Tag Archive for: podcasting

In the previous 4 posts of this series, we’ve talked about on-page SEO optimization. Today I’d like to focus on an often overlooked aspect of SEO.

If you’ve applied all the previous lessons of this series, then you will already have great content and a great headline for your post. And if you are promoting your content on social media, chances are that your post will organically appear in search result soon.

So what is the only remaining hurdle for people to actually click and visit your website to read your post?

The answer lies in your search result snippet, the way your content appears on Google. In other words, how click-worthy is your search result snippet? And there is more to this than meets the eye…

Search Results Visualization

What is a search result snippet?

Search Result Snippet Explanation GraphicThe answer is closely tied to search engine results pages (SERP):

  • A search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query.
  • It consists of a list of items with titles, a reference to the full version, and a short description.
  • A “search result snippet” is how your post or podcast show notes page shows up as a single item on this list.

How do you ensure a great search result snippet?

Once again, Yoast to the rescue. The Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress is useful because it displays a “Search Result Snippet Preview”.

  • This allows you to change and edit the way the title and description of the post is displayed in the SERP snippet.
  • It also lets you change the title and description you would like to display in the search results.
  • In short, it lets you design what people will experience as they find your content in search results.

Why should you optimize the Search Result Snippet?

It is important to optimize the way your post shows up in search results. Google rewards well-designed search result snippets with increased ranking. Perhaps not by much, but it makes a slight difference. More important is this:

If your search result snippet looks unattractive, makes no sense, or the post title is too long, then users are much less likely to click. So a well designed search engine result snippet can increase clicks a lot.

Here is an example of a post before optimization, and the reasons it would be bad to leave it this way:

Search Result Snippet - A Bad Example

  • The post title is too long, and thus gets “cut off”, and Google had to add an ellipsis a the end.
  • The sentence below the title makes no sense and does not help the searcher identify what this post is about. This is because the meta description was not entered on Yoast, and so Google just displays the first words appearing in this post.
  • Some premium themes have shortcodes that appear in the SERP snippet, and this can be confusing.

Here is an optimized example

Search Result Snippet - A Good Example

Google rewards you for optimizing the appearance of search results snippets. Here is the same example as above, but this time with the post title length fixed, and with the correct meta description added.

  • As you can see, the content makes sense and will result in a higher percentage of clicks.

Additional tips to design a successful SERP snippet

You might think of ways to tease people with a hint of what they will learn reading your post.

  • To my eye, keeping it super short with a teaser is most effective.
  • One line is better than two.
  • Asking a question can be inviting readers to click.
  • Of course, your target keyword should still be present in the meta description.

What if you’re not using WordPress or Yoast SEO?

No problems, here are some great resources for you. They work with any blog platform. My favorite is the Mangools SERP simulator, where you can simply enter your title tag and meta description to see your website’s SERP snippet preview.

Conclusion

Even if you are already writing great post and episode headlines, do not overlook the importance of designing your SERP snippets.

Given the time you spend writing content, especially if you follow our philosophy of podcasting as a content strategy, then it makes perfect sense to dedicate a few extra minutes to this. And while WordPress plugins (like Yoast) make it easy, there are alternative snippet visualizers.


FREE 2021 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

  • Gear Guides
  • "How To" Tutorials
  • Music & Sound Effect Libraries
  • Software & Tools
  • Guest Booking Services
  • General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?


 

An often overlooked SEO factor for podcasters is that images in posts contribute to SEO rankings. Of course the images should be interesting and relevant in the first place, but technically the way images contribute to your SEO ranking has to do with “ALT” tags, as well as with their role in determining your site loading speed.

1.) Use ALT Text Tags For SEO Image Optimization

What are ALT text tags?

A WordPress example of Alt TextThe official definition of ALT text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute in an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) document to tell Web site viewers the nature or contents of an image. The ALT text appears in a blank box that would normally contain the image. This is useful when an image link is not available because of a broken or changed URL or some other issue.

Why are they important for SEO?

Also, ALT tags serve as accessibility properties that provide the visually disabled, (who use screen reader software to read page content out loud), with information about each image. This has the additional side effect that search engines pick up these ALT tags as well and index your article based on the image ALT tag language used. So for SEO Image Optimization, if you can use your main article key-phrase in the ALT tag, it will add to your overall SEO post optimization and keyword density in a positive way.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do honor the intent of creating accessible sites that provide screen readers and search engines with context and recognition of what is going on in the image
  • Do not stuff indiscriminately keywords into the ALT tags in a way that makes screen readers annoying, inaccurate or not useful
  • Do use descriptions that describe the image in a meaningful way, while utilizing your key-phrase

To include an “ALT” tag, it is added to each image in the following ways:

  • In WordPress, you don’t need to know HTML to do this, you can add the ALT tag in the media library, or when you are adding the image to the post
  • If you want to know what this looks like in HTML, you would simply add alt=“Description of the image” to your image tag
  • For example, if you wanted to add an image with a podcasting microphone, that might look like so:
<img src=“microphone.jpg” alt=“Podcasting Microphone”/>

WordPress tip on using the same image several times:

Keep in mind that if you’ve already used an image and created an ALT Text tag for a previous posts, changing that image’s ALT text tag might negatively affect the SEO ranking of previous posts. A typical example of this are featured images in posts. If you have already used an image on a post once before, it is likely to already have an ALT tag assigned optimized for a previous SEO keyword.

