In some ways, creating and publishing your podcast is the easy part. The hard part is getting people to listen. In order to gain an audience you need to let people know you exist. Here are 12 strategies for making it easy for people to find your podcast.
Make Your Podcast Search Engine Friendly
The hardest part of introducing potential listeners to your podcast is making it easy for them to find you. There are two key ways people are introduced to new information online: they find something new through a link from a regularly visited site; or they find something new through Google. While you might exert minimal influence over who links to you by become pals with all the A-listers, you don't control whether people choose to link or not. One thing you control is the information on your site. First time visitors want a quick and accurate synopsis of video or audio prior to investing the time listening or viewing. Think of the accompanying text as the sales pitch that convinces a casual visitor your podcast is worth their valuable time. This text is also the information the search engine bots will see when crawling your site as part of the cataloging process. When someone searches on a topic related to your podcast, your page appears higher in the results if you have relevant text.
Create an Email List
Email seems counterintuitive to podcasting. Why would people subscribe to an email about your podcasts instead of just subscribing to the RSS feed? Because they either don't understand subscribing to audio yet or they don't want a bunch of audio filling up their hard drive. The podcasting and video blogging credo is giving people what they want, when they want and how they want it. Make reminders available in every format possible. If people don't want to subscribe to your RSS feed yet, so what. Offer an email subscription so they know when you post something new. Free services like Feedblitz handle the publishing hassle so you can concentrate on your podcast.
Press releases are seen as old media notification tools, but they still work. If there's an interesting angle in one episode of your podcast, write up 300-500 words about it and submit the release to free press release services like and I-Newswire. Events like your 100th episode, annual anniversary, interviews with interesting people or upcoming contests are all compelling reasons to send out a press release.
Subscribe to Your Podcast
I'm not kidding. Subscribe to your podcast in Odeo, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Google Reader, Bloglines and any other online service you can think of. Some of them won't support the audio enclosures, but that's not the point. If the service has one customer subscribed to a feed, the service knows that feed exists, which means your feed is indexed by that service. You don't have control over which service or applications your listeners choose, but you can make it easier to find your podcast within those services by subscribing to it.
Tag Your Text
Tags are a hot topic in generating traffic. Search sites like IceRocket and Technorati use tags to help generate meaningful search results. To associate your podcast with specific tags, you never need to visit these services. Tags are added in the text description associated with your podcast. For instance, if you have a podcast about cooking and in one episode you talk about making clam chowder, include tag links related to your topic in the post. The links look something like this:
<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/cooking" rel="tag">cooking</a>
<a href="http://technorati.com/tag/clam+chowder" rel="tag">clam chowder</a>
The rel="tag" designation is what tells search engines that link is a tag. For two word tags, using the '+' sign designates a space. The link can technically go anywhere, like the Wikipedia entry on clam chowder and still be seen as a tag by search engines like IceRocket and Technorati.
Social bookmarking is related to the concept of tagging. If you ever tag your photos with keywords on flickr or archive posts on del.icio.us, you are already familiar with the concept. Like tagging, you assign keywords to a particular URL. The big difference is you do it within the constraints of a service. To continue with the clam chowder example, you log into del.icio.us and add a link to the page (not the media file) where your podcast is linked for download. You then associate keywords like 'clamchowder', 'soup' and 'cooking' with that page. People who search del.icio.us can see all the links to things tagged 'clamchowder' by everyone who uses del.icio.us and find your podcast in the list of tags.
Interview Interesting People
Interview people in the topic area of your podcast. If you do a music show, reserve a few minutes of every show to interview one of the artists featured on the show. When you post the show, send a link to the person you interviewed and encourage them to link to it from their own Website or blog. Other people in the interviewee's circle of influence will find out about your podcast and come check you out.
Comment on Other Podcasts and Blogs
If someone else covers a topic related to your podcast, comment on what they are saying either in their comments or in your podcast. Mention in the text synopsis of your podcast that you talked about what The Cooking Blog had to say about making clam chowder on your clam chowder episode and link back to their post about clam chowder. Participating in forums related to your topic is also closely related to commenting.
Guest Blog on Related Sites
You are already spending time talking about your favorite subject in your podcast, but a whole universe of people don't know you exist. If there are bloggers who write about your topic, offer to guest blog when they need a break or want to go on vacation.
Affiliate with a Network
Some of the early successes in podcasting are the result of network affiliations. Certainly, the show I produce, The Chris Pirillo Show, benefits from Chris's Lockergnome network. Engadget's podcast became popular with the help of a large Weblogs, Inc readership. Something more informal works too. Identify a group of bloggers, podcasters and video bloggers all talking about related topics and arrive at a way to team up and drive traffic to each other's efforts.
Build Relationships with Listeners
While listening to audio is technically a one way communication, encouraging and incorporating listener feedback in your show creates a sense of community. Actively solicit feedback from listeners by providing ways to call and leave messages or send email feedback. If you get email raves, read them during your podcast. If you get questions from listeners, answer them during your podcast when appropriate.
Get Listed in Directories
Don't limit yourself to podcast directories. Since you're now adding value to your RSS feed by creating meaningful text posts to accompany the audio, submit your feeds to every RSS and blog directory you can find. Robin Good offers a solid list of 55 places to submit your feed.
Some of the popular podcast directories include:
For a frequently updated list of submission directories, see Robin Good's MasterNewMedia