Why You should get involved in Podcasting: As a Listener and Creator

This article might be long, but it’s worth it, for those interested in the topic. I’ll be discussing some new opportunities that will be opening up in the podcasting space via Google and why they will benefit you (as a listener or creator). People interested in SEO should also read. There are opportunities in this space also.

So I'll dive right into it.

DISCLAIMER: I'm the producer of The Fit and Proper Podcast by @DigiLawNG, a podcast dedicated to the Nigerian Law School experience, with each episode discussing a topic from any of the 5 courses.

I'm saying this because I'll be referring to it from time to time.

First,

If you use an iPhone, you're more likely to listen to podcasts than an average Android user.

Podcast listening is largely seamless on the iOS, because it has had a native podcast app for a longer period - Apple Podcasts.

Only in the last couple of years did Google start pushing their version, Google Podcasts

Even at that, its not very popular and it doesn’t come pre-installed, so the average Android user can’t just "stumble" on podcasts.

Second,

I've noticed a trend with the Fit and Proper Podcast (I'll call it FPP henceforth) which was also the case in an earlier podcast I created, The Fungible Podcast.

What is this trend?

More than half of our listeners come from the web, not iOS, not Android, but the web https

Now what does this mean?

It means that when an average listener clicks a link to an episode, it doesn't redirect him to Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts etc, but the web version of any of these apps.

Yeah, they might listen, but its not the best user experience.

For one thing, they can't download to listen offline, so the convenience which podcasts should deliver is lost.

Depending on the platform they go to, they might have to deal with ads and won’t be generally inclined to listen to more episodes, because of data costs.

Third,

In most countries of the world (especially in Africa and the rest of the developing world), Android is king in terms of number of users.

Remember I said first that iOS users have it easier when it comes to listening to podcasts.

If more than half of my listeners (and I assume other podcast creators have a similar experience) come from the web, and most smartphones in use are Androids, then it may be assumed that most of those web listeners are on the Google ecosystem.

It is then safe to say, that to gain exponential growth in listenership and revenue for podcast creators, we need more Android users to embrace listening to podcasts.

In this, there are challenges but they are not insurmountable.

Podcasts (listening and creating), tend towards being a closed, pseudo-elite culture.

Most people who listen to podcasts do so because someone they know introduced them to it.

Usually, the person sends you an app, you open it, register, then you start subscribing and downloading episodes to listen.

It's not a big deal but when you compare it to watching a YouTube video on the same topic, it's a stretch.

Plus, everybody knows YouTube!

To bring more people into the world of podcasts, we need it to be as simple as possible and Google Podcasts delivers on this for Android users.

You dont have to register to use it since you already have an email. The app size is less than an MB, and it has a great interface.

Another app I would recommend is Podcast Addict

All you have to do is copy a link to any podcast you find online and paste it in the app. You’ll be able to listen to that podcast automatically and download episodes.

My focus here is Google Podcasts, and for good reason. Over the past couple of years, Google has been making some changes to their search algorithms that brings podcasts as part of search results.

Its still a work in progress, but its coming.

Now I'll talk about the things podcasters need to take note of so they can benefit from gradual changes coming to Google Podcasts and Google Search.

Currently, when you search, you have results as categorised in text, video, news, etc.

When Audio (that is, podcasts) gets its on category, that means you’ll get suggestions for podcast episodes that match what you’re searching for.

What does this mean for podcast creators?

We have to be more conscious about how we name our podcasts, episodes, the descriptions and tags. This is where SEO comes in.

SEO - Search Engine Optimisation

There's this feature in Google Search. When you search for something and it returns a suggestion about a YouTube video, it goes further to point out the specific part of the video that answers your search query.

This is the timestamp feature and it works for YouTube that are SEO-optimized for that.

If this feature is extended to audio by the time podcasts are fully integrated into Google Search, here’s how I think it might work, using the scenario below -

I want to search for

"how to draft a charge in the Magistrate Court in Southern Nigeria"

Click the link to watch the video of how this might play out

Imagine if under the audio tab of Google Search, you had podcasts, it might suggest Episode 12 of the FPP to you where this topic was discussed.

It would also point out exactly at what point it was discussed, which is 1:44

So a potential listener wouldn't have to listen to the whole episode to get the info she needs.

