Podcasting, like blogging, needs SEO so people can find your podcast episodes on the internet. Having an SEO strategy in place for your podcast will give you an advantage over competitors in your niche.
In my interview on Podcast Coaching with Christine O’Donnell, I talk about SEO and its impact on podcasting. I also share the most common SEO mistakes podcasters make and how to fix them. In addition, I break down the benefits of episode transcriptions, optimizing your RSS feed, and utilizing YouTube – the number two search engine.
So without further ado, on with the show!
In This Episode
- [00:21] – Stephan shares his appearance on Podcast Coaching with Christine O’Donnell, where he talks about SEO, its importance, and the strategies to equip you in the podcast industry.
- [06:18] – Stephan discusses the three pillars of SEO.
- [08:41] – What is the importance of domain authority?
- [10:15] – How important is SEO for your business regarding showing up on Google?
- [14:03] – What are the ways podcasters can utilize SEO?
- [17:10] – Stephan tells how he gets things done for his podcast show notes.
- [20:08] – What makes an evil twin article a lead magnet?
- [24:47] – How to turn your content into a profitable business?
- [30:35] – Stephan and Christine discuss credibility and how podcasters should establish them.
- [37:45] – The podcaster’s three mistakes and how to solve them. Stephan discusses transcription as the first problem.
- [40:37] – What is your podcast’s powerhouse or engine?
- [44:30] – The tools Stephan uses for keyword search and other purposes.
- [48:48] – What is the number two search engine, and how can you leverage it as a podcaster?
- [56:00] – The struggles Stephan encountered in the podcasting space.
- [57:55] – Stephan invites listeners to visit his website, stephanspencer.com, for more SEO resources.
Today, google your brand, your name, your podcast, your company, whatever it is, and then they see some Google results. If you haven’t curated that appropriately, if you’re not controlling the narrative there and putting your best stuff at the top of the results for that search, if it’s just random, or let’s say multiple Christine O’Donnell‘s showing up and it’s not just you, or maybe it’s your LinkedIn that’s ranking number one and not your homepage, these are all indicators that maybe you don’t have it all going on.
Welcome to Podcast Coaching with Christine. Here, we talk about how to grow your podcast using industry insights and broadcasting strategies.
Hello, and welcome to the show. Today, we have Stephan Spencer. He is a three-time author, SEO expert, professional speaker, and podcaster. He’s got two podcasts, Marketing Speak and Get Yourself Optimized. I’m so excited to chat with him. It’s 7 PM right now, and he is calling in from Tel Aviv. Stephan, thanks for being here.
Thanks for having me. This is going to be fun.
Yeah. Tell me about your day. You said you’ve been so busy today.
Every day is pretty much crazy busy. I have a lot of clients in the States, so I worked late into the evenings, like last night; it was until 3 AM. That comes with the territory of being an international citizen.
Yeah. We recently met at Podcast Movement during what I would call a speed-dating event for podcasters.
What did you think about how they pulled off this event?
They did a great job. I was impressed. I’ve been attending many virtual events lately, including the Biohacking Conference a few weeks before Podcast Movement. In addition, I’m going to be doing Genius Network’s annual event later this week.
I am part of Genius Network, so I attended their monthly meetings. It’s a lot of Zoom time. I’m feeling the Zoom fatigue. I am on Zoom for 35 hours a week.
What do you do to keep yourself healthy?
Yeah, that’s tricky. I walked for an hour and a half yesterday, which was good. I recently got a weight set, which is adjustable so that you can change its weights. But, of course, I don’t have all the stuff I normally have in California, where I’m normally based. Here, I’m staying at an Airbnb, so you must improvise.
Why are you in Tel Aviv, then?
Because things are interesting in California, we want to be somewhere outside the craziness. Not that the whole world isn’t crazy right now, but it’s a good spot to be in. It’s a cool part of the world. I have my wife’s family here. So yeah, it’s pretty neat.The first impression a prospect will have of you is not your website. They're going to be in the Google search results searching for you, even if a friend referred them. Click To Tweet
How are things there when it comes to the pandemic?
We did a lockdown for a month and a half, I think. We’re just exiting that. It’s not quite as stifling as it was in California. Not that I have anything against California or their policies, it was just weird what was going on. Just having some different changes of pace and different scenery has been nice for the last couple of months.
Well, good. I feel you. I am also based north of Los Angeles in Woodland Hills. I’m currently podcasting to you from my in-laws’ basement in Minnesota. So I’m in the middle of the United States, where it’s expected to get really cold real soon, but also to get a change of pace because it was stifling in California just having to be on lockdown and stuck in our homes. The air quality was bad. There are just so many different things.
Yeah. We were neighbors because I was in Encino. It got to the point where our CVS a mile away got looted, and we’re like, “all right, we got to do something different.”
I got it, so you placed out to Tel Aviv.
