Feed drop time! We’re on a break from the show as we prepare for v5 of SquadCast and work on revamping the SquadCast podcast. So, we’re bringing you carefully curated feed drops from some of our favorite SquadCasters.
This week, meet Christine O’Donnell, host of the podcast Podcast Coaching with Christine. In this episode, Christine interviews Marketing Speak’s Stephan Spencer.
From Christine’s website
Stephan Spencer, host of Marketing Speak and Get Yourself Optimized shares his SEO expertise. In this episode, you’ll learn the three most common SEO mistakes podcasters are making and how to master them. Spencer breaks down the benefits of episode transcriptions, optimizing your RSS feed and utilizing the number-two search engine: YouTube.
Otter AI Transcription Service: https://otter.ai/login
Descript AI Transcription Service: https://www.descript.com/
Paid SEO Tools
Moz Keyword Explorer: https://moz.com/explorer
Ahrefs Content Gap Tool: https://ahrefs.com/content-gap
Google Trends: https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US
Answer the Public: https://answerthepublic.com/
Also Asked: https://alsoasked.com/
Why we chose this episode
SEO can be a tough concept to understand and implement. This conversation gives podcasters tactical tips that can help your show get discovered.
Also in this episode
- A pre-roll from Debate This Podcast
- Join to SquadCast Community
- Get in touch with us on social media
- Written and produced by Arielle Nissenblatt
- Mixed and designed by Vince Moreno Jr.
- Artwork and logos by Alex Whedbee
- Hosted by Zach Moreno and Rock Felder
MATT COLE: Hey there! Before we get to this week’s episode of Between Two Mics, I want to tell you about another show I think you’ll enjoy. I’m Matt Cole, and I’m one of the co-hosts of Debate This. It’s a podcast about the questions in comic books and video games that no one is asking. Like what color Yoshi is the best and what Pac-Man ghost is the scariest. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts or at debatethiscast.com. Okay. Let’s get to this week’s episode of the Squadcast podcast, Between Two Mics.
ZACHARIAH MORENO: Hey, Between Two Micers. Zach and Rock here. And welcome to the show.
ROCKWELL FELDER: We’re currently on a break from the podcast, but while we’re away, we’re still dropping episodes from some of our favorite shows.
ZACH: In a moment, we’ll hit play on one of those feed drops. We chose these podcast drops very carefully, and we hope you’ll stay tuned to enjoy them.
ROCK: If you’d like what you hear, please make sure to search for their podcasts and subscribe.
ZACH: While we’re away from Between Two Mics, we’re working on getting v5 of Squadcast ready for all of you. We’re also working on revamping this podcast. If you have any suggestions or ideas we’re very available on social media, just search for Squadcast FM on all platforms.
ROCK: Thanks for tuning in and being a part of the Squadcast story. Enjoy this feed drop.
ARIELLE NISSENBLATT: Hey listeners, this is Arielle Nissenblatt, Squadcast community manager. And I am here to introduce this week’s feed drop from Between Two Mics. In just a moment you’re going to hear from Christine O’Donnell, who is the host of Podcast Coaching with Christine. In every episode of Podcast Coaching with Christine, she interviews somebody who knows a lot about podcasting in some way or another. In this episode, you’re going to learn about SEO, search engine optimization. Christine is part of the Squadpod community, which meets on Slack. If you are interested in joining the Squadpod community, you can learn more by going to squad cast.fm/community. I hope you find this feed drop useful. And if you do, please let us know on social media, or by leaving a review, wherever it is that you are listening to this podcast, we really appreciate it. Let’s hit the tape.
[music fades out]
CHRISTINE O’DONNELL: Hello, and welcome to Podcast Coaching with Christine. My goal is to help independent podcasters make an impact with their voices, to grow their show, and to make money while doing it. I’m a former LA TV news reporter with more than a decade of journalism experience, who has happily transitioned from the TV news world to the digital one. I am currently producing a number of podcasts for the Bright Sighted podcast network, and we use Squadcast all the time. So if you are listening right now, you likely do too. Hello, Between Two Mics community! I am so happy to be collaborating with this podcast, with Squadcast to share the following episode with you. This episode is all about SEO, search engine optimization, and we talk about some really simple things. And then we dive into some really complicated things that actually broke my brain a little bit. I hope you really enjoy this episode. And for more episodes like this one, you can search my podcast, Podcast Coaching with Christine, or you can check out my website, christine-odonnell.com.
CHRISTINE: Hello, and welcome to the show. Today we have Stephan Spencer. He is a three-time author and SEO expert, as well as professional speaker and podcaster. He’s got two podcasts Marketing Speak and Get Yourself optimized. I’m so excited to chat with him. It’s 7:00 PM right now, where he is, calling in from Tel Aviv. Stephan, thanks for being here.
STEPHAN SPENCER: Well, thanks for having me. This was going to be fun.
CHRISTINE: SEO. I feel like SEO is something that really comes easily to some people. And then for other people it’s like this secret, mystical, magical thing that is so hard to maintain. So can you break down what SEO means? Um, in general, and then what it means specifically for podcasters.
