Podcasts are helpful for SEO. You could, of course, phrase this question the other way around… is SEO good for podcasts? The short answer to both is yes, one is vital to the other in terms of creating links, improving Domain Authority and ultimately driving traffic to your site.
This post will focus primarily on the headline question, which is about whether taking part in podcasts can be beneficial to SEO.
The latter question (is SEO good for podcasts?) would help a podcast producer ensure the podcast itself was ranking in search engines which is a related but slightly separate topic.
According to Ofcom’s 2019 data, around 7.1m people listen to podcasts every week, which was a rise of 24% year-on-year, and on average, regular podcast users listen to around seven podcasts each week. It doesn’t take a genius to hypothesize that these statistics will have seen a meteoric increase due to the pandemic as people sought home-based entertainment.
From an SEO point of view, that’s fairly rich picking in terms of both the podcasts themselves and the magnitude of the audience.
Google algorithm update
In 2019, podcasts achieved a level of parity with other written content as Google announced that it would index individual podcast episodes which would allow them to appear in SERPS.
This was a fairly important moment for podcast creators as it meant that Google was actually indexing the audio or spoken word, not simply basing search results on a transcript or meta content. The search engine has been applying this technology to YouTube videos for a while but it was only now that it treated podcasts in the same way.
As above, my search for ‘podcasts on business’ has returned various results.
The first type of result is for entire podcasts on the subject:
And the second type is a podcast carousel with specific health-related episodes. In this instance the podcasts are still mostly health-based but in theory they could have a different umbrella theme with a specific, individual health episode.
As you can see, The Ultimate Health Podcast’s recent episode, ‘Are Carbs Making You Fat’, ranks first for specific episodes as it does above for the entire podcast series. Prior to the update, Google would only have been able to understand the theme for the podcast as a whole and would have struggled with individual episodes.
So, should you take part in more podcasts to improve the SEO of your site?
Being a guest on a podcast should be treated in a similar way to being a guest contributor to a blog, or drafting comments for an article from a PR perspective. It’s great for brand awareness and for thought leadership as you’re more than likely to be asked your opinion on various topics. However, whilst there are exceptions, you’re unlikely to get more than a couple of mentions for your business and even less likely to be able to plug a specific product, so don’t expect immediate bottom of funnel conversions.
Where podcasts really come into their own is the ability for marketers to communicate with personality – both for their own personal profile and for the business itself. Let’s face it, very few businesses are truly unique, which means customers and clients needs to buy into something over and above the product or service. A podcast gives you every opportunity to shine in this way.
So when and if you have the opportunity to appear on a podcast, as well as being a credible source in your field of expertise, be human and be likeable.
Are all podcasts made equal?
Absolutely not. In the same way that Google returns search results based on a number of factors, including the credibility of the source, it does the same with podcasts.
It’s important to do some due diligence before appearing on a podcast, as you would if you were putting resources into creating a piece of written content for a third party site. Does the podcast attract a good number of listeners? Is it targeted at your key audiences? Is it optimised well? Does the producer use social media to promote the content? Is the podcast available on Android and Apple and can it be found if you do a search for relevant topics? Is the host well-informed and will he/she inspire a lively debate? And if there is a sponsor, are they a competitor or is their good brand alliance?
How to maximise the SEO value of the podcast
There are four main elements to remember here: pre and post promotion (as you might do if you were speaking at an event) and also considerations for owned and earned media.
With regards to pre and post promotion, think about ways you can create excitement around being on the podcast and afterwards, consider ways you can use the content to keep driving traffic back to your own site.
Some of this activity will be on the website of the podcast producer and some will be on your own site. The activity can include, but is not limited to:
- Keyword research*
- Optimised meta – H1, page description, page title
- Optimised episode title and show notes
- Ensure backlinks to contributors are included in the show notes
- Repeated pre and post social media promotion from both parties
- Transcipts available afterwards
- Use the experience to create a blog post about the episode you were involved in
- Invite the host or other involved parties to contribute to your site
- Use the experience to demonstrate credibility and line up new content elsewhere – blog posts, podcast or events
- Update your LinkedIn profile to ‘podcast contributor’
- Connect on networking platforms with the host, producer, sponsor and other contributors
- Add a link to your email footer
*If the podcast you’ve chosen to participate in covers a wide range of topics, you could support the episode by providing KWR to the host, as you may be better informed than they are on a niche topic.
With podcasts being more prominent in search engines, making them accessible to a wider audience, and indeed listener numbers on the rise, it makes sense to include podcasts in your SEO mix. As with any content, be selective about which ones you do – there’s just as much preparation involved in being on-air as there is in sitting down to write content. And of course, you can’t simply delete an unwanted sentence or phrase when you’re being recorded for someone else’s podcast, so make sure you practise communicating your key messages without sounding like an SEO robot!
In short, don’t put all of your eggs in the podcast basket but they can form part of an overall SEO strategy. As with any speaker event, don’t see the podcast as the be-all and end-all – if you use it as a means to an end and maximise the value, your returns will be much the greater. Shout about the podcast content, not just about your debut on the podcast itself.