That’s a bit away. Let’s talk about SEO. SEO is something that really comes easily to some people, and then for others, it’s like this secret, mystical, magical thing that is so hard to attain. What does SEO mean in general, and then what does it mean specifically for podcasters?
Yeah, for sure. I like to frame it as the three pillars of SEO. You have content, architecture, and links. The content includes figuring out what keywords the people are searching for, who is your target audience, making sure you’re using those kinds of words and topics in your content and then weaving those topics in the right ways into that content.
That will get a little more specific once we start discussing podcasts and what podcasters need to think about. But generally speaking, if you’re writing blog posts and never using the words your target audience uses, that will be a disconnect and a failure in your SEO. You’ve got content, that pillar. You’ve got architecture, which includes all the geeky stuff, things like robots.txt, XML sitemaps, and canonical tags.
If your eyes are starting to glaze over as I’m using these words, don’t worry. It’s not something that you have to know all about. Instead, you need to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, “hey, help me with this.” That’s all the geeky stuff. That’s the technical architecture pillar.
Finally, links. If you don’t have links pointing to your website, you will not rank. Maybe for your name, but that’s it. You need links. Not just any old links; you need links from powerful, authoritative, and trusted websites. A link from Jim Bob‘s homepage isn’t going to cut it. You need a link from CNN or a more authoritative source.
Yes. When we’re talking about links, we’re talking about links to your website. For example, my website is christine-odonnell.com. Pretty simple based on my name. But, if I were to get an article or a podcast episode republished or repurposed by a huge news authority like CNN, and then they linked to my website to credit me, all of a sudden, my website beeps up a little bit when it comes to domain authority. Why is domain authority important?
Now we can start getting a little bit into the nuances. I don’t want our listeners to zone out because it’s getting too technical. The idea here is that if an authoritative website links to you, that will benefit you.
Google looks at the web pages linking to your website or your web pages. It’s a link from the homepage of somebody’s website to your homepage. That’s going to convey some trust and importance to you. If you got a link from instead of their homepage, it was a really deep kind of forgotten page on their site; that’s not going to be worth as much.
You need to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, “hey, help me with this.”
Even though the domain authority in both cases might be high, the difference in the link authority is transferred because it’s a homepage link versus an orphan page that they’re not even linking to themselves. The difference is vast. You need to think about the page linking to you, how important it is, and how trusted it is. Domain authority gives you a sense of the site, but you must also look at the page and the individual URL’s metrics.
SEO is really important if you’re trying to show up on Google. If people search for your content, SEO will matter when they type it in on Google, right?
Yeah. It matters even if all of your business comes from referrals. If none of your good leads ever come from your website directly, it still matters to have good SEO. The reason is that this is the first impression a prospect will have of you. It’s not your website. They’re not going to be on your website first. They will be in the Google search results, searching for you first, even if a friend referred them.
They google your brand, name, podcast, company, or whatever it is, and then they see some Google results. So if you haven’t curated that appropriately, like you’re not controlling the narrative there and putting your best stuff at the top of the results for that search, if it’s just random or, let’s say, Christine O’Donnell’s showing up and it’s not just you, or maybe it’s your LinkedIn that’s ranking number one and not your homepage, these are all indicators that perhaps you don’t have it all going on.
If you, on the other hand, have a knowledge panel on the right-hand side, which has images of you, maybe your book covers, all your social chiclets, a description about you pulled from Wikipedia, Google Books, LinkedIn, or wherever it’s being pulled from. You also have a whole bunch of stuff in the main search results, not just your homepage but maybe your about page.
If none of your good leads ever come from your website directly, it still matters to have good SEO.
Maybe you’re an author, and you have an Amazon author page showing up there. You may have been featured in forbes.com at one point and have a feature story showing up there. All of that will convey your authority and social proof to the prospect. We’re not even talking about competitive non-brand keywords yet. That’s just for your name. That’s critical. You got to control that narrative.
That is so crazy to me. I’m just going to give myself an example because this is fun. Sometimes we need an example to understand SEO because it gets a little technical. There is another Christine O’Donnell out there. She’s a politician. My background is in news reporting. If I were to google myself, if I wrote ‘Christine O’Donnell reporter,’ I would probably be the first thing that pops up in your Google search.
It wouldn’t be from my website; it might be from someplace else. But if you type in Christine O’Donnell, you’ll get ads from a lady who is still a politician, but she’s not a witch; she’s you. I don’t know if anyone remembers that ad, but I cannot forget it because we share the same name. Sometimes people confuse us on social media, so I get some interesting messages.
Yeah, that’s funny.
Yeah, it is funny. It’s so interesting, though, because sometimes, what if a bad piece of news comes out about you? But, if you can control your SEO, you can change the narrative online and gain a little more control.
Yeah, it’s like a chess game. You can move not only your pieces on the chessboard but you can also move your opponent’s. So you can push that negative listing off page one in no man’s land on page two.
Boom, that’s exciting to give people that control back a little bit. So how should podcasters be using SEO?
