Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular among marketers and experts looking to share their insights with their audience. Podcasts like Serial have pushed the medium into the spotlight, as almost one third of the American population listened to at least one podcast in 2014. From major brands to individuals with niche interest, podcasts are now available on almost every topic imaginable.
But as a podcaster, chances are you already know that. You’re more concerned with increasing the reach of your podcast, ensuring that as many people as possible can listen to your musing. And in that context, you may be wondering whether you need a website for your podcast. Keep reading to find out the answer.
You Don’t Need a Website – Technically
Taking the above question literally has a straightforward answer: no, you don’t need a website to host and publish your podcast. But of course, reality is quite a bit more nuanced. While it’s true that you can post episodes of your podcast on your favorite outlets, such as iTunes and SoundCloud, without a website, having one comes with a variety of undeniable benefits.
Particularly if you are looking to increase the audience and reach of your podcast, a website is strongly encouraged. Here are 5 specific benefits of building a website to host, publish, and promote your podcasts.
1. You Don’t Have to Rely on RSS Feeds
As you probably know, publishing your podcast can be a hassle. If you don’t host the file on your website, you have to create a podcast-specific RSS feed that publishes individual episodes to your platform of choice. iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and other popular podcast hosts all require RSS feeds for upload.
Creating that RSS feed is often complicated. The more elegant solution is to upload the podcast to your website, which can help create the RSS feed for you and automatically move it into your publishing platforms of choice. Doing so enables you to more easily create that RSS feed, particularly if you use a tool like feedburner to convert your new episodes for you. The result is less time needed to worry about technical issues related to publishing, and more time to work on creating new episodes.
- Related reading: 5 WordPress Plugins for Podcasters
2. You Can Post an Archive of Past Episodes
A website also enables you to create a comprehensive archive of past episodes. Podcasts have remarkable longevity, particularly if you cover evergreen content – track the analytics, and you may find new listeners even from episodes that are years old.
The easier it is for potential listeners to find your content, the more likely they will be to turn into subscribers. An archive helps you showcase the entirety of your work, moving away from a recency bias toward a more comprehensive depiction of your past musings on your topics of choice.
3. You Can Attract New Listeners Through Google
Making a website part of your podcasting endeavor also unlocks a tool that is perhaps the single most successful way to increase awareness of your content: search engine optimization. No less than 93% of Internet experiences begin with a search engine like Google or Bing, meaning that the single most common way to find out about new topics of interest is simply entering a search query.
An SEO-optimized website ensures that when members of your audience look for topics covered in your podcasts, they can find you easily through their search engine of choice. You can even create summaries and partial scripts of individual episodes, optimized for keywords and phrases that potential listeners may search for, to increase the likelihood of being found and gaining subscribers through search engines.
4. Your Listeners Can Connect With You
Podcasting is, at its core, a social experience. Listeners value the medium because they feel like they are being included in a personal conversation, and often form a bond with the hosts of their favorite podcasts without even knowing it. But the increasing ubiquity of social media has made clear that without true interactivity, no content can survive and thrive in the digital environment.
A website offers your listeners a chance to interact with you, and spread the word about your podcast organically.
On your website, you can add contact forms that enable your listeners to send in feedback and questions, which you can answer in ‘mailbag’ editions of your podcast. A comment function under posts related to specific episodes allow you to interact directly with your audience, while a poll can help you crowdsource potential topics and guests for future episodes. The more your audience feels included, the more likely they will be to become loyal listeners – and share your episodes with their friends or colleagues.
5. You Can Be More Efficient at Promotion
Finally, a website can act as the central hub for promoting your podcast. Because you are likely publishing on more than one platform, linking from Facebook or Twitter to the website (and its individual subscription and listen links) rather than a single platform is more successful. You can even use simple links to share your podcasts offline, which is impossible when merely promoting your podcast through the platforms themselves.
In addition, your website can help you collect the email addresses of your listeners. A simple form like the contact forms mentioned above help you gather that information, which you can then use for further promotions and notifications aimed at improving your listeners’ experience with the medium.
Sports journalist Bill Simmons, who recently left ESPN to form his own media network, has exemplified this process: his new website, TheRinger.com, consists of nothing but a sign up form for the new outlet’s newsletter and a list and archive of its podcast network. But all affiliated social media networks link directly to the website, which has become the central hub for individual podcasts and episodes.
In short, a website for your podcast may not be technically necessary. But considering the wide range of advantages listed above, it’s highly recommended to increase the reach and effectiveness of your podcast. Ultimately, if your goal is to reach as many interested listeners as possible, a website will be the central tool needed to achieve it.
What are you waiting for? Buy a domain name, get your website up and running today and share your podcast with the world. HostGator offers a variety of web hosting plans that make it easy and affordable to build your website.
Henry Green is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas who helps small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their online presence through marketing, social media, and website optimization.