients outwrite and outrank their competition!