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Small Business Marketing

Is Apple the new Google? A Few Thoughts on Podcast SEO

Last week, I launched a new video podcast called the Small Business Marketing Minute.  The podcast provides simple, affordable, and practical marketing tips to small business owners in short, to-the-point episodes delivered 5 days a week (click here to see the list of episodes).

Now, as anyone who has ever launched a podcast knows, one of the best ways to get subscribers to your podcast is to list it on iTunes.  However, you can’t stop there–once it’s listed on iTunes, you need to get it ranked highly so that it will show up in whatever category it’s listed in.  For example, right now my podcast is listed in the top 50 in the “new and notable” section of the “management and marketing” category.  How did it get there?  Well, apparently Apple has a formula they use to determine where to rank a podcast.  Nobody knows for sure what it is, but it has something to do with the number of subscribers, the number of reviews and ratings, how highly it’s rated, and also the podcast artwork.  Having good, interesting content is important, and the frequency of episode publication might also play a role.  So, if podcast publishers want their podcast to show up at the top, they must pay attention to all of these details and try their best to get it all right…but, ultimately it’s up to Apple to make the decision.

Wait a minute…why does this feel so familiar?  A major corporation that ranks and distributes content…a platform where your business needs to “get listed”…a “secret formula” or should I say “secret algorithm” that you need to figure out in order to get your content to show up at the top of the listings…does this ring a bell for anyone else?  Isn’t this the same process that anyone who has a website has been through with Google?

The fact is, just doing SEO or “search engine optimization” on your website is no longer enough.  You now have to do it on your podcast on iTunes….and your ebook on Amazon as well, if you have one of those.  I have to say, I find it a little disturbing that three mega-corporations can basically decide if your content will ever see the light of day.  On the other hand, control of the media has always been in the hands of a few powerful companies, so in a sense this is nothing new.  Only the names change, but the principles remain the same.

So, if Apple is the new Google and podcast SEO is the new website SEO…how long before we see podcast SEM (search engine marketing)?  In other words, how long before iTunes has a “sponsored podcast” section that shows up at the top of each category, or whenever you do a search for a particular podcast topic?  After all, everyone wants to be at the top, but there are only a few top spots available.  Whenever demand exceeds supply, there is money to be made…and from what I understand, Apple is pretty good at making money.  I predict that within a year, Apple will have a platform similar to Google Adwords that publishers can use to promote their podcasts on iTunes.

What are your thoughts?  Are you sick of trying to master a secret formula to get your content to show up?  Do you think that Apple will have a “sponsored podcast” section in iTunes?  Weigh in on Facebook or Twitter and let me know what you think.