Steve Goldstein: If People Can’t Find Your Podcast, They Can’t Listen to It

Steve Goldstein’s Amplifi Media works with media companies and podcasters in developing audio content strategies. Goldstein writes frequently at Blogstein, the Amplifi blog. Steve can be reached directly at 203-221-1400 or sjgoldstein-at-amplifimedia-dot-com.

Podcast findability is a real problem. Unfortunately, many in podcasting conflate findability with discovery, and while they are close cousins, they are not the same thing.

Discovery often has some serendipity to it. Maybe a friend tells you about a podcast, or the podcast is highlighted in an article or featured in an app.

Findability is more fundamental. If someone searches for a particular podcast, will they find it? With millions of podcasts out there, many sharing common words in the title or using arcane names that are difficult to spell or hard to recall, the problem of podcast findability is becoming more acute.

I ran across one recently, which prompted this post. I read an article about Brains, a new podcast by Julian Schapiro and Courtland Allen. The guest was Jason Calacanis, a well-known internet entrepreneur. I like Julian’s Twitter posts (he has 188k followers). Jason always brings it. So, with interest piqued, I went to find the podcast.

It wasn’t easy. First, it turns out there are more than 350 podcast titles with the word “brain” or “brains” in Spotify. James Cridland of was kind enough to run a search of Podcast Index and found 542 podcast titles with “brains” including “brainstorm.” It gets worse: 2,042 have the word “brain.” Ouch. I could end the post right here.

But, let’s go on.

I hit the Google machine and searched “Brains Podcast.” As expected, there are plenty of podcasts with the word Brains; Big Brains, Galaxy Brains, Brains On!, Hidden Brain. The show I was looking for was not on the first page. It was, however, halfway down the second page. As SEO specialists often say, the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google. It will depress you to know how few people make it to the second page of a search.

Next, I went to the Spotify App. I searched “Brains Podcast.” I selected “top” as a filter. It wasn’t there, so I scrolled over to “Podcasts and Shows.” In the app, I scrolled 32 times before I found the podcast I was looking for. It was a hand-numbing 305 podcasts down on the list.

Apple Podcasts was a completely different experience. The Brains podcast showed up on the first page of my search. So yes, there is some good news from the Apple Podcasts app, I guess.

No doubt, in-app search is critical, but findability extends beyond apps. It is the sum of all parts in-app and everywhere, like Google. The right SEO keywords, a difficult to duplicate, uncommon title can boost findability significantly.

Even internet basics can help.  I went to the Brains podcast site, to look around. In the upper right corner, it indicates the podcast is available on Spotify, iTunes, and Google Play. iTunes? This, mind you, is a brand-new podcast. They are four episodes in, and yet using outdated iTunes nomenclature, which is only active on Windows desktop, which must be tiny. Google Play migrated podcasts to Google Podcasts two years ago. That also can’t be helpful.

This is one story in a sea of similar tales. As podcasts inevitably share more words and duplicate titles, findability will frustrate potential listeners and thus, show producers.

If you can’t find it, you can’t listen to it. The effort most people will make to find a podcast, just like going to the second page of a Google search, likely won’t end well.

We often talk with our clients about unlocking listeners and listens by being Brilliant at the Basics. Findability and all of its components have moved up to the top the list.


Steve Goldstein