In a Reddit discussion someone asked how to optimize an audio based site that featured podcasts and audiobooks. John Mueller and others in the Reddit community provided useful advice.
Question Asked About Audio Based Sites
This is the original question:
“Our website is a PWA and it hosts audiobooks, podcasts, and audio shows how to tell google that treats us from that point of view because it may penalize us fr not having content on-page.”
PWA means Progressive Web App. It’s a website that behaves like an app.
The person asking the question noted that they had meta description, title and thirty to fifty words of descriptive content.
John Mueller on How to SEO Non-Text Websites
John Mueller reaffirmed that all pages need content in order for Google to understand what the page is about and subsequently rank it. John offers good advice and it’s printed below. However, the other users on Reddit provided excellent follow up.
First, here’s Mueller’s response:
“You always need textual content on-page, regardless of what other kinds of content you might have.
If you’re a video-hosting site, you still need things like titles, headings, text, links, etc. The same goes for audio-hosting sites. Make it easy for search engines to understand your content & how it’s relevant to users, and they’ll be able to send you relevant traffic.”
The part about “how it’s relevant to users” is interesting. Ordinarily many people tend to think in terms of describing what something is about. But a good way to solve the content writing problem is to first think about how the content is used by the site visitor and what they are trying to accomplish.
“If you make it hard for search engines to figure out what your pages are about, it would be normal for them to struggle to figure out how your site is relevant for users.”
Mueller repeated his encouragement to describe how the content is relevant to users. It’s a good approach in terms of mapping out a content strategy.
Affiliate SEO Content Ranking Formula
It’s a content strategy that I’ve used for well over fifteen years for affiliate sites and I suspect many others use variations of it as well.
This is the essence of the content strategy: The content describes the product and what it can help the user accomplish. That’s it, that’s the formula.
Reddit Members Advice on SEO for Audio Sites
The Reddit members offered several alternative SEO tips for podcasting sites, such as transcribing the content and structured data.
Transcribe the Content
One member suggested transcribing the content so that Google could index what was said in textual form. That may be useful for certain kinds of content, particularly instructional content.
But I think one must consider that what was spoken might not always rank for what you want it to rank.
For example, some podcasts are people relating their personal history while some podcasts are about crime mysteries. Will transcribing the true crime podcast help that podcast rank for the phrase, True Crime Podcast?
It’s possible the page might end up ranking for random phrases. After all, the podcast itself is a story and not a description of what it is.
Structured Data for Podcasts and Audiobooks
Another useful suggestion was structured data. That’s a good way to communicate data. This is great advice.
As with any implementation of structured data, be sure that whatever information you put into your structured data that the same information is available on the web page itself.
Structured Data for Podcasts
The information for podcast structured data can be found at Schema.org. It’s worth reading all the details you can provide. For example, you can add Review structured data if the podcast is a review of a brand, product, or place.
Additionally, Google requires an RSS feed in order to use it for Google Podcasts, Google Play Music, Google Search and more. Full information here.
There is also more information about Google Actions for Google Assistant here and at Google’s podcast developer page.
Structured Data for Audiobooks
Google treats audiobooks a little differently in that there are Book Actions. For Book Actions they appear to give preference to retailers who publish a large selection.
From Google’s page on structured data for books:
“To ensure robust coverage and better serve our users, this feature is currently limited to book providers that have broad book availability.”
There is a link on that page where you can register to be eligible to show book actions.
However, the page has a section for rich results. It’s unclear if one has to register to have those rich results show up though. Rich results is different from Google Actions, right?
“You must include the required properties for your content to be eligible for display as a rich result. You can also include the recommended properties to add more information about your content, which could provide a better user experience.”
There are a number of required properties and recommended properties. The recommended properties are fine to not include if they’re not appropriate for your situation. View the full list on Google’s book structured data page. Find examples of audiobook structured data on the official Schema.org page for structured data here.
The answer to how to SEO an audiobook or a podcast contains many answers depending on your scenario. Mueller’s advice to create content that describes how and why the podcast or audiobook is relevant to the user is a great start. After that there are more solutions depending on audio that is being promoted.
Read the Reddit discussion here.