iTunes is the largest podcast directory and it powers many podcast apps. Here’s how to fix the most common podcasting problems you may face with iTunes.
All the information about your podcast in iTunes (title, descriptions, episode, cover art, copyright, etc.) is pulled from your RSS feed. Thus, to change how your podcast is listed in the iTunes store, you need to change the information in your RSS feed.
This would be in FeedBurner only if you’re using the horrible “SmartCast” feature. Otherwise, make the changes where the feed is being generated.
Ratings, reviews, ranking, and related podcasts are maintained by Apple, and you can’t change them.
Missing the latest episode
I’m quite certain this is the most common iTunes issue podcasters complain about. They’ll publish a new episode and then look at their iTunes listing only to see the latest episode isn’t there yet.
First, if the episode downloads fine for you (subscribed to your own podcast) and others, then there’s probably nothing wrong. People are subscribed directly to your RSS feed, so it doesn’t matter whether iTunes displays the latest episode in the store. Your subscribers will still download it automatically according to their app’s settings.
iTunes caches everything, so it can sometimes take up to 24 hours for a new episode to appear. However, iTunes also learns your publishing frequency and may update your podcast more quickly around the time you consistently publish a new episode.
If you’ve waited at least 24 hours, login to Podcasts Connect with the Apple ID you used to submit your podcast, click on your podcast and click to refresh your feed. Then wait another 24 hours.
If your iTunes listing still hasn’t updated, there may be a different problem with your feed causing issues with iTunes. Libsyn has seen this to most commonly be the podcast cover art. See the next section for tips on fixing that.
But if the latest episode doesn’t download, then you may need to fix common podcast RSS feed problems.
Podcast cover art hasn’t updated
If you changed your podcast cover art but it hasn’t updated, yet, in iTunes. It could be one of several issues.
- Broken URL—This is the basic “Did you turn it on?” issue, but it could still be a problem. Ensure the URL actually works. I recommend opening a private/incognito browser window to check.
- Time—Wait at least 24 hours. If it still hasn’t updated, login to Podcasts Connect with the Apple ID you used to submit your podcast, and refresh your feed. Then wait another 24 hours.
- File size—This is the most common problem I see. The image file needs to be smaller than 512 KB for iTunes to be able to process it. Try extra image compression, smoother or no textures, or fewer colors to get the file size smaller.
- Filename and URL—iTunes will only know to update the image if the URL has changed. This could be automatically changed if your image URL has a date. But I still recommend changing the file name. It could be as simply as adding a version number or year to the file.
- Pixel dimensions—Your cover art should be at least 1,400 × 1,400 or at most 3,000 × 3,000. Anything outside that may cause issues.
- Image hosting—Where your podcast cover art is hosted must support HTTP HEAD requests. Most web-hosting and all podcast-hosting companies support this. But file-sharing tools may not.
- Color format—Images must be 16-bit RGB. Anything else may cause problems.
- Wrong file format—Images must be JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg) or PNG (.png). Anything else won’t work.
If you change anything, remember to wait at least another 24 hours.
In the very rare case, there may be a problem on Apple’s side, so contact them through Podcasts Connect to ask that they force refresh, after you have done everything else.
You can’t see your podcast’s reviews
Being able to see your podcasts’ reviews in iTunes has several layers and points of potential oversight.
- Different countries—iTunes is currently available in 155 countries. When you submit your podcast to Apple, your podcast is automatically added to all these others iTunes Stores (explicit podcasts are excluded from a few countries). Each iTunes store has its own rankings, ratings, and reviews for your podcast. Thus, you may simply be looking at the wrong country. You could manually switch iTunes between its 155 countries, or use My Podcast Reviews to check them all automatically.
- Confusion with ratings—People can rate a podcast with one to five stars without writing a review, but every written review must have a rating. Thus, it’s possible someone merely rated your podcast but didn’t write a review. Apple doesn’t offer any identifying information or ratings API.
- Incompleted process—It’s possible whoever wrote the review didn’t complete the process.
- Automatic filtering—Apple has automatic filters to prevent profanity from appearing in iTunes. Thus, any review with profanity may be automatically removed.
- Time—Because Apple caches the iTunes stores, it could take 24 hours for new reviews to appear, or even longer if Apple is already having problems. Some of the My Podcast Reviews copycats have also run into API issues that result in missing reviews, but My Podcast Reviews has been specially designed to not be susceptible to such API issues.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
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