  • Therefore if you would like to use it again it is better to upload a new version of the image, even if it already exists in your media library.

2.) Understand Your Site Load Speed

Site load speed has been a search rank factor for a long time, and the speed that your page loads is directly influenced by the size of the images present on your pages. WordPress and most themes process images into several sizes when you first upload them, so that thumbnails and several small to large size variations can be used. But WordPress compression algorithms are often not ideal.

Tools to help you understand your site load speed

We have tried to list some great SEO tools throughout this series, and image processing tools are often overlooked. We’ll get to these in a minute, but first of all it helps to you know if images on your site contribute to slow loading speeds, and by how much. Here are 2 tools that help you measure the loading speed of your site, and allow you to compare before and after optimization.

GTmetrix assists in SEO image optimizationGTmetrix

  • GTmetrix: A free service that gives you insight on how well your site loads and provides actionable recommendations on how to optimize it

Yslow

  • Yslow: Yahoo!’s Exceptional Performance team has identified 34 rules that affect web page performance. YSlow’YSlow Logos web page analysis tests your site against 34 rules that affect web page performance, and is based on the 23 of these 34 rules that are testable.

 

3.) Improve Your Site Speed By Optimizing Your Images

Once you decide you’d like to optimize your site images in order to improve load times, here are some tools that help you do it.

  • If you have an existing site with lots of images, a utility to help optimize these is great, but in general terms I would also recommend to pre-process and size images for use on your web site when you first upload these or create them in Photoshop or your favorite graphics program.
  • Uploading 12,000px wide images straight from your camera is lazy, and there is no use for these on your site without first optimizing them, and utilities like Snap-Converter mentioned below make this process very easy.

So in general terms I recommend optimizing images before they ever make it to your site.

That said, here are some great tools:

WP Smush

  • WP Smush Pro For SEO image optimizationWP Smush is the popular replacement of the Smush-It image optimization plugin based on a service once provided by Yahoo, but now discontinued
  • WP Smush Pro is a premium image optimization tool that uses advanced algorithms to compress your images while maintaining their quality and dramatically improving your website’s page speed.
  • It will go through your entire media library and replace your on-line images with optimized versions, while maintaining quality. This can significantly speed up your site. Run GTmetrix before and after, and you will be rewarded with a vastly improved site load speed, and Google rank.
  • It also processes every new image you upload, so you can be assured that all of your site images are compressed optimally.

Snap-Converter

  • Snap ConverterSnap Converter (for Mac) is a utility to help you resize as well as convert images from PNG to JPG
  • Convert images as well as Mac and Windows icon files. Supports standard bitmap types as well as digital Camera RAW types, Photoshop documents, and more. View the complete list of supported file types.

Resize SenseResize Sense

  • Resize Sense is a utility that helps crop and resize images to a variety of optimized sizes.
  • Very useful for when you need to convert a range of differently sized images into the same size and aspect ratio.
  • Helps to eliminate the hours of tedious work needed to resize, crop, straighten, rotate, flip, edit metadata, and rename many images one at a time.

 


 

One of our most popular posts of 2017 continues to be about starting a podcast as a content strategy, and since then podcasts have been getting even more popular. We produce podcasts for clients and help them with the launch strategies to get their podcast into iTunes New and Noteworthy. But sometimes it’s not just about having visibility on iTunes, increasingly clients are interested in using their podcast show notes content as a passive traffic driver to their own primary website or to their show’s website.

In general, I feel people are overly focused on iTunes podcast SEO (Also known as ASO for “app store optimization”). And this often results in overlooking the value of podcast marketing techniques that result in email subscriber and list growth, instead of gaining an audience of anonymous listeners on iTunes. For example, I’ve written at length on how Facebook podcast marketing is often done in a way that drives traffic to iTunes or Stitcher and results in no traffic to the podcast host’s site, and personally, I think this is a mistake.

So I’ve been coaching a lot of solopreneurs and podcasters on SEO, and even launched a self -paced online course to help them position their show’s site and show notes pages, and showing them the tricks in making sure that podcast episode show notes are SEO optimized in order to contribute to a site’s traffic and ranking. Of course, optimizing a podcast episode is almost identical to optimizing a blog post, so even if you do not have a podcast, read on…

Podcast SEO Marketing Course

Our new extensive Podcast Marketing course

What this podcast SEO course focuses on

There are a lot of misconceptions about how SEO works, and how to set up podcast episodes in a way that contributes to a sites’ overall rank with search engines. For the purpose of the course, we focused on keyword research-based content marketing techniques and how to boost show-notes using SEO optimized show notes posts for podcast episodes.