Podcasters can do some podcast SEO to get more SEO goodness into their RSS feed, the various podcatcher app websites, and all that good stuff for their podcast. They can also leverage their podcast as a rich content source to enhance their website’s SEO.
For example, if we’re talking about the ladder, I have both my websites, marketingspeak.com and getyourselfoptimized.com. My two shows each have a podcast website. Each episode has a full transcript, unlike a big boring wall of text that repeatedly labels the guest’s name and my name. Nobody wants to read those; people hate that.
It’s turned into a long-form blog post, broken up, so it’s not so heavy with text by incorporating images with captions—images from Unsplash, pexels.com, and various free stock photo repositories. Also, I insert pull quotes, click-to-tweets, and other elements to break up the text with the use of bolding and different kinds of effects. And things that make it more visually interesting to consume the content because many people don’t have time to listen to an hour-long episode.
Suppose you spend time digging in your analytics and looking at where people drop off in your Apple Podcast analytics. In that case, you’ll realize most people or many people aren’t even finishing your entire episode. So my call to action— the most important thing is at the very end, and I’m like, “oh, no, half my people aren’t even listening to that part or more.” So then you realize that your website is this untapped opportunity if you get it to rank well and you get it to convey all the value locked in that audio that they don’t have the time to listen to.
When you expose all that as valuable-looking long-form blog posts, that’s ninja. That’s one underutilized aspect. Most folks I see with podcast show notes try to make a less-is-more approach. A bullet list of 5, 10, or 15 things is the show’s outline, and here are the social links and all that of the guest. That doesn’t cut it.
Your website is an untapped opportunity if you get it to rank well, and you get to convey all the value locked in your podcast’s audio that people don’t have the time to listen to.
How long does it take you to do that? Because that’s like a chunk of time getting your show transcribed or doing it yourself and then turning it into an article.
Yeah, my team does it. I have a team in the Philippines. They’re doing this for every single one of my episodes. In fact, we started doing this around Episode 150 or something like that of both of the shows. I had 300 episodes in the back catalog to do this, not just from the current episode moving forward, because it was so valuable. I saw an uptick in organic traffic from Google. So I thought, “yeah, we need to go through the back catalog and do this.”
I found a contractor in the Philippines who was recommended to me. Rather than per hour price, I just got her to quote a per-episode price. It was $3 an episode, something like that. Yeah, $3 or $4.
She found a few images and Pexels, et cetera, as part of that. She didn’t include writing the transcript, but she used the already-done transcripts because we had been doing transcripts since the beginning. But yeah, it was about $3 an episode to take a previously transcribed episode and turn that into a long-form blog post.
That’s an extreme example because we got lucky finding somebody who was affordable and willing to do this on a per-episode basis. Then I don’t have to worry about tracking their time and ensuring they’re doing the work. It’s up to her to take hers. As long or as short of time as she wants, it’s just I’m paying per episode. That was very effective.
Now, we’ve got a team of three people in the Philippines doing much more than just turning these into long-form blog posts. There are also the social quote card images, the checklists, and PDFs of those checklists. So we’re figuring out the main action points or actionable insights from each episode and then turning that into PDFs. We include the text at the end of the show notes page right after all the links to the resources.
Is that PDF document a lead magnet for you?
We started making it a lead magnet and found that only a few people opted in for it. Like, yeah, the adage, information wants to be free, so we just decided to remove the wall. There’s no opt-in now to any of these episode checklists.
Wow. Content is a really big piece for you; just creating content. And podcasting was your way to that content.
Yeah, it’s a great way to generate a source of rich content that can be used in many formats. You can create text tweets from great quotes that either you or the guests dropped into the episode. If they dropped a knowledge bomb, you could make that a text tweet. You could create image quote cards out of those and post those on social media.
You can use a headliner app or one of these little video-based tools that take the audio and make a waveform of it, a still image, and you mash that together and have a little minute-long snippet or something for social media. You can repurpose and rejig all of this content that’s dropped into a 20, 30, 40, or whatever minute episode and turn that into a dozen or two dozen pieces of content that you can utilize not just on social media, but on your blog, on other people’s blogs.
You can do something called an evil twin article. This one, I credit to Andy Crestodina, another SEO who came up with this idea of an evil twin, which is just the article that you were going to write or that you wrote; you flip it and come up with the opposite sort of hook. It’s all based on the same research that you already did.
Let’s say the nine biggest SEO mistakes that all podcasters make. I just made that up. I could write an article on that, but let’s say I already did, hypothetically. I could create an evil twin of that and flip it. Instead of the nine biggest mistakes, it might be the nine best practices the biggest podcasters all use concerning their SEO. You just flip it.
