Google has finally incorporated podcast episodes in search results in listings that are playable directly from SERPs (search engine results pages).
I made a joke on Twitter earlier this morning that back in 2004 when someone said “How can I listen to your podcast?”, you’d tell them to download some software and then get them the RSS feed but don’t click on the RSS feed, and then give that RSS feed to the software they installed, and that software would then download the latest episode of your show show, and then could transfer that episode onto their mobile device so they could listen. Which was kind of a pain.
In 2005, Apple started listing podcasts inside of iTunes, and it was slightly less complicated for the next 13 years, but still a process.
But now, in early May 2019, when someone asks “How can I listen to your podcast?”, you can just tell them to Google it.
If you google “podcast pontifications”, you will see, right there in Google’s SERP for that query, play options for the three most recent episodes of my show. No need to visit my website first.
But what I’ve noticed (and remember this is very early in this release) is something subtle and interesting. Best of all, it relates to the theme of “podcasting things I’ve changed my mind about” I’ve been pursuing this week.
When you google “podcast pontifications”, you should get my domain and website — PodcastPontification.com — as the first listing. Underneath that listing, you’ll see sub-listings playable recent episodes. After that, you’ll see a bunch of other pages/sites that Google displays, like Stitcher, Spotify and a bunch of other ones. That’s how Google works, giving you lots of choices, but with the best (?) first.
When I did something similar for my clients’ podcasts, I noticed something different. While episodes are showing in the SERP, those episodes aren’t sub-listed under with the primary websites for my clients. Often times, it’s the show’s Apple Podcasts listing in the SERP that has the episodes listed below. Why is that happening, my clients are sure to ask.
Here’s what I think is happening. I think that Google is looking for a dedicated website — not just a web page on an existing website — for the podcast.
If I’m right (and again, it’s very early), I’m now going to even more strongly communicate to my clients the importance of establishing a domain and dedicated website their podcasts.
Not that the website has to be extensive, mind you. You don’t have to go through the trouble of building an entire website or creating per-episode pages on that new domain. If you look at my site, PodcastPontifications.com, you’ll notice it’s a one-page website. It’s a single page, and it doesn’t even link to all of my episodes. My episodes on a totally different domain — podcastpontifications.libsyn.com — that’s generated by my podcast media host, Libsyn.
To test this theory, I did a little searching on popular podcasts Choiceology, a fantastic podcast by Charles Schwab, doesn’t have a dedicated website. Instead, they — like a lot of my clients — use an internal page of their well-established website as the podcast’s “home”. The first listing on Google’s SERP is indeed the internal page for the podcast, but there are no episodes associated with that listing. Instead, they are associated with the Apple Podcast listing of the show.
But with Freakonomics, the episodes in the SERP are associated with the primary domain, as the name of the site matches the name of the podcast. And that’s just two. Try it and see what you get.
The new recommendation I’m going back to all my clients with is to build a dedicated website for their show. Even a single page website will do the trick. Knowing how Google works, this makes perfect sense.
But a caveat that bears multiple repeats: We’re not looking at the final implementation. Heck, with Google, there’s no such thing as a final implementation. But remember that this new world was dropped on us within the last 12 hours or so. It’s going to change quite a lot.
But still, it’s a really good idea for your podcast to have its own website. Even if that website is a single page. That’s better than having a page on an existing website, even if that website has lots of domain history and lots of authority. Don’t take that page down. But it sure seems like you need to have a different website on a separate domain that matches the name of your show. Full stop.
Who knows what’s going to happen next with this fun little wrinkle Google has put in the podcasting world. In a good way!
I know it’s tough to keep up with these changes. If you need help keeping up with these changes and the ones just around the corner, get in touch with me. I am happy to help you with that: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go to PodcastLaunch.pro to see a list of all the services I offer to my clients.
This article is a human-readable text-version of the 167th episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast about podcasting (a “PAP”, as they are known), but is focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen.
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.