Podcast and Audio Optimization

Podcasting may not be reaching the heigths its greatest proponents prophesied, but that has stopped millions of people from downloading audio content or creating their own radio like shows for others. This sessions looked at podcasting, audio searching and best practices when it comes to getting the best possible audio in front of the broadest possible audience.

Amanda Waitlington started the session suggesting that what is new about audio on the Web is syndication and the available management tools. Podcasting is more than time shifted radio, it is an on demand audio cultural representation (Yipes!) which essentially means that it can be used for several purposes such as education, advertising and that you're really only limited by creativity. There is always an audience.

Waitlington suggested not finalizing the name of your podcast until you know for sure that it's not in use. Your show name is the title you will use for your feed, or in RSS speak, the channel. Next would be to develop a keyword list which will help determine how the podcast will be branded and assist in writing the audio tag information (utilizing a tag editor). Audacity comes with a built in tag editor as do many other solutions. Some more tips from Waitlington include optimize your sound (ID3, ID3v1 - appended to the end of an audio file, ID3v2 appended to the start), optimize your podcasting landing page by creating a sitemap (for easy indexing by search engines), having a separate page (landing page) for each episode, always provide subscription information, show length, a detailed abstract. Also make sure to use multiple feeds for multiple formats. Waitlington also suggested building accurate, effective RSS files, submitting broadly and watching for changes.

Next up was Darrin Babin of Webmaster Radio who started his segment of the session by discussing whether podcasting was worth it considering production time, cost of production and recording equipment, how encoding is a paid and the needs associated with analytics and bandwidth.

Babin made an interesting point in that in podcasting (as in other things) it is important to look for what you are going to need in order to meet your listeners needs. "You need a network that will support your growth," said Babin. So is it worth it? It's worth it. They (the listening public) will listen if you are compelling. They just want to be educated and entertained. Babin suggested a good idea would be to transcribe everything - it's the equity in your organic fortuitous display of originality.

Next up was Rick Klau of FeedBurner and presented a lot of practical insights and helpful information for podcasters of any size.

- Metadata is essential for discovery (show notes are criminally underutilized)
- The current subscription process is really lacking (use a browser-friendly offer to increase subscriptions)
- Ensure auto discovery is enabled
- Get your feeds out there (directories are not only a listing, but an opportunity for branding)
- Ping, ping, ping. (the major services) and use viral tools to maximize distribution.