Got it.SEO is like a chess game. You can move not only your pieces on the chessboard, but you can also move your opponent's. Click To Tweet
You can take that and you publish that on another site, so you’re not using duplicate content that you already posted elsewhere. A lot of these other sites will have guidelines or restrictions about that. I write for Search Engine Land, and they say you cannot use contents you’ve already published elsewhere; it has to be fresh and unique before you submit it to search engines. Then here we go, evil twin, unique, but it’s not starting from scratch.
Got it. You’re saying it’s to collaborate with other people, so even if their websites aren’t huge domain authority, it is still beneficial to collaborate with them and repost some of your content on their article with a backlink to your site.
When I was talking about the evil twin, I was implying that you would find a high-authority site to publish that content on. For example, as I said, I’m a contributor to searchengineland.com, which has a lot of authority. I’ve contributed to rewrite.com, HBR, Founder Magazine, and Adweek, like many of these really high-authority websites.
It’s ideal if you can be not just a one-off contributor, but an ongoing columnist because then you can drop all this great content regularly. You can get links back to your website because you can’t just rely on your guests to link to your website to boost you to the top of Google. You need to take some other measures as well.
I hear a lot from people, and it’s because I come from the journalism space where I was always creating content, creating content, and then letting it go, moving on to the next thing, moving on to the next thing. As a reporter, it wasn’t my job to understand SEO and everything online. So a question I get from a lot of people is, how do you turn all of this content you’re making into a profitable business? What would you say to them?
First of all, “begin with the end in mind.” It is a Dr. Stephen Covey quote. If you recognize that your podcast, for example, could be a way to generate case studies because you could interview your clients and then extract the stuff that they wouldn’t normally give you in a testimonial in the form of a conversation that’s just free flowing and engineered by you through to extract out what their objections were before they signed up with you guys.
A good testimonial always has the objection. “It’s expensive to work with Stephan.” That’s an objection. “Stephan is an expensive SEO. He wrote the book or co-wrote the book on the topic.” This is the book right here, and it’s 1000 pages. Here, The Art of SEO. It’s one of three books I’ve authored or co-authored.
Consequently, I’m not inexpensive to hire. So I want to preempt that objection they almost certainly will have about the price. So I’ll coach my clients to give me a testimonial to say, “can you talk about what gave you pause or maybe almost derailed the whole process of you signing up with me?” Like, “oh, yeah, we had trouble getting this pushed through because we had a limited budget, and you were actually more than our budget,” or whatever.
Get them to talk about that because that speaks to the person who is listening or watching and say, “yes, I’ve got that very issue.” Whereas if it’s just all flowery praise about you, it doesn’t do anything about, of course, the testimonials will be complimentary. Working with Stephan was amazing. He took us to the top of Google for all these different keywords and increased our revenue by 10X.
That’s all fine and good. But unless it feels like, “hey, this is possible for me,” so they can relate to it. “Oh, yeah, so Stephan works with Chanel. What do you do? I’m not Chanel; I’m Joe, the plumber. I don’t have the budget like Chanel, so this is just ridiculous. I’m not even going to watch it or listen to it.”You could have zero audience and have cool conversations with just the right people who you're laser-targeting. That is enough to catapult you and your business to the next level. Click To Tweet
You make it relatable. You make it not over-the-top crazy regarding the results, but it’s more of an attainable, mildly impressive case study. You bake the objections into it. How are you going to do all that? What if it’s a free-form conversation as a podcast episode?
You start interviewing all of your clients, current and past, and they have an opportunity to have their soapbox moment and regain all the wins and successes. That’s amazing. And you’re extracting out what is a fabulous case study for you. So that’s just one example if you begin with the end in mind.
If instead what you’re trying to do is, get a whole bunch of really cool tech gear like I have this happy, wearable device that changes your mood, you press a button, and it starts—
Is it a headband?
Yeah. You can wear it on your head or around your neck. What this does is it helps you to enhance your mood, a positive mood like science.
Here’s this headband. Wear it and be happier.
Yeah, or more focused or sleepier. A friend of mine, I told him to get the headband. He has trouble sleeping. He usually gets like five hours of sleep at night. This is totally aside here. On the first night, he fell asleep with it on. He slept 10 hours. He’s like, “I haven’t slept that long, and I can’t remember when.” It’s pretty cool. You get all these devices for free. Here’s another geeky gadget because I got the Get Yourself Optimized biohacking podcast.
This is a neuron with a brain tracking portion here, a sensor I know you’d look like a total dweeb wearing at night. But this will tell you what brainwaves you’re in, alpha, beta, delta, or whatever.
I have an Oura Ring too, which is another biohack. This thing does tell me my heart rate variability (HRV). I know I sound like a total geek. But all this cool stuff, many of these things I got for free. This neuron is totally free.
I got a bicycle with AI because, of course, you want to ride a stationary bike with AI. Who doesn’t, right? So I got it for free. It is called a CAROL bike.
All by podcasting?
Yeah. A $3000 stationary bike with artificial intelligence for free.
Do you use it?