WordPress vs other CMS systems

We will focus on how to do this with WordPress, although the techniques discussed here a true for any other content management system. Even though we may discuss certain plugins in this post, we will cover what the plugins actually do step by step so that you can use it on non-Wordpress based sites. That said, WordPress has completely changed the internet and enabled entrepreneurs to launch advanced on-line businesses, basically for free. And in order to grow these online businesses, SEO strategies plays a big role.

“Link Building”

Link building techniques are still all a huge part of a successful SEO strategy and are a huge topic by itself. Google rank in large part depends on incoming links to your show pages from other sites. The idea is that your podcast guests for a show will reciprocate for the links you are creating to their site, by writing their own short piece of content that links back to your podcast show notes page, thereby providing valuable “google juice” and increasing the rank for your site.

Link Building Tip: Ask your podcast guests to link to your episode of their interview on their own site. We are pretty insistent on this as part of the deal before even booking guests for many of the shows we produce.

We won’t be going into the details of external link building techniques and will cover this in detail in a different blog series. However, I would point out that this course should result in your content becoming more search engine optimized and friendly, and this means more people will be able to discover, share and link to your content even organically. Typically, you do have to ask and encourage your guests and fans to create links to your show or episode pages, but the rewards in terms of Google rank increases can make the difference between being on page 20 vs being found on the top page(s) of the search results)


Podcast SEO Concepts Overview

The high-level topics of SEO optimizing podcast episode show notes we will discuss in this series are as follows:
POdcast SEO Optimization Topics

  1. Keyword Research

    How to research and choose a good key-phrase or keyword that is aligned with your content. This key-phrase should be what you think people might look for on search engines, and your content should be the perfect answer and fit for their question. We will discuss SEO concepts keyword difficulty scores.

  2. Good Titles and Headings

    Once you have found a key-phrase you would like to optimize for, then the episode title, content and images of the show notes post will be subtly changed or “optimized” around this key-phrase. This is what we will go through step by step in this series of posts. We also touch on the importance of good titles in terms of ASO (App Store Optimization), where your shows keywords are searchable on the iTunes app store itself.

  3. Internal Link Building

    Creating an internal link structure means that Google values your content more, and can more effectively determine the context and theme of your primary topics.

  4. ASO (App Store Optimization on iTunes)

    Discoverability on iTunes is relatively limited, but we will go into what is known about iTunes search, and how you can ensure your show and episodes are discoverable for the keywords you think people may search for.

  5. Cornerstone Concepts

    Cornerstone SEO strategies involve creating authoritative long-form content around a theme and then surrounding it with smaller articles, blog posts or episodes that link to the authority posts. This approach gives rise to the creation of content themes for your episodes, and a way of linking these to become more powerful in the way that Google indexes and ranks them.

  6. Content Optimizations

    How to optimize paragraph headers (sometimes also known as H2 Tags), the main content text of your post ensuring the right “Keyword Density”, how to SEO optimize images, and why including them in your show notes is important.

  7. Search Result Visualizations

    How to design the way your post looks in search results by selecting right SEO Titles and meta-description and testing this with “preview snippet”. Creating a compelling episode title as well as a great short description that shows up in search results is not the only key in being found, but also determines how many people will actually click through once they see your episode title and description in search results.

  8. Advanced SEO Strategies

    How to use more advanced and strategic SEO techniques, such as competitive research, external link building, and using various analytics tools to target SERP (Search Engine Results Page) positioning.

A Note About Using SEO Plugins

Using Yoast SEO (Formerly known as WordPress SEO)

Yoast for Podcast SEOYoast SEO (Formerly WordPress SEO by Yoast ) is one of the most complete and easy to use SEO assistance plug-ins. While there are other solutions out there, (Premium SEO Pack & All in One SEO Pack receive honorable mentions), I can highly recommend using Yoast, because it teaches the techniques needed step by step as you go through the process of optimizing each post, and it provides easy to understand feedback on how well each technique is implemented. So if you have a WordPress based blog or site, do yourself a favor and install this plugin.

Of course, the use of a plug-in alone does not guarantee SEO success

  • Plugins can assist, but there are certain fundamentals and principles that are key to understand in getting your podcast episodes to generate search traffic.
  • The best SEO plugin in the world will not increase your site rank if you don’t understand the SEO fundamentals that make this plugin tick when you use it to optimize your content.
  • So what we will cover in this series are these fundamental SEO optimization concepts and steps of optimizing your content. So you can succeed with these tips without ever installing a plugin like Yoast SEO. It’s just that this plugin makes it easier, provides feedback and additional insights, and automates some of the more complex background tasks like creating an XML sitemap and submitting this to search engines automatically.

So I won’t go into the specifics of how to use the Yoast SEO plugin here, but there are many great tutorials and videos out there. If you are installing Yoast for the first time, here is my favorite setup post by Yoast himself, and what I like best is that he has kept this article up to date since the plug-in was first introduced in 2008.


