Using SEO Research to Inform Podcast Questions
This is a special edition of our usual 10-minute audit. If you’ve attended any previous SEO brunches, you know we do a 10-minute SEO audit for Digital Nova Scotia members with the goal of coming up with three to four actionable items to increase their organic footprint. Leading up to this event, we were chatting with our sponsor, Digital Nova Scotia, about trying something different to kick-off 2021. They proposed the idea of using SEO to inform podcasts.
We wanted to speak to people who aren’t podcast experts, but we also want to create interesting podcasts that make the most of SEO. This idea sounded fantastic to me and couldn’t wait to dig a little deeper. We made sure to invite Jonathan Burns (Co-founder + Producer at Podstarter). Jonathan will provide insights on their creative approach to structuring podcasts and micro-content opportunities that make the most of your podcast.
A lot of the SEO tactics we use at MacMillan Search for content on websites. This works very well for informing podcasts with useful information. For example, you could be looking for the main subject matter of your podcast, or maybe you’re looking for some secondary pieces of content to inform your interview questions, regardless, you can use SEO research to inform that.
Mozlow’s Hierarchy of SEO Needs
It can seem like everybody is podcasting these days and it is a bit of a saturated market. But at the same time, podcasting is still considered an emerging market. From a podcasting standpoint, the analytics is still maturing. We’re definitely getting better at measuring success with podcasting, but it’s not to the same level of a website, or blog content. With that, people are more willing to experiment within the podcast bubble, which makes for interesting channels within which to attract people to your brand, your subject, or your products and services.
I like to go back to Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO needs, created by the company Moz. It provides a very clear understanding within this space. Simply, your site being accessible is the base foundation. The next piece of that hierarchy is to create compelling content, and that’s what we’re talking about today. Podcasting is a great way to create this compelling content; not only can you create a podcast, but you can also leverage that product to create more content. We’ll talk a little bit further down about some tactics we’ve used with audio video content that can kind of streamline your processes.
Determine the Top Level Subject(s)
The first thing I like to determine is your top level subject matter. If you don’t know what your top level subject matter is going to be for this podcast, SEO can help you figure that out.
For this example we’ll refer to our work with the wonderful team at DeepSense who have twice been a 10-Minute Audit guest.
Let’s say you’re going to be interviewing DeepSense on your podcast but you’re not familiar with their brand. You decide it’s best to research them by conducting a branded search (aka: Google their brand name). We can find a lot of useful information about a company very quickly based on their title and their descriptions. You can also see what product and service they’re offering to give you that top level subject matter. Continuing with our example of DeepSense, we can see they’re into AI and machine learning specifically for the ocean economy.
Top Level Subjects for DeepSense
- Machine Learning
- Ocean Economy
Another Tip: You can also ask them. I highly recommend just having a conversation with the people themselves. You can start with questions like, “what would you like to talk about?” This can get the ball rolling so you can dig into your research.
However, sometimes asking directly presents a challenge, luckily, a lot of this information can usually be found in their homepage title as companies usually clearly define what their product and services are (the broader subject matter) on their home page title. Once you have these top level subjects you can start your research.
What relevant questions are being asked?
Once you know the top level subject matter, you can figure out what relevant questions are being asked specifically in the search results. The cool thing is, Google kind of does this work for you with their People Also Asked (PAA) feature.
The PAA feature is a great opportunity to figure out what kind of related questions people are asking. This can help inform your podcast questions. Let’s take AI as an example. What exactly is AI? What are the four types of AI?
What are the three types of AI? You may want to research these individual types of AI and tie that back into the ocean economies subject.
Is AI real? Okay, maybe that question is not going to relate so much. When working with People Also Ask, as with any computer-operated assistance programming, you always have to have the human eye on it. This research will inform you, but creating content is not an entirely formulaic thing. Do you think ‘Is AI real?’ is something to dig into? You might be able to work around it. ‘What exactly is AI?’ sounds better. Now you’re clearly defining what artificial intelligence is and this could be a great opening question, for example:
Let’s Google the term ‘artificial intelligence’ instead of its acronym (AI) this time. We can see that the questions are changing slightly. So what is artificial intelligence with examples – we can discover broader content ideas. We can see some of the same questions again which might tell you they’re worth exploring, such as What are the 4 types of AI?
You might want to open up your podcast by asking, ‘What are the four types of AI?.’ Closing your podcast you might ask, ‘Is AI dangerous?’
Why? You want to keep people who have started listening early on, enticed and drawn in until the very end. This will help create an emotional experience for your audience.
Get secondary questions using alsoasked.com
We’re gonna go into a tool called AlsoAsked.com. You can get 1000 searches a month, for free, when you set up an account. It used to be entirely free, so I can’t speak to their paid element but it’s a great tool and I highly recommend it.
AlsoAsked.com lets you enter a main piece of subject and it breaks out questions, allowing for a little more in depth discussion possibilities and creates a hierarchy for your questions.
If you’ve got three main topics you want to cover, this can help you break down the subtopics, and further to even more subtopics.
For example, we ran machine learning through AlsoAsked.com and the output is quite large. You can see, it breaks down here with, “what is machine learning?”
There are four questions that came up as the main sub-questions for machine learning. We drill into those a little bit further, like “what is machine learning used for?”, “what’s machine learning examples?” or “three types of machine learning?” and “what exactly is machine learning?”
You can even get a little more granular with, “what is machine learning exactly?” and “what are the two types of machine learning?” and so on.
