Taking a feature that was previously available only on Android phones, Google has launched playable podcast search results in desktop web searches. This feature marks an important new milestone in Google’s strategic vision of helping to double podcast listening. Putting native audio into Google search results for instant podcast listening is (in our view) a potentially tectonic development. Expanding it beyond Android to the web magnifies the potency.
Google’s strategy was laid out at the RAIN Podcast Business Summit in March by the Founder and Head of Product of Google Podcasts, Zack Reneau-Wedeen.
In our testing of Google podcast searches on the web, we encountered a few variations. In at least one case, Google didn’t recognize the podcast title as a podcast — that was Mission to Zyxx … which you’d think could hardly be recognized as anything else. We used the search phrase mission to zyxx podcast — and that didn’t work either. We are guessing that successful podcast search results in google depend on how the podcast is set up on the back end — Google needs to know how to grab the RSS feed. This example (Mission to Zyxx) is the only test which failed for us (disappointingly, as we are Zyxx fans).
In other cases, partial titles (without the “podcast” clarification) worked: we searched wtf and got a complete playable result for WTF with Marc Maron. Likewise for a search on Marc Maron without any mention of the podcast title or the word “podcast.”
Moving on, we searched for Serial and got the full treatment — plus, a row of podcast “cards” above the playable result for Serial. Either Google realized we were hunting for a bunch of podcasts, or Serial delivers special results. Clicking on any card resulted in the full playable spread of search results, with the line of podcast cards persisting above.