Recently, Apple announced that in iOS 13 they’ll be providing searchable audio transcripts for eligible Apple podcasts. If your show is transcribed, that means that when listeners search for certain terms the app looks for those terms in your podcast transcripts as well as in your titles and topics.

It was also announced at the WWDC 2019 that Apple Podcasts is also coming for Mac, separate from its previous home in iTunes. This means even more opportunity to reach new audiences.

How do listeners find podcasts?

Podcasts are soaring in popularity, largely because they’re the ultimate multi-tasking tool. People can listen while working out at the gym, walking the dog, mowing the lawn, doing housework, driving to work, etc. None of those things can be safely done while reading a blog post!

Just how popular are podcasts?

  • 51% of Americans have listened to a podcast. 
  • 32% of Americans (that’s about 90 million) listen to podcasts monthly.
  • 22% of Americans listen to podcasts weekly.
  • Age isn’t much of a factor when it comes to listening habits, which means podcasts have hit that sweet spot where adoption is pervasive across all age brackets.

But such popularity also has a downside. Podcasters have to put in a lot of effort just to get noticed. That’s especially important to podcasters wanting to drive traffic to their website, sell a product or service, or attract paid sponsors.

With nobody knowing exactly what the secret formula is at any given time, that left podcasters everywhere jumping through hoops to be discovered.

How do you search podcast transcripts?

We don’t know Apple’s search algorithm with the new automatically transcribed podcasts. Whether they only transcribe popular shows or a selected few, we do know the archive isn’t extensive.

To search podcast transcripts in the Apple Podcasts app, you simply search for the key term in the search bar.

Go to the Podcasts app, type your key term into the search bar, and search!

You won’t see the transcript itself (a snippet, at best) unless you copy and pasted a transcript into the show notes.

The search term will likely only yield a result for the spoken content in your episode if you’ve put your own transcript in the show notes, especially with this feature being so new and unclear on its exclusivity.

Why are searchable transcripts such a big deal?

For podcasters wanting to show up in iTunes searches, the secret to success has been something like the hunt for Bigfoot, with everybody vouching for their own “trick”:

  • Land a spot on Apple’s “New & Noteworthy” list by hitting the jackpot with their mysterious algorithm of subscribers, new subscribers, ratings, and reviews.
  • Contact Apple and beg them to include your podcast in one of their hand-picked lists.
  • Create cover art with a clean design and clearly visible title.
  • Focus on podcast SEO by including an SEO-optimized title and subtitle (i.e., they should clearly convey what your podcast is about).

Other than those four things and a few other tips that sound like they should be part of some conspiracy show, podcasters have had to sit by and hope listeners would stumble across their podcasts while browsing categories. With the iOS 13 update, however, users can find them by search terms that appear in the transcripts of the podcast, not just the titles and subtitles. 

How does this affect my podcast on Apple?

There’s definitely a few potential pros and cons.

  • PRO: If Apple decides to automatically transcribe your podcast, any spoken words said in the episode are now be searchable from the Apple Podcasts app.
  • CON: Apple probably isn’t making this available to every podcaster. Even podcasters who make the cut once may not get a transcript for every episode. Podcasters with established shows and large audiences stand to gain the most.
  • CON: Podcasters don’t own their transcripts; Apple does. You won’t be able to download them to post on your website or other platforms.
  • CON: The transcript could contain mistakes. Not only could that damage your search rankings; your brand image could take a beating, too, if the transcript contained embarrassing or offensive errors. 

So, for many podcasters, this new update may not provide much benefit. Unlike getting your own podcast transcript, you can’t download it or do anything with it.

In fact, this update could even put you at a disadvantage, since the bigger fish have a better chance of showing up in search results.

However, if you’re already currently following best practices for podcast SEO, then you have nothing to worry about.

How do I improve my podcast SEO?

At the very least, make sure you’ve optimized your podcast SEO by including things like titles, speaker names, topics, etc.

The best optimization, however, is to include a full transcript of your episode in your show notes. This transcription is owned by you, not Apple — that you can include in your podcast description and post on your own website.

We can transcribe your podcast for $1/minute, leveling the playing field for those not included in Apple’s transcription service. And, unlike Apple, we guarantee a 99% accuracy rate. Plus, you own the audio transcript. You can use it for pull quotes, tweets, Instagram captions, and anything else you need to tell your story.

On a budget? Our automated transcription service only costs $.10/minute at 80% accuracy.

Get accurate audio transcripts for your podcast

Apple may have good intentions, but if their transcription search rolls out the way they’ve described it, it gives the biggest boost to those who need it the least. Podcasters who are still growing their following need to level the playing field by making sure their podcasts are just as searchable as those chosen by Apple.

Having a copy of your podcast transcript means that you can use it to create as much additional content as you want. Grab a quote to Tweet or to use as a caption for an Instagram post, or use part of the podcast as the starting point for a blog post. When you own it, the sky’s the limit.