The Art of Creating Amazing Podcast Show Notes

Think of podcast show notes as another way to reach your listening audience by providing a description of what your podcast episode is about. It not only helps increase your ranking in podcast discovery sites like iTunes, Google Podcasts and Stitcher, it also helps increase your SEO when you add these show notes to your website or blog.

Show notes are also an important part of the podcast ecosystem. Many podcasters add their advertiser’s links as well as mandatory credits within the show notes.

Photo by neil godding on Unsplash

How do Podcast Show Notes Work?

Most podcast hosting sites allow each show and episode to have show notes which are also known as descriptions. While some podcast hosting sites just allow text, others allow for HTML so you can add links and bold certain content. While there are some advantages to adding your Show Notes as HTML, there are also some drawbacks as well. For example, some podcast discovery sites don’t respect the same HTML tags. They may strip out certain content like urls, images, etc.

In addition to show notes, some podcast hosting providers allow for an itunes summary of around 255 characters. It is recommended that you take advantage of this summary as well.

The Importance of Adding Show Notes to Your Podcast

The most important reason for adding show notes to your episodes is simple; to increase your listener base for free. Would you develop a new website but forget to add content? If so, very few people would find you. This is the same for podcasts.

The PodNews Show Notes Test

PodNews did a nice analysis where they tested 19 different elements within their show notes to see how they displayed on 40 different podcast discovery apps.

From the PodNews findings, they found that not a single podcast app got a perfect score displaying all of the elements but the ones that did the best were Castbox, Overcast and Castro. Here are some more numbers:

  • 71% of all apps displayed the test show notes in full, without truncating them.
  • Only 60% of podcast apps supported web address links in show notes.
  • The worst-performing podcast app was Spotify, which passed less than 50% of their tests

You can view the total results here. These tested the following elements.

The Results as a Percentage of Podcast Apps that Accept Various Elements

Some podcast apps have virtually no users. So here are the support figures, based on the total number of downloads from all of the top podcast apps.

Top Podcast Apps that Support Various Elements

Accents (in unicode, like é) — 98%
Accents (in HTML entity, like é) — 98%
Accents (in a numeric code, like é) — 98%
A naked HTML link — 98%
Displays full (not truncated) — 98%
A raw email address (clickable) — 91%
Paragraphs (<p>) — 86%
An unordered list (<ul>)— 86%
An “a href” HTML link — 86%
An ordered list (<ol>) — 83%
A separate itunes:summary — 78%
A visible episode number — 77%
italics (using the em code) — 9%
bold (using <strong>)— 9%
A blockquote — 9%
Small text — 9%
An embedded image (800px wide jpeg) — 7%
The <code> tag— 7%
A <center> tag— 6%
A donation link using rel=”payment” — 3%

7 Tips to Perfect Your Podcast Show Notes

  1. Before creating an episode, write out a loose outline or mindmap of talking points
    Instead of just free wheeling it for each episode, it is always a good idea to write down a loose outline and if your interviewing someone, potential questions you are going to ask.
  2. Create a Show Notes Template that fits your style
    To streamline and keep your show notes consistent, you can create a template that you can follow. It could be something simple like:
    – Quick episode summary
    – Things you will learn in this episode
    – Resources mentioned in this episode
    – Optional time stamped transcript
  3. It’s ok to use a rich text editor when adding show notes.
    A recommendation is to just use the following edits to ensure the show notes look good on a majority of the podcast sites. (this may change in the future as more of the sites accept more elements but for now, this will do)

     — Paragraphs (<p>) — 86%
     — An unordered list (<ul>)— 86%
     — An “a href” HTML link — 86% (When in doubt, use a naked link like https://sounder.fm/)
     — An ordered list (<ol>) — 83%

  4. Don’t use the following elements as a vast majority of the top podcast apps will not take it or will make it look ugly:
     — italics (using the em code) — 9%
     — bold (using <strong>)— 9%
     — A blockquote — 9%
     — Small text — 9%
     — An embedded image (800px wide jpeg) — 7%
     — The <code> tag— 7%
     — A <center> tag— 6%
     — A donation link using rel=”payment” — 3%
  5. If you interviewed someone, have them send you their notes and info
    Your interviewee has a vested interest in helping you make the episode successful. Ask them for their bio and talking points or notes they took before the episode
  6. Write for the listener, not the search engine
    You may be tempted to keyword stuff your podcast show notes with lots of words that you want to show high for in search results. This is an absolute no no. Don’t keyword stuff. This will hurt your SEO and may even get your podcast banned from sites like iTunes.
  7. Share your show notes
    Your show notes will be unique content that can’t be found anywhere else. Make sure you take advantage of this fact and add these show notes to your podcast website or blog.

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