Boosting Search Engine Rankings for Your Podcast with Good Show Notes

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

One tangible benefit of quality show notes is the impact they can have on your podcast istings within search engines. Traditional search engines cannot (yet) scan and index the contents of your podcast media files. As such, you need to provide text for search engines to examine and evaluate for index inclusion.

Podcasters can pick up a lot of tips and tricks from bloggers and other website owners on how to boost search engine rankings. Many include page-level changes to positioning of elements, correct usage of headings, meta and image tags, and back-linking techniques. Grab a copy of SEO For Dummies by Peter Kent (published by Wiley) if you want to make a bigger splash.

Loading up your titles

Search engines (and searchers) pay close attention to titles. You should consider the title of your individual podcast episodes every bit as important as the title of a given web page.

Important as they are, most podcasters struggle with effective titles. The biggest problem comes from confusing titles with descriptions. If your title starts with “In this episode,” stop right there. You’re writing the description, not the title. A title is a string of well-chosen and crafted words that has no room for superfluous baggage.

The best titles often come from a reexamination of your show notes. If you haven’t made your notes yet, you may find coming up with a solid title quite tough. Here’s the suggested process:

  1. Read your show notes and pull out the key elements, thoughts, or themes covered on the show.

    Let’s say you have a podcast on a Classic Car Auction. In your show notes, you have covered:

    • Sleeping in the Seattle airport while the flight was delayed
    • Interesting discussion during the flight with an 80-year-old man who is a car restorer
    • Under the hood of the 1965 Ford Mustang
    • Custom headers and exhaust systems
    • A short interview with the owner of a 1972 Chevy Nova
    • Taking a 1957 Chevy Belair for a cruise
    • Listener feedback request: What’s your favorite classic car
  2. Boil down each element to a single word or phrase, if possible.

    Think about the people who might be interested in the contents of your show and pick common words they’re likely to search for.

    • Potential show titles from your bullet list above:
    • Sleepless in the Seattle
    • The Old Man and the Chevy
    • Two Decades of Drive
    • Making a Classic Your Own

      These all make solid titles, giving searchers a good tease about what they can expect. It all depends on what kind of title you want for your show. A sense of humor? Alliteration? Something more literal? Whether your audience is more casual or, in the case of our Classic Car Auction podcast, more serious collectors and restorators, you select the key points from your show notes and condense them to what works.

Notice how the title doesn’t cover everything, and it shouldn’t try. That’s the job of the description where you can go into even greater detail, plus the many other things you talk about on the show.

Titles also carry good keywords likely to be of interest to your audience. Chances are good that you know your audience. Think about how people are likely to search and write your titles for that. Keep them short, don’t try to cover everything, and employ more detailed descriptions to carry the rest of your story.

Soliciting backlinks

Backlinks are the Holy Grail of search engine optimization. A backlink is simply a link from someone else’s website to yours — whereas a regular link is from your site to another. Sites that have a lot of backlinks pointing to them are considered more important to the computers that control where your site shows up on a search engine. To get backlinks from others, you must create links to their websites in your show notes.

When you’re soliciting backlinks from sources, make each email personal, provide the exact link you want them to use, and tell them why you think it’s important for them to link it.

Before you post your show, contact other podcasters, bloggers, and perhaps notable websites to see whether they’re interested in linking to you (and you to them) to generate interest in your podcast, rather than a specific show. Many sites have a section somewhere for related sites. This can be a very effective tool for drawing people to your site and your podcast. Then you can also find folks who might want to backlink to particular episodes.

You’ve posted your show and got your show notes online. It’s time to start soliciting backlinks to individual episodes:

  • Company backlinks: Write to the companies that manufacture the custom headers to tell them you’re posting a review of one of their products. Getting big companies to link to you doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. And getting backlinks from big popular sites is very beneficial to your rankings.
  • Courtesy backlinks: If someone helped you with a part of your podcast and you mention it in your episode, let that source know. Send an email to the agency you booked the trip with and maybe even the hotel.
  • Backlinks from fellow podcasters: If other podcasters cover topics related to your episode, let them know about it because they might be willing to spare you a backlink. Notify various car bloggers and podcasters about the new episode. It takes only a few moments of your time and is information they would or should welcome.

A fine line exists between asking for backlinks and spamming someone. If you can’t think of a good reason why that site should link to you, then you don’t ask for it; otherwise, just mention what your show is and what you’ve covered that might be of interest and let those site owners decide whether they want to provide a backlink.

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