Narrowcasting, Kitchen-Sink ID3, End to End Podcast & Audio Search Optimization!

ipodDid you know that you can shove the entire transcript of a podcast into the ID3 tag of a media file? Need an immediate full-contact tutorial on podcast production and SEO? These and other powerful tools were divulged in Podcast & Audio Search Optimization during Search Engine Strategies New York.

On a whim I ducked into the Podcast & Audio Search Optimization seminar, and it was a nice surprise to be jolted awake by the energy and audio search stylings of Amanda Watlington, owner of Searching for Profit, and Daron Babin, CEO, Webmaster Radio. This session was moderated by Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing.

Amanda Watlington started off the seminar with an overview of how podcasting fits into overall strategy. She stated something I’ve heard a lot of in the SES NY seminars: interruptive advertising is no longer effective, there’s diminished brand loyalty, and we’re moving towards targeted, personalized communication. Niche, niche niche!

An Audio Strategy for Customer Engagement: Punjabi music
Getting customers to your audio goodies is a process, going from general to specific searches. Your communication and interaction with them must become more targeted and personalized as well. Amanda showed a super-specific music niche, punjabi music, as an example of this process.

Users start with keywords that are general when they are first searching, like “mp3” or “free podcasts.”

As their awareness of their needs grows, they become more focused, using terms like “free punjabi music.”

You can take advantage of their focus even more with focused keywords like “punjabi songs by Malkit Singh” or “Jassi Sidhu mp3.” At this point users should be steered towards artist and music sites. If they are presented with RSS feeds or portable personalized players they will engage even more.

From Recording To Learning: Audio/Podcast Process

  1. Record the Podcast
  2. Optimize the Recording
  3. Edit audio tags
  4. Post (on blog, webpage, iTunes, linked file)
  5. Distribute (RSS)
  6. Users find it (iTunes, podcast directories)
  7. Users play it (computer, ipod, phone)
  8. Users learn!

Before you begin podcasting – what decisions do you need to make?

  • One-off standalone or short series of podcasts? Amanda says, “it’s like potato chips, you won’t do just one.”
  • What’s your niche? You can’t be too niche-y – there’s a “turkey talk” podcast at for pete’s sake!
  • Scheduled series of podcasts? This is a good idea, but if you do, you have to COMMIT to a schedule. Listeners will get annoyed if you don’t keep to the schedule.
  • What’s the name of your show?
    • Make sure your show name isn’t already in use
    • Show names aren’t as easy to come by as domain names
    • Decide carefully, as if you have to change your name mid-stream, you will definitely lose listeners
  • How will you brand it? By host, show name or site name?
  • Will you transcribe the show or just abstract the show contents?

Before you begin – preparations

  • Distinguish between a show name and episode names
  • Carefully write the titles and descriptions for your show AND episodes
  • Develop a keyword list for the show
  • Write audio tag information in advance (because you’ll want to upload it quickly)
  • Get album art ready – even for non-musical shows
  • Review iTunes categories to look for right fit
  • Be prepared to edit the audio tags yourself for each episode (download and test tag editors)
  • Build your infrastructure in advance so you can rapidly mount your show

Podcast Search Optimization

  1. Optimize ID3 tags
  2. Optimize filename
  3. Optimize web pages/landing pages
  4. Create/validate RSS feeds
  5. Submit/monitor distribution

Optimize the ID3 tags: Essential Fields (

You can put 256MB of information into the ID3 tags. These tags are prepended to the audio – so if it takes a while for a file to load, it might be because of these tags. Audacity is a free audio editor that can edit ID3 tags.

  • Title: name of the show and date (mm/dd/yy) or episode name
  • Album: name of your podcast
  • Artist: Your name or the host’s name
  • Year: year podcast was released
  • Track: Episode number
  • Genre: Podcast or other
  • Comments: URL, a transcript or abstract and/or contact information

Optimize the file name!

Use a unique name (how it appears in podcast directories – not numbers)

Use shortened name + date or episode number

Podcast Marketing, 3.27.07 = pdmktg032707.mp3


the third episode of the show=pdmktg03.mp3

Optimize web pages/landing page

  • Have a main Podshow page with links to individual episode pages. The content will stand on its own legs, and individual user episode pages will show up in search results.
  • Use separate landing page for audio content to limit possibility of broken links
  • Have separate RSS feed for podcasts vs. blog
  • SEO all these pages
  • Always have information on show’s schedule to attract subscribers and tell how to subscribe. In fact, provide subscription information on every landing page
  • Include abstract or transcript of each episode (could monetize for premium subscribers)
  • Include an embedded player for listening online
  • Include length and size of each audio file (because people are sometimes reluctant to commit)
  • Use multiple feeds if you provide multiple formats

Promote online audio beyond search engines!

