Behind every successful podcast is a strong SEO strategy. But before you begin exploring podcast search engine optimization (SEO), it’s important to understand how the search process works. Podcasts rely on the metadata linked to your show—episode and show titles and descriptions.
Expand for key takeaways:
The key to creating an easily discoverable podcast is optimizing these elements, as well as a few creative aspects, for search engines, podcast platforms, and new listeners to find you. Master the art of podcast SEO with these eight simple SEO tips to grow your audience, build your brand, and get discovered on Spotify.
The essentials: Titles and descriptions
Meta descriptions (all the text that goes along with your audio content) are the essential core of SEO because they’re how search engines find, classify, and display you on search engine results pages (SERPs). Most search engines have a specific podcast section on their SERPs, and the goal is to get on the coveted first page so that listeners are more likely to click on yours.
1. Create a catchy show title
You wouldn’t name your baby X Æ A-12 (unless you’re a certain billionaire with a penchant for rockets) because names matter in the real world. Your podcast show title is a crucial decision because it needs to be unique enough for search engines to find you while being catchy enough for listeners.
When brainstorming your podcast name, skip the following:
- Common or colliding names
- Unique spellings and special characters
- Long titles
- Generic words
Say you want to create a podcast that focuses on recipes and food and call it “The Cooking $how Podcast with Steve and Alicia.” This title doesn’t work because the name is too long, contains common or generic words, and has a special character. Instead, stick to these guidelines:
- Keep it short (three to four words).
- Avoid abbreviations, punctuation, and misspelled words that confuse the algorithm.
- Include a keyword that reflects your content.
- Be creative.
Olivia Lopez’s “The Art of Travel” is a great example of a name that works for search engines and listeners. The overall theme of the show is travel (keyword included in the title), but broader topics, like personal growth and sustainability, often come up in the podcast. She didn’t pigeonhole herself into a typical “travel” niche by calling the show something like “Travel Destinations.” The title is also short, easy to remember, and works well within the SEO guidelines.
2. Write an enticing show description
Who reads the show description anyway? Search engines and podcast platforms do, and that’s why yours need to be perfectly optimized to provide the right information. Three elements you need to include in your show description are:
- The podcast host’s name
- Topics covered on the show
- Any abbreviations of the show’s name
These elements are crucial because new listeners often find podcasts by searching show topics or the podcast name. Also, craft your description with these SEO guidelines in mind:
- Stick to a hundred characters or less.
- Introduce yourself.
- Include the keyword.
- Sprinkle in some related secondary keywords.
- Link your socials.
Get inspired by this informative and succinct description from “Beyond the Screenplay”: “‘Lessons from the Screenplay’ creator Michael Tucker and the LFTS team do deeper dives into the storytelling of individual movies and chat with the creatives behind those films.” We have the host’s name, podcast name, and keywords like storytelling, movies, and films to help search engines find, index, and deliver the podcast to the right audience.
3. Use episode titles to your advantage
One of the shortest yet most difficult aspects of metadata is the episode title because it needs to grab the audience’s attention, work with the episode description, and remain informative for search engines (a pretty tall order). Episode titles follow the same guidelines as your show title, with a few additions like keywords specific to the theme, your guests’ names, and search intent.
“Teenager Therapy” does a solid job of constructing straightforward, SEO-friendly titles while considering their target audience’s search intent. Their episode, How to Throw a House Party, probably wouldn’t do so well if it was called The Rules and Social Etiquette of Small, Intimate Gatherings. They understand that teens will likely search for house party, so they used that keyword to their advantage and kept the title relatable and easy to read.
4. Compose searchable episode descriptions
Episode descriptions, or show notes, entice the listener to hit play, but they’re also a key aspect of SEO that makes it easier for search engines to find you. First, here are some tips for writing episode descriptions:
- Limit them to three or four sentences.
- Make the first 120 characters count.
- Include important keywords and guests’ names.
