A Guide to Optimizing Your Podcast for SEO

Stephanie Castillo
October 8, 2019

If you’re a business owner with a podcast, you’re most likely looking to increase the number of listens and downloads your episodes get. Making sure your podcast is receiving organic traffic is a great way to increase overall visibility of your show. Here is our guide to optimizing your podcast for SEO.


Podcasts in the SERP

At the Google I/O 2019 conference in May, Google announced that in the coming months, they’ll start including podcasts in Google Search results so users can listen to podcasts directly from the search results page or save an episode for later.

Similar to how videos are being shown on Google’s desktop and mobile search results, podcasts will have their own media snippet, which also allows users to play or download the episode without having to switch to a new page.

Google SERP of MozPod

Example of MozPod in the SERP

Using Google’s ability to search the audio in a podcast episode, users will even be able to skip to the part of the episode which mentions the topic that they have searched for.

This has exciting implications for companies with podcasts, as it means that Google will be indexing podcast content and returning audio clips in search results, helping to expand a show’s online presence. This update also helps Google Podcasts become one of the biggest podcast hosting platforms, helping it compete against the likes of Apple podcasts and Spotify. Optimizing for Google Podcasts will be increasingly important for SEO.


5 Ranking Factors for Podcasts

When strategizing on how to increase visibility of your podcast, there are many factors to consider that influence how a podcast ranks within podcast platforms and directories. Many of these factors are congruent with traditional SEO: 

  • Categories and tags — Incorporate tags or categories that are relevant to your show and individual episodes. These often serve as valuable shortcuts to rank for certain keyword searches so your podcast is more likely to rank higher.
  • Total subscribers — Podcasts with more subscribers tend to rank more highly within directories.
  • New subscribers — Some directories, including iTunes, rank podcasts based on the number of new subscribers they’ve attracted in the past week. Fast-growing podcasts can sometimes temporarily outrank long-standing podcasts with large, but slower-growing subscriber counts.
  • Plays and downloads — As another indication of podcast popularity, most directories will consider the total number of episode plays and downloads a podcast has received.
  • Ratings and reviews — Podcasts with lots of high ratings and positive reviews are going to rank higher than their competitors, monitor your reviews frequently, and periodically ask your listeners to leave reviews.


4 Podcast SEO Best Practices

There are several SEO tactics to optimize a podcast for organic traffic based on the above ranking factors.

  1. Transcribe episodes and optimize the transcript landing pages

Posting podcast episode transcriptions will help users engage with a text version of your content. Additionally, providing episode transcriptions will help search engines understand and index your content. Optimizing the podcast episode transcription landing pages is a great opportunity to further incorporate target keywords that you want to rank for to increase organic traffic.

  1. Migrate your episodes to Google Podcasts

With the podcast SERP update, Google Podcasts are becoming increasingly important in the podcast digital landscape. Make sure your episodes are present on both Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Here are the guidelines for inclusion in podcast features in Google Podcasts:

  • Expose a valid RSS feed describing the podcast that adheres to the RSS 2.0 specifications and Google’s feed requirements.
  • Make sure the feed contains at least one episode that conforms to the episode requirements.
  • Make sure the podcast has a dedicated homepage that follows our requirements. The homepage must have a <link> pointing to your RSS feed.
  • Make sure Googlebot can access the homepage, the RSS feed, and any audio files. The homepage, the RSS feed, and any audio files must not require a login, and must not be disallowed from crawling by the robots.txt or noindex robots meta tag.
  • Make sure the podcast homepage follows the Webmaster Guidelines.
  1. Include target keywords in your podcast listings 

It’s important to optimize the show title and episode titles of your podcast, as this is often the first thing your listeners will see when searching for a podcast. Complete keyword research to find target keywords that are relevant to your podcast, have a relatively high search volume, and relatively low competition. These keywords should be incorporated in the podcast name, meta data, individual episode descriptions, and show notes.

  1. Build backlinks to your podcast from external websites

Backlinks are an important signal for improving your podcast and overall website domain authority, which in turn, will help increase your rankings and organic visibility. There are many ways to build backlinks. A few tactics include:

  • Guest posts — As your host’s personal brands continue to grow, have them guest post on external publishers’ websites or do guest spots on other podcasts. Additionally, you can ask episode guests to include links back to your podcast on their website.
  • Forums — Posting on sites such as Quora or Reddit or any industry-specific forums is a great organic way to link back to your podcast and website and reach a new audience.

Using podcast SEO tactics to optimize your show episodes is an important and cost-efficient way to help grow your audience.

Want more SEO tips? Find out how to improve your backlink profile through unlinked brand mentions and contact us to get in touch with our team of SEO experts!


Stephanie Castillo
Senior Manager, SEO & Content

Stephanie Castillo is a true Wisconsinite at heart. She’s from Milwaukee (#BrewCrewForLife), attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and loves anything with cheese. She was also a competitive Irish dancer for 10 years.

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