It’s time to optimize your audio
Hello! And thanks for listening to SEO tips today.
Interested in optimizing your audio assets? This episode is for you.
Did you know that one-third of US adults listen to a podcast a month? That’s more people consuming podcasts than are on some of the major social media networks AND podcasts listeners are an engaged audience, as 80% of people will listen to an entire podcast episode or most of it.
Optimizing podcasts and audio assets for search is a relatively new effort, and now it has even more focus from Google in relation to surfacing podcast landing pages and episodes in search.
I started paying attention to the trend when Google’s podcasting team announced that their new goal was to help double the amount of podcast listening in the next couple of years. That’s a huge thing for podcasters… and marketers.
Now Google is integrating and surfacing podcast content into Google Search and Google Assistant. If you search for a popular podcast now (or a guest on a podcast by name + podcast), Google results will display a clickable carousel, so you can instantly play the top episodes.
Keep in mind that you might not see these ranking opportunities are not visible in your SEO software.
Ranking in Google’s podcasting app
Google particularly mentions the following when it comes to selecting and ranking audio content in its podcast app:
- Including evergreen content relevant to a listener
- Excluding news content that is no longer free
- Including of episodes if they do not need to be listened to as a part of a series
- Surfacing information related to categories or topics that are of interest to a particular listener.
Your guests will matter
Interestingly, in early 2020, Google was granted a patent called Speaker Identification, which allows them to identify a speaker by using speech recognition. They can do this by honing into unique aspects of how each speaker communicates and while they are most likely applying this to YouTube videos, it also has audio data in Google podcasts where it can analyze and ID different speakers.
Bill Slawski points out this is part of a larger trend he has noticed over his 16 years of analyzing Google patents:
“Google wants to index actual speakers and authors and websites treating each as an entity, understanding, and indexing each of those based upon the features which make them unique.”
If Google knows *who* you are interviewing as an expert, it can then apply that expertise to both the content you have that includes that speaker and then associating that expert with you as an entity and perhaps your podcast show as well.
The technical elements required for podcast ranking
There’s some basic blocking & tackling here.
You will also need a dedicated landing page for your overall podcast since Googlebot needs to get to your podcast home page and RSS feed. The homepage, the RSS feed, and any non-blocked audio files must be exposed to Googlebot; that is, they must not require a login, or blocked by robots.txt or <noindex> tags. I would also recommend adding schema.org markup on the bio page on your site so that Google can associate the podcast with you as an expert.
Each podcast episode URL will be indexed and ranked separately by Google – which is why you need an optimized post or page for each episode. Each episode should have its own page or URL including:
- Well-structured HTML markup
- Playable audio with episode length
- Date published
- Show notes and transcript with timestamps
- Key takeaways, checklists, or worksheets
- List of resources and entities where you link to the entities mentioned in the episode
A bit more about transcripts….
It’s best if you can control the timestamps in your transcript. When This American Life podcast transcribed their entire audio archive and posted the transcripts online, they found that 6.26% of all unique visitors who came from search traffic landed on a transcript page.
Additionally, Google is now surfacing these timestamps in Google search results – allowing searchers to jump directly to the answer to their question deep within the transcript.
Keep in mind that the page load speed is a mobile ranking factor, and many of your audience will be engaging with your podcast via their phone, so a fast page load speed is critical. Google is also using Page Experience (core web vitals metrics) in their rankings as of May 2021. So you should test your page speed using tools like GtMetrics, Page Speed Insights, or Google Lighthouse and improve any issues you see there.
Ultimately your podcast audio needs to answer a searcher’s question to be surfaced in Google search and that’s where having a script for the interview where you optimize your questions to address searcher’s issues (where possible) will generate the most chance that Google will lift that part of the interview and surface it in search.
So those are your tips for today – a wealth of information about how to optimize your podcast audio.
Thanks for listening.
Come back tomorrow for another SEO tip.
Listen to the previous episode: Creating a plan to rank in voice search
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