Podcast Show Notes SEO: How to Rank a Podcast

Over the last few years, I’ve been asked a number of questions by my clients how to best optimize their podcasts for SEO to get the most benefits out of their work on their shows. With the rise of podcasts, there’s a lot you can do with SEO to increase your listeners of your podcast and to help drive more traffic to your website with podcasts!

If you want to learn how to drive traffic to your podcast, SEO can be a huge tool to help. There are people searching for your podcast content right now but they have to find it first. And we all know that the discovery process for podcasts is a huge battle to overcome.

After all, you spend so much time on your podcast booking the right guests, recording, editing, and promoting your episodes. Wouldn’t it be great if your podcasts were constantly getting new listeners instead of falling off the face of the internet after your current audience has listened to it?

That’s what Podcast SEO is all about—making your podcast episodes have a longer shelf-life so you can get the most benefit from your time spent producing your show! This guide centers on Google Podcasts SEO rather than iTunes rankings, so this is all focused on your website and getting your podcast to the top of Google search.

Blogging vs Podcasts: Which is Better for SEO?

I’m often asked if blogging or podcasts are better for SEO and which will help drive more traffic to your site. Truth? It all has to do with how you use your content you’re creating! If you don’t optimize for helping your content get discovered in search engines, you’re missing out no matter what kind of content you’re creating.

Google tends to focus on written content more than other forms so most people believe blogging is the way to go. After all, if you look at a search result page for your niche, you’ll probably find that the majority of the content on the page is geared towards the written word, with maybe some visual content in Google Images, some video content that comes from Youtube, and the occasional social media content.

Take a look at this search result:

But things are changing. Google is starting to include a podcast carousel that you can play directly in Google search results, as of August 2019. Google also has plans to start indexing the content that’s spoken in podcast episodes. In other words, Google will eventually know what’s being said on your podcasts so it can turn up that content in search in the same way as written content!

This is what podcasts look like in Google search results right now for one of my SEO clients, Susan Boles of ScaleSpark when I search the podcast name:

Podcast SEO Results in Google Search

And this is what podcasts look like when you search a topic in Google search:

podcast show results in Google search

While we’re not into podcast content indexing yet and podcasts in search results are still a new feature, I expect that podcasts will continue to rise in search results and drive more listeners to episodes.

But right now? Google is still all about written content. And even if we get to the point where podcast episodes are in search results, I’m willing to bet that most of the search results will still be geared towards written content.

What does that mean for your traffic growing strategies? You want to give Google written content to rank well. And that can be in the form of a blog post or podcast show notes that are optimized for Google’s search engine.

Use Podcast Show Notes to Drive Search Traffic to Your Podcast

The easiest way to drive traffic to your podcast with search engines is to use your podcast show notes as a way to rank for relevant keywords and searches. I’ve found that the best way to do this is a combination of a blog post style write up of a podcast transcript with excerpts from the show to illustrate your points.

I’ve used this method to help my clients get more search traffic to their websites and podcasts to get more clients so, yup, it works!

For example, I helped podcast host and anxiety coach Nancy Jane Smith showcase her expertise in high functioning anxiety by transforming her podcast show notes into an optimized page that ranks well in Google search results.

After making edits to her show notes page using podcast SEO techniques, her website’s search visibility increased by 53% in under 20 days for that single podcast episode and is already increasing listeners!

Podcast SEO results driving more traffic

Podcast website tips tend to center on creating a jumping off point for your listeners to find out more about your guests, resources mentioned in your show, and to act on the call-to-action you have in your show. But the best way to take advantage of SEO? You need to do more with your show notes to get SEO benefits by optimizing content around your episode for search.

Best Podcast Show Notes Template for SEO

So how can you write podcast show notes for the most SEO benefits? It all comes down to creating an optimizing show notes page. You can follow this process step by step to optimize your show notes pages.

1. Do podcast keyword research

Find podcast keywords by doing research about the topics, people, and content in your show episode and find relevant keywords that you can use on your show note pages.

A lot of podcasts rank well for the names of guests, which can help you gain more listeners looking for specific people to listen to, helping you piggy-back on your guests’ brands. Be sure to look for your guests’ names, brands, and even product names to include in your podcast keyword research.

You’ll also want to find keywords that have to do with your topic that you’re covering in your episode to find keywords that you should include in your show notes page. These may be words you mention in your episode—or they may be keywords you don’t actually talk about.

This is where you can get the most out of SEO for podcasts by including additional keywords that you didn’t actually say but are related to your podcast episode! Sometimes keywords people search aren’t natural speaking patterns so this allows you to get in what might sound awkward outloud but that’s normal in the written word.

2. Capture the best moments from your podcast transcripts

The thing to keep in mind is people discovering your content from search are likely seeing your content or site for the first time. They don’t know your brand or why they should listen to your episode. Your job is to show your website visitors from search engines that the podcast is worth their time, especially if your goal is to increase listeners.