She would just click the link and go straight to 1:44, listen from that point, and if she likes what she hears, she could subscribe.

You see how this could help podcast creators.

But the benefits aren't going to just fall on our laps like candy. There are some changes we have to start making now.

Summarily, we have to start taking SEO seriously as podcasters. For instance, what search terms do you want your podcast to rank for?

I want the FPP to rank for searches related to the Nigerian Law School.

The name, "fit and proper" which is a phrase common in legal circles for describing someone who is worthy of being a legal practitioner.

So if the name of your podcast doesn't readily connote what you do, you might want to change it.

I know, there are several podcasts out there whose names don't connote what they do.

Examples are Course Correction by Doha Debates, The Weeds by Vox, Short Wave by NPR etc

But all these podcasts are backed by a strong network that can push them.

If you're just starting, the name of your podcast (and cover art) should give me an idea what you're about.

The background tells you that the FPP is Law-inclined and the name further supports that.

See other examples of podcasts, and how their names tell you what they do.

If the timestamp feature will be extended to podcasts, then your podcast should provide clear answers to precise questions.

Apart from the FPP, 2 podcasts that I know which hit the mark very well on this are Curiousity Daily by the Discovery Channel, and Stuff You Should Know.

Let's not forget about good quality audio. You might not have studio equipment but you can still create a good podcast.

We create the FPP completely remotely using Zoom recordings, sometimes recording phone calls, and then editing on Audacity, which is a free sound editing software, then publish and distribute on Anchor.

You can also use Anchor to listen to podcasts.

Although I encourage podcasters to embrace SEO ahead of improvements in Google Search and Podcasts, there are some bad downsides we should be wary of.

One of them is keyword spamming. This happens where authors use the keywords too many times in an article.

They do this so that it ranks high, but Google's search algorithm is smarter than that.

Usually, it can tell when you're trying to rig your search rankings and it deranks content for that.

For podcasters, we shouldn't start ramming all the keywords into our episode descriptions or repeating them too many times while you record.

So for instance, Keyukemi Ubi, the Host and Director of the FPP starts saying "Nigerian Law School" too many times while recording because that’s our target keyword.😄😄

That would be keyword spamming and luckily for me, she's too professional for that.

But you get the point.

Another downside is that it might affect monetisation of podcasts.

Under the current model, a listener starts from the beginning, hears all or most of the ads. The more listeners you have, the more money you get.

But if listeners can just go to the 5-minute or 20-minute mark of a podcast, they might not hear the ad at the 1st or 28th minute. So you’ll have more listeners, but it wont automatically translate to more money.

Except they like what they hear enough to stick around for the full gist.

Overall, the result of this might be shift to a subscription-based business model for podcasting, as opposed to the current ad-based model.

For listeners, the benefits of listening to podcasts are immense.

There are troves of information and data you'll never find in an article or webpage, but you'll find it in a YouTube video, a course on Coursera, or a podcast.

For instance, I’ve learnt more about AI by listening to the Artificial Intelligence with Lex Fridman Podcast, and the Artificial Intelligence in Business Podcast from Emerj.

Podcasts are great at helping you "stumble" on knowledge.

Take for instance, I never would have gone to research menstruation on my own. But Nelufar Hedayat spoke about it on an episode of Course Correction , and I listened.

What about the popular narrative that China wants to colonise Africa through debt?

If you get all your China-related information from the articles (mostly written by Western media) and random YouTube videos, you’ll believe that narrative.

Podcasts like the "China in Africa Podcast", "US-China Trade War Dispute", "China in the World", and "Little Red Podcast" give a more nuanced view, showing that China isn’t looking to colonise Africa.

Lets not forget that podcasts are usually more authoritative than articles.

You can plagiarise an article. You can’t really plagiarise a podcast.

If you made it this far, thank you 😊😊

While you’re here, you can download Google Podcasts and search for all those podcasts I mentioned by the way.

You can also subscribe to the Fit and Proper Podcast while you’re at it. If you’re a student of the Nigerian Law School or an aspiring candidate, its a great tool to help you prepare.

You can either search with the name on Google Podcasts or Google Search, or you follow this link for Google Podcasts

Ciao😊

Analyst/Emerging Tech Lead, Tech Hive Advisory | AI Ethics & Governance Researcher