FREE 2021 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

  • Gear Guides
  • "How To" Tutorials
  • Music & Sound Effect Libraries
  • Software & Tools
  • Guest Booking Services
  • General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?


 

Post By

Robyn Stratton of positivitystrategist.org
Robyn Stratton on podcasting services and marketing

Remaining Relevant

As a solopreneur, this is a story about rebranding, reinventing, and realigning my online persona in the digital marketplace. It’s a journey about moving with the times.  After all, remaining relevant and essential in this increasingly complex, diverse and multifaceted world is an important issue for all of us and it takes investments.  Investments in our thinking, emotional and physical energies. It’s about identifying digital strategies, finding the right resources and talent to help make strategic choices and positive changes.

The term solopreneur began to be socialized from around 2010, yet in my research, I found a definition dating back to 2005.  That being said, today, it’s a well known term and there are increasing numbers of us out there making a living as one person businesses.

Transitioning to Solopreneurship

As a solopreneur, I used to be extra precious about my content, my services, my clients, my brand and hoped everyone who stumbled on my website would immediately love my content as much as I did.

Becoming comfortable as a solopreneur was a transition in identity for me, because when I had my first website, 16 years ago in 1999, I was shy about positioning myself as a solo act.  I had come from big consulting background.  It didn’t seem professional to talk about myself in the first person singular on my earlier websites. Instead the company was positioned as a consortium of consultants, a group of associates, so I wrote in the in the first person plural – “we” do this and that; “our clients” are xyz.  It felt too early to say I worked from home and I was alone.  I was nervous to admit, I did it all on my own.

digital strategies as a woman solopreneur

Well, things have changed and with the employment scene as it has been for the last 10 years and with entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, solo practitioners being the norm, it’s no longer a stigma to say:

“I am my own company and it’s great!”

Website Evolutions

Since 1999, I’ve had 7 websites. It’s the last four websites, since 2006, that have evolved to ever higher performing platforms increasing strategic value with each evolution.

Until 6 years ago, I kept my “professional’  website separate from my newly created WordPress blog.  As my blogging site grew, it became increasingly clearer to me that the boundaries between my professional persona  and my personal persona were dissolving.  I was writing stories that spoke to my passion (in fact my first blog was called pursuingpassions.com) and my passion was my work, because I do work I love and it informs who I am.

Fast track to my most recent evolution, when I got really strategic. Ten months ago I had a BFO – a blinding flash of the obvious.  My website was tired looking, it was dated and even though it had been converted to be mobile optimized, it still wasn’t reflecting my own self-perception of being current, and a thought leader in my field.

Embracing Digital Strategies

It was time to reassess and update, and follow my own advice that I give to clients about the need to re-invent yourself and get clarity about your purpose, strengths, and potential legacy.

Inbound Marketing

I’m super excited about the results. For me, rebranding to Positivity Strategist from my former Positive Matrix identity has been very exciting because I was coached to follow an inbound marketing content strategy. It was a significant, and hugely valuable undertaking.

Juergen Berkessel, CEO of Polymash, has become my digital strategist, guiding me to understand how to begin to increase the visibility of my web presence in the  world.  He coached me in a workshop format to complete value proposition design and persona development activities that have helped me appreciate and segment my clients. This has shaped content and refined language on my website; and with that awareness, I now can write more targeted content that more specifically relates to their needs.

Podcasting as a Content Strategy

Polymash also recommended I start a podcast as a content strategy, and took over the production of it in order to grow my content offering, thereby positioning my leadership in my field and increasing traffic to my website. There are many search engine and traffic generating aspects to this as outlined in How to Start A Podcast As Content Strategy in 2015

Marketing Automation and SEO

I’ve begun to appreciate and follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices for producing all of my content, and am making use of marketing automation software that allows me to grow my email list. I can now better understand how anonymous site visitors or email subscribers behave on my site, and I can better respond to their behavior in order to engage and serve them. Ultimately many of these anonymous visitors are opting in specific service and content offers, and relationships are strengthening.

Inbound Content Marketing Dashboard

Expanding the Platform

On-line Courses as Content Strategy

Because I'm a writer, speaker, trainer and, therefore produce a lot of content, the next piece of advice my coach offered me to grow my content marketing capability was to create an online training course in my field of expertise.  I have just launched my first Udemy course Be an Agent for Positive Change: Positivity Strategies and accompanying that is the creation of a YouTube Channel, showcasing my course, and also Slideshare presentations.  The blogging continues and I've just started to produce regular posts on LinkedIn, and the Udemy course will result in dozens future posts.

Udemy Course as Content Strategy

Tracking Progress

In less than 10 months, with the guidance of my digital strategies coach, my brand new domain name, Positivity Strategist with a zero Alexa ranking has grown organically to being the #1.5M most popular site world wide and #235,539 in the US,  outranking many well-known brands and established websites in my professional field, and an increasing amount of visitors and opt-ins are the result of my SEO optimized content being found on Google and other search engines .

