During the 2019 Google I/O developer conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that Google will begin to add podcasts to search results. This is big news not only for the podcasting industry but also for marketers, SEO professionals, and content creators.
The announcement has been over a year in the making, and it's part of a multipronged approach to fix some of podcasting's ongoing issues.
A Quick History of Google's Investments in Podcasting
In 2018, Google announced its podcast aspirations in a series of blog posts about how it's making audio a first-class content citizen. Google's head of product for podcasts, Zach Reneau-Wedeen, wrote about the company's ambitious goals to double the global podcast audience and its intent to integrate podcasts throughout Google products.
Besides these articles, Google rolled out three huge initiatives to help solve three problems in podcasting: attracting new listeners, attracting new content creators, and generating better discoverability. Those initiatives were the following:
- Creating a dedicated Google Podcast app
- Surfacing podcast content in search results
- Establishing a partnership with PRX for the Google Podcast creator program
The dedicated app has the potential to bring in millions of new podcast listeners. Most smartphones are Android, but the vast majority of podcast downloads come from Apple's iTunes. As Reneau-Wedeen notes, "It's actually so egregious that on a device-by-device basis, the average iPhone listens to over ten times more podcasting than the average Android."( Inside The New Google Podcast Strategy That Could Double Audiences Worldwide). Adding a dedicated, preinstalled app on Android phones will help convert Android users into podcast listeners.
Google's partnership with PRX is bringing new and underrepresented voices to podcasting by providing seed funding and mentorship to amateur podcasters. Funding the creation of more content that appeals to a wider range of people will help to inspire a new generation of podcast producers.
Adding podcast content to search results is helping to tackle the notoriously difficult discoverability problem. It will change how podcasts get discovered, with repercussions for SEO and content strategy in general.