STEPHAN: Yeah, for sure. So I like to frame it as the three pillars to SEO. You have content, you have architecture, and you have links. The content includes figuring out what keywords that people are searching for, who are your target audience, and making sure you’re using those kinds of words and topics in your content, and then weaving in those topics in the right ways into that content. Now that is going to get a little more specific once we start talking about podcasts and what podcasters need to think about, but just generally speaking, if you’re writing blog posts, and you’re never using the words that your target audience is using, that’s going to be a disconnect and a failure in your SEO. You’ve got content, that pillar, you’ve got architecture, which includes all the geeky stuff. Things like robots dot txt. And, um, XML site maps and canonical tags. And if your eyes are starting to glaze over, as I’m using these words, don’t worry. It’s not just, uh, something that you have to know all about. You just need to know who to tap on the shoulder and say, Hey, help me with this. So that all the geeky stuff, that’s the technical architecture, uh, pillar. And then finally links. If you don’t have links pointing to your website, you’re not going to rank. I mean maybe for your name, but that’s pretty much it. So you need links and not just any old links, you need links from powerful, authoritative, trusted websites, right? A link from Jim Bob’s personal homepage isn’t going to cut it. You need to link from CNN or from a more authoritative source.
CHRISTINE: Yes. So I think that, um, so when we’re talking about links, we’re talking about links to your website. So for example, my website is christine-odonnell.com. Pretty simple based on my name, but if I were to get an article or a podcast episode re-published or repurposed by a huge like newspaper or a news authority like CNN, and then they linked to my website, like to credit me. Then, all of a sudden, my website just beeps up a little bit when it comes to domain authority. So, but why is domain authority important?
STEPHAN: Yeah. So now we can start getting a little bit into the nuances, but I don’t want to, uh, how have our, our listener kind of zone out because it’s getting too technical. So the idea here is if an authoritative website links to you, that’s going to be beneficial to you. Google is looking at the web pages that are linking to you, to your website, to actually, to your web pages. So it’s a link from, let’s say a homepage of somebody’s website to your homepage, and that’s, uh, going to convey some trust and importance to you. If you got a link from instead of their homepage, it was a really deep, uh, kind of forgotten page on their site. That’s not going to be worth as much. So even though the domain authority in both cases might be high, the difference in the link authority that’s transferred because it’s a homepage link, versus it’s a, I’d say an orphan page that they’re not even linking to themselves. Is-the difference is vast. So you need to think about the page that’s linking to you, how important it is, how trusted it is. And yeah, domain authority gives you a sense for the site, but you also need to look at the page and that individual URL’s metrics.
CHRISTINE: So would you say, so SEO is really important if you’re trying to show up in Google. If people are searching for you and your content, you want them, like SEO is going to matter when they type it in in Google, right?
STEPHAN: Yeah. Yeah. So it, it matters even if all of your business comes from referrals. If none of any of your good leads ever come from your website directly, it still matters to have good SEO. And the reason why is because this is the first impression that a prospect is going to have of you. It’s not your website, they’re not going to be on your website first. They’re going to be in the Google search results, searching for you first. Even if they were referred by a friend. So they Google your brand, your name, your podcast, your company, your personal name, whatever it is. And then they see some Google results. And if you haven’t curated that appropriately, like you’re not controlling the narrative there and putting your best stuff at the top of the results, for that search, if it’s just random or there are multiple, let’s say, Christine O’Donnell’s showing up, and it’s not just you, or maybe it’s your LinkedIn that’s ranking number one and not your homepage. Like these are all indicators that maybe you don’t have it all going on. And if you, on the other hand, have a knowledge panel on the right-hand side, which has, uh, images of you and maybe your book covers, and all your social checklists, and a description about you pulled from Wikipedia or Google Books or LinkedIn or wherever it’s being pulled from. And you also have a whole bunch of stuff in the main set of, of, uh, search, uh, results. Like not just your homepage, but maybe also your About page. Maybe you’re an author and you have an Amazon author page showing up there. Maybe you were featured in forbes.com. At one point you have a feature story, and that’s showing up there. Like all of that’s going to convey your authority and, uh, social proof to the prospect. And that’s not even for, we’re not even talking about competitive, or non-brand keywords yet. That’s just for your name. So that’s, that’s critical. You got to control that narrative.
CHRISTINE: That is so crazy to me. So I’m just going to give myself as an example, right? Because this is fun. Sometimes we need an example to understand SEO because it gets a little, I don’t know, technical, I think. Um, but so there is another Christine O’Donnell out there, she’s a politician. Um, my background is in, uh, news reporting. So if I were to Google myself, if I wrote Christine O’Donnell reporter, I would probably be the first thing that pops up in your Google search, but it wouldn’t probably be from my website. It might be from someplace else. But if you just type in Christine O’Donnell altogether, you’re going to get ads from a lady who used to be, well she is still a politician, but she’s not a witch, she’s you? I don’t know if anyone remembers that ad, but I can not forget it because we share the same name, and sometimes people confuse us on social media. So, I get some interesting messages coming my way. But, um, yeah, it, it is funny, and they’re so it’s so interesting though, because sometimes. You know, what if a bad piece of news comes out about you? If you can control your SEO, you can find a way to change the narrative online and gain a little bit more control so that…
STEPHAN: Yeah. It’s like a chess game, but you can move not only your pieces on the chess board, you can move your opponents. You can push that negative, that negative listing right off off page one into no man’s land on page two.
CHRISTINE: Boom. That’s exciting. Just to be able to give people that control back a little bit. Um, so how can people, how should podcasters be using SEO?