  • Content is king! Interviews and topical subjects draw listeners
  • Use PR and Word of Mouth techniques. Embed links to audio in online press releases distributed by newswires
  • Use marketing communication to drive listeners
  • Make URL/name memorable and easy to spell
  • Feature links on your website to boost awareness of your podcast
  • Provide widgets for letting users embed your audio in their site or facebook page

5 Tips for SEO success for your audio

  1. Develop long-range strategy for how the audio fits with your marketing and search effots
  2. Optimize all audio files
  3. Build and SEO landing pages for the show and each episode
  4. Build accurate, effective RSS files
  5. Submit and promote broadly to grow audience in those multiple marketing channels (use as many as you can!)

Questions from Amanda at the end!

“I don’t have any PowerPoint slides. They bore the hell out of me.”And so began the highly entertaining presentation by Daron Babin, CEO of Webmaster Radio. Daron threw around a lot of opinions – about things he loved, companies that sucked, and all about bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth! NOTE: since Daron had no powerpoint slides and he jumps around a lot, this article might be a bit scattered…From Christian TV to WebMaster Radio

Babin has had a colorful media history. He started working on Christian TV for eight years, then moved to NBC for five. Had done some live interviews and programming, and thought there needed to be some mechanisms to enjoy this stuff on demand. Now on Webmaster Radio, he does both live and on demand broadcasting, which gives him the ability to go into production on myriad topics.

Ping, publish, podcast in one step?

Daron’s got a pretty sweet site setup. He talked about how one can simplify the process of distributing content and he revealed the machine behind the curtain of Webmaster Radio. It’s totally designed in Cold Fusion (although URLs are static for search engines). It’s completely dynamic. By pushing a single “button,” content is drawn inside of the website (including content in embedded players!), URLs are published straight into the robots.txt file, then published into site map (which is fed straight into search engines). This is all infrastructure, and he stressed it didn’t happen overnight. Daron: “If you’ve not done the job on the page can tweak visibility issue by publishing RSS feeds through FeedBurner (few bucks a month), then you have analytics for feeds, but can optimize RSS feeds themselves. If you’re not adept at tweaking XML, FeedBurner is the way to go.”

Transcripts: Free Keyword Boosting
Daron’s next big push was all about getting your podcasts transcribed. They are extremely valuable! If you’ve got a good host and a good guest, content is built by the host by talking. You’re SEOing while you’re talking. If you’ve got good content, you can use it for SEO value.

Daron’s stats: each show is 30 minutes to an hour. He produces 20 hours a week. He has 3.5 years of content. Every ounce of it gets transcribed. Transcriptions are NOT cheap, but hey says you will make up for it with the keyword boost. Daron outsources his transcription it to Manilla.

What do you do with the transcripts?

  • Shove it into the ID3 tags (depending on the tag editor, it can go in the lyrics field, or the summary field) – you usually have 256MB of space to play wth!
  • Put an abstract on the page, or transcript below the embedded player
  • OR, when a user subscribes, they can see the whole transcript

Bandwidth Requirements

Daron talked a lot about bandwidth requirements, and how CRUCIAL it is to do work on forecasting your bandwidth needs up front, and discussing them with your hosting provider. The more listeners you get, the more bandwidth you’ll need. NEGOTIATE UP FRONT FOR CHEAP BANDWIDTH! If you have to move everything to a new host if your bandwidth gets out of hand, you will likely lose listeners in the move (let alone the HUGE headache this would be!)

Daron’s podcasting tips

  • Brand the show name instead of a person. If you brand the show around a person and they get sick of it, you’re screwed.
  • If you’re creating singular podcast and use WordPress, use PodPress to tag it up as a feed
  • Be prepared for an advertiser to ask you, “How many listeners do you have?”(is there a minimum?)
  • Only ping podcast directories when you update, or you could get banned
  • Find keywords you want to rank for
  • Get transcripts made of all your audio content
  • Podcast EVERY WEEK. Be religious about, and you WILL get more listeners.
  • Don’t change the name of your show unless you are prepared to lose listeners. Jeremy Shoemaker changed his show from “Net income”to “Shoemoney Show.”250,000 RSS subscribers were abandoned when he changed the name!

******Panel Q & A******

Question: How do I know whether a podcast topic is something people would want to listen to?

Amanda: Is the topic specialized? “Narrowcasting” makes advertising much more valuable, and audience more potent. Imagine Iron Chef. Did we imagine Iron Chef would have lots of viewers?

Question: What is ideal podcast show size?

Amanda: Start short (15 minutes) and go longer. Short shows are going to be more focused, and less likely to get into the “blither factor.” For example, you could get an expert on the line with you and ask “what are your top two tips for XX.” It’s easier to start shorter and go longer than vice versa.

Amanda told a story about Matt Cutts (Google blogger) listening to in his car, and getting annoyed with it was too short and didn’t consume all his drivetime in the bay area!

Question: What webhost do you (Daron) use?

Daron: “Akami sucks!!! They suck! Not only are they expensive but they don’t care about your business like you do!”

When pressed Dorin admitted he runs everything off his own servers (seven servers load balanced in a cluster). He said, “get dependable, reliable host with fat pipes.”

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