I highly recommend setting up an account for this tool. Any subject you’re talking about, you can enter into this tool and make discoveries.
The questions we discovered from People Also Ask can be entered into this tool for further granular analysis. You can output your list of questions as a CSV for further keyword analysis using a tool like Moz or Ahrefs (Remember: always remove the ? for accurate results).
We also recommend the SEO chrome extension Keyword Surfer. This free tool gives you an idea of what kind of volume a keyword receives.
Jonathan on Structuring a podcast
It’s interesting, because the conversation, from our perspective, is almost the opposite of how to build out a podcast. A lot of the times our corporate clients have a message that they’re trying to communicate, instead of paying attention to what the market is looking for.
That said, as a podcaster, we’re also building podcasts that are story driven, first. We need to ask What resonates with an audience? And that’s like your typical, How do I build a great TV show? or How do I build some piece of content that engages with an audience? These carry with them a lot more insight.
Most podcasts we see right now are sort of the interview or the unscripted approach. It’s starting to shift to more of a scripted message that is able to be supported by a SEO strategy. For instance, the scripted element needs to resonate with a key audience. There’s a couple of different ways of building up that podcast. Whether it’s your internal story, or whether it’s understanding your external market, there are several ways to achieve structure.
Transcribe your podcast
Transcribing your podcast is so important. For SEO Brunch, we use a tool called Otter.ai. It’s a robot so it does the best job it can, meaning you still need a human to go through it but it certainly saves on the leg work of dictation or taking notes.
Your podcast isn’t meant to just be a podcast. Your podcast can be used to develop content. For example, your podcast asks three main questions with a bunch of sub questions under them. Those three main questions can all be standalone blog posts by themselves (IE: What is AI?) After you publish the written piece, include a Call to Action on each blog post to get people listening to the full podcast.
Your transcription can become a great kick-off for getting your content started.
Just see how Jonathan from Podstarter approaches Micro-Content.
Jonathan on Micro-Content
Just as Michael was saying, one of the things that we’ll typically do with a podcast is transcribe it. We use https://www.temi.com/ a fair amount as a transcription tool, and there’s a lot of options. Roughly, these tools are about 90-95% accurate, you still have to go in and finesse it, especially if you’re into technical or unknown terminology.
What we do from that podcast transcript is we find moments of brilliance, or phrases, that seem to be somewhat relevant or focused in a particular area. We pull out these as quotables and create either a straight audio file or a video file. We create these audiograms that can then hit all your social feeds.
For example, I can do a one-liner audiogram, put it into my LinkedIn channel, and use that either as a redirect or promotion for the podcast. Or if the primary objective of the podcast is getting people onto the website, you can direct them there with these posts.
We’ll use a half hour/hour long conversation to create micro content – small pieces of content to either promote the podcast, or redirect back to a website. And it’s amazing. There are many benefits to using these tools: images of guests, quotable elements, a visual piece, audiograms, thought leadership, or even blogs. In fact, we use this to write 75% of the blog content coming from the conversation. So there’s a lot that you can create from that micro-content piece.
Internal linking to build relevance & authority
As Jonathan was saying, we want to break that content into smaller chunks. I love the concept of quotables and that’s something we’ll definitely be adding to our social media approach as well. Thinking about micro-content and blog posts, you’ll want to include a Call to Action pointing readers to that podcast. You can also include a CTA for something non-podcast related such as our current drive to have people focus on our downloadable ‘Guide to Web Copy’.
One thing to also think about is internal linking opportunities to the other blog posts you create. For example, let’s say your 30-minute podcast has three main points and you’re breaking them into three individual blog posts. Considering creating internal linking opportunities between these three blog posts.
From an SEO standpoint, let’s say we’ve published three posts and one really takes off. You can prop up the other blogs with your successful blog’s authority. People might use the term SEO juice here, but I personally don’t like the thought of SEO with juice.
Either way, we can build this authority around other posts. Therefore, when one post takes off and people are sharing it, your internal link connecting these posts will spread some of that authority. Consequently, this also spreads authority to the podcasts and any other things you’re mentioning that have to do with your service offering, or previous blog posts.
We’re not going to talk about distribution in too much detail. The simple fact remains that when you create the piece, you want to get it out there and we need to understand that distribution doesn’t stop the day you release it – it’s an ongoing process. We like to use the tool Google Trends to determine when things are popular. Thanks to COVID, the trend of volume spikes and whatnot have certainly been thrown off. Generally speaking, you can use Google Trends to get an idea of seasonality, or when things become very important. For example, come February and March, there will be a noticeable uptick in conversations about taxes.
Jonathan from Podstarter:
One of the biggest challenges with most podcasters is growing an audience and expanding your reach. From a podcast standpoint, half the time is spent in building the podcast, the other half is in marketing and promotion, trying to grow that audience. And that’s a stumbling block for most podcasters – trying to break through, and understanding who that audience is. How do you reach that audience? Key marketing elements is really where an SEO dialogue fits really well on that growth strategy.
Want to learn more?
For the finer details on keyword research and creating web content download our MacMillan Search Guide to Web Copy. It’s built from our experience directing companies to create content with SEO in mind. It’s very, very geared towards SEO, but it will help anybody who’s creating content. If you’re looking for experts in creating podcasts don’t forget to visit Jonathan’s company website Podstarter.io for everything they have to offer. Thanks to our sponsor Digital Nova Scotia and Rochelle Roberts for joining us at SEO Brunch to discuss creating podcasts informed by SEO research.