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Boost Your Podcast Listenership with Effective Show Notes

Updated: 5 days ago

A person happily listening to a podcast
Boost Your Podcast Listenership with Effective Show Notes

Hello, I’m Jamie Kennedy, an Executive Podcast Producer at Brave Moon Podcasts. In this episode, we aim to explore the significant role of podcast show notes in enhancing your listenership. Show notes serve as a beacon, guiding potential listeners to your podcast and making it more discoverable. Additionally, we discuss the importance of SEO in amplifying your podcast’s visibility across various platforms. A well-crafted episode title, much like an intriguing book cover, can draw potential listeners into your content, and we plan to discuss how to create such compelling titles.

Navigating through the essential elements to include in your show notes is another topic we cover. We also touch on how the strategic incorporation of keywords can broaden your podcast’s reach, connecting with a wider audience. This comprehensive guide, brimming with valuable insights and practical tips, is designed to assist podcasters at all stages, from those just starting out to seasoned veterans, in expanding their audience. So, get ready for an enlightening journey into the world of podcasting!

In this episode, we talk about…

  • The critical role of show notes in attracting more listeners to your podcast.

  • How to use SEO to make your podcast more discoverable.

  • The essential elements to include in your show notes to make them more effective.

Transcribed Podcast Episode

Now that we’ve covered the importance of show notes and their role in increasing listenership, let’s proceed to the actual conversation from the podcast episode.

The best analogy I’ve ever heard to explain why show notes are vitally important to your podcast is this: Imagine you’ve just opened a brand new, state-of-the-art, cycle studio, offering a ton of different classes at all times of the day. It’s got the best music, top-notch equipment and amazing instructors. Now all you need is members to join! The problem, though, is that you got a really good deal on real estate so the entrance is sort of down an alleyway, away from the main streets. There’s just not a ton of street traffic walking by. Not exactly a prime location for attracting clients. So you get smart, and decide to put an A-frame sign on the nearby busy street, with a big arrow pointing toward your hidden gem. The sign is crucial - catching the eye of potential customers and guiding them right to your studio.

Your podcast - you guessed it - is just like your cycle studio. It’s packed with valuable content, but it might not be the first thing listeners stumble upon. It’s taking up a little corner of the podcast listening apps, available to any listener but not necessarily front and center next to Andrew Huberman and Tim Ferris quite yet. So what you need is an A-frame sign, aka your podcast description and episode show notes, to point potential listeners in your direction. All of the words you include in your podcast work to encourage potential listeners to turn down that darkened street corner and hurry directly to your podcast to strap in and start cycling - I mean, listening.

Today, we'll be discussing the art of crafting show notes so good, they'll have listeners turning down that metaphorical alleyway and rushing to strap in (metaphorically, of course) and listen to your amazing content. That’s how good these show notes will be when we’re done with this episode.

We’ll talk about how you can take advantage of SEO, how to make your episode titles pop, what information you should include in your show notes and so much more.

In Episode 14 of this podcast, I talked about attracting your ideal target audience by taking advantage of SEO specifically. If you’re curious about what SEO is, be sure to go have a listen to that episode first, then jump back here so we can dive deep into what exactly your show notes should contain to grow your listener base.

So let’s start by defining what I mean when I refer to show notes. Show notes, in its most base form, is the description attached to each episode of your podcast. They appear slightly different depending on which listening app you’re reviewing, but essentially, it’s the description that people read when they’re considered whether to listen to an episode or not. In addition to these show notes, there are three other pieces of writing that are super important to helping your podcast get discovered in the listening apps: your podcast name, your main podcast description, and your episode titles. Your podcast name is the main title you’ve chosen to represent your podcast as a whole. For example, Glennon Doyle's “We Can Do Hard Things”. Andrew Huberman’s is “Huberman Lab”. Your main podcast description is the hero description that explains exactly what your podcast is about, who it’s for, and why it exists. For each individual episode, you then have an episode title. For example, Huberman did a podcast episode titles “Controlling Sugar Cravings and Metabolism with Science-Based Tools”. My podcast client Jen and Mike Witten with their podcast Raising You Raising Them did a podcast episode titled “What is conscious parenting?”. All of these, your podcast name, podcast description, episode title and show notes are searchable. So if someone gets the urge to search “Sugar cravings”, Huberman’s episode will appear, but also podcast related to sugar will appear as well. The point is this… Focus and optimize all of these, making sure to add key words and phrases to each one, and you’ve got yourself a gorgeously well-thought-out podcast that is easy to discover. For this episode and to streamline the discussion, I’m going to refer to all of these under one name: show notes. But know that everything I’m about to share can be applied to each of these pieces of writing individually or cohesively.

So let’s talk more about SEO aka Search Engine Optimization. I’m going to give you an example, because I think it’s an easier way to understand how it works. Imagine you're searching for a "meditation podcast" on your phone. You could be searching in your web browser on something like Google, or you could be searching within the podcast listening apps, like Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Now ideally, your show notes will be indexed, aka searchable, in both Google and the listening apps. 

But here’s what I love most about the listening apps. Let’s say you’re typing in “meditation podcast” into Google. You’re going to get millions of page options to click on. 60.5M results, to be exact, as of 2024. That’s because there’s literally millions of websites that reference or discuss meditation podcasts.

Now imagine if you instead typed ‘meditation podcast’ into Spotify. Granted, since I’ve just done this, I’m seeing there are a few thousand at least. But I’ll tell you now it’s nowhere near 60.M results. What this means is that you have a much better chance of having your meditation podcast stand out on the listening apps than you do on Google. And if you add a niche, like I always suggest you do, you’re even more likely to be discovered. 