Positivity Strategist Alexa Rank

Professional Growth is a Bonus Benefit

Not only has my website gone from non-existent to a viable presence on line, I have learnt and grown enormously in the last 10 months.  What I had absolutely no appreciation for in the the past, I now appreciate and practice.  I can perform many of these activities with greater ease and therefore I experience joy.  My professional development in the areas of speaking, interviewing, writing have improved because I’m using them all the time.

A huge discovery has been to accept that I can use automated tools and software. It’s not so complex; and, it is so rewarding! And for tasks I used to moan and groan about, I’m reaping the rewards.  Just one example is researching the right key words to improve the search ranking of every piece of content I write.  I hated doing that, as I just wanted to write fun titles for my posts.

It was tough to make the changes, yet I have now successfully habituated them and I am seeing huge benefits.  It’s been a great 10 month journey and I am truly grateful.

You might not think tips on how to start a podcast have anything to do with content strategy…

But before you laugh, for the right sort of business, launching a podcast can be an amazing content strategy driver…

How to start a podcast as content straetgy - Google trend statistics

Google Trends Interest Over Time Graphic

Sure, podcasts have been hotting up in the last couple of years, as articles in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post pointed out.  Breakout shows like “Serial” and “Start-Up”  were responsible for increasing awareness of podcasts, and most terrestrial radio stations, and their advertisers are launching podcasts as part of their digital strategy. Alex Blumberg of PBS recently left his well-paying job as host of “This American Life” and “Planet Money”, and raised $1.6M+ for his new podcast venture “Gimlet Media“.

Here are some recent market size statistics to consider as of 2018

  • 67 million people listen to podcasts – monthly.
  • 112 million Americans have listened to podcasts.
  • As of 2016/17, podcast listening increased by 25% per year in the United States.
  • As of 2017/18, podcast listening increased by 11% over the prior year.
  • 85% of listeners hear all of a podcast.
  • Average listeners subscribe to 6 different podcasts and consume an average of 5 episodes per week.
(Stat Reference and some insights about the above at: Convince & Convert)

[Tweet “Consider this: In the US, as many people listen to podcasts as there are on Twitter”]

Impressive stats, wouldn’t you agree? But the success of this approach is more pragmatic. Assuming you want to launch an interview show with thought leaders in your space, the show notes accompanying each episode can be a huge traffic generator for your site, and lead to Google rank increases, since it is in the interest of the thought leaders to cross promote each episode.

How to start a podcast - launch effect on Alexa rankings

Podcast Launch Effect On Alexa Rankings
(click to see a larger version of the graph)

We produced and launched a podcast for our client “Positivity Strategist” and as a result, the site sky-rocketed in Alexa and Google ranking within the following three months, and their email list is growing exponentially, solely due to a successful podcast strategy.

We’ve since repeatedly used Podcasting as a content strategy to grow traffic to client sites or to get them to improve their rank on a variety of search engines.

The attached Alexa Ranking comparison chart shows the effect of positivitystrategist.org (in blue) as well as one of its competitor sites (in green) launching a podcast late in 2014.

POdcasting as Content Strategy List GrowthAnother example of how successful podcasting as content strategy can be was for a client podcast that followed our launch and content strategy called “The MFCEO Project”. It built an email list of over 17,000 within 1.5 years, and their 1.5 year old website gets 35K visitors monthly. It should be noted that there was a substantial social media presence on Instagram before we started, but that is the point: Podcasting as a content marketing strategy when done right can convert anonymous followers into more concrete email list subscriber, and most marketers recognize both the importance and difficulty of this.

In his awesome article how recent Google patents are shaping the future of SEO, Neil Patel predicts both the rise and fall of podcast’s popularity as tied to driverless cars. While podcasts are a form of content that is currently taking advantage of commute time for drivers, he predicts that eventually, other forms of content will become popular once hands-free driving allows us to consume video and visual content while driving.  (Neil even kindly linked to this post in this article, a big thanks!)

One additional content marketing benefit is that there is no shortage of topics to write about since the show’s guests and schedule pretty much set a highly relevant agenda for show content and related posts.

And while we love building a loyal listenership, this article is not just about how to start a podcast, it’s about how to start a podcast as a content marketing strategy for your business and web site.

It’s not for the faint of heart, and it is a long tail type play, but for organizations with a host “personality” and a point of view, it can be a hugely successful way of generating valuable content for both listeners and website visitors.

