Metadata may sound like a big, intimidating media tech word, but it’s actually a very easy tool that will help you get more listeners and downloads for your podcast. 🚀 In this blog post, we’re going to show you what podcast metadata is and how you can use it to rank higher in searchers and attract a larger audience.
What is Metadata?
Metadata is the information attached to audio files that describes what the audio files contain.
It is like when your friend would make you a mix CD. 💿 They would write on the physical CD the names of the songs, maybe a title like “Summer Road Trip 2005,” and cute notes like “LOL BFFs.” Without even playing the music, you could see what the contents were going to be.
Brings back great memories right? 😉
But podcasters don’t distribute their episodes via CDs with handwriting on them. They distribute them to podcast directories like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, etc. Listeners can search for shows and episodes to listen to on these podcast directories.
So how does the information about the content of the podcast reach the listener if there is no CD to write on? The answer: Metadata. Metadata information for podcasts includes titles, descriptions of content, etc.
How Podcasters Create Metadata
On your hosting platform
Metadata is typically created on the podcaster’s hosting platform like Ausha. 💜 There is usually a page within the Settings or Editor section called “Details” or something similar that has a blank form on it.
The form’s fields will be something like: Cover Art, Show Name, Description, Language, Category, Website Permalink, Tags, etc. All that information is the metadata. You just fill out the form, then your hosting platform turns it into a computer code that podcast directories and search engines can easily access and read.
This computer language is tied together with the podcast audio in a single media file so wherever the podcast audio goes, its description (aka metadata) goes right along with it. Just like writing on a CD!
What is a RSS feed
By the way, there is a name for the way a podcast hosting platform (example: Ausha) connects with a podcast directory (example: Apple Podcasts). It is called an RSS feed. This is the computer code that the podcasting platform creates so that metadata can be easily accessed and read by podcast directories and search engines. 💻
It is also the computer code that makes it so that every time you create or add a new episode, the directories automatically update with it (this is why directories always ask for your RSS link in order to publish your podcast).
Note: You can also add metadata on audio editing software like Adobe Audition. Find the metadata tab in the editor software and fill it in. The software will combine the metadata with the audio as one file.
How to Optimize Your Podcast Metadata
Now that we have a general understanding of what metadata is, let’s talk about how to optimize it. Like everything you put on the internet, you want it to be good for two audiences: the robots and the humans. 🤖🧍
Metadata for Search Engine Robots 🤖
What robot audience are we talking about? The bots that Google and other search engines use to comb through code and data.
Google and other search engines are constantly scanning the internet to figure out what will be the best search results when someone searches a term. So if your show’s description only says “Conversations about soccer” and someone searches for “podcast about USWNT equal pay” your podcast probably won’t pop up at the top of their search results. 😬
Does this mean that you should just list every possible key word in your show description, like “soccer, football, women, equal pay, discrimination, Megan Rapino, Alex Morgan, fairness, justice, investment, growth, coverage”? Nope.
Because the robots are too smart for that these days.
They will view a long list of keywords like this as spam and bump it towards the bottom of results. The robots want to see that you have a coherent description that humans will find helpful, not just a jumble of words. That is good news, because your other metadata audience is humans. 😉
Metadata for Humans 🧍
A search engine bot may not be able to tell the different quality of the following two sentences, but a human probably can.
- Sentence #1 : “We talk about the US Women’s National Soccer Team”
- Sentence #2: “The hottest topics and latest news about the US Women’s National Team, with a side of humor.”
The second sentence shows that the listener can expect higher quality story-telling and production, all because the metadata description is higher quality.
Metadata for everyone 🌍
With two audiences in mind, the bots and the humans, here are a tips to make the best possible metadata for your podcast:
- Cover Art: Visual catchiness is important here. You don’t have to explain everything in your cover art, you just have to grab attention and hold a vibe.
Note: The robots and social media algorithms LOVE video so always consider making a video version of your podcast for some platforms. The video can just be your cover art with your podcast audio.
- Author: That’s you! Or your production company!
- Show Title: Your podcast’s name doesn’t need to be a literal explanation of its contents, but it’s a good idea for indie podcasts to have a keyword or two in the podcast’s title.
- Show Description: This content needs to be a beautiful concoction of keywords, explanation, and hype. Answer who, what, when, where, why, and how. Think about what someone would search in order to find your show, and then think about what would make someone click ‘play’ on your show. Remember, the first handful of words are the most important because that is what potential listeners will see as they scroll through search results.
- Episode Title: Episode names should be pretty straightforward. What did you talk about in this episode and/or who did you talk to. Don’t put the episode number in the title! RSS feeds already indicate the order of episodes of your podcast. So putting that data in the episode title can actually hurt your optimization.
- Episode Description: Make sure to make a unique episode description for each episode. You don’t need to repeat all the information that’s already in your show description. Focus on the specifics. List the names of anyone you spoke to on the podcast, describe the different subtopics you covered, etc.
- Tags: Some podcast directories use tags from your metadata to make it easy for people to discover your content. Think of a tag like a keyword. It’s a good idea to look at other podcast’s tags on the directory to see which ones are popular (similar to figuring out what hashtags are popular on social media). Usually you can add up to twenty.
- Category: You used to only be able to pick one category, but now you can pick multiple. Pick the one that best encapsulates the overall content of your show. This is another time where you probably want to look at the podcast libraries and see how other podcasts categorize themselves.
- Language: Don’t forget to pick which language your podcast content is in. The goal of metadate is to never leave anything blank! Make sure there is at least some text in every field.
- Explicit: Do you curse on your podcast? Do you cover adult things? Are your guests great characters, but maybe not child appropriate? If so, list your podcast as explicit.
- Website Permalink: Remember, having a website for your podcast is critical to your search engine optimization. If you are an Ausha member, our platform can create one for you that will make the robots and the humans happy!
Adjust Per Directory if Needed
The RSS feed is universal. It means that you only need to put all the metadata once in on your hosting platform. That data can be read just fine by all the podcast directories you distribute it to. 🚀
You don’t need to do new metadata for each podcast directory or library.
That being said, every podcast directory is a little different. For example, some tags might be really effective on Apple Podcasts, but not Spotify. Some directories have different preferences for titles. Apple Podcasts AND Spotify allow you to have 2 categories of podcasts while the others only allow one.
If you have time, check out every directories’ specific tips on metadata optimization and then make those tweaks. It can really help you get more listeners from a specific directory!
Never Stop Optimizing!
The great news is that you can edit your metadata at any time. So don’t be afraid to add to it or change it. It is not set in stone. Notice a new tag? Add it to yours. Think of new descriptive notes you want to include? Add them. Always keep a pulse on what seems to be working best and don’t be afraid to make tweaks.
Optimization is always an ongoing process! 🔥Independentsprofessionals