If you’re a podcaster and haven’t been paying attention to your show description, we’re here to blow your mind. In this episode, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard break down the extreme importance of podcast show descriptions. The power of SEO doesn’t stop at your titles. It’d be a shame if your target audience isn’t finding your show simply because it isn’t searchable. You have to make sure you’re making the most out of every opportunity to boost your discoverability. Podcast show descriptions are simply an underutilized component, but you can skyrocket your listenership if you know what to do. That’s what we’re here to help you with. Tune in for more of what you should be doing to optimize your descriptions and make the algorithm work in your favor.
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The Extreme Importance Of Podcast Show Descriptions To Skyrocket Listeners
In this episode, we are going to talk with you about the extreme importance of podcast show descriptions. Tracy, I think this is a very much underappreciated topic. Don’t you think?
I don’t want to say underappreciated because I’m not sure. Undervalued is probably the best way to say it because the thing is that there are some critical factors in the way that your show was set up from the beginning that you don’t realize how essential to the whole discoverability process. There are two things that you need to grow a show. You need to be discovered and increase listeners or exposure as you go on and continue your promotion.
If your discovery is being held back because you didn’t do something right technically, then there’s about nothing you could do but spend a whole lot more money and promotion. You’re working twice as hard. Show descriptions are the one thing that makes a difference. Let’s talk about why that is. Technically, there are four things. I could count it for three things, but four because you do have the copyright line, but they do a search.
This was the lowest-hanging fruit when I talked to an existing podcaster who either set up their own show and didn’t realize it or used a producer that was unaware someone to help them launch their show. There are three primary things, and you may be right. The copyright line probably figures into it a little bit also, but there are three fields to figure into the search algorithm for your listening app.
That’s all listening apps. Let’s be clear on it. I haven’t found one single one that works differently yet.
It makes sense when you think about it because all the listening apps can do is look at all the information in the podcast RSS feed. The primary field is one way to think about it. The data point is another way that each listening app uses in its search algorithm. This is any Joe or Jane queue public user or listener who goes into their listening app and wants to listen to a podcast about entrepreneurship, investing, or something. They’re going to search in that app on what’s in it for them, what they’re looking for, topics, subjects, phrases, and they’re doing it from their brain, “What do I want to listen to? I want to listen to this,” and they type it in. That’s what the search we are talking about.
We’re talking about having your show discovered, not your episodes. That’s a different conversation and a different podcast episode we’ll do at some point in the future. Now we’re talking about finding a new show. It’s someone going in, looking, and finding a new show. I want to clarify that if they’re looking specifically for your show, they will type that or your name in as well. That’s more of a direct match, and you’re more likely to show up under those conditions if you’ve done it right. Often we find out that this isn’t done right when it’s done by a radio station or a network.
I want to add or plus what you were saying there. If somebody is searching on your name or your podcast name, you have already won the awareness battle. They know who you are, and they’re going to find you. That’s easy.
It’s easy if you technically did it right. I found it wrong often. Let’s talk about the three fields. The three fields are the author’s or the host’s name. It’s usually author by the systems. That’s the listening app. Your hosting company, like ours, is Podetize, might use a different term. We use author here too.
They might call it the host’s name or something, but the iTunes tag vernacular is author field.
The author field should be your name, and too often, a network, iHeart, or a radio station puts their name there. Now you’ve already lost your primary field for them to find you when they’re looking for your name for your show.
I’m going to out one company that does this all the time. I have no problem doing it because they’re old school, and I am 100%t certain they’re underserving their customers and the podcast community. It is BlogTalkRadio. They put their name in the author field, “It’s a BlogTalkRadio show.” They will try to sell you, if you’re their customer, on the idea that they have a big name and people look for BlogTalkRadio, and therefore they’re going to find you. The problem is they’re replacing your own name. When people know you and are searching your name, you’re not going to come up.
They’re not doing their job of promoting you, and you’re paying them. I find a huge problem with companies that do that if you’re paying them. If they are like iHeart, it’s sponsoring all of those shows. iHeart, Wondery, or any of those is the one who’s responsible for them. They don’t necessarily have to think about it. They don’t always make that mistake. They do because they want the famous star they paid a lot of money for who’s hosting the show to show up. They do know better for some shows. They do that.
