Yesterday, Apple sent out an email blast to — seemingly — all of its podcasters, advising them on how they can improve their metadata. Let’s break it down, in terms of what it means for creators using Podiant to distribute their podcasts.

Before we begin

It’s worth noting that these guidelines only really pertain to the content that makes it into your RSS feed (the URL you submit to Apple, to get your listing). It doesn’t cover your website, whether it’s hosted on Podiant or not.

Including placeholder text from your hosting provider

When people try out our service, they often leave their podcast subtitle set to “Another Podiant podcast” (it’s like the default subtitle of “Just another WordPress website”). If you’re thinking you might need to update it, login to your Podiant dashboard, head for Settings, and then Feed, and look for “Subtitle” to make sure you’ve set something relevant to your show.

A smaller number actually don’t even change the name of their show from when they first created it. This is definitely something you should do, for lots of reasons, as a title like “thetwoguyspodcast’s podcast” is not compelling. (That’s not much of an exaggeration!)

We have two options for your title: there’s the title of your show as it appears on the web (we call that the podcast name), and there’s an optional “Feed title” (that’s the title Apple Podcasts and other directories see). So for example, I host a show about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so the podcast name is “Beware of the Leopard”, but the title that Apple Podcasts sees is “Beware of the Leopard — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast”. If you leave your feed title blank, we’ll use your podcast name. (I don’t recommend this as best-practice, as in all honesty it’s a tad spammy, but it’s useful to draw the distinction.)

You’ll find those settings by logging into your Podiant dashboard and clicking on the Feed tab (for the feed title) or the Basics tab (for the podcast name).

Verbatim repetition of the title or author name in the description

I’ll be writing soon about how to craft good show notes, but what Apple are getting at here is lots of repetition of the same info throughout your description, either of your podcast or episode.

For example, you don’t need to include “This is the Jeff & Dan Podcast, where we talk about what it really means to run your own flea circus” in your episode description. Just get straight into the meat of what your episode is about. The same goes for the overall podcast description. You don’t need to kick it off with “In the Sarah Bogginsworth Show with Sarah Bogginsworth, Sarah discusses her favourite cordless drills”… for example. Prospective listeners will already have seen the episode or show title above your description, and existing subscribers know which show they’re listening to.

Incorporating irrelevant content or spam

There’s an argument to be had that my Hitchhiker’s example above is a bit spammy. However, a title like “Beware of the Leopard | Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy | H2G2 | HHGTTG | Douglas Adams | Books | Don’t Panic” would be a very bad move. Don’t do that. We all want a little boost, but we should try and stay classy.

Adding episode numbers in titles

We already number your episodes for you, and provide this data to Apple Podcasts and other players. There’s no need to put the episode number in your title. Likewise, there’s no need to add the name of your show or add a subtitle (there’s separate field for your subtitle). A good example of a common title is:

The Growth Hacking Interview Show Episode 54: Jon Dingleberry — The Secrets of A/B Testing

You can remove the podcast name, first of all (blind repetition doesn’t help with SEO and hasn’t for over 10 years).

Similarly, your episode number is already added to your feed, and Apple Podcasts will display it for you. If you’ve brought over a show from another provider which didn’t support episode numbers, and your numbers are out-of-sync, you can update them by editing the episode (it won’t disrupt your listeners). Then the next time you come to upload an episode, the numbering will be in order (uploading bonus episodes doesn’t disrupt your episode numbering).

The bit after the hyphen can be safely added to your subtitle. That’s what it’s best for. So now you have an episode title of “Jon Dingleberry”, maybe you could flesh that out a little and still keep it tight, like “Jon Dingleberry: VP of Sales for IncrediCorp”. That keeps your title succinct, tells you who’s on this week and why they might be interesting to listen to, without creating a ream of text listeners have to scroll past.

There’s been a bit of confusion and consternation about this online, but Apple’s position is the correct one: the episode number does not need to be part of your episode title.

With the increasing encroachment of Spotify onto their turf, Apple’s almost certainly going to lose dominance in the podcasting space over the next 12 months, which probably means they’ll be taking a bit more ownership over the Podcasts platform.

They’ll want to keep a clean directory, and we want to help keep our podcasts neat and tidy too, because it makes listeners’ lives easier.

We’re putting more effort into our own directory, too. We’re hoping we’ll be able to use some of our Googlejuice to boost podcasters’ listings in popular search engines, by giving each show their own beautiful, dedicated page on our directory. Here’s an example of what we’re working on:

Have fun updating your metadata — that’s definitely a thing human beings say, right? — and get in touch if you’ve any questions.