Benefits of an interview style podcast

Some of the  benefits of an interview style podcast with thought leaders in your area of business are:

  • Meeting, collaborating and establishing working relationships with thought leaders in your space. Each episode of your podcast gives your guests a chance to talk about their experience, products, books or latest offerings. So you are essentially promoting them on your podcast, which is why it is beneficial for them to be on your show. Therefore most of the time getting guests is relatively easy, and we have seen lasting relationships come out of supporting each other in this way.
  • How to Podcast As Content Strategy BenefitsBecome an authority in your field. Often the intent of an inbound content marketing strategy is to establish your business and your websites as authorities in your industry segment. There are few better ways than to have a regular podcast interview show to establish this authority not only in your own mind but in the mind of your listening audience as well as your website visitors.
  • Google page rank, domain authority and overall SEO for your site. These factors are driven by having high-quality incoming links. SEO is an ever-changing field, and what worked in years past no longer works today, most SEO experts agree that high-quality content and inbound links are the gold standards here. And since your show notes will promote and feature links to your guest’s site and latest products, it is a fair exchange to ask that they feature your episode on their site, as well as cross-promote it on their own social media channels. So 50 episodes into your show, you will have 50 high-quality inbound links, as well as all the traffic and social media mentions these episodes generated.
  • Self-generating topics of discussion for posts on your site. Sure, you will need to prepare to think about guests and invites for your podcast strategically, but usually what emerges from each conversation is highly relevant content, easily turned into long form show notes that will constitute a large percentage of your content strategy.

Finding your passion and your voice

One caveat: You, or someone in your organization, needs to have a passion for your topic of choice. So if the ONLY overall reason you want to start a podcast is to increase page rank and generate traffic for your site, then this may not be not enough. Starting a podcast should not be a chore, it needs to come from the heart, and it needs to show passion.

  • How to podcast, bored listenerAudio is more intimate. The connection with your audience is deeper and more intimate on an emotional level, and so are the relationships you build with your fans and followers. I know that for podcasts I myself listen to, I feel “I know” the host. This may be a mirage, to use a visual metaphor for an audio phenomenon. But ultimately my experience is one of being connected more deeply than I would be by just reading someone’s blog posts.
  • Audio is an interesting medium in this way. Your enthusiasm, or lack of it, will instantly shine through to your listeners, and be either a turn-on or turn-off. The effort required to launch a podcast is high, as are the rewards, but if it does not come from the heart, and if you don’t feel you can find something of value to share, don’t even start. I would argue the same is true for writing and blogging, but in audio format, it is way more apparent.
  • Be clear about your value proposition to your listeners. Just like when writing blog articles, the listener experience should be front of mind. We love doing Value Proposition Design workshops for our clients when building web sites, and similarly the exercises we help our clients with apply here: clarity around who your likely listeners are, what they are interested in, what they can gain from listening to your show, or what pain relievers to their issues and problems you can provide.
  • Niches are good, up to a point. In thinking about topics for your show and episodes, the more narrow the niche of your topic is, the better. This may seem counter-intuitive, but there are many examples of extremely small niches doing well in podcasting, and establishing a loyal listenership. But if you are launching a podcast for your business, the focus should be on what best serves your particular audience.

Focus on concept and content more than the equipment

You might think that starting a podcast is all about high-quality sound and production value, and therefore you will need to focus on getting the right equipment.

  • Great Expectations. It is true that with the rise in popularity of podcasts there are increased listener expectations around having great sound, but there are many great sites that offer tips on how to start a podcast from a technical perspective, as well as how to do it affordably. No matter what budget, starting a podcast is relatively affordable in terms of money, but it can consume a fair amount of time.
  • What To Focus On. Having great equipment won’t automatically make you a great podcast host or producer, so the focus should go into the planning, concept, and automating the production process. Statistically speaking, most podcasts shut down after only 7 episodes. There are many reasons for this, and my own guess is that people under-estimated the time and dedication it takes. In order to see results in terms of a content marketing strategy, obviously your podcast needs to last longer than 7 episodes, so don’t over-focus on equipment, go with basic equipment for low cost to start with. If your podcast makes it past 25 episodes, reward yourself with a nice microphone upgrade:)

Find strategic guests with an existing platform

When inviting guests for your podcast, there is a strategic way to look at this:

  • podcast episode show posts are a giftIt is a good idea to set expectations with your guests up front. Be crystal clear about the fact the this is a mutually supportive endeavor and win-win gift exchange, where you create a piece of great content that promotes your guest, and that in return you expect a blog post or resource-link back to your site and the episode post in return, as well as active guest participation in sharing the episode on social media.
  • Having a platform.  Of course you want to pick your guests to be interesting and entertaining for your audience, but ideally, your guest should also have a popular site, with a Google page rank of 4+, as well as a large social media presence. It may sound harsh, but otherwise getting links back from a dormant or low-value site is of little SEO value, and guests with little or no social media following are not likely to help share your episode widely.

Promote your podcast, but not just in Apple Podcasts

As of late 2018 / 2019, the current Apple Podcast ecosystem is difficult in terms of marketing. Discoverability is low, and there are 600,000+ shows to compete with. So how can people discover you?

In addition, the Apple Podcasts charts are currently badly broken, although Apple is aware of this fact and is starting to address it. The top podcasting charts are hackable and people are gaming the system to get into the top 200. There are many podcasts there that don’t belong, and we provide details as well as solutions here: We just published a comprehensive guide to podcast marketing and promotion.