- Create a connection with the episode title.
- Avoid filler words and spoilers.
Poppy Newdick, senior product manager at Spotify, recommends focusing on the topics you talk about. “Topics are people's interests, and when people are interested in something, they will search for it. Think about writing your podcast episode descriptions after you've recorded your podcast, you never know where your conversation might go.”
“SHE/HER/THEY with KITTENS” is a great example of discoverable, enticing episode descriptions. Her KITTENS & KEHLANI episode description explains, “KEHLANI sits down with KITTENS to talk about their identity journey and coming to terms with being a lesbian, as well as how she's found peace as a human and artist in the public eye.” A one-sentence informative teaser of the episode featuring the guest’s name and specific topics—a perfect description.
The creative: Aesthetics and visuals
People often rely on visuals to make decisions (but don’t judge a book by its cover, right?), which makes design a core feature of growing your audience. The visuals associated with your podcast also contribute to the success of your podcast SEO in different ways.
5. Put some thought into your show art
Spotify for Podcasters' product manager, John Lagomarsino, believes show art is important because it’s the listener’s first impression of you, your content, and your personality. But it’s also a critical aspect of SEO—you can’t create an RSS feed without a podcast image, according to Google’s algorithm. Design your cover art according to these industry standards:
- 3,000 x 3,000 pixels
- Square image
- Clear, high-quality graphics or illustrations
- Feature your podcast name and logo
Once you’ve got those specifications down, it’s time to get creative. Think simple and catchy, and avoid crowding too many elements and tiny scripts into the image because it’ll be difficult to see on smaller screens. The cover art for “Flow State,” a podcast about focus, features a simple, vintage-inspired design with complementary colors, a front-and-center title, and the host’s name. If you’re feeling stuck, Spotify for Podcasters' cover art creator can help you design the perfect show art.
6. Personalize your podcast page
Your show page is the first thing listeners see when they find your podcast, and it contains several crucial SEO elements. To create your show page on Spotify, start by customizing your Spotify for Podcasters' profile page. Remember to include a few important elements:
- Category tags relating to your podcast content
- Social media links
- Website link
- Your name and podcast title
Now, when search engines are crawling your RSS feed, they’ll be able to extract the right search terms to categorize your podcast. “Trippin,” a travel podcast that features diverse guests, created a well-designed show page with all the essentials. Simple cover art, a catchy name, and a succinct description are accompanied by a keyword tag (travel), links to social media, and complementary background design.
7. Launch a podcast website
A dedicated podcast webpage is your hub for connecting with new listeners, sharing teasers, and running a storefront, but it’s also an alternative way to get found on search engines. Rather than just having your RSS feed to index, web crawlers (the bots that gather information across the web) also have access to your webpage, doubling your chances of being found by potential listeners.
A podcast website also offers extra benefits and chances to reach an audience through email marketing and newsletter subscriptions. Spotify for Podcasters' integration with WordPress makes website-building a quick and simple process; no coding skills required.
8. Build anticipation with a podcast trailer
A podcast trailer is like a movie trailer or a wildly popular song snippet—it gives listeners a taste of what’s to come, but it’s also a part of your RSS feed, helping you get discovered more easily. Your Spotify for Podcasters' profile and Spotify page highlight the trailer in a prominent spot, right before the episode list, making it one of the first clickable items.
New podcast listeners are more likely to click on a trailer because it’s a low-risk, high-reward action. Trailers are usually around 30-seconds long (perfect for short attention spans) and filled with engaging and enticing content designed to hook the listener. Use it to promote your podcast, create anticipation for a new episode, or highlight some of the best audio snippets of the year—the choice is yours!
Get discovered on Spotify through podcast SEO
You rely on SEO to get search engines and podcast platforms to push your content to a new audience, but podcast marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Including the right keywords, sticking to the guidelines, and pushing your creative boundaries will have you topping the podcast charts in no time.