Yes. Well, not now because that’s back in California. It’s in storage now. It’s a cool thing—the CAROL bike. It’s not even like an ad deal. I don’t sell advertising. They pitched me, and I said, “well, I’d consider it, but I want to have the bike to try it out before I have you on the show.” They’re like, “Okay, we can do that.” “And I want to be able to keep it.” “Okay, yeah.”
But you had to have a podcast that had good reach for them to want to give you stuff like that, right?
Maybe. Not really, because you don’t need the reach. That’s the secret here.
What do you need?
You need to have street credibility. It would be best if you got super credibility so they don’t even consider asking you about downloads.
What’s super credibility for a podcaster? I’m just curious.
Let me give you an example first for a non-podcaster because this is where I first heard about super credibility. Do you know who Peter Diamandis is?
He is the creator of XPRIZE. The XPRIZE was a $10 million prize for creating a spacecraft that could take a passenger up to near-earth orbit, come back down, and be able to take another passenger two weeks later or less. I’m getting the details wrong here, but that’s close enough. Nobody asked him, “do you have the $10 million when he announced the price.”
Nobody asked. He didn’t have the money. It took him 5-10 years, some crazy long time to get the money. What he did have, though, was super credibility. When he announced the XPRIZE, he had a former deputy director of NASA on stage with him.
He had eight astronauts on stage with him. Nobody thought to ask, “where’s the money, Peter? Is it in the bank? Are you ready to write a check if somebody wins this prize tomorrow?” Oh, no, he didn’t. He didn’t know who that benefactor was going to be. He didn’t have the money himself.
Finally, 5-10 years later, whatever it was, a billionaire whose last name is Ansari, I think, so now it’s named The Ansari XPRIZE. It was awarded. She came up with the money. Isn’t that cool?
You sell something, and then you build it. Marketers do that all the time. They want to see if there’s a market for something, so they’ll pitch it and sell it. Nobody buys it; nothing is lost.
Get on the waiting list.
A bunch of people buys it, and then like, “all right, we better build this.” But if only a few people bought it, they refund those few people and say, “sorry; we ended up having a change of direction” or whatever.
A podcaster example of super credibility was episode number 8 of Marketing Speak with Jay Abraham. He’s the godfather of marketing, he and Seth Godin. That was amazing to get Jay Abraham on as a very early guest.
Once I could name-drop Jay Abraham, I got other big-name guests because they’re not going to say, “all right, well, so you had Jay Abraham, but what are your download numbers?” So I get three or four big-name people, and then I can name-drop those few people and say, “guests have included Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham.” “Okay, yeah, I’ll do it.”
I do podcasts for the joy of it. It’s a labor of love.
The idea of asking for download numbers, listenership, or reach seems rude. But clearly, you’ve been vetted by these other big-name guests, so I’m going to say yes.
That is something. I know this technique. Yeah, you got a $3000 bike and some other cool gadgets.
I got so many cool gadgets. Of course, some I’ll get at a discount, and some I get for free, but that’s not the point. That’s not why I podcast. I do it for the joy of it. It’s a labor of love. It really is.
If you’re out there and just starting a podcast, or you’ve been podcasting for a while, you know it’s a labor of love. You have put in your time and energy, and you might not necessarily see the downloads reflecting that. But what Stephan is saying is that you don’t necessarily need super downloads to start reaping the benefits of podcasting.
One of the things I love about podcasting is the excuses to talk to people like you, “hey, let’s just shoot the breeze about SEO.” That’s great.
It’s so cool to be able to pitch somebody to spend an hour with them on a call when you wouldn’t get that time with them otherwise. But you get that time because you have a podcast and can name-drop the impressive guest list.
I interviewed, for example, the former CEO of walmart.com. He didn’t know me from Adam. It’s Carter Cast, but we hit it off. He’s no longer with Walmart. He’s a VC with a VC firm. He referred at least three different or maybe four now portfolio companies to me for SEO.
You don’t even have to have an audience. You could have zero audiences and have really cool conversations with the right people you’re laser-targeting. That could be enough to catapult you and your business to the next level.
It’s so cool to be able to pitch somebody to spend an hour with them on a call when you wouldn’t get that time with them otherwise. But you get that time because you have a podcast and can name-drop the impressive guest list.
Yeah, that could turn your podcast into a business. I think it took me a while to get that just as a journalist because I’m just used to objectively creating content and not thinking, “wait for a second, do I have an offer I could put in? Is there something that I could teach others? Is there a service I can provide that I have taken for granted all this time?” Yes, there is.
It wasn’t until I had a short stint in the marketing world that I was like, “wait for a second, I need to rethink what it means to produce content, how to create content, and what that can mean for myself, my business, and my family.” So it changed my mindset in a way that surprised me because I really loved being a journalist. I loved it.
This is also like I still get to do it. You mentioned the biggest mistakes that podcasters can make with SEO. I know you just came up with that, but could we talk about three mistakes podcasters make with SEO and how to solve them?
