Podcast SEO: 10 Tips from our SEO Podcasting Expert

Reading Time: 13 minutes

Working for Captivate, I have landed my perfect job. I get to combine two passions of mine, SEO and podcasting. 

I’ve been podcasting since the end of 2018, and have recently launched my fourth podcast, The SEO Mindset. You could say I am a podcast addict. I’ve also been working in digital marketing, specializing in SEO for over ten years. 

If you want to grow your podcast and listeners, I would really recommend having a plan and strategy for search engine optimization (SEO). Especially since Google announced back in 2019 that they are indexing podcasts (more on this later). 

Lots of podcasters already understand the importance of SEO, meaning that we receive lots of questions from podcasters about podcasts and search engine optimization (SEO), ranging from “what is a meta description?” to “where do I put my keywords?”

This blog will aim to answer some of these questions, as I share my top 10 podcast SEO tips and best practices for optimizing your podcast for increased search traffic, discoverability and authority.

What Is Podcast SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the method of increasing both the quality and quantity of traffic to your website via non-paid (organic) results in search engines such as Google.

You can apply SEO techniques to your podcast and is a sustainable method for growing your audience and raising your profile online. By optimizing your podcast for search engines, you give potential listeners more opportunities to discover you and your show when searching online rather than just relying on being found in podcast apps. 

Of course, seasoned podcast listeners might go straight to an app on their phone, or head to Spotify or Apple Podcasts to search for new podcasts themselves. Optimizing your podcast with keywords is important for getting your show to appear in these search results, too – after all, every podcast app is a search engine, too! 

But there’s a huge potential audience that either doesn’t know where to look for new podcasts or aren’t currently listening to them.

For example, some may head to Google to look for podcasts by typing in, for example, ‘podcasts about rock music’ or ‘film reviews podcast’.  

For those who aren’t yet listening to podcasts, Google may still show podcast episodes to them in the search results, even if they didn’t include ‘podcast’ in the search query, depending on what they searched for and if Google deems your podcast episode as revelant.

Podcast SEO is important, and it’s important to get it right! 

When did Google start indexing and showing podcasts?

In May 2019, Google announced that it had started indexing podcasts so that it can display shows directly in its search results.  

This means that depending on what someone searches in Google, they will be shown relevant or related podcasts playable directly within Google Search and its other products, like Google Assistant.  

To help understand podcast episodes, Google analyses and transcribes the audio content of a podcast. This is obviously great news for discoverability as people are shown podcast episodes in Google without having to be using a podcast app.  

SEO SAS Podcast Google Search Snippet
My old podcast, The SEO SAS Podcast, appears in the search results for ‘what is podcast SEO?’ 

Okay so we have covered the importance of podcast and SEO, how do you optimize your podcast for search engines? 

Continue reading, as I give my top ten podcast SEO tips to increase your shows ranking and discoverability in search engines like Google.  

Podcast SEO tips and best practices

1. Claim Your Podcast On Google Podcasts Manager

Google needs to index your podcast in order for it to be shown in search results. If you are unsure what this means, I have an analogy that should hopefully help you understand this better.

Think of Google as a library and the books are websites and pages. Similar to how a librarian will go through and analyse books so they can be categorised on shelves for library users to then go and find, Google does the same, but instead of librarians it uses bots. The internet is its library where they go and search for website pages to categories and then include them in its database, so that they can be displayed later when someone types in a relevant query into Google.

To help this process I would highly recommend verifying yourself with Google Podcasts Manager.

Verifying is super-easy and involves five steps:

  1. Access Google Podcasts Manager through the Distribution page of your Captivate dashboard.
  2. Log in with your Google Account (or create one). 
  3. Enter your podcast RSS feed URL.
  4. Preview your feed to make sure the episodes and artwork are pulling through correctly.
  5. Google will then send you a code to the email address associated with your RSS feed. 
  6. Enter the code and verify ownership!

Once you have verified yourself, Google will index your feed and make it discoverable across Google Home, Google Search and Google Assistant. If you can get your podcast content to rank highly enough for your chosen keywords (we go into more detail about this next), there’s a good chance Google will include you in relevant search results.

Complete the four-step podcast RSS feed verification on Google Podcasts Manager to get Google to index your podcast.
Complete the four-step podcast RSS feed verification on Google Podcasts Manager to get Google to index your podcast.

Getting yourself set up on Google Podcasts also gives you valuable SEO data – for free. When your podcast episodes have been displayed in search results you can see the number of impressions and clicks that it received. You can also see the keywords (what someone physically typed into Google for your episode to be shown) that someone used for your episode to be shown. 

Top tip: When you receive your show link from Google Podcasts, don’t forget to add it to your podcast player links so listeners can access it!