So that’s why, even though I highly recommend you’re creating an online presence outside of the listening apps so that you do get discovered on Google, I would argue that your show notes are your #1 offensive lineman, doing everything in your power to ensure your show notes are ready and waiting to get your podcast discovered.

So that means your show notes should be doused with relevant searched keywords and phrases. Key words and phrases that your dream listener is searching for right now. When you add these, you’re essentially helping search engines understand what your podcast is about and who it's for. This increases the chances of your podcast appearing in the search results when someone types in keywords related to your topic.

Take a look at the podcast "Sleep Meditation for Women". They use keywords like "sleep meditation", "insomnia", and "guided meditations" throughout their descriptions, making them easily discoverable by people searching for those specific terms. They also know exactly who is their dream listener; not just anyone, but women specifically. This helps set them apart in a big way.

I recommend that between your episode title and show notes, that you aim for at least 5 key words and phrases per episode that your dream listener is searching for. This is a sizable chunk of key words to ensure the listening apps understand what your episode is about and how they might help putting you in front of the listeners who want to listen to a podcast or episode like yours.

In addition to key words, what else should your show notes include?

1 is a clear Episode Summary. You should Briefly describe the key points and topics covered in the episode, giving listeners a quick overview of what to expect from the episode.

2 is Timestamps: Include timestamps for major discussion points or segments within the episode. This allows listeners to easily navigate different parts of the conversation and find specific information they're interested in. It also works because you’re including key subject matters, which oftentimes are searchable within themselves. For example, if Huberman added a timestamp within his Sugar Cravings episode that was something like “Mindfulness and Emotional Management?”, that means that anyone searching for mindfulness or emotional management may very well find Huberman’s episode, even though this wording wasn’t included in the title. Personally, I don’t use timestamps in my show notes. I absolutely could, but I think timestamps are important as your episodes and topics get more complex.

3 is Links to Resources: If you mention any websites, products, or books throughout the episode, provide links directly in your show notes, making it easy for listeners to access them. You should also add links that help your listeners find you online or in the real world. Things like your website and socials should be highlighted, as well as any lead magnets or free resources you offer.

4 is Guest Bios: If you have a guest on your show. Include a short introduction or bio about them in your show notes, and be sure to add their full name, company or business, because these act as key words in and of themselves, ready to be searched by in the listening apps.

5 Episode Transcript: Consider providing a full transcript of your episode, especially if your niche is heavily information-based. This makes your content accessible to a wider audience, including people with hearing impairments or those who prefer to read. Because the show notes characters are limited, you’ll want to create these on your podcast landing page or blog page, and then link to the transcript in your show notes. This is a great way to make your podcast searchable on the search engines, as well. Also it should be noted that certain listening apps like Apple Podcasts already generate your transcript for you. Handy, for sure.

Now it’s time for 5 hacks to make your show notes so effective your listenership will double.

Hack 1 - Always start with an attention-grabbing lead. I also call this the curiosity trap. Every episode should be a problem you’re solving for your dream listener, right? So what questions would they have surrounding that problem? This could be in the form of a question, surprising fact, or a powerful statement - all with the intention of piquing their curiosity. For this episode, I would use something like, “Want to double your listeners? Let’s improve your show notes.”

Hack 2 - Build your keywords into your summary, but also consider adding additional key words at the end of your episode show notes. Take a look at my show notes and you’ll see that I add a few extra key words that my dream listener is searching for. 

Hack 3 - Always include actionable tips and strategies in your show notes. Don’t give everything away from your episode; after all, you want them to actually listen. But it’s helpful to include, especially if they’re takeaways that the listener may want to write down. Make it easy on them, and include it in the show notes instead. 

Hack 4 - Choose a format and structure that works for you and stick with it. For example, I have a show notes template that I’ve created for myself. So every time I go to create a new episode’s show notes, I just make a copy of that Google Doc and start writing it based on the outline I’ve already created. This helps keep it consistent for the listener to be able to find what they’re looking for, but also helps you stay organized and remember exactly what to include in each set of show notes you create.

Hack# 5  - Don’t forget that the resources you include in the show notes, like books, people, or product recommendations, are also searchable. So if you suggest a book like YouTurn by Ashley Stahl, the listening app may very well rank that episode when someone searches for YouTurn or Ashley Stah l. which, fun fact, is the book that changed the entire trajectory of my life.. 

An extra hack for you - I like to add a link to the various sections of my show notes. A link makes that element bold, so it makes it stand out. I can be quite particular about my show notes, making sure they look organized and clean. So making the various sections bold makes it look cleaner and organized, in my opinion. 

So the way to do this is to add a link to each section header. If you’ve tried to add links and are struggling to do so, make sure you’re adding https:// at the beginning before you add your For whatever reason, the podcast listening apps need that https at the beginning to make the hyper link work.

For You, On Us

Embark on your podcasting journey with the FREE Identify Your Podcast Niche & Name guide. This comprehensive guide is designed to help you carve out your unique space in the podcasting world. It provides a structured brainstorming exercise that assists in identifying a suitable niche and an engaging name for your podcast. This guide is perfect for anyone looking to start a podcast and seeking guidance on identifying their niche, naming their podcast, and learning effective monetization strategies. With this guide, you’re one step closer to launching your unique podcast and sharing your voice with the world.

Happy podcasting.

Identify You Podcast Niche and Name Freebie

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