I am about to turn your understanding of SEO for podcasts upside down. Literally. If you finally want to solve your podcasts’ “discoverability problem”, here’s a better way for you to approach the solution. (Yes, you can do it!)
Everything you think you know about podcasting and SEO is backward. But you’re not alone. Almost everyone gets it backward, even non-podcasters. Yes, even giant corporations with big and complicated international websites get this backward.
I want to help you change the way you understand SEO and podcasting. Honestly, all that’s needed is a simple change in perspective. Also: I promise that you can implement this change. It’s understanding the concept that’s more important than the tactics. Once you understand this concept, you will have a much better approach to SEO and your podcast.
Before I get to that answer; a quick expertise-setting on my part is in order. For the better part of two decades, I’ve been in charge of running digital advertising agencies. Specifically, I’ve been in charge of the media departments of these agencies. That has included a team of super-smart team SEO experts. These people understood how the algorithms work. Not just quick-hit “black hat” garbage. But serious and sustainable SEO strategies for huge multinational companies. If you trust my advice when it comes to podcasting, you can certainly trust that I also know a lot about SEO.
Here’s what I mean by a backward understanding of SEO. The way most people (podcasters included) approach SEO is by looking at their already-published posts, article, or other pages of their website, and then trying to add some SEO to the work already done. Like it’s table salt or some other seasoning that can improve the flavor.
After-the-fact SEO doesn’t tend to work very well.
Search engines do one thing well: catering to what the users of those search engines want to see. That’s it. That is the entire reason search engines exist. And those search engines are getting better every day at presenting searchers the content they are looking for.
Have you guessed the secret yet? It’s making content searchers are looking for. Yes. It’s that simple.
It’s great that you’re spending time writing really in-depth episode details. That’s important. It’s great that you are spending time writing episode titles that are relevant and score high on the emotional scale. That’s important. It’s great that you’ve done the hard work of building a great website that keeps your content all on one domain so the search engines can give you the authority you deserve. That’s important.
But all of those efforts are often for naught if you’re still thinking about SEO at the end of those processes. You need to move your SEO strategy to the front.
Before you sit down behind the microphone, before you select the guest (if you have guests), before you write your script or talking points, before you do anything at all for your next planned episode: you have to do know what people are searching for. And then you tailor all of those “before you…” statements accordingly for your next planned episode.
Of course, what people are searching for might have little to do with the content of your podcast. There are a lot of people searching for information on the Coronavirus right now. But it makes no sense for me to try to do an episode on the Coronavirus because that has nothing to do with making podcasting better, the common theme of all of my episodes.
But that may not be the case for your show. If you do a political podcast, you could talk about the domestic and/or international policy ramifications of this threat. If you do a travel show, consider the cruise ship with more than 100 people infected with the virus. Find your angle on a popular topic and make an episode just for that.
So how do you find what searchers are actually searching for? There are lots of tools out there, like UberSuggest, SEMRush, and a whole lot more. I’m not personally endorsing any of them, simply because I don’t care which one you use. All I want you to do is rethink where you position SEO so that you start thinking about SEO from the beginning of your episode planning process. Because other than blind luck, that’s the only way to get it to work for your show.
Once you understand what people — many or a few — are searching for, you can make an episode about that one thing, that one topic, or that one keyword if that’s how it helps you think about the solution. Make answering that search request the primary function of that particular episode. Give people what they are searching for. And do it first, before you start planning or recording, not afterward.
Once you know which search topic you’re going after, and once you understand your unique angle, you can move on to figuring out who’d make a great guest (if you have guests), what segments you’ll need to cover the topic well, and then you can go about the normal process of making your episodes.
Of course, if you’re style is “whatever is on my mind that day”, you’re going to have a more radical set of changes to your podcasting process. But that’ll probably make your podcast better, so that’s a good thing.
Once you’ve got a great sounding episode that hones in on the topic you selected, you still have to do all the other things. Yes, you have to write a compelling title. But now it’s a lot easier since you already know the topic and angle. Yes, you still have to write interesting and helpful in-app episode details. You’ll find that easier too with all that work done ahead of time. Yes, you’ll need to craft a well-written article — maybe even including a transcription — to capture some search attention. But that’s also going to be a lot easier now that you know what people are looking for.
If you’ve created content that is relevant to a topic people are looking for, you’ve done the SEO work. That’s it. That’s the secret of great SEO. Do it before you create the content. Not afterward.
Also: Don’t worry about the 275 episodes you’ve already produced without a good SEO strategy. Ignore them. Start fresh. In fact, forget the next one you’re editing or have queued up ready to release. Forget SEO for any in-progress episodes. Just start with the next episode you’re planning. Stop what you’re doing for that episode and figure out what people are actually searching for. Do it now.
Create content that answers the needs of searchers. That’s how you get to the first page of Google. Not from doing minor tweaks to your site structure. Not from revamping your titles. Sure, those are important things, but not nearly as important as putting SEO at the beginning of your episode planning process.
I’ll be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Since you got this far, how about mashing that 👏 button a few dozen times to let me know you dig the written-word version of my thoughts on these podcasting topics? I’d sure appreciate it!
This article started life as a podcast episode. The 260th episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇
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.