STEPHAN: Yeah, so podcasters can, they can do some podcast SEO, to specifically get more, um, SEO goodness into their RSS feed, and into the various podcast, uh, podcatcher, app websites, and all that sorta good stuff for their, um, their podcasts. But they can also leverage their podcast as a rich source for content to enhance the SEO of their website. So for example, if we’re talking about the latter, I have with both of my websites, marketingspeak.com and get yourselfoptimized.com. So my, my two shows, each have a podcast website. Each episode has a full transcript, that is not like a big, boring wall of text that keeps labeling the guests name and my name over and over and over again. Nobody wants to read those, people hate that. It’s turned into a long form blog post, and it’s broken up. So it’s not so heavy with text by incorporating images with captions. Images from Unsplash, from Pexels.com, from various, uh, free stock photo repositories. And, I have pull quotes, and I have click to tweets and, uh, you know, other elements to break up the text. You know, use of bolding and, and, uh, just different kinds of effects and things that make it more visually interesting to consume the content, because a lot of people don’t have time to listen to an hour long episode. And if you spend the time digging in your analytics and looking where people drop off in let’s say, uh, Apple Podcast analytics and you realize most people or many people aren’t even finishing your entire episode, like, well, my call to action. My most important thing is at the very end, oh no, half my people aren’t even listening to that part. Or more. Well, then you realized that your website is this untapped opportunity. If you get it to rank well and you get it to, uh, convey all the value, that’s locked in that audio, that they don’t have the time to listen to. You expose all that as a really valuable-looking, long form blog post. That’s that’s ninja stuff. Uh, that’s one aspect I think that is underutilized. Most folks that I see with a podcast show notes, just try to do a less is more sort of approach, bullet list of 5, 10, 15 things. That’s kind of the outline of the show. And here are the social links and all that of the guest. That’s, that doesn’t cut it.
CHRISTINE: So how long does it take you to do that? Because that’s like a chunk of time getting your show transcribed, or doing it yourself. Um, then turning it into an article.
STEPHAN: Yeah. It’s a lot. My team does it. I have a team in the Philippines, and they’re, uh, they’re doing this for every single one of my episodes. In fact, we started doing this around episode 150 or something like that, of both of the shows. So I had 300 episodes in the back catalog to do this to, not just from the current episode moving forward. Because it was so valuable, I saw the uptick in organic traffic from Google, I thought, yeah, we really need to go through the back catalog and do this. And, um, I actually found a, a contractor in the Philippines, who was recommended to me, and, uh, rather than a per hour price, I just, uh, got her to quote a per episode price. And I think it was $3 an episode, something like that. Yeah, $3 or $4. So she found a few images in Pexels et cetera as part of that. And, um, she didn’t include writing the transcript, but she, uh, used the transcripts that was already done because we were doing transcripts since the beginning. But yeah, it was about $3 an episode to take a previously transcribed episode and turn that into a long form blog post. Um, that’s an extreme example, because we got lucky finding somebody who, uh, was very affordable and willing to do this on a per episode basis, because then I don’t have to worry about tracking their time and making sure that they’re like doing the work. It’s up to her to take her as, as long or as short of time as she wants. It’s just, I’m paying per episode, so that was very effective. But now we’ve got a team of three people in the Philippines that are doing, uh, a lot more than just turning these into long-term blog posts. There’s also the, the, the social quote card images, and the checklists and, um, PDFs of those checklists. Like we’re actually figuring out what are the main action points, or a kind of actionable insights from each episode, and then turning that into a PDF document, as well as including the text of that at the end of the show notes page. Um, right after all the links to the resources.
CHRISTINE: So is that PDF document a lead magnet for you?
STEPHAN: And we started out making it a lead magnet, and we found that very few people were opting in for it. And like, yeah, you know, the old adage information wants to be free. So we just decided to remove the, the, the wall. And, um, there’s, there’s no, opt-in now to any of these, uh, episode checklists.
CHRISTINE: Wow. So content is a really big piece for you, just creating, creating content and podcasting was kind of your way to that content.
STEPHAN: Yeah, it’s, it’s a great way to generate a, uh, a source of, um, a lot of rich content that could be used in, in many formats. You can create text to tweets from great quotes that either you or the guest, uh, dropped into the episode, like, uh, dropped a knowledge bomb. You can make that a text to tweet. You could, uh, create image, quote cards, uh, out of, out of those and post those social media. You can, uh, use, um, Headliner app or one of these little video-based tools that take the audio and make a wave form of it and the still image and kind of mash that together, and have a little minute long snippet or something for social media. Um, repurpose and, and, and rejig all of this content that’s dropped into a, let’s say 20, 30, 40 whatever minute episode, and turn that into a dozen or two dozen pieces of content that you can utilize, not just on social media, but on your blog, on other people’s blogs, you can do something called a evil twin article. This one is a credit to Andy Crestodina. Uh, another SEO who came up with this idea of a, of an evil twin, which is just the article that you were going to write, or that you wrote, you just kind of flip it and come up with, uh, the opposite sort of, um, hook. And it’s all based on the same research that you already did. So let’s say, it’s, um, the nine biggest mistakes, that nine biggest SEO mistakes that all podcasters make. Okay. So I just made that up. I mean, I could write an article on that, but let’s say I already did. Hypothetically. I could create an evil twin of that, and just flip it, and it’d be instead of the nine biggest mistakes, it might be the nine best practices that the biggest podcasters all, uh, do with regards to their SEO. You just flip it. So then you can take that, that, and you publish that on another site, right? So you’re not using duplicate content that you already posted somewhere else. A lot of these other sites will have guidelines or restrictions about that. Like I write it for Search Engine Land and they say, you cannot use content that you’ve already published somewhere else. It has to be fresh and unique. That you submit to Search Engine Land. Well, here we go. Evil twin, completely unique, but it’s not starting from scratch.
