By redefining your podcast categories, you’re not just finding your place; you’re claiming your space in the podcasting universe. It’s the key to unlocking untapped potential, fueling discoverability, and propelling your show to extraordinary growth. Welcome to another exciting episode of Feed Your Brand with your hosts, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard. For this episode, they discuss how redefining podcast categories can boost discoverability and accelerate the growth of your podcast. First things first: what exactly is a podcast category? Tom and Tracy break it down for you in plain language, stripping away the confusion that often surrounds this subject. They guide you through the process of understanding how podcast categories function and why they matter so much in the podcasting world. As the discussion unfolds, Tom and Tracy discuss how to conduct effective research, identify the most suitable categories, and position your podcast for maximum discoverability. So, tune in now and get ready to take your podcasting game to the next level.
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How Does Redefining Your Podcast Categories Enhance Discoverability And Growth
In this episode, we’re going to talk about How Does Redefining Your Podcast Categories Enhance Discoverability and Growth? Tracy, we get a lot of questions about podcast categories in general.
Let’s define them because that’s a big issue. What’s a podcast category?
There are a finite number of podcast categories. Let me tell you. It’s defined by Apple as much as Spotify and others probably don’t like that. For good or bad, Apple invented the iPod, the podcast and the whole industry. Everyone follows them. They define the categories and they’re imperfect in a lot of ways.
When we first started, there were 30 categories or something like that. That was it. In 2023, there are over 100 subcategories included. You do have a lot of flexibility but if you’re an author, think of them as the listing area or the category that you’re in as a book. Think of it like the genre of music. How this got started was that they had to take the podcasting ecosystem. As they started to get so many podcasts, they had to say, “This is an entertainment-style podcast. This is a sports-style podcast. This is a business podcast.” They started to categorize them, which helps people search and find. That’s what we’re going to talk about because discoverability depends on these podcast categories.
Think about how people use them too. They are browsing for content and they haven’t searched on keywords. They’re just perusing their listening app. They’re like, “I want to listen to a podcast about medical symptoms for this.” They don’t type in a search. They start looking through medical-related podcasts.
They are not listed that way. They’re health and wellness. They’re combined. That’s why subcategories got created to dial that down so you could have fitness separate. You could have some of these things that broke it down a little bit further for you so you could be more specific. It’s meant for the listener. It’s not meant for the podcaster. You need to list your show that way but it’s meant to help the listener who’s browsing if you want to think of it that way.
They don’t know what they’re looking for. They’re looking for something like drama or comedy. We search and browse all the time in most of our listing apps of any kind, whether it’s for viewing, streaming, television or listening to music. We browse like that. Amazon and the book world have taught us to be a lot more specific because there’s so much noise and many listings both in how we list our books and in this case, how we list our podcasts but also how we search.
We know that we get better results if we’re searching for something in a much narrower category. That’s one of the things that we do. However, if you want to look at charts and Apple has charts, there are charts associated with each category. That matters as well. If you don’t know what you’re looking for but you want to see what’s stopping the charts in business entrepreneurship, then you can see that.
We launch new shows here all the time. I come across a show that isn’t a good fit for any existing category and they say, “My show should be listed under this.” I agree with you, it should but there’s no such category. You have to make the best choices you can and get to be listed in three categories in Apple and most listening apps.
However, you could choose more than that. It ends up being three relevant ones at the end of the day.
Here’s the other confusing thing about categories. Only one of them, the very first category will be displayed in your show listing on Apple, the first one you choose even though you’re listed and charting in the other categories. You can certainly in our system, on Podetize and I believe on some others too, choose more than three categories but not every listening app will use them.
You can’t rely on the sixth category you chose to help you chart somewhere on their system. That’s not always going to be the case. What you can count on is listing in three categories and the first one is the only one that will be visible when you look at your show and it tells you what category it’s in. They’re not going to list all three.
This is a strategy that we want to talk with you about in this episode. You should look at and redefine your podcast categories at least once a year. In the beginning, you might want to do it every six months or twice a year for the first year or something or whenever you make a significant shift in your show, you want to look at your categories again and change them.
