Last Updated on October 11, 2021
Podcast show notes articles are crucial in the promotion of a podcast. Especially the way we think of them as a podcast marketing agency. In this, the first episode of a multi-part series, we highlight the first three tools of many. They save us massive time in show notes production process, and have a huge impact on getting the most business value from podcasting as a content strategy.
Really, the term "show notes" does not do their intention justice. For us, they are NOT casually created documents. They are not an afterthought. Ideally, these are authority articles designed to feature high in the search results, increase our client’s website authority, and are central to being shared on social media or approved and promoted through our influencer marketing programs.
Podcast Show Notes Workflow Tools Episode TOC
- Our Approach To Show Notes
- The Podcast Show Notes SEO Research Phase
- Tool #1: Mangools, An Affordable SEO Suite For Podcasters
- Show Notes Content Planning Workflow Phase
- Tool #2: Topic, A Content Brief and Content Grading System
- Episode Logistics Planning
- Tool #3: Our favorite tool for this is Clickup, a Trello Alternative
- Conclusion, Links and Resources
Our Approach To Show Notes
In many business podcasting scenarios, entire episodes and seasons are carefully pre-planned for SEO, designed to rank for selected keywords that have high search volume and low keyword difficulty.
While we do not preach this as the gospel for all podcasts, business podcasters benefit the most from this approach. It maximizes a podcast based content strategy. And it results in website rank, search result presence, website traffic and email list growth — And this web presence in turn powers podcast discoverability and leads to attracting more podcast subscribers as well.
So with an approach like this, a planned workflow for creating show notes is key. And so are the tools that make the process of how to write podcast show notes more streamlined. That's what this episode is about, I want to share some of the tools that save us a massive amount of time in creating intentional show notes using our approach for clients.
I am breaking down the tools we use by workflow stage, so if you'll indulge me, let's walk through our various podcast show notes workflow stages. Links are provided on the show notes at the bottom, since we have curated tools and some deals for them on our sister site, the Podcasting Resources Guide.
Show Notes Optimized For Search Engines
I should mention that this is not intended to be a “how to write show notes” or “SEO best practices” episode. We use show notes to rank in search engines. So our approach for this goes beyond creating an episode summary with timestamps, highlighting the main points and quotes or adding some bullet points and resource links. Sure, our process does this, but strategically this approach is designed to attracts new listeners that can discover a podcast and its content on Google Search.
So let’s start looking at some of the phases and tools involved:
The Podcast Show Notes SEO Research Phase
Conceiving, planning and recording podcast episodes already takes time. So spending some of it on SEO keyword analysis is worth it. It can lead to great insights on how your audience is likely searching for an episode topic. This leads to more SEO friendly episode titles, and therefore to more listens for people who use in-app search. But the big benefit is that it can let you rank for episode topics on the web, and that leads to organic discovery of your show notes in the search results.
For some our clients we conduct pre-season SEO for dozens of potential episode topics. For others we research the best episode keywords only after the recording and getting back a podcast transcript. Sometimes it’s a mix of pre and post recording keyword lookups. But the idea is the same:
Find long tail keywords your audience is likely looking for, which match your episode topic, and have decent search volume and low SEO difficulty
Tool #1: Mangools, An Affordable SEO Suite For Podcasters
Most SEO tools are sold as suites. Keyword research is only one aspect these typically cover. For example, being able to track the position of your episodes and performance of your keywords in the search results is useful. An SEO suite will let you see your website rank increase. It will let you track how your website will show up for more and more of your episode keywords in the top 100 search results. It will let you see backlinks, in other words who is linking to your podcast website. Did your guests ever link to their own episode from their site, as they promised? By the way, this is something we insist on in our guest onboarding process, since providing you a nice back-link that grows your website authority.