CHRISTINE: Got it. So, so you’re saying it’s to collaborate with other people. So even if their websites aren’t huge domain authority, it is still beneficial to collaborate with them and like repost some of your content on their article with a back link with to your site.
STEPHAN: Well, when I was, uh, talking about the evil twin, I would, uh, suggesting, or kind of implying that you would find a high authority site to publish that content on. So for example, I’m a, as I said, a contributor to searchengineland.com, which has a lot of authority. I’ve contributed to readwrite.com to HBR, Harvard Business Review, to, uh, Founder Magazine and, uh, Ad Week, like a whole bunch of these really high authority websites. And it’s ideal if you can be not just a one-off contributor, but an ongoing columnist, because then you can, uh, drop all this great content on a regular basis, can get links back to your website. Because you can’t just rely on your guests to link to your, your website, to boost you to the top of Google. You need to take some other measures as well.
CHRISTINE: So something that. Um, I hear a lot from people and I think it’s because I come from the journalism space where, um, I was always creating content, creating content, and then letting it go, you know, moving on to the next thing, moving onto the next thing. And as a reporter, it wasn’t really my job to understand, uh, the, the SEO and everything online. And a question I get from a lot of people is how do you turn all of this content you’re making into a profitable business? So what would you say to them?
STEPHAN: Yeah. Well, first of all, begin with the end in mind to use a Stephen Covey quote, if you recognize that your podcast, for example, could be a way to, uh, generate case studies. Because you could interview your clients and then extract the stuff that they wouldn’t normally give you in a testimonial in the form of a conversation that’s just free-flowing and, and, and, uh, it’s engineered by you though to extract out what their, um, what their objections were before they signed up with you. Because a good testimonial always has the objection. Right? So it’s expensive to work with Stephan. That’s an objection. Stephan is it an expensive SEO. He kind of wrote the book or quote, co-wrote the book on the topic and this is, this is the book right here. It’s a thousand pages. The Art of SEO. It’s actually one of three books. I’ve authored a co authored and, yeah. Yeah. Consequently I’m, I’m, I’m not inexpensive to hire. So I want to preempt that objection that they almost certainly are going to have about the price. So I’ll coach my clients since they’re giving me a testimonial to say, can you talk about what, uh, gave you pause or maybe almost derailed the whole process of you signing up with me like, oh yeah. Well, we, we had, we had trouble getting this pushed through, uh, because, uh, we had limited budget and you were actually more than our budget or whatever. Get them to talk about that. Because that speaks to the person who is listening or watching. And say yes. I’ve got that very issue. Whereas if it’s just all a flowery praise about you, it doesn’t do anything about oh yeah, of course, the testimonial is going to be complimentary. I-working with Steven was amazing. He took us to the top of Google for all of these different keywords and we increased our revenue 10 X or whatever it was. Right. That’s all fine and good. But unless it feels like, Hey, this is possible for me. So they can relate to it, right? Oh yeah. So Stephan worked with Chanel. Well whoop-de-doo? I’m not Chanel. Um, Joey the plumber, and I don’t have the budget of Chanel. So this is just ridiculous. I’m not, I’m not even going to watch it or listen to it. You make it relatable. You make it not like over the top crazy in terms of the results, but it’s more of kind of an attainable, mildly impressive case study. Okay. And you bake in the objections into it. And how are you going to do all that? Oh, what if it’s a freeform conversation in the form of a, of a podcast episode. So then you just start interviewing all of your clients current and past, and they have an opportunity to have their soapbox moment. Okay. Uh, regain all the wins and successes. That’s amazing. And you’re extracting out what ends up being a fabulous case study for you. So that’s just one example. If you begin with the end in mind, if instead you’re trying to do is let’s say get a whole bunch of really cool tech gear. Like I have this, uh, this happy, uh, uh, wearable, uh, device that, uh, changes your mood. You press a button, it starts it’s, yeah, you can wear it on your head or you can put it around your neck and what this does, is it, uh, it helps you to enhance your mood positive moods, like science.
CHRISTINE: Here’s this headband. Just wear it and be happier.
STEPHAN: Yup, or more focused or sleepier. A friend of mine, I told him to get the head band and he has trouble sleeping. Usually gets like five hours of sleep at night. And this is totally aside here. But first night he fell asleep with it on, he slept 10 hours. He was like, I haven’t slept that long in I can’t remember when. So it’s pretty cool. And you get all these devices for free. Here’s another geeky gadget, cause I’ve got the, Get Yourself Optimized biohacking podcast. So this, this is a Neuron, which has a brain tracking, uh, portion here, sensor that I know, you’d look like a total dweeb wearing this at night.
CHRISTINE: You look great!
STEPHAN: [laughs] But this thing will tell you what brainwaves you’re, you’re, uh, Alpha or theta or Delta or whatever, if you’re in deep sleep, like I have an oura ring too, which is another biohack. And this thing does tell me my HRV, heart rate variability. I know I sound like a total geek, but all this cool stuff, many of these things like this, I got for free. This Neuron, totally for free. I got a, um, a, a bicycle that has AI, because of course you want to write a stationary bike with AI, who doesn’t, right. I got it for free. It’s called the Carol Bike. Yeah. Yeah. A $3,000 stationary bike with artificial intelligence for free.
