You’ve done it! You’ve finally found your voice and launched a podcast about your passion in life. The question is, who is listening? Or more importantly, who isn’t listening and how will those people discover your show?
In a universe of 750,000 podcasts and 30 million episodes to sift through, discoverability (how listeners discover/find your show) should be a primary concern for any podcaster. It’s not enough to publish a good show on a regular basis; you must find a way to cut through the noise and attract listeners that will come back time and again.
The good news is podcast listeners are out there in ever-increasing numbers. Edison Research tells us that for the first time ever, more than half of Americans have ever listened to a podcast and roughly a third have listened in the past month. In the same study, we also find that users who listen weekly consume an average of seven different podcasts. Your show could be one of those seven if you address these common inhibitors to discoverability.
Get listed in these major podcast directories
In reality, it doesn’t matter how or where your listeners get your podcast. You want to get your show in front of as many people as possible. Below is a list of essential podcast directories that will reach the vast majority of listeners across nearly any device. All of the services listed below are free, but some may have a review process before your show will be fully included in their directory (Apple for example).
- Apple Podcasts
- Google Play
- Blueberry Podcast Directory
As your show gets added to more platforms, simply tell your prospective listeners that they can find your show “anywhere you get your favorite podcasts.”
Write titles and descriptions that will go to work for you
Every bit of data you can enter about your show and each of your episodes can go a long way to contextualizing your content for search engines and distribution platforms. For each episode, start by writing strong titles and descriptions that will tease the interest of listeners browsing your episode archive. Set a good expectation as to the contents of your episode while not fully giving the goods away for free.
From there, consider including as much information as you can, especially in the description area, to assist in search and recommendation results. Include proper nouns like names of people, businesses, and locations mentioned in your content. Including notable quotes from your guest interviews can help, too. You can also provide outside links to other content referenced by you and your guests to allow your readers to follow up on a subject and also indicate to search engines and podcast platforms what outside content relates to your episode.
All of that context in your title and description will drive the way various search engines and “you might also like this” recommendation algorithms. Every bit of quality information you can provide in those fields will help you in the long run.
Remember: smart speakers are easily confused
Smart speakers are continuing to grow in reach but may be inhibiting podcast discoverability and delivery. According to the 2019 Infinite Dial study, nearly a quarter of Americans now own a smart speaker and more than half of those owners have two or more. That’s a lot of voice assistants! Voicebot.ai released a report in January that shows nearly 40% of smart speaker users have ever tried to listen to a podcast or other talk format.
Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google, and their friends are getting smarter every day, but they are all still in their infancy. If you’re not careful, they may get confused and won’t be able to find your show.
Imagine you have just launched an amazing new podcast titled Grizzly Nature chronicling the day-to-day life of forest rangers in Montana tasked with tracking and protecting indigenous grizzly bears. At the same time, your best friend has also started a true-crime podcast exploring the psychological makeup of serial killers titled, Grisly Nature. Phonetically, those show titles are identical which will cause some understandable issues when it comes to voice-assisted searches for either podcast. The challenge will be delivering each show’s listeners to the correct audio when they ask their voice assistant to play the latest episode.
Radio stations have struggled with this problem for a while. Every town seems to have a station called “Mix” or “Star” making it difficult to call up your local radio programming on the first ask. The takeaway is to ensure your show has a unique title not just from a spelling standpoint, but from a phonetic one as well. Don’t get too cute or clever with unconventional spellings, homophones, or puns in your show and episode titles.
Ask your audience for reviews and ratings
Ratings and reviews are especially helpful in Apple Podcasts which still drives more listening than all other platforms combined. More ratings and reviews can help float your show to the top of the recommendation lists. To encourage that engagement, some podcast hosts read comments and reviews as part of their listener feedback segments. Even bad reviews can play well if they are comical and can motivate your fans to write their own positive feedback.
Ask your listeners to subscribe
This is another huge item for Apple users. The Verge published an article last year showing that Apple’s podcast charts heavily weight new subscriptions, not overall popularity, in formulating their rankings.