Transcriptions are a real missed opportunity that most podcasters are not leveraging but have not even done. You can use a service like Descript or Otter, which is inexpensive and uses AI to convert the audio into text. It’s not going to be perfect. You can even upload your recording to YouTube for free, the YouTube algorithm creates a transcript, and it’s got the timestamps associated with it too. But, again, you can do this really on the cheap.
As I said, you can find somebody in the Philippines to do the grunt work of turning that raw transcript into something that looks a lot nicer, has imagery to go with it, is cleaned up, and all the typos are fixed, and all that sort of stuff. You can find people in the Philippines using onlinejobs.ph. That’s a Craigslist of sorts for the Philippines for job offers and job seekers in the Philippines. It’s pretty cool.
Interesting. I didn’t know about that. Also, just for accessibility, there could be hearing-impaired people. But, still, they want to get the information, content, and quality expertise from your podcast conversations. Getting that transcription makes your podcast content available to people who aren’t able to hear. So it’s one more reason you should get transcriptions done.
Yeah. And if you want to get even more ninja, you can have somebody who’s a diehard listener and fan who speaks a foreign language translate those SRT files from YouTube. Turn that into a foreign language translation if you do it that route. Upload that also to YouTube. There’s support for that so that people searching YouTube in that language can find that podcast episode and watch it with subtitles.
You don’t have to re-record your episode or anything like that. It allows them to choose the subtitles in that language, whatever languages were uploaded and translated. So there’s some really ninja stuff that you could do. It’s just a question of how far you want to go.
And how much time do you have? Does it mean outsourcing?
Okay, there’s one, transcriptions. What else?
The RSS feed. It’s the powerhouse, the engine for your podcast. And its reach into all the podcast directories, podcatcher apps, and so forth. If you are optimizing that RSS feed, make sure that the show’s name has keywords in it, but you don’t want to keyword stuff it. For example, if it’s called marketing speak as one word, you might want to change it into two words. I actually did that. It started as MarketingSpeak, one word, and I changed it to two because marketing is a very important keyword, and I wanted that word to get picked up.
You want to avoid spam and keyword stuff. In the author column, you’re not going to put, like, “Stephan Spencer, SEO expert, three-time O’Reilly author,” blah-blah-blah. Because you’re probably going to get caught out by an algorithm at Apple or wherever, you might get kicked out of the Apple Podcasts engine. That would be pretty bad. It’s not like you can pick up the bat phone and say, “oh, sorry, Apple, I didn’t mean to do that. Can you let me back in?”
Just be careful not to go over the top with it. But the RSS feed, if you’ve never looked at it, you should look at it. You should look at the code. It’s an XML format. It has the show’s name, description, title of each episode, author, and all these different elements.
Only some elements matter from an SEO standpoint, but the main ones are the title of the episode, the show’s title, and the show’s description.
Not every element matters from an SEO standpoint for, say, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts, but the main ones are the title of the episode, the title of the show, and the description of the show. Those are the most important.
I always have my team in the Philippines, the head of my team sends me three different potential episode titles for each week’s episode for the two shows, and then I decide if I like any of the three. So usually, I’m rewriting it and not even using one of the three she sends me. But I know that I’ve dialed in because I’ve had that additional thought process, and they’ve put thought into it too.
Between the two of us, we end up with really great titles for each episode. Suppose you spend an extra two minutes per episode dialing in the title so that it has not just keywords in it but some intrigue or counterintuitiveness to it, some curiosity gap that gets created in the mind of the potential listener. They’re intrigued to listen to and consume that content because then it satisfies that curiosity. It relieves the tension that was created, like a clickbait article.
Number six will blow your mind. Usually, number six is a non-starter, and it’s disappointing. You want not to do that. You want to underpromise and overdeliver instead of the opposite.
You want to think about how I can create mystery, intrigue, powerful positioning, value proposition, and good keywords. That’s a lot to do in a title, but you can pull it off if you just put some thinking time into it. It’s going to pay off. That extra five minutes per week is worth it.
Do you use a keyword search, or does the person you work with in the Philippines use a keyword search engine? Is there a tool you use online that people can also use?
Yeah, we use a bunch of different tools. If you’re an SEO geek like me, then you want a whole bunch of tools because they’re all different, they’re based in other databases, and they come up with varying suggestions of keywords, synonyms, competitive intelligence capabilities, and so forth.
My favorites are Moz Keyword Explorer and Ahrefs—there are many keyword tools inside of Ahrefs. There’s a keyword gap tool—Content Gap is the name of it—SEMrush, another tool I like a lot, has the keyword gap. Hence, the confusingly similar names of the tool, but both of those tool sets are fantastic. They are paid tools. All of these so far are paid tools.
Think about how you can create mystery, intrigue, powerful positioning, value proposition, and good keywords in a title.
