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Podcasting & Smart Speakers

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Podcasting & Smart Speakers

Voice Controlled Speaker on a Coffee TableGrowth in both smart speaker utilization and podcast listening have climbed steeply in recent years. It seems only natural to expect these huge audio trends to eventually find a mutually beneficial relationship.

Where could these two audio trends intersect, and how can you prepare your podcast to be smart speaker friendly now?

Smart Speaker 101

To get started, what is a smart speaker and who is currently using them?

There are many different features and integrations available depending on the speaker you select, but generally speaking, a smart speaker includes hands-free activation through voice commands, an integrated virtual assistant like Siri or Alexa and a WIFI integration to connect to the internet. Popular devices include Amazon Echoes, Google Nests and Apple HomePods.

Edison Research’s Share of Ear study shows smart speaker ownership has grown five-fold during the past few years, increasing from 7% of homes having a smart speaker in 2017 to 35% as of the third quarter of 2020. Right now, most people use smart speakers to control other smart home devices, play music and ask voice assistants questions, but forward thinkers see a big opportunity for podcasts in the future of smart devices. With more people embracing the technology in their everyday lives, it’s an area podcasters should look to if they want to get in early.

The Smart Speaker and Podcast Connection

We’ve uncovered that smart speakers are increasingly popular, but what about growth of the podcast industry? Trends show many Americans became more comfortable with smart speaker technology and began listening to podcasts during the coronavirus pandemic. Edison Research’s Infinite Dial 2021 research found approximately eighty million Americans – 28% of the U.S. 12+ population – are now weekly podcast listeners, a 17% increase over 2020.

With smart speakers comes the opportunity for voice search optimization, a new and exciting frontier. As voice-enabled speakers and other Internet of Things devices become more popular, early tech adopters (users who are typically young, affluent and tech-savvy) are ready to change the way they search online. These are the same folks lining up to listen to hours of podcasts a week.

Practically speaking, users can ask their smart speakers to play podcasts by name (“Hey Google, listen to the Q’d Up Podcast on Podcasting” for example) and most services will begin playing the latest episode of the podcast.

So how do you capture user attention in this new world of smart speakers and voice search?

Prepare Your Pod Now

While most podcast listeners aren’t yet using smart speakers to listen, podcasts hold the third-biggest share of listening on smart speakers, according to Edison Research’s Share of Ear study. The study found 16% of smart speaker listening time went to consuming podcasts.

It doesn’t take much of a logical leap for podcasters to realize they need to be ready for an explosion in voice searching. Here are some voice search best practices you can start implementing in your pod now to be ready.

Use Keywords in Each Podcast Episode
As previously shared in our Why SEO Is Important for Your Podcast blog, using keywords can help new listeners find your podcast and grow your audience. This advice rings true for voice searches as well.
In addition to the usual research needed on keywords (like who is searching for them and why), consideration also needs to be given to the spoken aspect of keywords selected for voice-targeted searches. Are your keywords easy to pronounce, or could digital assistants misunderstand the voice search? Is there a shorter, easier to understand approach to the title of your podcast? All of these are questions worth considering and testing out on your own smart devices.

Create a brief description to accompany each episode
In addition to adding SEO directly by using keywords in your spoken podcast, having written descriptions of the podcast and podcast episodes helps search engines find your content and present it to potential listeners. Voice search is in its infancy and in many cases is not yet capable of listening to audio files for SEO keywords. By adding descriptions for each episode that includes relevant keywords, you have all your bases covered.

Create a specific page for every episode
Just like SEO, you want to get the right content to the user searching as quickly as possible. While it’s great to have a search bar on your podcast homepage, it’s better to get users to the most specific answer for their search as possible. Creating separate pages on your website for each episode gives search engines a great place to land people and provide specific answers for their questions.

Clean Up Episode-Level Data
We understand this is no small undertaking, but it’s incredibly important to have the proper fields completed for your podcast episodes to enable voice searchers to get to the right place. Make sure you are creating detailed show notes, the podcast authors are listed and, depending on your podcast platform, categorize each episode so voice assistants can understand how your episodes are connected.

Get Started!

We are on the cusp of voice searching being a commonplace activity happening in millions of households across the world. In order to reach these new audiences, it’s critical you are ready to be found and present what audiences want to see.

Need some help? Q’d Up will partner with you to prepare your podcast for the coming growth in the voice search world. Improve your podcast awareness and grow your audience with Q’d Up. Contact us today and get started.

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