2. Research Relevant Podcast Keywords

Research keywords that are relevant to your podcast and episodes e.g. what keywords would make sense for your podcast and episodes to be shown. You’ll need to use a keyword research tool (there are loads out there to suit any budget) to identify opportunities for your podcast and episodes. If your budget is really limited, there are plenty of free resources to try. I recommend:

I would recommend using a keyword in the actual name of your podcast. What is the main topic that your podcast is about? Jot down some ideas, research what keywords people are using and a list of them that are relevant but also has a decent number of monthly searches. Most tools will tell you the number of monthly searches, which is the estimated average of how many searches a keyword gets, usually called search volume or something similar. If using Google Trends or Google Podcast Manager, they don’t give search volume but the number of impressions (the number of times any URL from your site appeared in search results viewed by a user).

This Google Trends search shows that over the past 30 days, the term 'podcast logo' returns a greater amount of searches overall than 'podcast cover art'.
This Google Trends search shows that over the past 30 days, the term ‘podcast logo’ returns a greater amount of searches overall than ‘podcast cover art’.

Funny and inventive podcast names are great, but some podcasters intentionally pick a name based on the keyword opportunity, for example ‘The Property Podcast’ or ‘The Totally Football Show’.

Funny and inventive podcast names are great, but some podcasters intentionally pick a name based on the keyword opportunity, for example ‘The Property Podcast’ or ‘The Totally Football Show’. 

You want to aim to get your main keyword and others on the list known as synonyms (similar keywords that people also search for) in your podcast description. Don’t overkill with keywords. Having too many or sounding unnatural, known as keyword stuffing, doesn’t work. Google doesn’t like it and your potential listeners won’t like it either. 

You also need to be using keywords for your individual podcast episodes. When you are planning episodes, fire up that keyword research tool again and have a look at what people are searching for. Can you cover this topic or specific question in an episode? Make sure you include the keyword in the episode title, metadata (more on this later), URL and in your show notes. In the show notes, again similar to your podcast description, try and use synonyms – but remember, no stuffing! 

An example of keyword stuffing, which can seriously harm your Google page ranking.
Avoid keyword stuffing, aka repeating keywords or phrases out of context or unnaturally – this can seriously harm your Google page ranking.

Top tip: Doing keyword research for episodes is also a great way to come up with potential topics for future shows!

What makes a good keyword?

When doing research, look for keywords that have a decent volume of monthly searches (or impressions) and where competition isn’t too high. Tools like Keyword Surfer can estimate how many people search for a particular keyword on a monthly basis. 

Most tools will show how competitive a keyword is using a traffic light system (where red is hard and green is easy).

Important note – tools don’t always get the competition right, but it’s a good starting point. By all means, go for the more competitive keywords (they tend to have higher search volumes), if it’s relevant, but just bear in mind that it may take some time to start appearing for the keyword (you may not even appear). 

You’ll also be able to find other suggestions that are related to the keyword you’re searching for, so have a look and see which is best based on relevancy, monthly searches and competition.

Screenshot of Google Podcast Manager top search terms tool
Log into your Google Podcasts Manager account to see the top search terms for your podcast.

Top tip: As of October 2020, you can now use Google Podcasts Manager to see which search terms led listeners to your podcast. It’s free, accurate and will give you valuable insights into the keywords that convert well for your show.

3. Build Authority with Relevant & Quality Content

Search engines exist to give users the best possible answers and content to their questions and queries. It’s not just about making sure the results they display are relevant and correct (even though sometimes they get this wrong), but also that they are displaying content from trustworthy sources. Just like any content we produce, when creating podcasts to stand the best chance in search engines our goal should be to create highly relevant, informative and useful content

When you are planning and creating episodes make sure there is a clear structure and flow to your episode. Similar to if you were preparing a blog, you need to structure your content and think about how the format and questions can maintain a clear, consistent and logical flow. 

This makes for a quality listening experience, builds trust and authority and makes it easier for search engines to make sense of your content too when they analysis and transcribe your podcast.

Make it easier for search engines to know that a specific podcast episode is relevant to a user’s particular search query by using keywords to help search engines too. Hopefully you will have done your keyword research to help you come up with ideas for episodes. If not, were you not paying attention to my previous tip about keywords? 

Joking aside, you need to make sure you are mentioning these keywords when you are recording but also in the show notes – as Google will pay attention to what’s written here too. Again, don’t keyword stuff. You want it to come across naturally. You’ll probably mention the keywords without realizing anyway. You can make sure though my including a keyword in questions that you ask or when you introduce themes and subtopics that you’re going to discuss during an episode.

