How to optimize podcasts for Google
Google Search is one of the most crucial discovery mechanisms for any online content, including podcasts. As an aside, here is an overview of the steps for getting your podcast on Google.
Of course, Google’s algorithms for podcasts are rooted in the same principles of Search. So, essentially, one needs to follow the general best practices for Search. However, these are some of the things Google recommends specifically to optimize podcasts for Search, and broadly for all surfaces where users listen to podcasts.
A relevant show description and detailed episode descriptions helps in delivering more accurate search results and provide users with more context on the contents of an episode.
Webpage and RSS data
If you have a web page for your podcast, make sure your podcast’s webpage and RSS data match. One, the title of the podcast show’s webpage and the title of the RSS feed should be the same. Second, the HEAD element of the podcasts show’s webpage should contain a ‘link rel’ element that points to the RSS feed, and the RSS feed should, in turn, contain an element whose value matches the URL of the show’s webpage.
If you associate your RSS feed with a homepage, users searching for your podcast by name can get a description of your podcast as well as a carousel of episodes for your show on Google Search. Although, even if you do not provide a linked homepage, your episodes will still appear in Google Search results, but only grouped with episodes from other podcasts on the same topic.
Google recently changed its guidelines to make cover art images in your podcast feed required, rather than optional. More details are here.
Google recommends making sure that your audio files – the actual mp3s within your RSS feed – can be crawled and accessible to Googlebot.
Note that this is recommended and not required. If allowed, it enables Google to use these files to understand the entirety of the podcast. This allows Google to surface this podcast to users for a broader range of topics, as the algorithms understand the full context of the episode and aren’t limited to the description.
Photo by Mitchell Luo