CHRISTINE: Do you use it?
STEPHAN: Well, not now, cause that’s back in California.
CHRISTINE: So where’s your house in Encino? I’m kidding.
STEPHAN: It’s in storage now that, that the it’s a really cool thing. So the Carol bike, uh, I had the, it’s not even like an ad deal. I don’t sell advertising. I just said they, they pitched me and I said, well, I’d consider it. But I want to have the bike to be able to like, try it out before I have you on the show. And they’re like, okay, we can do that. And I went: to go to keep it. Okay, yeah.
CHRISTINE: So, but you had to have a podcast that had good reach for them to want to give you stuff like that, right?
STEPHAN: Maybe. Not really, because you don’t need the reach.
CHRISTINE: What do you need?
STEPHAN: That’s the secret here. You need to have the street cred. Okay. So you need to, you need to get super credibility so that ain’t even think about asking you about downloads.
CHRISTINE: So what super credibility for a podcaster? I’m just curious.
STEPHAN: Yeah. So let me give you an example first for a non podcaster. Cause this is where I first heard about super credibility. Do you know who Peter Diamandis is?
STEPHAN: He is the creator of the X Prize.
CHRISTINE: The X Prize?
STEPHAN: The X and the X Prize was a $10 million prize for creating a spacecraft that could take a passenger up to like, uh, the near Earth orbit or whatever, and come back down and be able to take another passenger two weeks later or, or, or less. I’m getting the details probably wrong here, but that’s close enough. The thing is, is nobody asked him, do you have the $10 million when he announced, he announced the prize. Nobody asked. He didn’t, he didn’t have the money. It took him five, 10 years, some crazy long time to get the money. What he did have though was super credibility. When he announced the X Prize, he had a former deputy director of NASA onstage with him. He had eight astronauts on stage with him. Nobody thought to ask where’s the money, Peter? Is it in the bank? You’re ready to write a check if somebody wins this prize tomorrow? Oh no, he didn’t. He didn’t know who that benefactor was going to be. He didn’t have the money himself. So finally, uh, five, 10 years later, whatever it was, a billionaire, uh, uh, this, uh, uh, lady named, uh, last name Ansari, I think. And so now it’s named the Ansari X Prize, but it was, it was awarded. She came up with the money, but isn’t that cool. That you can have something that, um, doesn’t have the, like you sell something and then you build it. Marketers do that all the time. They want to see if there’s a market for something. So they’ll pitch it. They’ll sell it. Nobody buys it, nothing lost.
CHRISTINE: Get on the waiting list.
STEPHAN: Yeah, exactly. A bunch of people buy it. And then they’re like, all right, well better, better build this. But if only a few people bought it, they just refund those few people and say, sorry, we ended up having a change of direction or whatever. So a podcaster example of super credibility for, for me personally, was episode number 10 of Marketing Speak was with Jay Abraham. He’s kind of the godfather of, of marketing. Well, him and Seth Godin. Right? So that was pretty amazing to get Jay Abraham on as a very early guest. Once I was able to name, drop Jay Abraham, then I was able to get other big name guests because they’re not going to say all right, well, so you had Jay Abraham, but what are your download numbers? So then I get three or four big name people. And then I can just name, drop those few people and just say, guests have included Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham. Oh yeah, okay. Yeah, I’ll do it. The, the idea of asking for download numbers or a listenership or anything like reach that just seems rude because clearly you’ve been vetted by these other big name guests, so I’m just going to say yes.
CHRISTINE: That is something. Um, I know this technique, but, um, yeah, you got a $3,000 bike out of it.
STEPHAN: I got so many cool gadgets. Some I’ll I’ll I’ll get it a discount. Some I get for free. It just, but that’s not the point. That’s not why I podcast. For the joy of it.
CHRISTINE: But it does answer my question.
STEPHAN: It’s a labor of love, it really is.
CHRISTINE: Podcasting, if you’re out there and you’re just starting a podcast, or you’ve been podcasting for a while, you know that it’s a labor of love. Like you have put your time and energy, and you might not necessarily see the downloads reflecting that. But what Stephan is saying, is that you don’t necessarily need super downloads to start reaping the benefits of podcasting. And one of the things I personally love from podcasting is excuses to talk to people like you just, Hey, like let’s just shoot the breeze about SEO. That’s great.
STEPHAN: Um, well, like you’re saying, it’s so cool to be able to pitch somebody to spend an hour with them on a call when you wouldn’t get that time with them otherwise. But because you have a podcast, because you’re able to name, drop the impressive guest list, you get that time. I interviewed, for example, the former CEO of walmart.com. He didn’t know me from Adam, gets Carter cast, but we hit it off. And then he ended up referring a whole bunch of like, he, he’s no longer with Walmart. He now is, uh, he’s a VC with a, with a VC firm. And he referred at least three different or maybe four now, portfolio companies to me for SEO.
STEPHAN: And that, so you don’t need to, to have to have any audience. You could have zero audience and just have really cool conversations with just the right people who you’re you’re laser targeting. And that could be enough to catapult you and your business to the next level.