Google Trends is free if you’re on a budget and can do just free stuff. AnswerThePublic is free. AlsoAsked.com is free, but they’re limited. So, for example, let’s say that you wanted to come up with questions that you can use as fodder for episode content and for things to talk about in the episode, whether it’s a guest that you’re going to interview or it’s a solo episode, AlsoAsked.com is amazing.
You know how when you use Google, and it comes up with a people also asked box with some questions in there, you can explore those out and see the answers, and it keeps adding more and more questions with answers as you’re exploding those out and reading the answers? This tool for free extracts all that content from the people also asked box from Google, puts it into a nice visual that you can download, and also a CSV file, which you can load into Excel or Google Sheets. It’s super cool.
Whether you’re creating content for a podcast episode or just working on FAQs or ideas for blog posts, whatever it is, AlsoAsked is a great repository for free information about what questions people are asking online about your topic.
Damn, that’s crazy.
And completely free. The same with AnswerThePublic, answerthepublic.com. Similarly, you just put in a keyword, and it will give you a whole list of questions. Instead of the people also asked box in Google, it’s based on Google Suggest.
When you’re typing keywords or keystrokes into the search box in Google, you get those autocomplete suggestions. That’s called Google Suggest. AnswerThePublic scrapes from the suggestions list from Google a bunch of keywords and questions, particularly who, what, where, when, why, and how type questions and implied questions with prepositions. Then it puts it into a really nice visual display. You can also export it into that CSV file and load that into Excel or Google Sheets. Again, completely free.
Why would you need to upload it into Excel or Google Sheets?
Let’s say that you’re pulling data from both of those tools, and you want to de-dupe, sort, group, do some clever stuff, and turn that into an editorial calendar. You want to not just look at a pretty visual and take a screenshot of it. You want the data.
Gosh, my brain just broke a little bit. There’s so much to SEO and how you can make it work for you that it blows my mind—okay, optimizing your RSS feed with titles, transcriptions, and the third thing, the mistakes they make.
Yeah, so they’re not leveraging YouTube. That’s the number two search engine. It’s not Bing. It’s not Amazon. It’s YouTube. If you don’t have a YouTube channel and you’re not uploading every episode to YouTube, it’s like you’re snubbing your nose at the number two search engine. Why would you do that? So many podcasters do that, though.
Even if you don’t have a video to leverage it, it’s possible, so do something on YouTube. When you get to the point where you have 100 subscribers, then you can claim a custom URL.
I was talking about things like making sure your SRT file, the transcript that YouTube auto-generates from the audio, and making sure it doesn’t have any mistakes because it will not get everything perfect. Just review that after you’ve uploaded the video.
I used not to record videos. I just recorded audio-only because I didn’t want to have to comb my hair. That’s so silly because I threw away a huge opportunity to capture a video of both the guest and me and then utilize that for YouTube, so it’s not just a still image because that’s boring to watch.
If you can’t do video-based interviews, it’s okay. Do the best you can with what you have. I have an episode where I interviewed Marisa Peer, a phenomenal hypnotherapist to the stars. She’s amazing—thirty-five thousand views of an episode with audio-only and a still image. The whole episode, it’s like an hour of content with one image the entire time, 30,000 views of that.
Even if you don’t have a video to leverage it, it’s possible, so just do something on YouTube. When you get to the point where you have 100 subscribers, then you can claim a custom URL. For me, youtube.com/stephanspencer. So instead of a long string of characters that nobody could ever remember, I have a custom URL that I can mention like I did.
Like, “Subscribe to my channel; Stephan Spencer is my YouTube username.” It’s so simple, but I had to get to 100 subscribers to get there.
It’s so interesting to me. I have a YouTube channel. I have like 16,000 subscribers.
Thank you, but here’s the rub. I don’t use it at all. I never use it. I have some podcast episodes uploaded there, but I stopped doing it because it took so much time. So it’s like, “oh, I’ll come back to it. I’ll do this eventually.” And eventually never happened because I got so distracted by clients, this and that.
I’m leaving a huge gap where I could not be doing that. So hearing you tell me this again is like, “I should be using my YouTube channel,” but I’m not.
Here’s the thing. People will judge you like it’s not fair. People will judge you based on you applying your principles to your stuff.
They’ll look for SEO on my own website. This actually happened to me. I keynoted at the India Affiliate Summit. I told everybody that you really should be on HTTPS. This was years ago. Not just HTTP, but HTTPS.
Google wants to see that, and then some guy in the audience called me out during Q&A and said, “your website’s on HTTP still.” I’m like, “yup, it sure is, but it won’t be next week, as I’m going to reprioritize that.” That was embarrassing, but it sometimes takes that. You got to eat your own dog food. You will be doing what you tell your clients you need to do.
If you want to grow your podcast fast, you should also have it on YouTube.
And then they look at your YouTube channel, and they’re like, “wow, that last episode you posted two years ago was a good one.”
Thank you. It’s good to eat my own dog food sometimes.
Little nuances make such a difference.