Lastly, help search engines trust your episode content by mentioning research, quotes, statistics, surveys etc when you are recording to back up any ideas or themes you are talking about. Make sure to also include any resources in your show notes.

Top tip: Avoid ‘keyword stuffing’, e.g. listing variations of your keyword out of context or where they don’t flow naturally – Google will catch you in the act

4.  Leverage Podcast Metadata

Firstly, what do we mean when we say ‘metadata’? 

Metadata is data that describes other data. It basically summarizes info about data on a given page and plays an important part in SEO – including podcast SEO, as Google uses metadata to understand additional information about a webpage. 

Title tags and meta descriptions

Meta descriptions and page titles (also known as title tags) are examples of metadata, and you should be Page titles (also known as title tags) and meta descriptions are examples of metadata, and you should include these when publishing your podcast episodes.

An example of the meta description and title tag for Captivate CEO Mark Asquith’s The Podcast Accelerator
An example of the meta description and title tag for Captivate CEO Mark Asquith’s The Podcast Accelerator

Including a page title and meta description will give Google a brief overview (a snippet) of what your content is about, as well as being displayed in search results (as a caveat whilst Google tends to use the page title that you have specified, they don’t always do the same with meta descriptions).  

Your page title should be clear, concise and include your focus keyword where appropriate. You can be a bit more creative with your meta description – after all, its function is to persuade your listener to actually listen, but make sure to provide enough context and details to make it relevant and useful. 

Reminder: Captivate has SEO features built in to your podcast’s website and your episodes, too!

5. Increase Your Online Presence with Social Media

We always recommend that podcasters set themselves up on social media. It’s the best way to connect with your audience, foster relationships with your fans and encourage people to share new episodes when they go live.

That said, there’s an ongoing debate in the industry about whether social media affects SEO or not. From my research and understanding, social media has an indirect effect on SEO. Search Engine Watch has done an awesome blog about this subject.

Social media has an ‘indirect effect’ on your podcast SEO because it generates social proof, or word of mouth recommendation. If people are engaging with your social media accounts, sharing your content, leaving reviews and linking out to your episodes, Google will take notice of this popularity.

6. Create Episode Transcriptions

You might be thinking, why do I need to create transcripts, you’ve already said that Google transcribes podcasts. Whilst that is true, they can get things wrong. When you use a tool to transcribe your podcasts (for example Descript), you will see this for yourself, as when you get the text back you will need to do some tidying up as they will get words, names, acronyms etc wrong. 

We recommend that you provide a transcription for all your podcast episodes, once you have your transcription you will be able to upload into most podcast hosting platforms. We provide a section within Captivate, which also show on your podcast page too.

Moz do a weekly Whiteboard Friday, which is in video format, but when they publish it to their site, they include a transcription.

Providing transcripts gives you a chance to highlight key topics, keywords and structure your content for search engines to digest easily. 

It also helps to make your content more accessible for those who cannot listen, and readers can easily scan through a transcription to get the gist of your episode before they take the time to listen.

To drive the most SEO benefit from your podcast transcriptions:

  • Use H1-H4 header tags for structure and context
  • Include keywords (of course)
  • Use timestamps to improve usability, highlight topics and talking points

Point Out Relevant Content With Clickable Timestamps

If you’re creating transcripts for your podcast, repurposing your episode on YouTube or just optimizing your show notes, make sure to include clickable timestamps in your copy.

Timestamps connect your audience with the content they will find most valuable, saving them the hassle of searching through your episode themselves. 

You can optimize timestamps with keywords, link out to other content, include guest names and highlight your discussions of current events to increase the freshness and relevance of your podcast episodes.

With Captivate, you can embed timestamps within your show notes, meaning you can continually optimize and update them with relevant keywords.

An example of Captivate’s clickable timestamps in the optimized show notes of the Spark of Rebellion podcast.
An example of Captivate’s clickable timestamps in the optimized show notes of the Spark of Rebellion podcast.

7. Repurpose Your Podcast Content

If you have a website for your podcast, then you have more flexibility to do more and make the most of your podcast episodes. For example, I’d always recommend repurposing the content of your podcast into other forms, like videos, blogs, infographics or guides that search engines can index and show in relevant search results, with your actual podcast episodes. 

Here are some ways in which you can repurpose your podcast content for increased exposure across multiple channels:

  • Record video alongside your audio and create a YouTube channel from your podcast.
  • Use Canva to easily create social media posts, infographics, YouTube thumbnails and blog featured images for your podcast website.
  • Use Subly to caption video clips for use on social media. 
  • Turn your episode transcription into a fully fledged blog, tutorial or how-to guide. 
  • Use free PowerPoint templates by FPPT to make slideshows from podcast content to share on social media. 