CHRISTINE: Yeah. That could be something that can turn your podcast into a business. And I think that, um, for me, it took me a while to get that just as a journalist, and I’m like just used to like objectively creating content, content, content, content, not thinking, wait a second. Do I have an offer I could maybe put in, is there something that I could teach others? Is there a service I can provide that I just like have been taken for granted for all of this time? Um, yes there is. And it wasn’t actually until I had a short stint in the marketing world that I was like, wait a second. I need to like rethink what it means to be producing content and how to produce content and what that can mean for me and my, myself, and my business and my family. And it can like, kind of changed my mindset in a way that surprised me because I really loved being a journalist. I loved it. This is also kind of like I get to still do it. [laughs] Yeah. So, um, you mentioned, uh, the biggest mistakes that podcasters can make, um, while, you know, with SEO. Can we, I know you just like came up with that, but could we talk about like maybe three mistakes that podcasters are making with SEO and how to solve them?
CHRISTINE: So transcriptions.
STEPHAN: Yeah. So transcriptions are a real missed opportunity that that most podcasters are, uh, are, are not leveraging. They’re not even having them done. And you can use a service like, um, uh, Descript or Otter. Which is inexpensive and it uses AI to convert the audio into text. And it’s not going to be perfect. Heck you can even upload your, uh, recording to YouTube and for free, the YouTube algorithm, uh, creates a transcript, and it’s got the timestamps associated with it too, so. You can do this really on the cheap and, and, uh, yeah, like I said, you can find somebody in the Philippines to do the, the, kind of the grunt work of turning that, that raw transcript into something that looks a lot nicer and has imagery to go with it and, you know, cleaned up and all the typos are fixed and all that sort of stuff. You can find, uh, people in the Philippines using onlinejobs.ph. That’s a Craigslist of sorts for the Philippines, uh, for, for job offerers and for job seekers. Pretty cool.
CHRISTINE: So interesting. I didn’t know about that. Um, but also just for accessibility, like there could be people who are hearing-impaired, but they might really want to get the information and content, and quality expertise from your podcast conversations and also getting mentored that transcription makes your podcast content available to, um, people who aren’t able to hear. So. It’s just one more thing. One more reason why you should be getting transcriptions done.
STEPHAN: Yeah. And if you want to get even more ninja, you can, uh, have somebody who’s maybe a diehard listener and fan who speaks a foreign language, translate those, uh, those SRT files from YouTube, if you’re going to do it that route. Turn that into a foreign language translation, upload that also to YouTube. Uh, there’s support for that, so that people who are searching YouTube in that language can find that podcast episode and watch it with subtitles in that language. You don’t have to rerecord your episode or anything like that. It just gives them the option of choosing the subtitles in that language and whatever languages that were uploaded, uh, and translated. So there’s some really ninja stuff that you could do. It’s just, it’s a question of how far do you want to go.
CHRISTINE: And how much time do you have and is it, does it mean outsourcing, and, yeah. Interesting. Okay, so there’s one. Transcriptions. What else?
STEPHAN: Yeah. So the RSS feed, this is your, uh, the powerhouse, the engine for your podcast and its reach into all the podcast directories and, and podcatcher apps and so forth.
STEPHAN: So, if you are optimizing that RSS feed, making sure that the, uh, the name of the show has keywords in it. Um, but you don’t want to keyword stuff. Like if it’s called Marketing Speak as one word, you might want to change it to two words actually. It started as marketing speak one word, and I changed it to two words because marketing is a very important keyword and I wanted that word to get picked up. Um, you don’t want to spam and keyword stuff. So in the author column, you’re not going to put like Stephan Spencer, SEO expert, uh, three time O’Reilly author, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You’re going to probably get caught out by, uh, an algorithm at Apple or wherever, and you might get kicked out of the Apple Podcasts, um, engine. And that would be pretty bad. It’s not like you can pick up the bat phone and say, oh, sorry, Apple. I didn’t mean to do that. Can you let me back in? So just be careful not to go over the top with it, but the RSS feed, if you’ve never looked at it, you should look at it. You should look at the code. It’s an XML format, and it has like the name of the show, the description of the show. It has, uh, the, the title of each episode and, uh, uh, like the author of the show, and all these different elements, not every element matters from an SEO standpoint for like, let’s say Apple Podcasts or Google Podcast, but the main ones are the title of the episode and the title of the show and the description of the show. Those are, those are the most important. I always have my, uh, my team in the Philippines, the head of my team sends me three different potential episode titles for each, uh, each week’s, uh, episode for, for the two shows. And then I decide if I like any of the three and usually actually I’m rewriting it and not even using one of the three that she sends me, but I know that I’ve dialed in because I’ve had that additional thought process, and they’ve put thought into it too. So between the two of us, we end up with really great titles for each episode. If you spend an extra two minutes per episode dialing in the title so that it has not just keywords in it, but, uh, some intrigue or counterintuitiveness to it, some sort of curiosity gap that gets created in the mind of the potential listener. So they’re intrigued to listen and, and consume that content because then it satisfies that curiosity. It, it relieves that tension that was created. Kind of like clickbait, clickbait article and number six will blow your mind. And usually number number six is totally a non-starter, and it’s really disappointing. You want to not do that. You want to underpromise and overdeliver instead of the opposite. But you do want to think in terms of how can I create some mystery, intrigue, um, some, uh, some powerful positioning, value proposition, like as well as good keywords. That’s a lot to do in a title, but you can pull it off if you just put some thinking time to it. It’s it’s it’s gonna pay off that, that extra five minutes per week is totally worth it.
