SEO in Podcasting: How to Optimize Your Podcast for Google Search

Search engine optimization traffic is one of the most significant ways to boost the number of views or listens to any podcast or digital content. At Earfluence, we’ve noticed a 1,300% increase in search traffic from quarter one in 2020 to quarter one in 2021! Prior to following my passion for podcasting two years ago, I spent the previous 14 years working in SEO—and some of the lessons learned along the way have helped our traffic and our clients’ success.

A little background that you didn’t know you wanted. In 2005 I got my first SEO-related job at a pretty chaotic company. I worked in the sales department, completely separate from all the other departments, and there was never any communication between sales and service. So really I had no idea if what we were selling was what we were actually providing (spoiler alert: it wasn’t). Crazy times, though, and one of these days I’ll write a screenplay about it or maybe put it all together in a podcast. But, the company went so far that every single employee would line up every Friday, and the executives would pass out $50 if we met our goals for the week—literally like, 200 $50 bills. Not the most tax-friendly concept, but it was definitely an experience. I spent 10 months there before I realized that what we were delivering clients was not matching what we were selling to them, and I wasn’t learning a whole lot except for how to sell and eat free lunches.

Fortunately the next step in my career took me to another SEO company, one committed to actually doing good work and not practicing voodoo SEO (you know, where you don’t really tell the client what’s going on, just you’ll sprinkle some magic SEO dust on the website and it all works out). I learned about link building for SEO, what search-friendly title tags are, and why the content you put out is essential to ranking. Essentially, Google wants good quality and relevant content… 

…which is exactly what we can give to Google through podcasting.

Here are some factors that Google considers when ranking a website:

  • What is the content on the site? Is it relevant to what users are searching?
  • What is the user experience of the site? Are users staying or leaving?
  • What is the title or headline of the page?

Earfluence’s web traffic has increased significantly in the past year because people are more inclined to click on the podcasts that have strong SEO titles and are ranking well—meaning, our most downloaded episodes are ones that get a lot of SEO-related traffic. For example, when searching for “virtual privilege walk”, our website will consistently rank in the top ten of Google, and that’s one reason the “What is a Virtual Privilege Walk?” episode of Diversity: Beyond the Checkbox is the most downloaded episode. 

Podcast SEO Tip: If something is trending at the time, then you want to make sure to include that in the title.

There are two ways you can constantly have web traffic on your podcasts. One way is to create an evergreen podcast, where someone will always find it no matter when it is. Essentially, this topic will always be relevant. Another way is to look at trends because that will attract significant web traffic as people are searching for that particular topic at a particular time.

Want to know what people are Googling? Well, just Google it. If you are curious to know what people are searching for, you can use keyword search tools like SEMrush. If you want to see what’s trending, then the best option is going to Google trends and seeing what is there. 

Podcast SEO Tip: Make sure your podcast has a website where you can embed the podcast with a short description of the show because that is another branch where you can reach more people. Additionally, make sure that the website is unique! 

When you create a website for your podcasts, it is super helpful to add transcripts to each episode. Attaching a transcript allows Google to see 6,000 to 10,000 words that are building your relevance and providing a lot more search keywords. Your website will become more and more relevant as you continue to publish those episodes. Think about it – once you have 20 episodes of content, you’ve added about 150,000 words of searchable content to your site! Plus, it’s valuable to include a transcript for accessibility purposes, as it makes it inclusive to people who are hard of hearing. 

Podcast SEO Tip: Google shows podcasts in their queries now. 

So it must think podcasts are valuable content!

Podcast SEO Tip: Title your episodes both for Google AND for your users

There are a couple of things you want when titling your podcast episodes. One, you want to make sure it is SEO-friendly, and two, you want to make sure it is clickable. It is a tricky balance that you have to achieve with each title if you’re going to get the web traffic you desire. Here’s a quick example:

  • Clickable Title: How do you host a solo podcast?
  • SEO-friendly Title: Solo Podcasting Tips
  • Clickable and SEO-friendly Title (many keywords and interesting): How to Host a Solo Podcast: Tips from Kinsey Roberts from the She Creates Business Podcast

Podcast SEO Tip: Use alt text when adding a photo to your website so Google can recognize its context. 

This next piece of advice might seem like a small detail, but it is still essential. If you are using images on your website, such as unique cover art, you need to be using alternative text. Alt text describes those images on your website to Google—which cannot see the images—and, by using this feature, you are giving it context for search. I know in the podcast I get into some tech jargon (I can’t help it after 15 years in the business), but this stuff is easy to do – you got this.  

Podcast SEO Tip: Videos are super helpful for podcasts. Uploading snippets of episodes to Youtube can be an added way that people can find your podcast episodes. 

Also, add a bit of your transcript in the video description, and your entire caption within the video (you’ll see an option to add an .srt file when uploading).  Keep in mind that Youtube is both owned by Google and is the #2 search engine in the world.  So let’s give Google what it wants!

There are a lot of little steps that make a successful SEO-friendly website and podcast, but at the end of the day, it is so worth it. What about you – what are some SEO tips that you’ve learned along the way?  

Jason Gillikin
CEO & Executive Podcast Producer, Earfluence
About the Author
As the CEO and Executive Producer at Earfluence, Jason Gillikin gets to hear experts tell their stories for a living! Having come from a digital marketing background, Jason thrives on amplifying Earfluence podcasts to reach their most impactful audiences. Jason finds inspiration in the storytelling of Wondery, the preparation of Guy Raz, the determination of his wife (also a podcast host), and the curiosity of his three daughters.