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 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 2020.
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 podcast as a separate stream of revenue.
Eventually, you’ll have a self-sustaining feedback loop—a content engine that consistently yields more results.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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!