Why we use and like Mangools for podcast show notes SEO research
But SEO tools can be expensive, most in the 100s of dollars a month. Why is that? Big data costs big bucks, I guess. But really it is the accuracy of the keyword research that matters. I feel that free tools generally are not accurate enough, but also that the agency level tools we ourselves use (like SEMRush and AHrefs or Moz) are too expensive for the average podcaster.
This is one of the reasons we like Mangools so much. It is affordable, in fact a great value for this sort of toolset. We also love the easy user experience and intuitive interface. I consider myself an SEO pro — but find a lot of pro tools very clunky and not user friendly. The Mangools SEO suite is comprised of several modules:
- KWFinder is their keyword research module. Find long tail keywords with low SEO difficulty.
- SERPWatcher is a rank tracking tool that makes other complicated tools look, well, complicated.
- LinkMiner is their backlink checker tool
- SiteProfiler is an SEO analysis tool. With it you can check the SEO authority of any domain or URL and all other SEO metrics & insights under one roof.
- SERPChecker is a SERP analysis tool that helps you find the weak spots of your competitors
While you may not use the last two modules that often, the fist three play a consistent role in planning for your podcast show notes SEO success.
Alternatives to Mangools
- SEMRush – a pro suite of tools we use as an agency, but which costs 100s a month
- Ahrefs – probably the best data out there, but again cost prohibitive for average podcasters
- Ubersuggest – a more affordable suite of tools that used to be free, but lacks somewhat in accuracy
Our Take on Mangools
Apart from how quickly it works and how easy it is to target low hanging fruit keywords with a tool like this, I honestly do not think our podcast marketing would work as successfully as it does without some form of SEO suite. And I can whole heartedly recommend Mangools as a good value balance between performance and price.
Let’s move on to the next phase in podcast show notes production workflow, and for us this involves content planning.
Show Notes Content Planning Workflow Phase
This is where we use a new form of AI powered tools called “Content Briefs” and “Content Graders” tools. Just a reminder, this episode is not a “How To” tutorial, but we are focusing on the strategies behind why we use certain tools.
We use a system called “Topic” for this. You can find links on the bottom of the show notes for this episode, and can find discount deals on our sister site “The Podcasting Resources Guide”. It is very affordable, and there are several podcaster friendly plans to choose from. We also featured one of the Topic founders on a previous episode of our SEO Saturdays show with a live demo of the tool.
Tool #2: Topic, A Content Brief and Content Grading System
Content Briefs provide a step-by-step roadmap of exactly what to to include in your show notes in order to get into the search results. The AI engine analyzes the top search results for your intended keywords, and then suggests how many words you would need to write. It recommends how you would craft an outline, subheadings to include, questions to answer, topics to cover and key phrases to include. As you work in one of these tools, your “Content Grade” improves.
Content grading tools can also take existing articles or episode show notes URLs and provide you with a gap analysis for them to rank better.
For us, this ties in with the SEO research either done previously, or done after recording. Now there are many variations and use cases during this phase, depending on what type of show you are preparing for. It could be that you have a guest format versus a solo episode format. So for example you could try to target the name of your guests as the primary key word, which can make sense if your guest is well known and has a somewhat unique enough name. And your podcast show notes format should reflect this.
For example, we produce a content series and podcast for an art blog, and they have an “Artist of the Day” feature, and most often the artist's name can be used as an effective keyword. Artists love the fact that an article or episode about them shows up in the search results, and the site and podcast owners benefit as well. Many of them are relatively known in their niche and have some search volume associated with their name. So having those content pieces pop up in the search results is great exposure for this site.
Here are some additional use cases:
- It could be that you already know the topic you want to talk about in your episode, either by yourself or with a guest. Use Topic for your episode prep.
- Or, you might have no idea what topics might pop up during a conversation with a guest that is more spontaneous. This is fine, in this case you would do SEO research for keyword opportunities that came from the conversation, and then use such The Content Grading tool only after recording, as you write your show notes.
- By contrast, if you need to do some pre-recording research on a topic you would like to cover, a content brief can prep a document that has you automatically cover all the crucial aspects associated with that topic. So right away this naturally and organically results in your episode transcript and show notes being more search result friendly.
