Podcast Visibility Optimization

US Podcast visibility ranking 2022: winners, losers and industry trends

We are excited to release the first-ever podcast visibility ranking. You might be wondering: how does this ranking differ from podcast charts released by Apple, Spotify, or Chartable?

Podcast charts rely on download volumes. Visibility, on the other hand, reflects the ability of shows to capture search volume in the two leading podcast apps, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

74% of users have used the search bar in a podcasting app (source), so podcast app search represents an excellent opportunity for audience growth.

Podcast visibility optimization is still overlooked by many podcast publishers. As a result, those who have identified its potential and actively work on improving their podcast metadata and podcast authority reap outsized benefits.

Discover our analysis, findings, and methodology below the infographic.

US Podcast visibility ranking 2022

Visibility ranking vs. charts

The first thing we must address here is the discrepancy between positions in podcast charts and our visibility ranking. Except for The Daily, which enjoys relatively similar positions in both, the ten most visible shows punch above their weight if you consider their rank in download charts. Let’s look at our #1 in this ranking, the show Stuff You Should Know. It’s ranking 29th on Spotify and 14th on Apple Podcasts.

At first, I was a bit puzzled because their show description is not particularly long, clocking in at only 190 characters. For context, the character limit for show descriptions is 4000. We recommend publishers get as close to that number as possible and insert relevant keywords.

So what is their secret recipe? Upon further investigation, they owe their outsized visibility to their episode descriptions, combined with the impressive number of episodes they’ve released to date. Looking at a sample of their episodes, their average length is around 250 characters or 40 words. Apple stops counting after the 2000-episode mark, so I don’t know how many episodes they’ve published. One thing is for sure, though. At the very least, the search engines of podcast apps have indexed 40×2000=80,000 words.

Note: 250 characters is rather low. SYSK can get away with it because they publish episodes several times a week, sometimes daily.

Another factor in SYSK’s favor is the breadth of topics they cover. According to our data, they rank in the top 100 for a staggering amount of keywords.

Unchallenged status quo?

It is remarkable to see how 9 of the 10 shows that topped the visibility ranking in 2021 were able to remain in the top 10. 5 of them even maintained the very same position. Are the rankings carved in stone, then?
Not at all. I predict that we are going to see quite a bit of movement this year. Algorithmic changes, search trend evolutions, and the adoption of podcast visibility optimization big other big players could rock the boat.
Stay tuned, as we will be publishing this ranking on a quarterly basis moving forward.

The rise of political content

With a political show entering the top 10 and two more making the strongest debuts in the top 100, political content is on a roll. A reflection of the increasingly polarized nature of American politics? There are good reasons to think so. Let’s look at a concrete example to see why.

The Ben Shapiro Show is ranking 5th for “news” on Apple, a very generic and high-volume, high-competition keyword. Why would algorithms place Shapiro’s show so far up? After all, it mostly covers political news, which is only a subset of what information comprises.

To determine if a show will rank for a given keyword, podcast app algorithms will look at two things:
1) Is the word present in the metadata of the show? If yes, where in the metadata? Show titles carry more weight than episode titles, for instance.
2) Podcast authority. Among other things, podcast apps monitor the completion rate of episodes when listeners find them via the search function. If the majority of users dropped early during the first episode or didn’t come back, it would send the algorithms a low-relevancy signal. As a result, they would lower the show’s position for that particular keyword.

Sources and methodology

Sources: Apple, Spotify, and Voxalyze

We maintain an extensive database of keywords and gather rankings directly from Apple and Spotify. We then enrich this data with estimated search volumes for each keyword.
Note that the positions presented in this ranking are average positions across the year. Stuff You Should Know has not been #1 throughout the year, but has been number 1 for the longest cumulated time.

Want to capture podcast app search traffic but not sure how to optimize your podcast metadata? Sign up for our free podcast visibility mini-course!