The second field is the show title field or the name of your show. That figures into the search. To me, this is not a very important field in terms of discoverability. You need to have your show title in that field. If people know the title of your show, they’re going to find it. You’ve already raised awareness with that person. They’re going and searching on your show. That’s easy.
I want to clarify. If you are constrained by BlogTalkRadio or any of those companies that are stealing your authority in the author name field, you need to insist on putting your name in the title. This goes against everything that we teach here. It’s not good practice. It’s too much vanity and ego. It doesn’t play as well. However, because your search is messed up by the algorithm by the fact that they’re stealing the author field for you, you need to have that your name in the title. It should be whatever the show name is with and your name as the host, you should make them do that if you’re in that situation. If you’re not, don’t do it. It’s redundant, and you’re wasting character space.
Like we mentioned, three key fields figure into the search bar and the search algorithm in your listening app. Here’s the most important one. Honestly, it’s a real critical one that I can’t emphasize this point enough and is often overlooked. It’s the description field, the description of your show. I can’t tell you how many podcasters I come across who have been podcasting for many years. We have a new customer in Podetize who’s been podcasting for fourteen years. He had no idea of this. I’m sure when he started, it was a different day, and things have worked differently. That’s fine.Show descriptions are the one thing that really makes a difference. Click To Tweet
In all fairness, that’s true because when we started, it was only 400 characters. It was very different back then.
There’s a reason why we start a new podcast every year so that we know what’s working now. We’re not just talking about what worked decades ago. This is a good wake-up call even to seasoned and incredibly experienced podcasters. You got to make sure you’re aware of things that have changed so you don’t miss out on a big opportunity. That is how the show description represents a huge opportunity for every podcaster. If you have a 1 or 2 sentence description or anything relatively small, like a paragraph or two, read because we’re about to blow your mind.
This is 4,000 characters. That’s a lot of space. I could do it for about 10 minutes and fill 4,000 characters. It’s a lot of words. This is critically important that you are utilizing the maximum amount. You are optimizing your ability to be discovered. That’s why this is such an extremely critical path item for show discoverability.
I want to point an emphasis here that your podcast description is 4,000 characters, including spaces, not words. I don’t want you to fear, “That’s a chapter of a book.” Those of you that are hosted on Anchor, sorry, you’re out of luck. For some reason, Anchor and a couple of other hosting platforms are limiting your description to 650 characters. In our opinion, those platforms are also doing you a disservice because they’re not allowing you to use all the characters available to you.
Any modern podcast host should be allowing you 4,000 characters because that is what the ecosystem of podcasting allows. Let’s face it. This limitation is governed by Apple. Apple opened it up to 4,000 characters a few years ago, and you should be using all of them because this gives you the best opportunity for your show to come up in more searches when people are searching again on what’s in it for them and what they’re looking for in their podcast listening app.
Do I believe any person is going to read through that full 4,000-character description? I am quite confident that no one ever will, except you proofreading your own as you’ve written it or one that’s been written for you. You’re probably the only person’s ever going to read it. That doesn’t matter. It’s not for you. The first couple sentences or maybe the first paragraph is all anybody will ever read. That should be well written to let people know what it’s about, build anticipation and just get them to click and try it. That’s all you want that to do.
The rest of it is all SEO, Search Engine Optimization, within the podcast listening apps, so that when anybody types in any phrase in that search bar, that’s in alignment with what you want your show to be found for. That phrase should be in that description. I know, Tracy, you’re a writer, and you’re going to cringe when I’m going to say this, and all good writers do. This description beyond that first paragraph can be a complete word salad. It does not have to make sense. I’m saying it can be. You can say whether it should be in a moment.
Let’s talk about two things. Don’t hashtag and cram your words. When he says words, he’s talking about actual physical words.Most of us are looking to increase our listeners with people who don't know us. We're trying to be found by more of our ideal listeners. Click To Tweet
It’s words and phrases. We’ve got good at this at Podetize at writing something. You can read. It’s sentence and paragraph structure. It’s there, but people read it and say, “You’re saying the same thing in a couple of different ways. You’re being redundant.” I’m like, “Yes, we are saying it a few different ways because people search on it in lots of different ways. If you don’t match what they search, you are not coming up in the results.” There’s a lot of science to this. Like Tracy said, “It’s about discoverability.” If you want to be found by more people that are looking for your kind of content that are wanting to listen to your topics or subject matter, you need to play the bot game here and write a description that is going to cast a wider net for you to be found.
