Should You Include Guest Names in Your Podcast Episode Titles?

If you ever have a guest on your podcast, you might be wondering where to put their name. Here are some things to consider for your own podcast.

Is your guest well-known to your audience?

“Celebrities” come in all sizes and niches. So consider whether they'll be known to a broad audience, or even to your own audience.

For example, imagine you have a podcast about dogs and you invite me as a guest. Even though I've had a couple of dogs, I'm known for talking about podcasting and helping podcasters. So your audience wouldn't know me. And any “celebrity” or influencer status I might have is constrained to a couple of small niches, and “dogs” is not one of them.

Since my name would not be known to your audience or niche in this case, you could deprioritize it in your episode title or remove it altogether.

And if you have a guest whose celebrity status is mainstream—like Elon Musk, Michelle Obama, President Donald Trump, or Tim Cook—then definitely put their name prominently in your episode title!

Consider your SEO

Proper and ethical techniques for search engine optimization (SEO) can help your podcast be found for relevant searches. And one such relevant search might be your guest's name.

This usually works better for names of people outside of mass popularity. For example, while Pat Flynn is not a mainstream celebrity, he's been a guest on so many podcasts and there's been so much content about him that you probably wouldn't receive much of an SEO boost by being yet another podcast that interviews Pat Flynn. Thus, there's not as much SEO value in his name alone anymore.

However, if there's someone strongly associated with your own niche and known within it, then their name could provide huge SEO benefit to your podcast. For example, if you interview a cast member from a TV show you podcast about. They're probably a true celebrity, but there's not a flood of content about them and interviews with specifically that one person. So the associations with their name can help boost your SEO.

Consider your guest's SEO

Now flip this around and think about the value you offer to your guest.

Sidenote: having guests on your podcast should be primarily about the value they bring to your audience and the value you can give them, and much less about the value they might give you.

If you can focus your conversation around your guest's expertise (and I recommend that you do!), then having their name in your descriptive episode title will help boost their SEO, authority, and influence. This works by associating those special keywords in your title with their name.

Let's go back to the example of having me on your podcast about dogs. Although I like dogs (and they're much better than cats!), that's not a subject for which I'm trying to build any authority or influence. Thus, I would be less interested in having my name associated with the subject. But if you have me on your podcast to talk about getting more podcast reviews, that is a subject I want to be known for and would appreciate having my name associated with those relevant keywords.

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Consider what's more important: the what, or the who?

First, recognize that every person has value—no matter their niche, skills, size, status, and such. So I'm not referring to whether they are important as a person. Instead, I mean what's most important in the context of your podcast content and your audience.

For example, if you could get an interview on your podcast with Elon Musk, Michelle Obama, President Donald Trump, or Tim Cook, that would probably be far more exciting than whatever they're talking about! Look at what happened when Marc Maron got to interview President Barack Obama. It reached 1 million downloads faster than any other episode ever at that time! And that's because of who the guest was more than what he was talking about. Lots of people who didn't normally listen to Marc Maron's show listened to that one episode because they wanted to hear whatever that guest said in the podcast.

But if you have little me on your podcast about dogs, what I share in your podcast would be more important for your podcast and your audience than who I am. And let's be honest: with such a podcast, the audience probably wouldn't care at all who I am—at least not until after they hear what I have to share.

Structure the title to prioritize what matters to your audience

Almost everything you do with your podcast should filter through the question, “What matters to my audience?”

Thus, use that criterion when you consider applying my previous points to how you structure the title of your episodes.

My general guideline is to make what's most important to your audience be the first thing in your episode titles. If the “who” is more important than the “what,” then put their name first. But if the “what” is more important, then put their name later or omit it completely (depending on these other factors I've shared).

Here are a few title format examples.

  • “Elon Musk Shares Why He Bought Twitter”—Since the name is most important, it goes first in this title.
  • “Daniel J. Lewis Shares How He Built a Business around Podcasting”—If your podcast is also about podcasting and has an audience of podcasters, then my name might be recognizable enough to put first.
  • “Differences Between Raising a Big Dog and a Little Dog”—Here, the stories and information I share will be far more important to your audience than my name. In fact, your audience probably wouldn't care at all who I am, and raising dogs is not a subject for which I'm trying to build authority and influence, so you could put my name last or even omit it entirely.
  • “When Should You Edit Your Own Podcast, or Hire Someone Else? With Darrell Darnell”—While Darrell's name may not matter as much to your audience, he is building his authority and influence in podcast-editing because he runs a podcast-production company. So this helps his SEO and it could help yours, too.

Note that these examples are straightforward with putting the name first or last. I've seen some interesting hybrid approaches, too. For example:

  • “New iPhones: What Jony Ive Thinks about Apple's New Design”
  • “15 Reasons Adam Curry Wants You to Use Podcasting 2.0”
  • “Ben Linus Actor, Michael Emerson, Shares Stories from Acting in Lost”

The “trick” here is to simply think about what matters most to your audience, and make that the first part of your episode title, as much as possible.

Use more than their name

Regardless of how important your guest's name is to your audience and the broader world, I urge you to make your title be more than only their name or a verbose pattern with their name (like “Interview with …”).

Don't obsesses over the character length of your titles, as long as they're short enough to share! I see little to no actual benefit in having ultra-short episode titles. Plus, what would you do if you had the same guest back for another episode? And even if they're a super-celebrity, their name alone still won't be as compelling or well-performing for your engagement and audience growth as if you also describe what the episode is about.

Don't forget the author and person fields!

Lastly, no matter how you title your episodes, remember to include your guests' names in your episodes' <itunes:author> (which might be deprecated at the episode/item level) and Podcasting 2.0's <podcast:person> tags. These tags will overwrite your show-level information for this episode (instead of inheriting it, as usual), so make sure you repeat whatever would regularly show.

For example, while my show-level tags are set to “Daniel J. Lewis,” if I ever again have a guest on my podcast, I would set the episode-level author and person tags to “Daniel J. Lewis” and the guest's name (in accordance with how the separate tags work).

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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship. I may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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