Podcast Visibility Optimization

Everything You Need To Know About Podcast Keyword Difficulty

Understanding podcast keyword difficulty is essential if you want to know which keywords you should prioritize in your show’s metadata.

If you include keywords that are out of your league in the metadata tags that have the biggest impact on rankings (i.e show title and publisher tag), you are wasting precious real estate that could have been used to target search terms you actually have a chance to rank for.

If you need a refresher on metadata and tags, read our ultimate guide to optimizing your podcast metadata.

Now what do I mean by keywords that are ‘out of your league’? This is what we’re going to see in the next section.

What is podcast keyword difficulty?

When you open a project in Voxalyze and scroll down a bit, you will see a table containing all the terms a show is ranking for.

Podcast ranking difficulty

You will see a column called ‘difficulty’ (1) and one called ‘total’ (2).

‘Total’ represents the number of shows that have included the search term in their metadata, be. ita the show or at the episode level. These are your competitors.

The second column is difficulty. It is rated on a scale from 0 to 100 like below.

Difficulty is based on a number of factors including but not limited to the number of competitors.

Other factors include:

  • The metadata tag where the keyword is placed: if a competitor has that keyword in the description of one of their episodes, it will be easier to outrank them than if they had it in their show title.
  • Estimated podcast download volume: how many downloads is a competing show generating? Assuming 2 shows have the same keyword in their title tag, the show with the higher volume will rank higher
  • Estimated podcast download velocity: how fast is the download volume a competing show increasing? This helps platforms understand which are the hot, up-and-coming shows.
  • Number of reviews: Apple seems to give a lot of weighting to the ability of a show to attract reviews.
  • Average rating of competitor’s podcasts
  • Engagement metrics: though we don’t have access to this data and thus can’t factor it in in our keyword difficulty score, it is safe to assume that both Apple and Spotify take podcast engagement metrics into consideration to decide which shows in their search results. Potential future factors:
  • Episode content: Spotify has started rolling out automatic transcriptions of episodes and it would seem sensible for them to start leveraging that data to improve relevance.

How to select keywords that you have a chance to rank for?

Let’s assume you have completed the keyword research phase and are now in the trimming phase where you want to get your list of target keywords down to 5-10 hyper-relevant keywords that you have a chance to rank for.

The first thing you want to do now is to go for low-hanging fruits, i.e keywords that fulfill the 2 following criteria:

  1. high search volume (ideally 3/3 dots in the Voxalyze interface and no less than 2/3).
  2. Keyword difficulty strictly below 60. Going back to the graphic above, this corresponds to keywords rated ‘easy’ (dark green) and ‘still easy’ (light green).

Normally you should find at least 1-2 keywords that fit the bill. These are the keywords you want to include in your title tag and your publisher name.

In case you can’t identify any such keywords, you need to move to the next phase:

Go for the next difficulty tier, i.e keywords with a difficulty of 70-79 (marked as ‘possible’ in orange in the graphic). Now you want to do the following:

  1. enter each keyword in the search bar on Voxalyze
  2. Look up the shows ranking first and second for that keyword
  3. Write down their visibility score (VS)
  4. Compare them to your own VS

The visibility score is located here in a project

If there’s too high a discrepancy between their VS and yours it might be difficult to overtake them but don’t despair, there’s another crucial criterion you want to look at:

5.  Check to see if they include your keyphrase in their show title and/or publisher name (in our example above, ‘the personal finance podcast’ and ‘Andrew Giancola’ respectively). If they don’t, even if their VS is much higher than yours you still have a decent chance to rank. Go ahead and implement.

6.  Add the keyword to your title and publisher tag and wait. It might take a couple of days to a month for the algorithms to pick up on your new metadata.

7.  If nothing happens after a month then the keyword was out of your league after all and you need to move to the next best keyword in your list.

Test and iterate like this moving down your list until you start ranking for one of your desired, high-priority keywords.