When we’re talking about optimized descriptions and optimized search, this search engine optimization is, it’s not a search engine like we know, Google. Google has a podcast app. It is happening within Google as well, but it’s not just that. We’re talking about only the parameters of the listening app is what it’s searching for. That’s why those are the three fields that we discussed before, the show name, the author name, and this description field. The most opportunity you have is to update this description field. Where I cringe and stop the line at my advice to you for word salad is that it is too easy for someone to say, “I’m just going to be a digital marketing god. I am going to go in and put keyword after keyword and have it make no sense, but I’m going to put 400 keywords.”
Here’s the problem with that. If you went to an Amazon listing for a book or a product and saw that happen, what are you going to do as a viewer? You’re not going to buy because you think and know that they’re manipulating you. This is why I say still make them sentences. It doesn’t have to be the best English ever or the most amazing writing. It’s not an article, but you make it realistic in terms of how it’s reading, so it looks like a description and doesn’t set off a bunch of red flags that someone says, “I’m not going to click and listen to this show. They are full of it. All they want to do is sell me something,” because of what they see there.
That’s another reason why I say don’t do the hashtagging because that’s not how somebody types it into it. They’re not comfortable with hashtag searching. They know it doesn’t work in the podcast app, so they don’t do it there. They know it works on Instagram or Twitter. They know where it works, but it doesn’t work in the podcast app. A real podcast listener won’t type those things in, so you’re not helping yourself. You’re hurting yourself by utilizing these techniques.
Thinking about that, that’s the only reason I say. Keyword cram, but you try to make them into sentences and make a little bit of sense. We are going to share our exercise description we have our clients go through in order to create the best episode description by doing what you do best as a podcaster, speak your way to it, transcribe, rewrite, and adjust it a little bit and then drop that right in 4,000 characters and you are done. You can do this in 30 to 45 minutes. It shouldn’t take you any longer to do, record, transcribe, update and get it into your podcast show description on whatever player. The only exception, as Tom pointed out, is Anchor. What was the other one?
There are a couple of other obscure ones. I don’t have a complete list. Anchor, as a hosting platform, limits your description listing to 650 characters. Why? I don’t know. I bet after they read this, they’re probably going to update it and expand it because they should.
I check Spotify doesn’t have that problem. In other words, Anchor users are being restricted when Spotify, which owns them, doesn’t have the restriction because my full 4,000-character description is completely showing up on Spotify. They’re limiting their own users from being able to utilize the app that they’re owned by. That’s crazy. It’s a real huge disservice.
It illuminates the difference between two different companies. Just because one bought the other doesn’t mean they are paying attention to all these details. It is what it is.Discoverability is an algorithm. It is not human beings. It is always a bot. Click To Tweet
We will have that whole exercise linked to this because it’s a whole other episode. Click the icon for the show, Feed Your Brand. It will take you to the show page on whatever app you’re on. Typically, that usually does that, or it will say, “Feed Your Brand,” and you can click on the show name. That show name will take you to the show page within your listening app. You can hit Read More, Expand, or whatever your app says. You can take a look at our show description and see what that looks like. There are hot links in most of them that show up on almost all the apps.
There are some apps that don’t allow that dynamic links. Don’t cram your thing full of dynamic links, but let yourself put in your website and a couple of other things, maybe your LinkedIn or other places where you want them to connect with you. Put them right in that expanded part of the show description so they can use that even though the apps don’t allow those additional contact information pieces. It gives you the ability to do that within there. You can have some calls to action. Check ours out and see what that looks like. Go check out yours and see what yours looks like.
Whenever I do a podcast audit, this is the number one thing that is a jaw-dropping moment for a lot of people because they have no idea. It’s like, “I took a podcasting course. No one ever told me about this. No one told me this was important.” Most people want to get their audio out there on the apps and so, “These are required fields. I have to put something in each field.” I see a one-sentence description sometimes, and sometimes even worse than that. Guess what? They’re not going to be found by many people organically looking for content.
They’re going to be only having people listen, who they’ve connected with on social media, and maybe raise awareness that way. They search on their show and find it. Most of us are looking to increase our listeners. With people who don’t know us, we’re trying to be found by more of our ideal listeners. If we already know them, then good for you. You’ve already got the biggest list on Earth, and you don’t need to do this, but the rest of us need this.
