Regardless of whether you use WordPress or a different blogging platform or content-management system, how you title your blog posts and, by extension, your podcast episodes greatly affects your searchability and even your usability.

These steps will assume that you are using WordPress and heavily rely on permalinks (called “friendly URLs” and similar in other systems). Whether I say “blog post” or “podcast title,” I am referring to essentially the same thing.

1. Full episode titles

Imagine you downloaded a podcast episode called “Episode 5.” Does that tell you anything about the general or specific theme of the episode or the topics covered within it? No! It only tells you that it is an episode and what number it is. Instead, include a full title.

Titles can be relevant, like “Shownotes URLs for Search-Engine Optimization” for this episode, or they can be fun and spark curiosity, like those of the Ramen Noodle™ and other light-hearted podcasts. If yours is a more formal podcast covering specific topics, consider a title that reflects this.

The title is the first thing people will see about that episode and will influence how they prioritize their listening to your episode. Thus, “Important Announcement” (as I’ll reuse later) also tells your listeners nothing about the episode. Why not include the announcement in the title?

2. Front-load the titles

I have seen podcasts follow the format, “My Totally Awesome Podcast, SPECIAL EPISODE 5: Important Announcement.” Although it may be okay to speak this format within your podcast, it is not good in writing for a couple reasons.

Displays poorly and hinders usability

Nearly all portable digital audio players don’t have enough screen space to display a full episode title, so they probably scroll it. When I have episodes titled as above, then my device will probably dim the screen before it gets to telling me even the episode number, let alone the episode’s title. The same goes for computer displays, such as the columns in iTunes, where it may be cut off.

Hurts searchability

Search engines read content very much the same way that newspapers are written: headline first, first paragraph, subsequent headings. Having an episode title as above means that Google and other search engines will see “My Totally Awesome Podcast” more prevalent than “Important Announcement.”

Instead, move the title to the front

Front-loading titles means moving the important stuff to the front. Like newspaper articles in which the first paragraph is a summary of the article to follow. Treat your titles and blog posts like that.

I get emails from mystery shopping places that use a format similar to the above episode title for their subject lines. The problem is I have to always open the email (or just delete it) before I even know what kind of shop is available to perform.

You could list your episode title as, “Important Announcement (My Totally Awesome Podcast, Episode 5),” which is nicely front-loaded (of course, make the title more relevant), but that presents another problem, which we will solve next.

3. Abbreviations and episode numbers

Sometimes abbreviations are good, many times they are not. However, I think they would be preferred in podcast titles when you need to communicate which podcast it is and the episode number. Instead of “My Totally Awesome Podcast, Episode 5,” try “MTAP005: ….”

This provides chronological sorting for devices that may not properly sort your episodes (my iPod frequently does that) and it tells your listeners which show and episode number it is without taking up a lot of space to do so.

4. Include important, relevant keywords

Let’s pretend your podcast was acquired by Google and turned into their official podcast. “Important Announcement” fails miserably at conveying the important announcement. Instead, write a title that is relavent but also try to write it with good keywords.

If you review a movie in your episode, don’t write “Review of a Cool Movie,” but put the keywords (in this case, the movie’s title) in there and maybe even some other relevant keywords, “TRON: Legacy (2010) movie review.” Front-loaded, relevant, and keyword-filled!

5. Let URLs use the title

In WordPress, make sure permalinks are enabled by going into your administration area, click Settings, and then Permalinks. I like the format /%category%/%postname%/ but you can choose your own. The most important part is %postname%. (Other systems like Drupal or Joomla may call these “friendly URLs.)

Don’t try to change your URLs to meaningless numbers, like simply “5,” but let your content system name the URLs based on the title. Look at this post, the URL is https://theaudacitytopodcast.com/tap021-shownotes-urls-for-search-engine-optimization-seo/. I didn’t have to come up with that because I let WordPress name it according to the post title, and I have my permalinks set to /%category%/%postname%/.

This is very much a search-engine optimization (SEO) issue, because engines like Google like to see relevant information in the URL. If your post has a relevant, keyword-rich title, then your URLs will, too, if you let them.

6. Don’t stuff the title

But don’t go crazy! The title is a title, not a description. “Google Acquired Us for Their Official Podcast” is much better than, “We Were Bought by Google for Lots of Money and Now They Plan to Have Us Continue As Their Official Podcast About Long Podcast Titles”—fail!

