How would you feel if you walked into your neighborhood grocery store and the isles no longer had descriptions of what was in the isles, and to make it worse, everything was randomly put on the shelves: milk with make-up, flour with vegetables, etc. How in the world would you be able to look for that box of macaroni and cheese you came in looking for? And what was that other thing you wanted? It used to be right next to the mexican condiments....?
The internet is basically a giant grocery store. Keywords are the guide with which to get to the content that you are searching for faster. Why not give those searching for the kind of flavor that you provide in your podcast the best way to find it?
Get into your audience's head and think of how they would go about searching for your content.
What words would they use?
Google and Bing the search terms (try at least 2 words put together and consider making one of them podcast). When you do this you will automatically see an emerging list of other possible search terms as you type. Note the ones that you find to be most relevant to your podcast. Do this for a few different terms to see which of those search terms best fit your podcast.
Search in iTunes Do the same search you did in the search engines in iTunes. iTunes also suggests corresponding terms for the searches. Note if any of those terms are relevant to your podcast.
Play with the Google Keyword Tool. Use some of the keyword phrases that you discovered by searching in the search engines and iTunes. When you input the keyword phrases that you found most relevant, you'll receive a TON more ideas to play with. You can even click on each of the search term results and see the different websites that rank for those specific terms. (NOTE: Be careful once you start playing with this little tool, before you know it entire days may have gone by)
While going through this process stay open to attuning to your audience. Remember that they are not you. The terms that you might search for may not necessary be the ones that they use.
Study those that you admire
The best teachers are those that have been doing this before you. Perhaps there is no one that has the sort of content that you are offering, but there is someone that has inspired you, or that you admire. Take time to study their work with the eye of a detective.
What are their keywords? Can you pick up key words in their podcast title, their podcast description, or perhaps within their shownotes or blog posts?
How do they use their keywords? Notice where and how they use their keywords. This is extremely important, as the best use of keywords are in the most organic way possible. Remember that they serve simply to guide your optimal audience to your content. You may find that you love the way that they use their keywords or perhaps the opposite is true. If you don't like the way they have used their keywords, why not? Answering this question may offer some insight as to what is the best way to approach keywords for yourself.
Choose your keywords!
After doing all that research you may be overwhelmed with a slew of keywords phrases to choose from. This is when following your gut, knowing your content and knowing your audience comes into play.
Stay on course: Why are you publishing your content? Who is your audience?
Choose the keyword phrases that best reflect what you are about. Write them down in a google text doc, in a mobile text/note app, or somewhere in some text file in your computer. Refer to them when you are getting ready to publish a new episode or when you are sharing your podcast with others in any social media channel. Organically insert keywords if they match up with what you are about to publish.
Never use keywords just for the sake of it. Your audience and potential audience will smell that a mile away!
Although you can use keywords anywhere, the most important places to use keywords for your podcast are:
When I started podcasting I had no idea what keywords were nor had any idea why I would want to use them. The title that I chose was simple as was my description. I had no idea that in forgoing creativity I had naturally used powerful keywords. This has helped me in my search rankings but not as much as consistent content has over the course of 4 years.
If you happen to have chosen a title for your podcast that may not reflect easily what your podcast is about, you can always optimize your description. If you don't want to optimize your description, you still have plenty of opportunity to guide folks to your content simply incorporating your keywords and phrases within your shownotes or corresponding blog posts.
The last hidden gem for using keywords in podcasting is your artwork. At some point you have uploaded your podcast artwork or episode artwork somewhere in the cloud so that you could use it within blog posts or shownotes. Generally speaking whatever platform you are using to host your images also gives you options to add a description, a title, and most importantly alternate text aka ALT tags. Here you can add your keyword phrases that have to do with your specific episode.
Keywords are simply a guideline for others to discover your amazing content. They are one tool. Play with the discovery. In the midst of the play you may receive greater clarity as a podcast producer.
That said, as well as navigating the isles of the grocery store effectively with clear guidance, some of the best experiences in grocery stores have been when I got lost, and I find a delightful food item in some random isle that I had never gone down before.
Choose what works for you.
What do you think about keywords? Do you use them in your podcast?
Let us know in the comments!