Last updated on August 21st, 2019
Your podcast show notes play a key role in the production of your show. They entice visitors to listen to your episodes and help Google rank your pages. Without podcast show notes, potential listeners won’t have the information they need to choose to listen and Google won’t know when and how to display your pages.
We know what you’re thinking: “I don’t want to write! That’s why I’m a podcaster.”
Fortunately, show notes aren’t complex or time-consuming. They don’t require high level writing skills. They come directly from the content you already produce. In fact, you may already do most of the work during your research and preparation stage.
Start off your journey with this quick 5-minute overview of why show notes are important and how to create engaging material for each episode. Then find even more examples and tips within each section below.
Why You Should Create Podcast Show Notes
So what are the benefits of podcast show notes?
They Boost Your Page’s SEO
Sadly, Google (and other search engines, but we’re mostly talking about Google) can’t listen to audio content. So it likes to see content on each page. It needs words, images, and links to determine how to index the page and when to display it to searchers. A page with robust, search optimized content will help you rank higher and expose your show to more people.
They Help Readers Decide to Listen
Just because a reader lands on your page doesn’t mean they’re ready to listen to an entire episode. Your show notes give them a peek into your amazing content, which ultimately captures more listeners and grows your podcast.
They Encourage Exploration
If you place links to other episodes in your show notes, you can encourage your audience to explore more of your content. You can also steer them toward your social media pages, email list, or podcast community.
You Can Use Them Other Places
When you summarize your episode into podcast show notes, you also create easy-to-share content that can be used in other places. Your main points, quotes, data, and visuals are ready-to-go social media posts. You can use your summary on forums and when you promote on your email list. That’s double the value from the same work!
They Help Listeners Get What They Need
If you use timestamps in show notes (more on this in a moment), your listeners gain the ability to skip around your podcast like they could an article. They can jump right to the parts that interest them.
What to Include in Your Podcast Show Notes
Now that you understand why you should create podcast show notes, let’s go over what you should include on the page. This is not an exhaustive list. Feel free to include anything else you think will maximize the page’s value and delight the reader.
1. SEO Friendly Title and Copy
Since one of the purposes of your show notes is to appease search engines, it’s important to follow SEO best practices. This means every page should target a specific keyword. The keyword should appear in these key locations:
- Your page title (the <title> tag)
- The page’s URL. As close to the domain as possible.
- The main heading (the <h1>)
- A few subheadings (<h2>, <h3>, etc.)
- The first 100 words of text on the page.
- The last 100 words of text on the page.
- Sprinkled throughout the copy in reasonable places.
- Your image ALT attributes.
We recommend using the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO to help optimize your pages.
As you write, make sure to use your keyword throughout your page. Google needs to see that phrase to properly index your page. That said, don’t forget that you’re ultimately writing for people who don’t want to read content that’s overly stuffed with search terms.
2. A Quick Summary
Start your page content with a brief summary of the episode. Your goal here is to convince the reader to hit that play button (if they haven’t already). Hook them with a story, a provocative statement, a thought-provoking question. Don’t be afraid to create suspense or debunk conventional wisdom. Keep it under 100 words.
What should you say? Use benefits-based language that explains what the reader will get by listening to the full show. How will their lives be better after they hear it? Include your hardest-hitting points of data and quotes.
Buffer’s podcast, The Science of Social Media, writes a brief and enticing summary for each episode. Notice how they ask an engaging question. “How are brands and businesses succeeding on Pinterest today?”
3. Your Main Points
Create a simple outline that touches on the main points of your episode. In fact, you can probably use parts or all of the outline you created to record. But don’t limit yourself to your original outline. Your list of points should represent what you actually spoke about in the recording (sometimes plans change).
One effective way to outline your main points is to lift compelling quotes straight from your episode. Include a timestamp with each point so readers can find it in your episode.
Here’s an example:
In this episode, we discuss…
- “Email marketing is the most effective digital marketing channel.” (13:25)
- “The keys to good email marketing are relevance, consistency, and segmentation.” (27:19)
- “John Doe is here to explain how he used email marketing to triple his sales in less than a year.” (31:42).