Sometimes you think you know your audience and you’re not 100% sure. When we started our podcast on 3D printing, we thought of technology news. The reality is we were technology education and how to and that’s what we became. By switching our primary category from technology news to technology how-to, we did a lot better in visibility and discoverability but we didn’t know that when we started the show.
It’s something that may come over time as your show morphs into what it’s going to be because we don’t know what it’s going to be until we start to get feedback and build it so it is something. This is the great thing about podcasting. You can change this anytime. It’s flexible. All you have to do is go into your hosting company system.
In Podetize, you go right into your show level, take a look at your categories and adjust it. You save it and update your feed. Your feed updates within about 24 to 48 hours. Everywhere has been updated into the new category. It’s very flexible. As Tom put it, your primary category, what you’re first in matters. Another thing to look at each year as you go through it is, “How am I charting? Maybe where I thought I was and the third category I picked, I happen to be charting first there or in the top three.” That’s great.
Go ahead and move that to your number one because your listeners are telling you something. Your listeners in that category are telling you that you are the podcast of choice in that category. Take a listen and look at that and then make your adjustment there as well. Don’t do it on a monthly basis. Once a year is more than enough once your show is established. It’s fine because you need to settle out. Sometimes the charts fluctuate and it’s a random thing that happened one day and it’s not the same. You got a spike of listeners because of a specific guest and then it doesn’t happen again for six months. Check that out and only do it once a year.
I see more people getting confused by the charts. We don’t have any data as to how many listeners choose shows by browsing through the charts versus searching on content. I tend to think most people looking for educational content to inform themselves that looking for more business-to-business content tend to search for what they’re looking for rather than browse. Maybe more casual listeners who aren’t looking for more entertainment-wise, leisure-type stuff, who says, “Let me find some podcasts for my next cruise I’m going on so I can load them up before I go,” might browse.
Here’s the thing. There are three types of listeners that I’ve come to study as I’ve studied The Binge Factor and the things that make a show bingeable and binge listeners in general. Your binge listeners are the ones who subscribe to many shows. They’re always looking for the next great podcast. They’re the ones that people go to and say, “What podcasts are you listening to,” and they recommend to others.
These are the people you do want to appeal to. Here’s what they know. They know the charts suck and the categories aren’t any good either but they do have a category of interest. When they’re trying to search through all the noise because the search engine that is Apple, Spotify or podcast directories is awful and they know it. They will narrow into, “I’m searching for a crime show.”
It used to be just entertainment and that was too broad. Now, it’s got crime, “I’m searching for a crime show,” but then they will type in keywords. They want a crime show that is detective-based, murder-based, real crime or true crime. They’ll use those terms to get to the shows that are relevant to what they’re interested in. They will do it that way but they’ll be specific about it.
There’s the type of listener who wants to learn something, who desperately needs to solve a problem and who maybe got diagnosed with an illness. They want to find out everything they can. They want a support group. They’re going to type in their keywords. They’re not going to ever use the chart or go through that whole browsing model. They’re going straight to what they’re looking for. What they’re looking for is the person with the most content who is currently relevant. They’re like, “I don’t want outdated information. If I’ve got a health issue, I want it to be this day’s information.”
That’s what they’re looking for. They search in a different way. Your category doesn’t matter to them. Those are the people who will buy everything you have to sell and who will subscribe to your membership groups. They are your biggest return on investment for your podcast. Categories don’t matter to them and that’s something to think about.
The others are what I would call, “I’m new to podcasting. I’m checking out this thing. I’d like to experience some business entrepreneurship stuff.” They’re looking then at the charts, at the categories and going within that only because searching too generally in the front of everything is too busy for them. It’s too much information and they do want to narrow it down. They think though they have no sense of how bad the charts are yet and they’ll still use the charts and click on the charts. Over time when they click on things on the charts that have no longer publishing episodes that have truly podfaded, they realize that these charts are useless.
I don’t think that a show that isn’t publishing anymore should be appearing on the charts pretty high up though.
It does though because they have massive amounts of listeners built up over time. They still beat out a lot of new podcasts and a lot of podcasts. It depends on the category.Your listeners are telling you something. Listen to that, take a look at that, and then make your adjustments. Click To Tweet
I’m sure there are some niche categories where that does make sense.
