Want a bigger audience for your podcast? Improve your website.
Want to reach people who have no idea you even have a podcast? Improve your website.
Hey, guess what’ the topic of today’s episode is? You guessed it. Your podcast’s website, which you’ve probably been ignoring, though no fault of your own.
Bringing The Upside Down Podcast Homepage To Life
My first ham-fisted attempt to follow his guidelines is preserved for eternity via Intenet Archive’s Wayback Machine. It wasn’t pretty for two reasons. First, I’m not a designer, so I nabbed a template that was kinda close and relied on my rudimentary HTML and CSS skills to hack it together. And second, it was a single-page website, which seriously limited my options and was inadequate for a podcast website. Hey, it was a fad.
Not long after that, I decided to get more serious about the website and start building episode-specific pages. I wanted to try out a no-code website builder/hosting platform that wasn’t WYSIWIG, so Webflow was the obvious choice. Once again, I found a template that would work and set out on another not-very-pretty attempt at building not just a functional home page, but also episode details pages that had all the key bits.
And it worked. Really, really well, as you’ll soon see. But I knew that I needed to clean things up a bit and make the site look as good as it functioned. So I commissioned an excellent branding kit from graphic designer Nik Gill and hired UX designer Steve Yong to make the website pop.
And wow, does it pop! You gotta see it!
Is A Website Money Well-Spent For A Podcaster?
I made the conscious choice to seek out professional designers. Not people for whom design is a hobby. Not people who do design work on the side. Not people on a site that rewards the person who’ll work for the lowest-cost.
I don’t begrudge anyone who’s forced to go down those routes due to their own economic situation, but I budgeted and saved up to get the pros I knew I wanted to work with. Even though I do not make my living with this podcast, I recognize this podcast is an important part of the image of me and the services my company, Simpler Media, provides. (That’s Steve’s next project, by the way). And in my estimation, it was worth the investment.
Many podcast hosting companies know most of their customers aren’t willing/able to make an additional investment in a fully-functional, well-designed website. So they offer—typically at no extra cost—an automatically-generated website, using the contents of the RSS feed to create a web presence for the show.
Some hosting companies do a better job of making that auto-generated website than others. But none of them are good enough. The same goes for 3rd-party services that generate a website based on a show’s RSS feed and some additional show-level input. Again, some of those sites look better than others. But none are good enough.
I don’t blame the hosting providers or the 3rd-party feed-based generators. They’re doing a good job with the information they have. And therein lies the problem. The information they have—fields inside a podcast’s RSS feed—isn’t detailed enough. Because a podcast’s RSS feed wasn’t made to populate a website. It was made to update podcast directories and apps. That’s it.
Solving Your Podcast’s Discoverability Problem
Until you disabuse yourself of the notion that posting audio files is good enough to grow your audience, you’re gonna have a bad time. You must think beyond the in-ear experience.
Even before Steve did the bang-up job of making my website look gorgeous, it functioned well and was filled with audience-attracting content. Yes, the audio file for each episode was and still is on the page. But so was a transcript. And a pleasant-to-read-on-the-web article. And an embedded video.
I put all that not-audio content on my website because, as I noted at the top of this article, most people who consume my content aren’t listening to my content. Wrap your head around that for a moment.
I looked at the analytics for all of the Podcast Pontifications content I produced in February 2021. Here’s what I discovered:
To get an accurate count of article views, I isolated views counted by Google Analytics to my episode pages. So no home page views, no equipment guide, or anything else that wasn’t an episode detail page.
I then added in the “opens” counted by Substack, the service I’m using to mail the article to those who’ve requested to receive them. So not just counting how many people were sent the article, but how many actually opened each send for that month.
Audio downloads were simple: total downloads counted to all episodes in the month of February, as counted by Captivate.fm (disclaimer: I’m on the advisory board).
And I added video views more as a lark. That number just counts YouTube views, which are deeply flawed. It doesn’t count the number of people who watch the live stream as I record the show each day, either live or as a replay. I may try to get a better count of that in April. But even with those in, video views were a rounding error in February.
That demonstrates that 57% of the Podcast Pontifications content I produced in February 2021 was consumed by people reading the text.
Only 41% listened to the audio files.
Granted, there’s likely a lot of overlap. Some people who get the email or visit the website may click on the link to the audio file or use the embedded web player. Some who follow the show in their preferred podcast listening app click through on the “More Episode Details” link to see additional information. All of that is fine, as I’m not looking to isolate the audience or get an absolute number of readers v. listeners.
It’s the directionality that’s important, and the directionality clearly shows a bias toward reading.
I remind you that my show, Podcast Pontifications, is only ever about podcasting. Every word I speak or write is only of interest to podcasters. And podcasters, generally speaking, like to listen to content.
Apparently, my audience is made up of podcasters who also like to read.
Podcast SEO That Actually Works
Like social media sites, search engines hate audio-only content. There. I said it. For years now, we’ve been hoping that will change. It hasn’t. Will it? I don’t care.
In February 2021, 72% of my website's traffic came from organic search. And less than 3% of that traffic was for people searching for “podcast pontifications”.
That means that nearly three out of four visitors had no idea who the hell I was or even knew I had things to say about podcasting. That’s net-new audience right there.
So yeah, your podcast needs a website.
And you need to share this information—this article, the video, or the audio; I really don’t care—with someone in your podcasting circle who’s been hesitating on pulling the trigger on a solid website for their podcast. Because if my niche-site is seeing this sort of activity, imagine what your much-more popular podcast is missing out on.
And if this concept—be it in the words you’re reading now or those you heard me speak in audio or on the video—sparked you to take action, I would really appreciate you going to BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra and buying me a virtual coffee to show your appreciation.
I’ll be back on Monday with yet another Podcast Pontifications.