- At least 90 million Americans listen to a podcast at least once a month.
- Since May 2019, podcasts have been showing up in Google SERPs, including individual episodes.
- Podcasts represent a relatively low-competition market, making them a great opportunity for brands to connect with audiences in a new way.
Podcasts have exploded in popularity from their early beginnings as niche and slightly quirky experiences for those who wanted to follow a true murder mystery while on the treadmill or delve into the minutiae of America with NPR while commuting. The latest research from Edison estimates that at least 90 million Americans listen to a podcast at least once a month, nearly four times more than in 2008.
The fact that they’re getting hugely popular isn’t the only reason to get into making podcasts, however. Here’s just a brief run-through of some of the marketing benefits of creating a podcast.
- They reach people who prefer listening to reading
- You get to expand your credentials as a thought leader
- Natural speech makes a more personal connection with your audience
- You get to show a different side of your business
- It’s easier to get high-quality guests to take part
- They are budget-friendly (compared to video production costs)
So yes, we love podcasts. But as this is a digital marketing blog, there’s an extra special reason we have to celebrate them: podcasts are now searchable on Google.
The consequences of this can’t be underestimated. Because podcasts still make up a relatively low-competition field, they offer a ton of potential for pushing your business higher up on Google SERPs.
Google and podcasts: What’s happening and why it matters
First, let’s take a look at the changes that are actually taking place with how Google searches, ranks, and displays podcasts. Back in May, the head of product for Google Podcasts, Zack Reneau-Wedeen, described the search giant’s rollout of search and play for podcasts as being “a step toward making audio a first-class citizen across Google.”
Then, in August, Google released more details on the next steps they had taken, essentially treating podcasts the same way they do written content – i.e., having their robots crawl through it to figure out what it’s about, then applying their search algorithms accordingly. Google also stated that they soon hoped to drop the requirement for “podcast” to be included in the search terms and to make it easier for podcasters to connect their work to the rest of their content.
That all sounds nice, but what does it mean for you and your nascent podcast?
Well, basically it means that podcasts have now become a very viable content format to bolster your existing digital marketing efforts. Among other things, your episodes will be checked for content relevant to the keywords being searched for, your overall relevance and subject authority will be boosted by topic-connected podcasts, and the cross-support of your podcast will provide extra ranking juice for your SEO efforts.
Making your podcast awesome and relevant
Seeing as podcasts are becoming a new frontier in creating a competitive edge for your business, your decision to get into the game is looking even better. However, some basic content concepts still hold true. Namely, what you produce still has to make an impact and connect with people.
Google hasn’t fully revealed how its algorithms will work apart from speech recognition, but it can nearly be guaranteed that podcasts which listeners switch off after 30 seconds will not rank well.
So, what are some good ways to go about creating a fun and engaging piece of content? Let’s take a look.
- Find a niche that you excel in.
People like podcasts because listening to them is a fun way to learn more about something, especially doing deep-dives into relatively unaddressed topics. This means that podcasts are generally led by subject matter experts.
Finding an area that you’re sufficiently knowledgeable about and that other people want to learn about can be tough, though. One good piece of advice is from Anna Sale, host of Death, Sex & Money, who says: “Before you record your first tape, finish this sentence: “People will want to listen to my podcast because ______.”
Once you’ve got a few ideas, from a marketing perspective, it’s worth finding out what kind of an audience there might be for them. Using Google’s Keyword Planner, plugin variations of your podcast concept with “podcast” attached to see what people are searching for, then focus on addressing that audience.
- Provide value for your listeners.
While it’s great to have fun with your guests, the podcast market for light comedy is pretty jammed, and it’s probably not what your potential listeners came for. Focus on solving problems, figuring out better ways of doing things, and overall making it worth your listeners’ while to tune in.
A good way of getting your audience involved and finding out what interests them is to solicit listener questions, then spend the time to come up with high-quality answers.
- Be consistent and communicative.
Any top radio presenter will tell you that it’s their audience and the community they build that really makes the show. Though it might be a slow-burner, you can create this yourself by making sure you have a consistent product. The stats around successful podcasts favor having a weekly output and a consistent format – e.g., time limit and exposition structure.
Like any good community, it’s also important to communicate, so don’t be afraid to give shout-outs to people who’ve gotten in touch or to get involved with relevant discussions happening in the field, such as responding to another podcaster’s views on a subject.
- Make it a good product.
Of course, no matter how well you answer people’s questions or provide valuable inside knowledge about a subject, it can all be let down by not getting the basics right. On top of the obvious technical considerations, such as investing in a decent microphone and headphones, it’s important to consider the creative side as well.
A great place to start is by storyboarding to give yourself a rough outline of where each episode should go and then polishing your finished product to make it exactly what you want to put out. As Eric Eddings, co-host of The Nod, suggests, “Ruthlessly edit! Listen back to your recording and jot down every moment you got bored, distracted or confused. Then cut those parts out first. Focus on giving your audience the best moments and literally ignore the rest.”
As the expansion of podcast searchability shows, the world of SEO is constantly expanding, offering businesses new opportunities to get the word out about their brands and provide value to their customers. As SEO fanatics, we’re excited to see what the future holds for podcasts – and whatever other content forms are on the horizon! If you have questions about SEO, content marketing, or any other form of digital marketing, reach out to the experts at RMG today.