Think about it. There’s no way an old book, a bestselling book will ever be lower on a chart. Amazon had to do a waiting of what was coming in so that the classics, the big publishers didn’t alter the chart. They didn’t always win in the chart because they always sell 1 million books, 100,000 books or whatever it is and no new self-published author could ever beat that. However, Apple and Spotify haven’t weighed theirs in that way.
It’ll continue to evolve. That’s one thing that’s for sure.
You were saying before that we have no data on the categories, on how people search and what they do. As I told you, I’ve studied this and so these are the psychographics of it. If Apple invested in changing all the categories a few years ago and adding them so that there were 100 categories, it says to me that it was worth doing.
The Apple Podcasts app is such a stepchild in the Apple Podcasts model. Apple doesn’t spend any money on it. They don’t have a big enough staff. They don’t invest in making a bunch of changes but when they did decide to make some changes in the last few years, this is one of the things they invested in making changes in. It says to me that they believe that there is some benefit to it and that’s why we should take it seriously.
I agree that there is some benefit to it. There is no question. I’m not thinking it’s a total waste of time to choose categories. I believe Apple was dragged kicking and screaming to update those categories. They don’t make any money on podcasts. They may make a little now but with the vast majority of podcasts, they don’t make any money on it. They invented this industry. It is a stepchild to them in many ways.
It gets you to use your phone all day long. The point of a podcast is to get you to use your device and have it become so entrenched in your life. It’s creating content so you’ll stay on your phone and then all the other stuff will come up. That’s its point. However, there are so many great podcasts out there and people are finding the benefit. That’s why they’ve been keeping it.
Podcasting isn’t going away because people enjoy it. People are getting benefits from it. How do you show up? This is what we want to point out to you. One of the ways is through these podcast categories. To recap our strategy, your main category matters the most. It’s also something you can change. When you go into a podcast and launch a brand new one, give your best guess.
Where do you think your listeners are and pick that category? Where are they looking for you and not where do you think you are? Where do they think you are or where are they looking for something the most? Put yourself there. You pick your other two categories based on what you believe. As you go forward, you evaluate it.
Six months in, take a look at that show and say, “Should I adjust this? Is one of my subcategories ranking higher? Am I ranking in the charts better over there? Should I move this around? Did my show content shift that I’ve got it going and I’m getting more on a weekly pace,” getting to what we would call an established podcast. An established podcast is posting regularly every single week consistently and constantly and has done that for 6 months or more and 25 episodes plus. You established yourself.Podcasting isn't going away because people enjoy it. People are getting benefits from it. Click To Tweet
That’s where we get into this place where you can start to see a trend of it occurring and see where you belong. You can make an adjustment. I like to do it at the start of the year, at the New Year. It’s my thing. It makes sense. At the start of every New Year, I check my podcast listing, categories and bio. I update those things on a regular basis. Put the category into your circulation of things that you’re going to double-check at the beginning of every year and every year that you do your show.
One last thing I’d like to share is when you’re a brand new podcaster, I tend to see people obsessing over it and getting upset and agonizing over it. They’re like, “My show is about this and there’s no specific category for that.” I understand that. It’s imperfect and not every show. It’s going to be obvious what category it fits in. I see some that are in between three different categories or maybe there are no categories that are a perfect fit and you’re making a guess as to, “Should it go here or there? Are these the right ones?”
I have a strategy for this. Go pick your biggest competitor in terms of either brand and/or other entrepreneurs. If you’re an entrepreneur and your biggest competitor is a guru that you follow, pick wherever they are.
You model other shows but don’t obsess over it. Make the best choice you can. Move on. Monitor it over those first six months and pivot. There’s no problem at all.
It’s instant. It’s easy to change. It’s not a set-in-stone choice that you’re making there. Podcast categories are useful. They do help you get discovered. Pay a little bit of attention to it, make some good choices and change them if you need.
We’ll wrap this one up there. Fortunately, this is a good subject. It doesn’t go on and on because there’s only so much to talk about with it. Hopefully, you all got some great value. Feel free to check our other episodes. We will see you next time.