CHRISTINE: So, do you use a keyword search or does your, um, the person you work with in the Philippines, use a keyword search engine. Is there like a tool you use online that people can also use?
STEPHAN: Yeah, so we use a bunch of different tools. Uh, so if you’re an SEO geek like me, then you want a whole bunch of tools because they’re, they’re all different and they’re based in different databases. And they come up with different keyword suggestions and synonyms, and competitive intelligence, uh, capabilities and so forth. So these are my favorites, Moz Keyword Explorer, Ahrefs, and there are bunch of keyword tools inside of Ahrefs, like the, um, there, there is a keyword gap tool, content gap, uh, is actually the name of it. And in Semrush, which is another tool that I like a lot, that one has the keyword gap. So confusingly similar names, but, uh, of the tool, but both of those tool sets are fantastic. Uh, they are paid tools. Uh, actually all of these so far are paid tools. If you’re on a budget and you want to do just a free stuff, then Google Trends is free. AnswerThePublic is free. AlsoAsked.com is free. Um, but they’re there. So, for example, let’s say that you wanted to come up with questions that you can use as fodder for, for episode content and for, um, things to talk about in the episode, whether it’s a guest that you’re going to interview, or it’s a solo episode, whatever. AlsoAsked.com is amazing. You know how, when you use Google and it comes up with, uh, people also asked box with some questions in there, and you can explode those out and see the answers. And it keeps adding more and more questions with answers as you’re adding, uh, as you’re exploiting those out and reading the answers. This tool, for free, extracts all that content out of the people also asked box from Google. And puts it into a nice visual that you can download and also a CSV file, which you can load into Excel or Google Sheets. Super cool. So whether you’re creating content for a podcast episode, or you’re just working on FAQs, or ideas for blog posts, whatever it is, also asked is such a great repository for free information, about what questions people are asking online about your topic.
CHRISTINE: Damn, that’s crazy.
STEPHAN: Yeah. And completely free. And it’s the same with, uh, AnswerThePublic, answerthepublic.com. Similarly, just put in a keyword and it will give you a whole list of questions. But this one is based instead of the people also asked box in Google, it’s based on Google suggest. So when you’re typing in keywords, or keystrokes, into the search box in Google, you get those autocomplete suggestions, right. That’s called Google suggest, and AnswerThePublic, uh, scrapes from the suggestions list from Google, a bunch of, uh, keywords and questions in particular who, what, where, when, why, and how type questions as well as implied questions with, uh, prepositions. And then it puts it into a really nice visual display. Uh, you can also, uh, export it into, uh, that CSV file and load that into Excel or, or Google Sheets. And again, completely free.
CHRISTINE: So why would you need to upload it into Excel or Google Sheets?
STEPHAN: Well, let’s say that you’re pulling data from both of those tools and you want to dedupe and sort, and, and, and group and do some clever stuff. And turn that into maybe an editorial calendar. You want to not just look at a pretty visual and take a screenshot of it. You want the data.
CHRISTINE: Gosh, my brain just broke a little bit. There’s so much or so much to, to SEO, and how you can like make it work for you. That it’s [makes sound effect] blows my mind. Okay. So, so optimizing your RSS feed with titles, um, transcriptions and the third thing people can, the the mistakes they make.
STEPHAN: So they’re not leveraging YouTube. That’s the number two search engine. It’s not Bing. It’s not Amazon. It’s YouTube. If you don’t have a YouTube channel, and you’re not uploading every episode to YouTube, it’s like here, you’re snubbing your nose at the number two search engine. Why would you do that? So many podcasters do that though. So the things that I was talking about, like uh, making sure your SRT file, the transcript that, that YouTube autogenerates from the audio, making sure it doesn’t have any mistakes in it because it will not get everything perfect. And so just review that, uh, after you’ve uploaded the, the video and, and for me, I used to not record video. I just recorded audio only, because I didn’t want to have to comb my hair or whatever. Like, so that’s so silly because I threw away a huge opportunity to capture a video of both me and the guest, and then to utilize that for YouTube. So it’s not just a still image, because that’s boring to watch. If I, it’s not that you, if you don’t have the ability to do video-based interviews, you know, it’s okay. Like you do the best you can with, with what you have. So I have an episode where I interviewed Marisa Peer, a phenomenal hypnotherapist, uh, like to the stars, like she’s amazing. 30,000, 35,000 views of, uh, an episode with audio only and a still image. The whole episode, um, um, like an hour of content, with one image the entire time, 30, some thousand or views of that. So it’s possible, even if you don’t have video, to still, uh, leverage it. So just do something on YouTube. And when you get to the point where you have a hundred subscribers, then you can claim a custom URL. Right. So, uh, for me, youtube.com/stephanspencer. Instead of a long string of, uh, of characters that nobody could ever remember, I have a custom URL that I can mention to, like I just did. So subscribe to my channel. Stephan Spencer is my, my YouTube username. It’s so simple, but I had to get to a hundred subscribers in order to get there.
CHRISTINE: So, so, so interesting to me. So I have a YouTube channel, and I have like 16,000 subscribers. Um, and my YouTube channel is filled.