Also don’t try to stuff keywords in the title, just in hopes of tickling the search engines. This looks weird and will seem meaningless to your listeners.

7. Use categories

If you use my suggested permalink structure, /%category%/%postname%/, then I highly recommend that you use categories wisely. Try not to have a single post in multiple categories, but make them relevant to the content they contain. On Noodle.mx, I chose to give each podcast its own category. The positive consequence of this is that the podcast title is always in the shownotes URLs.

Conclusion: it’s about usability

Keep your listeners in mind and make things easy for them! Search engines are mimicking people’s brains, so be more personal than mechanical.

Audacity tip: the scrollwheel

Most of us have a mouse with a scrollwheel. Sure, you know that moving that wheel up and down will scroll up and down, but Audacity provides some more ways to use the scrollwheel that can greatly improve how you use Audacity.

  • Hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Cmd (OS X) while moving the scrollwheel and you’ll zoom in and out when you scroll up and down, respectively.
  • Hold down Shift while moving the scrollwheel to horizontally scroll in your audio. Up to go left (or back), down to go right (or forward). Although this is programmed as the same unchangeable shortcut in both Windows and OS X editions of Audacity, it only works in Windows at this time. Eventually, it will work in OS X (you can see it in the mouse commands under Preferences), but for now, Windows users keep this prize.

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Disclosure

This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and 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.

10 comments on “Shownotes URLs for Search-Engine Optimization (SEO) – TAP021

  1. @JadedDAVe says:

    I updated my website and used your suggestion for permalinks. Thanks!

    1. Fantastic! So you're allowing long permalinks but shortening with Pretty Link?

  2. Just wanted to say these are great tips and we’re implementing all of them on our Producing Unscripted podcast. Also using Pretty Link. Thanks!

    1. I’m glad this episode is helpful!

      Are you using Pretty Link Lite or Pro?

      1. Funny you should ask…we’re using the Lite version for now but wanted to see if you had an affiliate link in case we decide to buy the full version. What else do you like besides typing in the pretty link right in to post, BTW?
        Thanks!

        1. Yup! http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/prettylinkpro

          That URL may eventually link to a blog post or video with more explanation of why I think Pro is worth the cost.

          So besides that huge convenience of pretty link creation right from the page/post editor, I also love Pretty Link Pro’s automatic keyword linking. For example, every time I write “BlueHost” in a blog post, Pretty Link Pro automatically hyperlinks it with my affiliate URL. I could make that apply to more than one keyword: BlueHost, BlueHost web hosting, web hosting, etc.

          That feature also saves a lot of time, since I now longer have to manually add my affiliate links to that text.

          Did you hear me on School of Podcasting #358? I mentioned that I split affiliate income with my network affiliates by setting up Pretty Links for products. Each time a link is used, it randomly goes to either my affiliate link or my affiliate’s affiliate (that sounds so meta!).

          1. Now I have! That was really interesting stuff. We’re not quite there yet with the more advanced end of pretty link, but knowing it can grow as we do it great. I’m loving Pretty Link Lite and have implemented your suggestions by creating http://www.ProducingUnscripted.com/itunes which is linked through a linkshare affiliate link. Awesome advice and it all worked perfectly.

            Best,
            Biagio

  3. Virtual Pizza says:

    Hi Daniel, loving the show (making my way through all of your episodes!), some fantastic advice!

    Re episode titles, I’d like to restructure mine, if I rename the episodes in my media hosting site (Podbean), will I need to republish them to get iTunes etc updated?

    If i do republish, won’t my subscribers suddenly see a whole load of new episodes (when they’re actually old)?

    Or should I just leave the old episodes as they are, and start from my next show?

    Many thanks,
    Phil

    1. Good question, Phil!

      If you are updating existing posts, your subscribers will not redownload your episodes. But if you delete a post and republish it under the same or different name, your subscribers will redownload them.
      This is because of a unique code each post has, called the GUID. You can change post content without changing the GUID. But creating new posts means a new GUID, which all programs will treat as new content.

      1. Virtual Pizza says:

        Fantastic answer Daniel! Lol

        Have to say, your shows have been inspirational and really rekindling my enthusiasm. In fact I found your comment about not worrying about the size of your audience and that they are there to listen to you, quite moving!

        Not that I don’t want to increase my subscribers!
        Thanks again,
        Phil

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