If you’re controlled by a network, radio network, or radio show, any of those things, I want you to go right now and push them to fix this. Tell them you insist on it. Often I see not even the podcast show itself, I see only information about the radio station put into the very first paragraph of it. It doesn’t even tell them what the show’s about. Often the radio people are not ever seeing what they look like in the podcast app themselves. They’ve never looked at that. They’ve only looked at the radio page of where they are, and that is updated in a different way. Go check this out. It is essential that you look at your own show description and know what it looks like.
Can I have a pet peeve moment here?
Of course, as if you haven’t already.
I feel a little bit in this episode that I’m ranting a little. It’s because I’m passionate about it. I hate it when I come across a podcast where someone has been taken advantage of. It is true. I don’t mind stereotyping them. I’m going to completely admit it. I’m doing that with internet radio networks and things like that. They always tend to promote themselves at the expense of the podcaster or the podcast host. In the descriptions, they’ll do it too. They’ll have more information about their network in there than they will about your show and why anyone would want to listen to it.
It breaks my heart.
It hurts me.
Now that we’ve illuminated this to you, I want you all to check out other things, too, because this has a cascading effect. Make sure you’re using your maximum caricature count on all your social profiles. LinkedIn has 3,000. There are 450 now in other places that used to only have 150. Twitter expanded there. A couple of years ago, it was only 250 over there now, but still, there are ways to expand it. This is something you should audit and check on a yearly basis in your social channels, making sure you’re maximizing the search engine optimization of anything because discoverability is an algorithm. It is not human beings. It is always a bot in everything we do on the internet. We need to play the game. If we don’t know the rules and we aren’t staying up to date on the rules changing, then the only way we can do is to set our own audit, timing, and process.
It’s something that I do regularly at the end of each year. I’ll notice it and be like, “They expanded this. I can expand my LinkedIn profile or my Twitter feed.” Whatever it is that is essential to your business, this is something you should be checking at all times. If I’m out there searching and can’t find you because you didn’t do the simple little thing, like expanding this, what a shame. You’re missing out on business and connections. I hate to see that. Put this in your portfolio of tips of things that you utilize every single year to update an audit for yourself. This is the last thing I want to leave everyone. Don’t get discouraged if you end up with 150 characters and you’ve been doing this for 5 years. Changing it now will have an instant effect.
It’s not carved in stone here. We can pivot and update our podcast listings. All of us can do that. It’s unfortunate. It’s been what it’s been if it isn’t optimized, but let’s fix it and make it better tomorrow. It can be done. One parting thing I want to share is that it always surprises me how many podcasters aren’t aware of the details of their podcast listing. They never looked at it or maybe have never looked at it, stuffed it out, had someone else do it for them, and hoped that they knew what they were doing.
For the more who don’t listen to their own episodes, I’m not saying you have to listen to everyone. You don’t need to be your own listener. You said it when you recorded it for information purposes, entertainment purposes, or whatever you’re recording about. You don’t need to, but listening once in a while, spot-checking, and making sure it is what you expect it to be, you may be surprised by what you hear. It’s always a good idea to do that. It’s representing you.
It’s an outward representation of you, and you should do a double-check. When we syndicate someone here at Podetize, we are always having in-person manually check how it looks on the app because sometimes things can get cut off. You think you did 4,000 characters, but it was maybe a little too close, or something took up a little extra space than you expected when it formatted and went into the feed into the app. My favorite thing about podcasting is that our feeds are flexible. They’re updateable. They can keep current with us. The fact that we can do that with our content is powerful. Keep updated. Keep doing this over time. It’s going to make a huge difference in your discoverability and in your ability to stay relevant to the audiences that are coming up and looking for you.
That’s where we should leave it, or I’m going to continue ranting. I don’t want to do that to our readers. Thank you so much for reading. I hope you got some value out of this. There’s a lot of similar, great content within the show. You can find all those by going to Podetize.com to the Feed Your Brand page. Find all our episodes there. Certainly, the blog post for this episode where Tracy mentioned she’s going to have a link if you want to learn about our process for creating an optimized podcast description. Thank you so much. We’ll see you next time for another great episode.