Person listening to audio on headphones while searching the internet

Audio SEO Best Practices: How to Optimize for Audio Search

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With the increased popularity of smart assistants, podcasts, and audiobook content, now is the time to optimize your audio content to be found in organic search results to expand your audience and enhance your sonic brand. The importance of sonic branding can’t be overstated, and it’s critical to not only create audio content, but to also track its success.

Read on to discover the untapped potential for audio content, and how to optimize your podcasts to appear in search results.

What is Audio SEO?

Simply put, audio SEO is the process of optimizing audio-specific content to appear in organic search results. Audio SEO is in its infancy in comparison to web optimization. Back in 2018, Google first rolled out the ability for podcasts to be displayed in search results when searching for a podcast episode title, a person, or a topic.

Can Google Transcribe Audio Content?

In short, yes. We know that Google has offered a speech-to-text feature as part of the Google Cloud Platform since 2017, which has made improvements and upgrades since its introduction. In addition to podcast cards appearing in search results, Google can transcribe audio from video content to get an understanding of the general topics covered. However, all content still needs proper optimization in order to maximize exposure in search results.

Audio Content Discoverability

Historically, audio content and podcasts have a discoverability problem. While it’s simple to find a podcast that you’ve already heard of, it’s difficult to discover new shows. Top charts and curated lists are some of the primary mechanisms for discovering new podcasts. 

Google is trying to make it easier to find podcasts and rapidly grow the number of people listening to podcasts by incorporating them into search results, and we continue to see them grow in popularity well into 2021. 

“Our team’s mission is to help double the amount of podcast listening in the world over the next couple of years,” says Google Podcasts Product Manager Zack Reneau-Wedeen.

How to Optimize Your Audio Content for Organic Search 

Optimizing audio content is very similar to how you would optimize written website content. It takes careful consideration, consistency, and clarity. Here’s how to optimize your audio content for organic search.

How to optimize podcast content

While planning a podcast episode, ensure you’ve identified your target audience and that your topic is focused. Also, you’ll need to prepare your script in advance that answers key questions your audience may have through keyword research. Moz and ahrefs are both great tools for keyword research, for example. Another great way to gather common questions on a specific topic is using tools such as alsoasked.com and answerthepublic.com, or simply perform a Google search and click on questions within the ‘people also ask box’ to continue to see suggestions. This will help you identify topics to focus on, and that will influence the content of your episode.

Now that you have the essentials, here’s how to optimize your podcast:

1. Produce high-quality audio recordings

Listeners expect top-quality audio content, so make sure you use the right microphone set up and incorporate engaging music and sound effects that fit your sonic brand to keep them coming back for more.

2. Upload your podcast to all streaming platforms

Publish your podcasts to all major streaming platforms to maximize your reach and eliminate any barriers for listeners wanting to consume your content.

3. Choose a single topic and keyword for each episode

Google crawls your episode title and description, and will surface them when someone is searching for information on the topic where your podcast episode is the answer. Ensure when selecting your keyword and/or topic to include it in your episode title and audio content. 

4. Write great titles and descriptions

When users search, even from voice assistants, they are using keywords. Think carefully about naming your podcast episode titles and descriptions to match what users may be searching for. 

Qualities of an optimized podcast episode title and description:

  • Clearly indicates what main topics will be covered
  • Important keywords are placed at front of the title
  • It’s concise for mobile users to be able to quickly scan
  • It states the benefits of listening 
  • Each episode title is different and relevant 

5. Have a dedicated landing page for your overall podcast 

Your podcast needs a powerful dedicated homepage that describes what your podcast is about and must meet other requirements such as:

  • Includes a link that points to your RSS feed
  • Audio files are crawlable and not hidden behind login or no-indexed by your robots.txt file 
  • Tested to ensure your podcast is easy to find via voice commands 

6. Have a dedicated page for each podcast episode

Ensure your episode pages include the following: 

  • Optimized web page URL, title, and meta description
  • Include a full episode transcription with timestamps for the topics discussed for Google to crawl
  • Content has well-structured headings and includes links mentioned during the episode
  • Includes information such as episode length, date published, key takeaways, etc.
  • Includes PodcastEpisode Schema Markup to increase the likelihood of episode cards appearing in rich results
  • Has a call-to-action and links to subscribe to your podcast 

7. Allow for easy social sharing

Make it easy for listeners to share your podcast on their social networks. In addition, promoting your podcast on your own social networks will drive additional traffic. Traffic is considered a positive ranking factor that will help increase your search visibility and indicate to Google that it contains important and relevant content.

How Google ranks its podcasts

Google has also filed a patent related to how audio content ranks in its podcast app. Google mentions the following when it comes to selecting and ranking audio content in its podcast app:

  • Popularity
  • Inclusion of evergreen content relevant to a listener, or exclusion of timely news content if that content is no longer fresh
  • Inclusion of episodes within a series that can be skipped
  • Whether the content is related to categories or topics that are of interest to a particular user

How to optimize Youtube video content 

Similar to podcast content, optimizing your YouTube video content will help your videos appear in search results. While planning video content, ensure your topic is focused and perform a competitive analysis within YouTube and organic search to capture elements that may be missing from your competitor’s content.

When optimizing a video within YouTube, consider the following:

1. Clear and concise title and description

After completing a competitive analysis, ensure your video title and the description includes the following: 

  • The video title includes the main topic or question that gets answered and your brand name
  • The beginning of your video description addresses the main points covered during the video

2. Jump links

Include descriptive jump links within your description that take you to the exact time frame of the video that answers a particular question or highlights a topic. This will help feed your video to search results, and searchers can select the exact moment of the video that contains the answer they are looking for.

3. Transcription

Include a full transcription of your video at the end of the video description so Google can crawl it in its entirety.

4. Encourage engagement

Encourage the audience to engage with the video content by prompting users to comment, like, and share your video. Additionally, you can promote your video through social media channels, as traffic from different sources is a positive ranking factor that will help increase your search visibility.

5. Embed videos on a webpage

Consider embedding the video on a webpage that speaks to your video topic to help Google crawl your video quickly. Additionally, If a video is embedded on a webpage, be sure to include video schema markup to increase the likelihood of your video appearing in rich results for relevant keywords.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Marketers should focus on including audio content as part of their overall marketing strategy. Specifically, they should begin surfacing answers to common questions within their audio content, since Google is quickly adapting to serve rich audio results to help answer them.

This also indicates the importance of having a sonic branding strategy that resonates with your audience.

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