Long-tail keywords in podcasting

How to capture your target listener by getting super-specific.

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When the web was small, you could type “puppies” and you’d probably get someone’s Geocities website where they ranked every puppy they’d ever seen.

Now if I type “puppies” into a search box, I’ll likely get a different set of results than if you did.

Companies take differing approaches to SEO. When I was competing in the media hosting game, I noticed one of my competitors aggressively buying up any search term relating to podcasting, so they could be first in the list.

Now I’m much more in the consulting game, but because content marketing is a mess now,I have to compete on the phrase “podcasting advice” with MailChimp, who don’t have anything to do with podcasting, but know there’s a relationship between it and email marketing.

So we know from WarGames, the only way to win is not to play.

Enter the long tail keyword

So rather than try and compete with the giant that is MailChimp, I can connect with my customer avatar and target more niche keywords, like “podcast advice for self-employed subject matter experts”. We call this a long tail keyword, in contrast to the big body that is “podcasting advice” or “puppies”.

(At the time of writing I’m nowhere to be seen for my long tail keyword, but at least this gives me something to aim for, and I’ll stand a far greater chance of capturing that – and similar – terms than I will the umbrella of “podcasting advice”.

The same is true in podcasting, even where search is way more primitive.

Add a subtitle

If you have a short podcast name, consider a subtitle that targets your primary long tail keyword. Or if the name of your show isn’t all that important, just name your show based on that keyword. I mean, if I started a show called “Podcasting for Subject Matter Experts”, it wouldn’t be the most artful name, but it would set expectations accordingly.

Your podcast name, author tag (although be wary of that as it’s a bit spammy) and your episode titles are the best places to get any kind of SEO juice. Apple – who maintain an index used by dozens of other popular podcast apps – don’t index episode or podcast descriptions, so don’t spend too much time optimising for that.

A solid example of what I mean can be found in an earlier podcast of mine, all about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My podcast was called Beware of the Leopard, in reference to a line uttered in the first episode of the original radio show and subsequent versions.

But even the hoopiest of froods aren’t searching their podcast app for the phrase “beware of the leopard”. So I affixed the subtitle “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast”. Now we still have some search engine pollution to deal with (people misunderstanding what a podcast is, along with a long-dead podcast that wasn’t that great), but it made us eminently more findable.

Beware of keyword stuffing

It’s easy to overdo this tactic and end up with a podcast name that reads more like an Amazon product description. Apple don’t like it either. They probably won’t kick you out of the directory for it, but they probably won’t feature you either. It’s also tacky and sets an expectation of lower quality for your listeners, which isn’t ideal if you’re looking to build a fruitful relationship with them.

But if your main podcast name is perhaps a bit more artful, you might find a subtitle – one that simply explains what the show is about or who it’s for – both more helpful in SEO terms, but also more authoritative. After all, when I created Beware of the Leopard, I wanted to create the definitive discussion, not just another fan cast.

The “Naming and positioning” page in my Podcast Canvas has some helpful prompts to get you thinking about your podcast name, and where your show sits within a crowded market. It’s free, too.

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