If you’ve been podcasting for a while, you probably know why podcast show notes are critical to the success of your show. After all, search engine giants like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are not currently equipped to root through your audio content and find those juicy keyword terms.
But, many podcasters - especially new podcasters - tend to stumble when it comes time to sit down and write their show notes. Questions about how to structure and format the show notes and what to include in the copy are creeping up more and more in many of the online communities for podcasters that I am a member of.
So, I thought I’d share some of the critical components that I believe make up a great quality podcast show note. I’ll break down each section that my team includes in our client's show notes, explain why we feel these parts are important, and what we include in each of these sections.
The Headline (or Title)
Some call it a headline, some call it a title. Despite your choice of words for this first critical part, having a good, strong, catchy episode title is important. But not just any title will do!
Your title should include keywords - preferably long-tail keywords that are relevant to the content in your episode. If your show is like many others in the pod-o-sphere (especially interview-based shows), you probably discuss many different topics or have many different talking-points. My advice would be to pick the subtopic you spoke about the most and choose the keyword phrase for your title based on that.
If you feel you are not very good at creating keyword-rich, catchy titles for your show, there are many tools, such as Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer, that can help.
The Intro Paragraphs
Some show notes have them and some don’t, but in my opinion, all podcast show notes should include at least one or two intro paragraphs. At Lidwell Writing Services, our standard is typically two paragraphs - especially for interview-based shows.
If you’re hosting a solo-cast, these paragraphs may closely resemble a very short blog post with the first paragraph designed to attract your audience’s attention or get them thinking about the general topic discussed in your episode. The second paragraph may briefly explain a few key points they can expect to learn about in the episode.
For interview-based episodes, though, it’s a little different. Most podcasters ask their guests to provide a one-sheet or to fill out a form on their website while scheduling their interview appointment to answer a few basic questions such as:
What’s your official bio?
What are your social media handles?
Do you have a topic you’d like to discuss on the show?
Those guest bios can come in handy, not only when you are introducing your guest on the show, but you can also use them in the first intro paragraph of your show notes. (Just be sure to rewrite it in your own words so it doesn’t get flagged for copyright infringement or duplicate content!)
Lastly, be sure to sprinkle in some of those keywords to help boost your SEO-juice.
Pro Tip: Write short paragraphs. Keep each paragraph between 2-4 sentences long.
Quotes have become increasingly popular with podcasters and their listeners. That’s why our team includes at least one quote in the show notes we write for our clients.
These quotes are often repurposed and used on a podcast’s social media posts, episode memes and images, and a variety of other marketing strategies.
The Bullet-Point Summary
Whether we want to admit it or not, we have entered an age of instant gratification. That being said, a lot of people aren’t reading long-form blog posts - or at least not in their entirety.
(Yes, I realize the irony of this statement in this post!)
While search engine crawlers may love long-form articles due to their increased keyword capacity, your podcast listeners are often more inclined to skim long content pieces.
This is where substituting (or complementing) a long blog post for a bullet point summary may be more valuable!
The bullet points simply list highlights of the different topics discussed or points that were made throughout your episode. In my opinion, best practices when it comes to the bullet point list is to write each point in a way that is relatable to your audience.
For instance, instead of writing something like...
I share five time-management tips
...instead, try writing it like this:
How to manage your time more effectively to be more productive.
Pro Tip: Shoot for a minimum of 5 bullet points, but try to keep it at 10 or less.
The Resource List
Do you or your guest frequently mention resources or links in your episodes? Often, especially in business-related shows, resources such as books, tools, and apps come into the conversation.
I’ve listened to, quite literally, thousands of podcast episodes - for work as well as for my own personal and professional development. One mistake I’ve noticed many new (and some veteran) podcasters make is that instead of providing links to the resources they mentioned in the episodes, they simply tell their listeners to Google the resource.
Why is this a mistake?
Consider this: An Edison Research Report states that
69% of podcast listeners in 2017 tuned into their favorite shows from their mobile device (smart phone, tablet, etc).
81% of podcast subscribers listen to your show with those same devices.
The same Edison report shows that 65% of podcast listeners are listening to your content while driving, 42% while walking or on foot, and 29%, respectively, while working out or riding public transportation.
So, if the majority of your listeners are out and about when listening to your amazing audio content, what do you think the chances are that they would bother Googling those resources mentioned?
My guess: pretty slim.
What are the chances they may even forget the name of that book or app you told them to check out?
If I were a betting girl - I’d bet the majority of them would, which would mean they’d have to either listen to your episode again to find that resource (which may frustrate them!) or they’d choose to give up and never bother looking it up anyway.
Make it easy for your listeners. Let them know they can visit your website for the show notes to find the resources you mentioned in the episode.
Guest Contact Info
One of the biggest benefits of being a guest on someone’s podcast is increased visibility and awareness for yourself, your business, and your brand. There are also SEO benefits - if the host includes links to your website in their show notes.
Referral traffic provides a variety of benefits to podcast guests. Not only can it help their website traffic and ranking on search engines, but linking to your guest’s social media pages, authored books, and freebies or other offers can also help them grow their audience, email lists, and income as well as connect with your listeners on a more personal level.
This is one of the many reasons why I advise our clients to ask their guests for the “best ways to reach them” while recording their interviews.
Your listeners want to be able to connect with the people you interview, so make it easy for them! Ask your guest to drop their website and social media handles at the end of your interview. Then, add those links in your show notes to make it even easier for your audience to connect with them - as well as a way to say thanks to your guest in the form of referral traffic.
Pro Tip: Keep your resource links separate from your guest’s links. This makes it easier for your audience to find the specific links they’re looking for and prevents your guest’s links from getting lost in a sea of blue (or any other color) text!
We all know the value of having a call-to-action on our websites, landing pages, and sales pages, but a lot of podcasters tend to forget to include a call-to-action in their podcast audio and show notes. How this powerful sales strategy gets overlooked so frequently, I don’t know.
What I do know is that podcast shows often grow their audiences faster when you actually tell your audience what you want them to do next!
So, whether you want your listener to subscribe to your show on iTunes, leave a review, or follow you on social media - help them take that next step with a call-to-action within the audio and your show notes.
A few other calls-to-action you may want to consider including are:
Listener freebies you are giving away
A special event, product, or service you are promoting or selling
A sponsor you are promoting
I realize this post was quite long and covered a lot of ground, so let’s recap the 7 must-have parts of a great show note, shall we?
A keyword-rich, descriptive headline/title
1-2 brief intro paragraphs introducing the episode topic and/or your guest
A powerful quote that would impact your audience if seen standing alone on social media
Bullet points highlighting the different topics you discussed in the episode, written in a way that is relatable to your audience and piques their curiosity enough to click play
A list of all the resources you or your guest mentioned in the episode
Links to your guest’s website and social media pages
Need an easier way to remember all this information?
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