I’ve found what works really well is taking quotes from your episode that are the best of the best and showcasing them in your show notes and teasing your audience with that there’s other details they can hear if they listen to the episode.

The next step is to review your episode and transcript to look for the best moments and pull these quotes out to include in your show note highlights, instead of just pasting in your whole transcript and calling it a day.

Why? People don’t read transcripts because they’re full of small talk, ums, and things that just don’t come across in the written word. But a crafted show notes post that is easy to read and scan for information works much better. Your website visitors want to figure out what the podcast is about—and determine if it’s worth listening to—based on your show notes.

3. Craft your podcast show notes with keywords

The next step is to combine your podcast keyword research with your excerpt from your post to write an easily digestible summary of your podcast episode that entices readers to listen and take action.

Doing podcast show notes SEO can take a bit of practice and knowledge of SEO copywriting so practice makes perfect! If you need help optimizing your podcast website for SEO, I offer SEO services to help too.

4. Follow a podcast show notes template

Finally, put it all together to create your podcast show notes page. I love using the following format for podcast show notes to make sure I’m hitting all the appropriate keywords and including all the necessary content to give listeners and search visitors the right information.

  1. Choose a URL with your main keyword
  2. Title with main keyword
  3. Subtitle with podcast episode, name, and guest
  4. Embedded podcast audio files, hosted elsewhere to keep your website speedy
  5. Introduction with short summary of what’s covered and why it’s important to your readers
  6. Heading with keywords
  7. Body describing section of podcast episode with keywords
  8. Pull quote
  9. Repeat 5-7 as many times as needed to cover your podcast content
  10. Final call to action
  11. Resources & links for show notes, including guest information, opt-ins, etc.
  12. Related episodes and content links to create internal linking between your own content.
  13. Add a meta description that includes keywords and a call to action to click.
  14. Use structured data to add extra information about your podcasts for Google, including your show cover art.
  15. Optional: Full transcript in an expandable accordion section

That’s it! You’ve created an optimized podcast show notes page that will get all the benefits of SEO while motivating your audience to start listening to your podcast.

Beyond your show notes page itself, you’ll also want to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly, loads quickly, and is easy to navigate between different episodes. I also recommend syndicating your episodes with an RSS feed.

Should I Publish My Podcast Transcript?

My podcast SEO tips center around publishing your podcast transcript—but there’s often a lot of resistance to this method from podcasts hosts. I bet you’re asking "Won’t people not listen to my episode if I publish my transcript?"

Truth be told, there will be some people who won’t listen to your episode if you publish your full transcript, which is why my podcast show notes SEO method focuses on pulling the best moments and enticing readers to listen to the show.

But it also comes down to the real reasons why you’re producing your podcast to begin with.

Do you want more people to listen to your show because you’re monetizing your audience with ads? Then posting your whole transcript is probably a bad idea and you want to share just enough to rank but not so much that you miss listeners.

Do you want people to listen to know, like and trust you so they hire you for your services or buy your products? Then getting people to take action to purchase from your podcast or your show notes should be enough instead of building up an audience only on your podcast.

Your digital marketing needs to focus on the real reasons why you’re producing the content you’re creating to make sure it’s productive for you, not just creating more noise in your niche.

Benefits of Podcasts for SEO

So now that we’ve covered how to get more traffic to your podcast with SEO, it begs the question if there are benefits of podcasts for SEO. In other words, if you’re already producing great SEO content in a blog, should you start a podcast for even more SEO benefits?

  1. Podcasts can help you get links to your website from reputable sites from your guests linking to their episodes or their fans linking to the episode.
  2. Podcasts help you rank on other platforms beyond Google, like iTunes, Spotify, and more so you’re in more places where your audience is through syndication.
  3. Podcasts can help you easily produce more content marketing collateral that ranks without having to be a writer by repurposing content across your website and social profiles.
  4. Podcasts can easily add a video element to rank in video search results too, allowing you to do double-duty with one content creation action.
  5. Podcast episodes can help you dominate more of search results by occupying more real estate in search results for branded traffic.
  6. Podcasts are extremely mobile friendly, allowing you to be in your audience’s on-the-go life.
  7. Podcasts can open more doors to being guests on other shows and websites, as well as increased brand awareness, which can help you build a strong backlink profile.

I’m sure you can think of even more benefits of podcasting beyond SEO, like building trust and brand authority for your business, building connections with industry influencers, and showing off your thought leadership! If you want to get the most from your dedication to the podcasting medium, however, don’t forget about the SEO benefits.

Next Steps: Optimize Your Podcast for SEO

You have the information you need to start optimizing your website for podcast SEO to get your show to the top of Google results—but it can be daunting to do it yourself if you’re not an SEO pro.

Need help? I offer SEO services to help course creators, coaches, and service-based online businesses get the most from their podcasts for driving traffic with search engine optimization. Get in touch for a free initial consultation and find out how podcast SEO can help you do more with your podcast.

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