The point is that promoting a podcast needs to happen outside of Apple Podcasts, and the above guide explains strategies and over 50+ marketing tactics in great detail

Write great long-form show notes

how to podcast with long form shownotesLong form content is better in terms of SEO, while 300+ words are required from an SEO perspective, 700 words plus is better.

  • Create standard headers and footer. We follow a recipe for creating a standard header and footer segment for each episode. We use automation tools like Text Expander to create show notes footers, with pre-programmed subscribe links to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher; a standard section on how to share the podcast; where to find links to books or sites mentioned in the episode.  This helps in creating longer form notes post.
  • Create some standing segments for questions you ask each guest.  You might also find that you have some standing questions you ask each guest, and you can prepare a show notes template that already includes the

    titles for each segment.

  • Use a Transcription Service or Dragon Dictation software: We have had some pretty good luck with using Dragon Dictation software to process our podcast recording and to transcribe the content into a text file. While this process does not produce punctuation, it is helpful in creating summary notes or themes for show notes segments. There are many transcription services that will do a better job, and turn around a full transcript of each episode in about one day. The only drawback is that this approach is a bit more expensive.
  • Podcast Transcription Services Using AI: The New Players on the Block
    • There are several very interesting alternatives emerging using artificial intelligence and Google speech to text translation engines. One of these services is called Temi, a transcription service that is automated and very effective and accurate, as long as the speaker speaks English. It struggles with accents but is otherwise very accurate.
    • IBM Watson, their cloud-based supercomputer, also features a nearly free transcription service, but I have found it not to be as accurate as Temi.
  • Include a nicely formatted audio player bar for each episode. We have found that many of our listeners visit the web page and listen to the entire episode there, using our built-in web player. This is great in terms of getting high Google analytics engagement and time on site scores, as well as very low bounce rates.
  • Invest 1-2 hours to learn the basics of SEO for podcasters, using our free 5 part SEO for podcasters tutorial series.

Build A Conversion Optimized Podcast Home Page

Podcast Website Design Patterns For Conversion And List Building

We recently published a video walkthrough which outlines a highly converting podcast website design pattern called “The Upside Down Podcast Home Page”.

It is designed and optimized to create a guided experience for your site visitors and to encourage them to subscribe to your podcast via email.

The video covers 2 versions of this – a more complete version for established podcasts with multiple seasons or topics, and a simple version for new podcast sites with a narrow niche and focused audience.

Why focus on podcast email subscribers?

In the last few years, we have been lucky to help launch a dozen or so podcasts. And most of our clients have been obsessed with getting into the “New and Noteworthy” section of Apple Podcasts. However, as of late 2018, it is worth pointing out that the Apple Podcasts charts are somewhat broken and full of podcasts that have simply hacked their way into the charts. To see how this is possible, just watch this great video by Lime Link, about how the podcast ecosystem is being hacked. Please do NOT use these techniques to get your own show to rank, Apple will at some point have to address the weakness in their algorithm, and I expect a lot of shows to get banned in the process.

Invest in your sound quality and the editing process

Make sure you make your guests and yourself sound great.

Earlier I mentioned about audio as a medium being more intimate. This means it can also be more annoying – when a lack of sound quality results in a “hard to listen to” experience, people will bail much more quickly than if they encounter one or two spelling mistakes on a blog post.

The better and more professional your podcast and each episode sounds, the more likely your guests will see it as an asset they are eager to share on their site, their social media and as part of their PR kit.

  • Sound Editing Resources. If you are editing the episodes yourself, there are several resources to help producing high sound quality regardless of  your software of choice. One of the best is Ultimate Vocal Formula, a generous course run by Rob Williams, which offers great editing tips, a terrific cheat sheet for correct use of equalizers and compression to shape your show’s sound to be broadcast standard.
  • Remove “Ums”, “Ahhs”, “You Know” and “Lip Smacks”. Unless your guests are totally fluent public speakers, if you are like us you may be surprised to notice just how many of these flubs are in the un-edited field for each episode. I can’t stress how important the editing process is in shaping the overall listener experience. I was interviewed on a podcast recently and was surprised to find I say “you know” all the time. The podcast editor removing this was a relief for me and saved much embarrassment. So take the time to make your guests sound great.
  • Be Ruthless. We not only try to remove flubs, but we may at times even delete irrelevant or repeating and rambling parts of a longer conversation, in order to create a better and more concise episode.
  • Sound Tracks and Segments. Having a great sound track and theme intro, even having repeating show segments with their own theme music can make your show stand out and sound professional and broadcast ready.

Promote and build your e-mail list

How to start a podcast email list buildngWhen people visit your show notes page, they should have an easy way to subscribe to podcast episode reminders via email.

