Solving Podcast Discovery With Lists & Search
Podcast discovery is getting a shot in the arm. Search results that are actually good for podcasts, and in-app human-curated lists. Neither is fully released, but history can help us understand how these two competing methods of podcast discovery may shake out.
You may have missed the news, but search is about to work in podcasting. Apple recently announced a magnificent upgrade to searching inside the Apple Podcasts app (yes, I’ve talked about this before). If you missed that too, Apple will soon churn through the actual contents of podcast audio files to serve up relevant episodes of a podcast.
Google is also “transcribing” the contents of your podcast’s episodes behind the scenes and is serving up playable podcast episodes on search engine results pages.
(Nota bene: We’re seeing just the beginnings of these efforts, and I’ll return to the topic of what we podcasters think we want out of search vs the way search engines think about search results vs why people would turn to search engines when looking for podcasted content at another time.)
Along with that, brand new developments are surfacing around the curation of content. While it’s true that people have been curating podcasted content for a long time, curated lists are coming to podcast listening apps. Spotify is running a pilot test right now to expose a sampling of users to curated playlists of podcasts, though it’s not clear if those are podcast episodes or entire podcasts.
This makes a lot of sense for Spotify. I would argue that curated playlists are something that makes Spotify so popular for music listening. It’s oftentimes easier to grab a curated playlist rather than selecting your own list of individual albums or individual songs throughout the day. Can that same thing apply to podcasts? Will a curated playlist of episodes work better than a playlist of entire podcast contents? Again, I want to reserve that for a deeper dive once we’ve seen these lists in action.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of efforts just like these that have dominated content marketing discussions for a very long time. So take off your podcasting hat for a moment consider the larger digital marketing space.
When it comes to discovery of any digital content, search has to be part of the strategy. Probably the lion’s share, because a lot of activity takes place on a search engine.
Also quite common in content marketing is the “listicle”: an article published on the web that is little more than a list. LIke “the top 10 places to get a great doughnut in Phoenix”. I have searched for that. And I have found that. And I have consumed doughnuts at many of the establishments that made it on that listicle.
So listicles definitely work. But all too often, they kind of suck.
For as easy they are to make, it’s very difficult to gauge their quality. This problem plagues the travel blogging industry, a world I dabbled in for a number of years when I was traveling abroad. But it’s not just travel blogging that has problems with listicles. It’s everywhere. The problem is so bad that years ago, our friends at Google decided to devalue many listicles -- link farms, we called them back in the day. Low-value, thin-content pieces that aren’t serving anyone. It's hard for an average person to determine whether or not that list is of value or not.
With this perspective, are these new podcast discovery methods boiling down to listicles versus search?
Will search engines be good at surfacing podcast content?
When people are looking for something to listen to, do they want a list of podcasts to choose from or just one that fits that need?
And is anyone likely to specifically search for podcast content on a search engine? And how will web-based search engines determine if that was someone’s intent?
I'm interested to see what happens when these new curated lists show up inside of an app. I'm even more curious to see how the app decides rate and rank the quality of these curated lists.
I wonder how search results that contain podcast episodes will work at scale, and how that might change the way we think about podcast discovery.
If you're looking for someone to help guide you through the podcasting process for your business, either your existing podcast or by starting a brand new one, that’s what we do at Simpler Media. Please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org reaches me, and you can go to PodcastLaunch.pro to see a list of all the services we currently offer our clients.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.