Google’s New Way To Find Your Next Favorite Podcast

Steve Pratt
Written by Steve Pratt

Google’s new podcasting strategy completely reimagines how people find and listen to shows. And Google’s podcasting team has set a bold and game-changing goal: to double podcast audiences globally.

One of Google’s major strengths is customizing an experience to you and your needs. Google does its best to show you things it believes you will be interested in. Now you can add podcasts to the mix of content Google might recommend for you. This is yet another HUGE deal for podcast discovery and expanding audiences.

Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Google podcasts product manager, explains:

“If Google knows you’re interested in politics, we might be able to bring you the latest episode of Today, Explained or The Daily without you even having to ask for it. If you follow American sports, maybe you would like Jalen & Jacoby or PTI. Those ones are pretty obvious, but it has the potential to get more specific as well. For example, if you recently rented ‘You’ve Got Mail‘ or ‘Good Will Hunting‘, then you might be interested in those specific episodes of ‘The Rewatchables’. If you’re like me, and you love More Perfect, maybe you’re ready to graduate to First Mondays. If your Spanish could use some brushing up, Radio Ambulante is full of compelling stories. I can go on forever with personal examples, but thankfully not everyone is like me, and the right recommendations for you will probably be completely different. This is where the Google Assistant and the Google App Feed, especially, have exciting potential to be proactive about suggesting podcasts tailored precisely for you.”

audio SEO
Podcast recommendations inside Google Podcasts

The value of customized recommendations based on what listeners are already interested in is significant. Discovery is one of the biggest problems for podcasters, and if Google can help to suggest your show to people who are very likely to be interested in either the series or the content of a particular episode, it could be an industry-wide game-changer.

Imagine how valuable it would be for podcasters if there were a YouTube-style recommendation system for audio. When you’re finished with your current episode, a related suggestion is offered. Or a recommendations area in a podcasting app based on your listening history. Or a smart speaker that suggests episodes it thinks you might like based on what you already listen to. If any or all of these come to fruition in a new Google podcasting universe, discovery of new episodes, segments, and series could be dramatically improved.

This would also mean that, as a podcaster, you wouldn’t necessarily have to be part of a big podcast network or company to be surfaced as a recommendation. Your podcast would likely only be recommended if your show was of high interest and value to the listener.

Doubling podcast audiences worldwide will likely mean going beyond introducing new people to conventional podcast hits. We believe it will mean recommending new and diverse types of content to new and diverse types of audiences (think Android and global).

The emergence of audio SEO

Now that podcasts appear in Google search results, naturally, one of the first questions podcasters will ask is, “How can I get my podcast to rank highly in search?”

Google already provides technical guidance on how to enable your podcast to appear in search results. Here at Pacific Content, that leads us to consider what an extended “Audio SEO” strategy might look like… and what questions podcasters should ask themselves to take advantage of this new world:

audio SEO
Recommendations for “business podcast” in Google search results.
  • How will your podcast rank as a search result for things you want to be associated with?
  • What would you change if you wanted to rank higher as an audio search result for particular areas?
  • Will there now be audio content and audio formats specifically developed to become answers to search queries?
  • If so, what form will it take, how will it be ranked, and will that rank change between, say, your phone versus your smart speaker versus your browser?

Zack talked to us about how content formats could potentially evolve once more publishers took advantage of audio being included in search results:

“On the creation side, as people get smarter about making content that works in different scenarios, maybe there will be more short-form content or segmented content. Also, this getting more into the future, but when a podcast could be an answer to a question, then it becomes an interesting problem to think about how to design audio content that can work as an answer. There’s a lot of opportunity for video here as well, and Google has actually started exploring this with celebrity video answers in Search.”

This leads us to explore the hypothetical concept of ‘Audio SEO.’

Let’s say, as a goofy example, you have a podcast about hammers. It’s called “Stop! Hammertime!” There could be a big opportunity to create useful, utilitarian content answering common hammer questions (e.g. “OK Google. Which hammer should I buy?”). That content might be a great fit for Google to suggest to users who ask hammer-related questions on their Google Home. (We are confident that is a likely use-case 🙂 )

audio SEO
How could we get Stop! Hammertime! to show up here?

An open question: In what contexts would Google recommend hammer-related podcast episodes, versus reading hammer-related Wikipedia entries?

So what would Audio SEO sound like?

What we hope Audio SEO becomes:

  • New formats of audio — likely short-form — that provide amazing, clear, and compelling answers to common search queries.
  • Quality audio content is highly valued and discovered.
  • An amazing use for smart-speakers to help people get information they are looking for.

What we hope Audio SEO doesn’t become:

  • Hosts stuffing keywords into their podcasts to boost their rankings
  • Designing content to game SEO rankings for audio
  • A new industry of scammy Audio SEO consultants
  • This

Here’s a bold prediction from Pacific Content:

Over the next few years, we will see the emergence of a new genre of audio content: short, information-rich audio answers to common questions, designed specifically to be a smart speaker search result. (We have just started production on “Stop! Hammertime!”…)

What should podcasters ask themselves?

  • Have I followed Google’s podcast-specific recommendations for search?
  • Is my podcast loved by listeners? Google is smart enough to know what people like and what they don’t, so if you can make listeners happier and happier with your podcast, it certainly won’t hurt your Audio SEO.
  • What questions do you want your podcast to be the best answer for? Is there anything you would change about your show to make it a better audio search result?
  • With the rise of algorithmic podcast discovery, who do you most want your show to be recommended to?
  • Like the Kris Jenner example from Part 2 of this series, who would you associate your podcast with or collaborate with to help you find your desired audience?

This is Part 3 of a five-part series on Google’s new podcast strategy. Check out all five installments here:

Part 1 — the bold plan of Google’s podcasting team to double worldwide audiences by focusing on audio search and Android
Part 2: Google’s plan to make audio a first-class citizen
Part 3: Google’s new way to find your next podcast
Part 4: Google’s plan to deliver the right audio at the right time
Part 5: Instant Translation, Lookahead Scrubbing, and More: The Future of Google Podcasts

This article was originally published on Pacific Content, a podcast agency working passionately at the intersection of brand strategy and high-quality audio storytelling to connect brands to listeners. It is reposted here the permission of the author, Steve Pratt. Read the original here.

About Steve Pratt

Co-founder of Pacific Content, makers of original podcasts with brands and one of Entrepreneur’s 100 Brilliant Companies. Proud dad and Vancouverite.