CHRISTINE: Thank you. Here’s the rub. Um, I don’t use it. At all. I never use it. I have some podcast episodes uploaded on there, but I stopped doing it cause it was taking so much time. And I was like, oh, you know, I’ll come back to it. I’ll do this eventually. And eventually never happened because I got so distracted by, you know, clients, this and that. Um, and I know that I’m leaving like a huge gap where, um, I could be not doing that. So hearing you telling me this again. I really should be using my YouTube channel, but I’m not.
STEPHAN: Well, here here’s the thing is like people will judge you. It’s not fair. Getting judged as is not fair, but people will judge you based on you applying your own principles to your own stuff. So they’ll look for SEO in my own website. And if, I let’s say, this actually happened to me, I keynoted at India Affiliate summit. And I told everybody that, you know, you really should be on HTTPS. This was years ago, not just HTTP, HTTPS, Google wants to see that. And then some guy in the audience called me out during Q and A and said your website’s on HTTP still. I’m like, yep. It sure is, but it won’t be next week, as I’m going to reprioritize that, and that was embarrassing, but it sometimes takes that. You got to eat your own dog food. So you’re going to be doing the stuff that you tell your clients that you.
CHRISTINE: I’m like, you know, if you really want to grow your podcast fast, you should also have it on YouTube.
STEPHAN: And then they look at your YouTube channel and they’re like, wow, that last episode you posted from two years ago, that was a good one.
CHRISTINE: Thank you. [laughs] Oh, no, this is it’s good. It’s good to keep to, you know, eat my own dog food sometimes.
STEPHAN: Yeah. And the little nuances make such a difference. Like for example, if you, instead of just linking to your YouTube channel from your website, you linked with the sub underscore confirmation equals one, at the end of the URL or ampersand sub confirmation calls one, it automatically adds them to your subscribers list. If they get a little confirmation box, you know, they have to click yes to. But that eliminates a step where they’d have to go and click unsubscribe. It presumes that they’re going to subscribe. So on on, if you look at marketingspeak.com, all the different podcatcher apps, ways of subscribing to my show, YouTube is one of them. I don’t just have Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify. I have YouTube there. And when they click on it, it adds them as a subscriber, as long as they click the yes. Why not just do those simple little extra thing. Or add a podcast, add a, um, a category, like a playlist category for, uh, your podcasts episodes to your YouTube channel. Right? So I do have a, a podcast, um, playlist. And then if you add the, the list, um, attribute. with the code for that particular playlist to the YouTube URL. You send them to a particular YouTube video on your channel with that upended. And now it’s going to be on autoplay through the rest of that entire playlist.
STEPHAN: Isn’t that amazing?
CHRISTINE: Get your watch time up and just like go right up in the rankings there. Whoa, I’m all of a sudden on the top of Google search, what just happened?
STEPHAN: And all the tech was changing a URL. Devils in the details.
CHRISTINE: Stephan, thank you so much for just sharing so much knowledge with us. It’s kind of insane. And I feel like I needed to just like sit down and like go through all of my stuff and fix it. Um, before we leave, I really liked to do this to all of my guests because I think it just helps my listeners be like, oh gosh, okay. He is human. Um, please Stephan. Tell me, have you had any struggles in the podcasting space and what have they been?
STEPHAN: Well, uh, yes, I, of course they have struggles. Uh, one, one of them is I don’t have the download numbers that, uh, I want to have, I want to have 10x the download numbers. I don’t think my download numbers are very high, and that’s why it just drives me nuts whenever I get that question from a potential guest, like, can-can you tell me your download numbers? I don’t want to tell them cause I don’t love them. They’re not amazing. It’s like, I mean, I’ll mention it here. It’s like 7,000 downloads a month is not impressive to me. Like it’s nowhere near what I want, and it just drives me bonkers. So, and I’ve been doing this since 2015. I actually started podcasting in 2007 or ‘08. And then I pod faded after a couple years and, uh, yeah, Marketing Speak came, uh, and then, uh, or no, Get Yourself Optimized. Actually it was called The Optimized Geek. Uh, it was another thing as I, I started with a different name for the show, and then I realized I was, uh, doing it wrong cause I was alienating, unintentionally, large audience of potential people I could help because it was appealing only to geeks. If you don’t self identify as a geek, then you’re not going to want to listen to The Optimized Geek podcast.
CHRISTINE: I would self identify as a nerd.
STEPHAN: Yep. Okay. We’re close cousins. So it’s all learning. Like either you’re winning or you’re learning. You’re never losing, you’re never failing. It’s just learning. So I learn all the time, and I just love learning. So I’m just going to keep making mistakes and trying and experimenting and just iterating.
CHRISTINE: And learning. Got it. Stephan, thank you so much for being on the show. If people want to find you, I mean, I know you’ve already shared your YouTube channel, but is there anything else that you want people to go and check out?
STEPHAN: Yeah. So I have a ton of resources on stephanspencer.com. If you want to learn more about SEO, a lot of free stuff there in the learning center. I also of course have the two podcasts. I really, really loved those two shows. And I think you’re going to love them too. So I’m not going to ask that you subscribe, that’s a little too much too soon. Just try, let’s say the Seth Godin episode on our Marketing Speak and the Dave Asprey episode on, on Get Yourself Optimized. And I think you’ll be hooked.
CHRISTINE: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Arielle Nissenblatt is SquadCast’s head of community and content. She’s obsessed with all things podcast-related and is the founder of EarBuds Podcast Collective, a podcast recommendation engine.