Podcasts: What Are They?
When the term “podcast” was hailed as Word of the Year 2005 by the New Oxford American Dictionary, it was defined as “a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the internet for downloading to a personal audio player”. The term podcast is formed from the words “iPod” and “broadcast.” As you might suspect from the word, the first podcasting scripts were created for Apple’s portable media player, the iPod. Podcasting is designed to deliver audio content on demand, to be listened to at the user’s convenience. A script (RSS file) allows podcasts to be automatically transferred to a mobile device using a podcast receiver, also known as an aggregator. Podcasts are typically saved in MP3 format, which means they can also be used on nearly any computer. The creator of a podcast is usually called a podcaster.
Podcasts could be described as ‘TiVo for the Internet’ because they allow users to save content digitally and replay it at their leisure, just as TiVo allows users to record and play digital television at their convenience. Podcasting has spread relatively quickly because of the rapid adoption of MP3 players and the desire of owners to have fresh content. Though podcasters’ web sites may offer direct downloads or streaming of their content, using a podcast is different from other digital media formats because it is available as a subscription. An aggregator or feed reader downloads new content automatically, saving users time and effort. When transferred to a portable MP3 player, podcasts can be enjoyed while jogging, doing housework, gardening, or commuting.
Using Podcasting to Optimize Search Engine Visibility
Adding audio and video content to an existing website, allows specialized audio/video search engines looking for rich media files to index your site. Indexing leads to increased search engine visibility for your website.
Podcasts themselves can also be optimized for search engines. As with text optimization, performing thorough keyword research and then using the same keywords that your potential customers are querying in search engines is critical. In podcasts, these keywords should be creatively placed in several primary areas:
- Podcast metadata. Metadata is included in a small file which is part of every podcast. Most podcast software includes a fill-in form for this data. The form has fields such as title, name of podcast (also called album), artist (company name or brand), year, genre (podcast or music), track (or episode number), and comments/description. Don’t leave these fields blank! Optimize!
- Podcast script itself. Audio search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated, and many now use speech recognition to index the words in your podcast. To achieve better search engine visibility, the words in your script should include the same words people are querying on search engines to find your product or service.
- Text around the podcast script. By describing your podcast on the page that it resides, and again including the targeted keywords that your potential customers are querying, search engines will index your text words also.
If you pre-record a podcast, as nearly all are, you can optimize it for both audio search engines and targeted listeners. Keep the same written usability principles and fundamental terms of successful search engine optimization in mind while making audio files. Whatever your topic or format, whether a talk show, lecture, or tele-seminar, you can offer in-depth information to niche customers.
The term rich media was coined to describe a broad range of digital interactive media. Rich media can be downloadable or may be embedded in a web page. If downloadable, it can be viewed or used offline with media players such as Real Networks’ RealPlayer, Microsoft Media Player, or Apple’s QuickTime, among others.
The defining characteristic of rich media is that it exhibits dynamic motion. This motion may occur over time or in direct response to user interaction.
Two examples of dynamic motion that occur over time are a streaming video newscast and a stock “ticker” that continually updates itself. An example of dynamic motion in response to user interaction is a prerecorded webcast coupled with a synchronized slide show that allows user control. Another is an animated, interactive presentation file embedded in a web page. Elements of rich media are increasingly used in education, in areas ranging from distance learning to web-based teaching and instructional tools.
Since 2008, Apple’s App Store has distributed nearly 25 Billion apps. This represents a HUGE marketing opportunity.
- Make an interesting App that doesn’t violate Apple’s guidelines. This may go without saying, but given how much attention is paid to indexing in traditional SEO, it really needs to be said. In order to be indexed in the App Store it is necessary to create an app that follows Apple’s legal and content guidelines, some of which are listed in their developer center, prior to submitting the App.
- Keep an eye on the Top 50. Apple makes no secret which of its applications are most popular. Savvy app developers can understand what types of content are popular among app store users simply by browsing the top 50 apps in iTunes on a regular basis. Having similar or better content than a popular iPhone app could help the app piggyback off of traffic for a related app.
- Integrate Facebook Connect. Facebook has consistently been one of the most popular Apps in the App Store since it first appeared. By making your app social with Facebook Connect, you’re helping to make the app viral, while aligning your content with what is historically one of the most popular apps in the store.
- Use keywords in the app name. The name of the app is the title tag of App Store apps—perhaps the most important on-page ranking factor of the App Store search engine.
- Encourage users to write reviews. Popularity seems to be a big component of visibility in the App Store, and that includes user reviews.
- Mention popular related apps in body copy. Some less scrupulous marketers have seen the value of keyword stuffing in promoting apps, but this can be done in an ethical way as well. If there is a popular app that is relevant to your app, mentioning it in the copy will help your app show up for navigational searches for those popular apps, thus increasing visibility for relevant searches.
- Promote the App with your web content. If you have a web presence with a lot of traffic, an email list, a Twitter following or paid search campaign, by all means use them to promote your app. Popularity is really the key to visibility in this app store, so the more opportunities you have to make a user aware of your app the better. Link directly to the app in the iTunes store from your home page and a separate app page on your site and make it easy for the user to download for quick conversion.
- Offer a lite version of a paid app. When looking at the keyword frequency of the 228 unique keywords in the App Store search suggest today, by far the most popular were “lite” and “free”. Many developers are offering no-cost versions of their paid apps and calling them “lite.” This allows users to get some exposure to the app before committing to a purchase, and allows marketers to get in front of a potential consumer they wouldn’t have reached otherwise.