- Power move for podcasters with a back-catalog of show notes: Here is one way you might use the Mangools SEO Suite we talked about earlier: Find your own episodes or blog posts that are currently sitting on page 2 of the search results. Then re-write them to improve their content grade. Topic makes this easy. Improving the content grade almost guarantees your podcast show notes and blog articles will rise in the search results. In our show notes I have included a link to a case study where this improved traffic by 365% in one to two weeks.
Reasons we like Topic
There are several reasons why Topic is our preferred choice for content briefs and grading. It lets you prepare outlines for your own articles or podcast show notes by simply perusing and clicking on their suggestions. You can write your show notes right in their tool, and see your content grade improve. It also has a WordPress plugin, and can also integrate with Google docs. The tool is still in active development, and the team recently added an AI writing assistant as well, which can actually assist in writing whole paragraphs of text. So there are lots of ways in which to use it.
Either way, using content briefs and grading tools have become an integral part of our podcast episode planning and podcast show notes writing process.
Episode Logistics Planning
In planning and producing podcast episodes for our clients, we need to create order from the chaos of dozens of deadlines, guest invites, guest bios, profile pictures, recording schedules, audio and video production dates, video thumbnails etc. We also need to record the results of our SEO research, determine the best episode titles, and have checklists for all the podcast audio and show notes production steps.
But I would argue that this is not an agency thing. There are tools that help us save time, navigate, survive and even thrive during the planning and production of multiple podcasts. But these are just as valuable for any podcast host, indie podcasters, or DIY business podcasters. It just saves a massive amount of time. So you might like to check it our for your own podcast.
Kanban to manage episode audio, video and show notes
The type of tool we have landed on to help manage this is basically a form of Kanban. Kanban comes from a popular framework used to implement agile and DevOps software development. Episodes are represented visually on a kanban board as “cards”. These move from column to column, from planing to completion stages. Our team members can see the state of every piece of work at any time. Each card can have critical information such as recording or live dates, as well as checklists, attachments.
Tool #3: Our favorite tool for this is Clickup, a Trello Alternative
In the past we have used primarily Trello boards for this. Trello is the most well know of the Kanban style tools out there. But with recent changes to their pricing model, we recently switched to Clickup, which has several advantages over Trello.
I won’t go into the rabbit hole of how we configure Clickup, suffice it to say that there are three primary ways that it helps:
1. Episode Planning
We use Clickup to guide us and our team through the entire lifecycle of an episode concept, from planning to execution. Each idea for an episode is first entered in Clickup, and then fleshed out.
2. Guest Onboarding
Each guest card tracks the lifecycle of having a guest on the show. This starts with email outreach, scheduling, onboarding. Clickup supports many different forms as a way of intake, and so our guests can fill our a Google Doc, and the results of their submission, release form, headshot, bio etc. is recorded in ClickUp. The guest record then gets merged into the Episode production record.
3. Episode Production
The episode production process is really the most helpful stage for which to have a tool. With so many clients, each episode production card has checklists for our team to follow. Of course it handles the step by step instructions to follow for audio content production. But it is also a key collaboration tool for podcast show notes production. Our clients can enter their desired titles and episode descriptions. Our team can then help with SEO and communicate and chat with clients back and forth instead of relying on email. Eventually, all data for show notes production can be found in a single place.
Conclusion, Links and Resources
This was the first of a multi-part series highlighting the workflow tools we use as an agency to produce high impact show notes for our podcast clients. We have seen the success of this approach last and build through several years, as podcasting has become ever more competitive and celebrity driven.
It does not have to be this way, and podcast show notes are the key to ever-green discoverability for any podcast that has a business content strategy intent.
Tools and Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Podcast Show Notes Tools on the Podcasting Resources Guide
- Interview with the founder of Topic Content Brief and Grading Tool
Freebies: Our Podcast Show Note Templates