Yeah, and little nuances make such a difference. For example, instead of just linking to your YouTube channel from your website, you connect with the &sub_confirmation=1 at the end of the URL, and it automatically adds them to your subscribers list. They get a little confirmation box that they have this Click ‘Yes’ to, but that eliminates a step where they’d have to go and click unsubscribe. It presumes that they’re going to subscribe.
If you look at marketingspeak.com, all the different podcatcher apps, and ways of subscribing to my show, YouTube is one of them. I don’t just have Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or Spotify, I have YouTube there. When they click on it, it adds them as subscribers as long as they click the ‘Yes.’ So why not just do those simple extra things or add a playlist category for your podcast episodes to your YouTube channel?
I do have a podcast playlist. If you add the list attribute with the code for that particular playlist to the YouTube URL. In that case, you send them to a specific YouTube video on your channel with that appended, and now it’s going to be on autoplay through the rest of that entire playlist. Isn’t that amazing?
Get your watch time up and go up in the rankings there. I’m suddenly at the top of a Google search; what just happened?
All it took was changing the URL. That was in the details.
Stephan, thank you for sharing so much knowledge with us. It’s insane. I need to sit down, go through all my stuff, and fix it. Before we leave, I like to do this to all of my guests because it helps my listeners be like, “oh, gosh, okay, he is human.” Please, Stephan, tell me, have you had any struggles in the podcasting space, and what have they been?
Yes. Of course, I have struggles. One of them is that I don’t have the download numbers I want. I want to have 10X the download numbers. My download numbers are not very high. That’s why it drives me nuts whenever I get that question from a potential guest, “can you tell me your download numbers?” I don’t want to tell them because I don’t love them; they’re not amazing.Either you're winning or learning. You're never losing or failing. It's just learning. I love learning, so I'm just going to keep making mistakes, trying, experimenting, and iterating. Click To Tweet
I’ll mention it here. It’s like 7000 downloads a month, which is not impressive to me. It’s nowhere near what I want and just drives me bonkers. I’ve been doing this since 2015. I started podcasting in 2007 or 2008, then my pod faded after a couple of years, and Marketing Speak came.
Get Yourself Optimized, actually, was called the Optimized Geek. That was another thing. I started with a different name for the show, and then I realized I was doing it wrong because I was unintentionally a large audience of potential people I could help. After all, it was appealing only to geeks. If you don’t self-identify as a geek, then you’re not going to want to listen to the Optimized Geek podcast.
I would self-identify as a nerd, though.
Yup, okay. We’re close cousins. It’s all learning-wise. Either you’re winning, or you’re learning. You’re never losing; you’re never failing. It’s just learning. I learn all the time. I love learning, so I will keep making mistakes, trying, experimenting, and just iterating.
And learning. Got it. Stephan, thank you so much for being on the show. If people want to find you, I know you’ve already shared your YouTube channel, but is there anything else you want people to go and check out?
Yeah. I have many resources on stephanspencer.com if you want to learn more about SEO. A lot of free stuff there in the learning center. I also, of course, have the two podcasts. I love those two shows, and you will love them too. I’m not asking you to subscribe; that’s a little too soon. But just listen to the Seth Godin episode on Marketing Speak and the Dave Asprey episode on Get Yourself Optimized, and you’ll be hooked.
Awesome. Thank you so much.
Thank you, guys, for listening. Please be sure to subscribe, rate, and review on Apple Podcasts. You can also find this podcast on Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and more. If you would like to email me directly, feel free to reach out at [email protected] Of course, you can head to my website, christine-odonnell.com, for frequently asked questions and the latest on what’s going on in the industry. I look forward to seeing you over there.
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Your Checklist of Actions to Take
- Implement keyword research to figure out what people are searching for. This allows for a robust content strategy and a larger marketing strategy.
- Utilize keyword research tools to implement the strategy. The highly recommended tools for keyword research are Moz Keyword Explorer, Ahrefs, SEMRush, etc. For free tools, use Google Trends, AnswerThePublic, AlsoAsked.com, etc.
- Target a specific audience that so the running campaigns can the right type of demographic who are most likely to respond to my message.
- Write down relevant keyword phrases. If I’m not using the words my target audience uses, that will be a disconnect and a failure in my SEO.
- Have links pointing to my website. Links are important in SEO. But not just any old links; I need links from powerful, authoritative, and trusted websites.
- Set up a knowledge panel on Google. For a quick guide on how to set it up, here’s how.
- Focus on publishing long-form content but make it visually interesting and engaging. Prevent a page from being too text-heavy by incorporating images, pull quotes, click-to-tweets, and other elements.
- Ask clients if their feedback can be published. Better yet, propose writing a case study about them if the implemented strategy was successful.
- Write punching headlines that grabs attention at first glance. Create a curiosity gap in the mind of my potential customers. Their curiosity will make them consume the content.
- Leverage YouTube to spread my podcast content. YouTube is the number two search engine right now.
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