  • Mention an easy to remember show-notes URL during each episode. Use tools like “Easy301 Redirects” or “Prettylink” to create short URLS in addition to your long episode specific URLs. This is because you want to mention an easily accessible URL during the episode to encourage listeners to visit there, find out more about the guest, or download special offers and lead-magnets. So for example, instead of “myshow.com/long-podcast-episode5-description”, create a short URL for episode: “myshow.com/5”, which is easy to remember for listeners.
  • Offer a way to subscribe via email. Make sure visitors have an email opt-in to be notified for each episode. We use a Mailchimp based automated RSS driven email campaign to send email notifications out for our podcasts. Most other marketing automation engines can generate RSS triggered emails. However, even if your platform does not offer this in an automated fashion, think of creating manual email notifications to your list as an advantage: It allows you to be more specific and personal in each email you send out.
  • Email notification do’s and don’t’s:  Be careful not to provide the entire show-notes within your email. Your email is meant to alert your subscribers to the fact that a new episode is available, and to raise some curiosity about it. And then get them to visit your site, that should be the primary goal and single CTA. Plus, who reads long emails anymore.
  • Promote opt-ins and giveaways. Where applicable, create downloadable content for each episode, and allow clients to opt-in for these using tools like LeadPages.

How much time will it take, and are there good ways to save time?

podcast content strategy - saving timeI’ve heard experienced podcasters agree that that the overall time it takes to produce a podcast episode is about 4-5 times the amount of time of the actual episode recording length. I would say that this is a conservative estimate, coming from people who have their workflow down to a finely honed art, with templated processes and automation.

Overall, the steps involved are

  • Guest Management. Identifying guests, inviting them and scheduling pre-interviews and the actual interview
  • Recording. Recording the actual episodes sound files.
  • Producing. Editing the audio files in audio software, outputting the .mp3 files, tagging the .mp3 files with show information, uploading to your podcast hosting service, and preparing episode titles and summaries, as well as scheduling each episode for release and distribution on feeds and social media.
  • Show Notes Production & Promotion. Writing a blog article to accompany each episode, with links to your guest’s site and resources, as well as managing social media shares.

However, there are ways to save time:

  • Establish a schedule and stick to it. John Lee Dumas of the highly successful “Entrepreneur on Fire” podcast shares that he sets aside one day a week to schedule, record and produce content for a month. In our experience, this is no small feat, and podcast related activities tend to bleed into the rest of the week. This is, of course, subject to your resources.
  • Automate as much as possible. When producing podcasts we have templated everything, from guest invite emails to basic show notes structure, episode footers and other lead magnet downloads. This greatly decreases the amount of time to produce show notes.  (I will share our process for applying some great automation tools in the near future).
  • Get help. If your business has the resources, you can easily farm out some of the more time consuming aspects of doing a podcast. For example, you can assign interns to handle guest scheduling and invites. Or, you can take advantage of podcast production packages like the ones we offer here at Polymash, where the only thing a host has to worry about is the actual recording of the interview, and where everything else from editing to basic show notes and publishing of each episode is taken care of.

Formulate A Podcast Content Marketing Strategy

Cornerstone content is an SEO concept that works particularly well with high quality and long-form content. It builds on the most important themes of your site or business and creates an internal linked network of related content on your site. For each “cornerstone”, a long-form 2,000+ words article or “hero post” is created, and then other articles on your site are modified or created to link to this one “cornerstone” piece of content.

When Google indexes your site, these many internal links provide context and point to the “cornerstone” article as the centerpiece. Google recognizes the importance of the “cornerstone” article for your site, and typically ranks it more highly than individual shorter articles.

This approach works very well in planning out your podcast content strategy.

Podcast SEO Marketing CourseIn our Podcast Marketing & SEO course, we teach creating a 6-month podcast content strategy using step by step methods to identify the best keywords, topics, and themes for your podcast, and then implement these themes using the “cornerstone content” approach. We typically use the episode show notes, and for cornerstone pieces add transcriptions to the posts, which results in long-form content.

Since Google introduced “Rank Brain” in late 2017, their focus has shifted to measuring “quality content”. Google does this by measuring bounce rate, time on page, scroll distance and other factors. Suffice it to say that the more you can engage someone to stay on your hero post or episode, the more likely Google will rank your episode highly.

Last Tip: Define what success means for you

When first launching a podcast, it is easy to get caught up in your download stats. Don’t.

You can set your own goals and ways to measure success.

For example, building a loyal listener base can matter, or maybe it’s establishing lasting relationships with peers and clients.  There is intrinsic high value in having people want to listen and visit your site because they are truly interested in the topic. Our bounce rates on podcast episodes are below 20%, sometimes in the low teens. And our email sign-ups have skyrocketed.

This is a longer term strategic investment, but as you can see from the Alexa ranking graph at the top of this post, the reward can be massive.

FREE 2021 Podcasting Resources Guide: Launch and market your podcast

  • Gear Guides
  • "How To" Tutorials
  • Music & Sound Effect Libraries
  • Software & Tools
  • Guest Booking Services
  • General Podcasting Sites & Groups
Podcasting Resources Guide

Where can we send your guide?

  • If you’ve made it this far reading a long post about how to start a podcast as content strategy, then chances are it might be a good fit for you.  I’d love to hear your perspective, please leave a comment!