Feel free to add some context to each main point if you like, but don’t give everything away. Remember, you still want people to listen to the episode. Don’t write more than a sentence for each point.
Check out the podcast show notes on The Tim Ferris Show. He includes a long list of interesting points made throughout the episode. He uses time stamps well, too.
4. Bios for Your Guests
Give a quick summary of your guests. Keep it to less than 75 words. Don’t give away any of the juicy information (like how they solved their big problem) so the reader must still listen to the episode. Link to their websites, social media profiles, books for sale, and whatever else helps promote them.
5. Links to Your Sources
Add links to any data, quotes, tools, videos, or sources you mention. This will give your listeners an opportunity to verify what you say and learn more. Just adding links – even if no one follows them – helps build your credibility as a podcast host.
Pod Save America, a well-researched political podcast, includes a very detailed list of their sources in their notes. (This only half for this episode.)
If you really want to squeeze every dollar out of your podcast, set up affiliate links for any of the tools or businesses you mention in your episode. This way you can get paid a commission if someone uses your link and ends up making a purchase.
6. Charts, Visuals, and Videos
If you refer to any specific chart, graphs, images, infographics, videos, or other visuals during your episode, it’s helpful to include them in your podcast show notes. They grab the reader’s attention, support your content, and give your audience something to share.
It also helps to Include custom images throughout your podcast show notes. For instance, you might include photos of your guess, behind the scenes shot, or graphics with memorable quotes. People love to share this kind of stuff.
7. Calls to Action
Finish your show notes with some instructions for your readers. Instruct them to review your show, subscribe to your newsletter, and like your social media pages. Make sure to include links. You can probably reuse this section for every episode’s show notes.
8. Podcast Show Notes Audio Transcription
This is an optional step, but we highly recommend it. It’s smart to publish a complete transcription of everything you, your co-host, and your guests say during the episode; a word-for-word replay. Include this at the bottom of your show notes so readers only have to scroll through it if they want to.
A transcription does wonders for your SEO by adding a ton of content to the page for search engines to read. This is a great way to attract people to your website who may become listeners.
Doesn’t a transcription give everything away? That’s true. Readers won’t have much reason to listen to the podcast after reading the transcription. But it may convince them to listen to future episodes or explore more of your existing content.
Transcribing your episodes sounds laborious, but it doesn’t have to be. Castos can automatically transcribe your episodes each time you publish. Our industry leading text-to-voice technology offers an entirely seamless transcription experience. Learn more about our audio transcription service.
Creating Podcast Show Notes
We strongly recommend creating a template for your podcast show notes. Create a simple template in a Google Doc that you can duplicate and fill out for each show. This will help you produce your podcast show notes quickly just before you publish each episode.
If you have the attention span, make small notes during your recording about things that should go into the show notes. For instance, if your guest makes a great sound bite or an especially compelling point, jot the time down so you can find it later. This will make it easier to compile strong show notes afterwards.
As you create your podcast show notes, keep your text skimmable and easy to consume. People rarely read every word on the page.
Use clear and descriptive subheadings throughout your content. Don’t get clever here. The purpose is to help your readers find information or decide they don’t need it, not confuse them. For example:
- Bad subheading: “Follow the Path to More Knowledge”
- Good subheading: “Resource Links”
Opt for bullet points wherever you can. If you need to use paragraphs, keep them short – no more than three or four lines (which collapse to five or six lines on mobile devices).
Take a look at how Art of Charm organizers their podcast show notes. The opening paragraph is engaging and entices you to learn more. The rest is easy to skim because it uses subheadings and lists. They bold provocative phrases like “refuses to acknowledge,” “too much freedom,” and “establish clear boundaries.”
Finally, make sure to show your podcast show notes to your guest before publishing them. This will give them an opportunity to correct errors or add important points.
Podcast Show Notes for Every Episode
We recommend creating podcast show notes for every episode. If you haven’t been creating show notes, you recommend going back and creating them for each episode. If you are about to start a podcast, you’ll want to make show notes part of your workflow.
Like we said, podcast show notes don’t have to be hard. The outline you use during recording could form the basis of your notes. But the benefits of show notes is definitely worth the effort.