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Performance at Search level can be critical in promoting your show/web page. It's money in the bank once done and sustains far longer than say a Tweet which is seen today, forgotten tomorrow. All the points below have relevance to most search situations, including web browsers and pod listening apps.

How does Google determine rankings?

No-one outside of Google knows the actual algorithm used to determine ranking, but based on my own experience of running an online insurance business my view is as follows.

Google is the major player in internet businesses and as such spends far more than others in developing its platforms, so it will tend to be more sophisticated than, say, Yahoo. Google has clearly developed its approach whereas Yahoo has stood still.

Below are what I believe are the criteria Google will use. Really, most of the issues are no different to those a corner shop or department store would use in the bricks and mortar world.

1 Number of visitors to the site. Number of visitors is an indicator of general popularity, word of mouth and marketing spend, all of which drive visits.

2 Number of returning visitors. A popular site will receive a high proportion of return visits, though this should be seen in context of marketing activity which may continually drive new visitors and reduce the proportion.

3 How long people spend on the site. Just as with a shop, time spent browsing is a reflection of the worth of the content of the site, so should gain a higher ranking.

4 The “bounce rate” – how many people turn away from the site very soon after arriving, perhaps because they don’t like it or it isn’t what they were looking for.

5 Number of internal links (signposts) on the site to other parts of the site. A link containing key words such as “Link to WW2 pics” can be more powerful than other links such as “Click here”. And any hyperlink such as carries more weight too.

6 Number of relevant key words. The more key words there are, the higher the ranking. Also relevant is the number of pages on the site also containing key words.

7 Proportion of relevant key words – eg if the only words on the site were key words, Google would realise there was some fiddling going on to make the site appear something it wasn’t. Sensible balance is the watchword. So to add more key words to the site broadly requires adding more content to contain the key words. Search engines increasingly look for proper sentences containing key words, not just strings of key words in isolation.

Key words in headings gain more brownie points than those in body text. It used to be that words in bold or underlined also gained more brownie points but I’m not sure if that still holds true.

8 The site URL eg Other things being equal, gets a higher ranking than for people searching for handmade soap.

9 External back links to the site from other web sites or forums etc. Links from independent sites can also include links from Twitter, Facebook and other social media and actual click-throughs via such links would further enhance status. Include your website address in email signatures.

10 How old the site is – eg Other things being equal, older, established sites will score more points as they have stood the test of time.

11 Development activity on the site. eg Other things being equal, a site which has new content added to it, or changes and improvements made, will score more highly than one which has stood still for the last five years.

12 Metadata – Keyword presence in page titles, page descriptions and keywords box provided in your site editing suite, all well catered for in Podpage.

Also important is the presence of key words in photographs, not only in the photo description but also the photo metadata:

- Pop up description ie what people see if they click on a pic to enlarge it

- Alt Text ie words that appear if you hover over the pic

- Actual filename before the pic is even loaded up to a web site. Google can sniff out the background file name even though it may be invisible to users – so you should name a file BillCheall WW2 WWII.jpg rather than BillCheallsoldier.jpg if ww2 is a key word. Do this when you first name the pic on your desktop.

13 Mobile friendly sites score better in mobile searches than non-mobile friendly sites

14 Fast loading sites are good. Unnecessarily large pic files will detract so keep them as small as possible, certainly less than say 100kb each.

15 Page meta-descriptions, page meta-titles, the stuff that appears in SEO are all pretty important stuff, especially in informing a reader what the site offers and whether it’s worth visiting. Always worth making sure the first page they visit bears some resemblance or relevance to the meta-description.

Remember it can take weeks or months for Google to react fully to changes to your web site.

Apple Podcasts:

There is commentary going around about iTunes that you shouldn't keyword stuff in your show title but a couple of words won't do any harm. So for me I’m Fighting Through WW2.

I’d recommend you change your show title to “The art of speaking up, Women at Work” or some other adjunct which bolsters the message. Apple has warned against keyword stuffing ie going OTT with extra words. 

Review all episode titles to include appropriate key words. Don’t lose the meaning of the episode title but add extra key words sensibly. 

There is a feature in Libsyn, maybe in your own host, which offers a SUB title. There are no rules governing this but consider appropriate key words, always bearing in mind they may be more or less valuable in a year’s time. 

The textual narrative also offers open season for use of key words so scrutinise SHOW summary and EPISODE summaries to be sure you have all the necessary key words. 

I understand Apple don’t pay heed to other than Show or Episode titles but other podcast players may take a different view when ranking a show. 

There is also an author tag where people used to keyword stuff but this has a serious health warning from Apple, so only put the show author’s name in it. If you do stick any spurious words in, keep them to an occasional minimum, like "Paul Cheall WW2"!


Paul Cheall