8. Build Trust For Your Podcast with Backlinks

Backlinks are a fundamental of SEO. 

Google and other search engines treat external websites pointing to your website (or podcast) as a ‘vote’. If other websites are pointing to you, that is a sign to Google that your content is good and can be trusted.

This is especially the case if you manage to get authoritative websites pointing to your content like those with a high domain authority. 

I would recommend having some sort of link building strategy in place for your podcast website. Here are a few options to get you started:

  • Appear as a guest on another podcast – when your episode goes live, ask if they could include a link to your podcast. Chances are they will already do this – but it’s always worth double-checking.
  • Ask for reviews from your subscribers – make sure to do this when you introduce and wind up each episode. 
  • Ask for links to the podcast from your guests – ask for links from guests who come on your podcast, for example, they could have an existing blog that is about a similar topic and a link to the podcast episode may be relevant to include.
  • Look for blogs where they have included a list of the top podcasts in your niche/industry – ask the author to review your podcast to see if they will add you to the list.
  • Create some sort of guide or visual based on an episode topic Find other blogs that talk about this subject and ask if they would like to link out to your content.

9. Work On Your Internal Linking

It’s important that all pages within your podcast website have links pointing to them, unless you don’t want someone to come across a page – but then begs the question, “why is this page on your website?”

Make sure you are linking to your important pages from your podcast homepage. This helps search engines know they are important.

On individual episode pages, make sure you’re linking out to other episodes. You could do this by finding others that are related by topic. 

10. Pay Attention to Your Podcast Website Speed and Responsiveness

User experience is a big deal to search engines – after all, they want to make sure that once a searcher ends up on a page, not only is the content useful and relevant, but they also have a good experience on a website page they land on.

Page speed and mobile friendliness plays a big part. If a page takes too long to load, people are going to go elsewhere (something that Google will be monitoring). 

Also, if someone is on a mobile and the writing is too small, content doesn’t fit the screen or the buttons are too close together, guess what? They’ll end up going elsewhere too.

Captivate’s customizable podcast websites, your single-subscription landing page and podcast players are fast, optimized and fully responsive from the get-go: no additional tweaks needed.

Pro tip: get yourself clued up on Core Web Vitals which was a core algorithm update that Google rolled out June 2021 which covers website speed, responsiveness but also other website elements.

Spark of Rebellion’s fully responsive podcast website displayed on laptop, tablet and iPhone.

If you’re building your podcast website with WordPress, you can use Google’s free PageSpeed tool to get insights and feedback on your site’s performance. 

Pro tip: Captivate Sync™ integrates seamlessly and completely with WordPress, making it easy to upload, manage, edit and delete podcast episodes from within your WordPress dashboard.

Do I really need a website for successful podcast SEO?

Now, strictly speaking, you don’t need a website. All you need is a platform to host and publish your episodes, like Captivate.

However, having a website is a great way to improve your podcast’s SEO and visibility.

Why? 

Because you make it easier for search engines, like Google, to discover your podcast and episodes by providing more context and additional content for them to come across and include in its database.

Pro tip: Captivate creates an amazing, responsive website for your podcast at the click of a button, so you don’t need to worry about creating your own. Our websites are fully customizable, with support for the Facebook Pixel, Apple Smart Banners and, of course, built-in SEO features!

Succeeding With Podcast and SEO: Your Next Steps

So now you understand SEO and how to make it work for your podcast, I bet you are itching to get started!

To recap, through SEO you can use to build authority, increase discoverability and make your content more accessible (both to Google and more importantly humans).

Success with SEO doesn’t happen overnight, but if you implement any or all of the tips and best practices I’ve listed in this guide, you’ll surely start to see an improvement your podcast’s performance.

Market and Grow Your Podcast With Captivate

This article is part of a wider series on all things podcast marketing that you can dive into right now!

Got a spare 45 minutes, or even just 5? Listen to SEO 101, a jargon-busting Curated Collection of The Podcast Accelerator episodes that teach you everything you need to know to start incorporating SEO practices into your podcast production today.

Learn 9 Unconventional Ways To Grow Your Podcast

Download your FREE eBook designed to help you grow your podcast, including how to repurpose content for SEO and build growth-oriented marketing strategies for your podcast brand.

Sarah McDowell

Sarah is Captivate's SEO manager. She has over 10 years experience in digital marketing both in house and agency side, but specialises in SEO both from a content and technical aspect. She is also a podcaster and has four successful podcast shows under her belt including The SEO SAS Podcast, The Lipsticks Podcast, Women in Tech SEO Podcast and The SEO Mindset Podcast. When she is not working her 9-5 job or podcasting, Sarah is also a speaker and trainer both in SEO and podcasting.

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