The importance of podcast transcriptions

Search engines can't see the words in podcast audio: the content is dark data. Automated podcast transcriptions shine a light on dark data..
November 2, 2017

Automated podcast transcription service

Listened to a podcast lately? If you have, you're not alone. Podcasts are, by all measures, more popular than ever before.

The growing popularity of podcasts

Here are some surprising statistics about podcast popularity in 2017:

  • 112 million Americans listened to a podcast, up 11% in one year
  • 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly'that's 24% of all Americans age 12+
  • 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly, or 5x more than go to the movies weekly
  • Podcast fans listen to 5 shows per week on average

This infographic from Music Oomph has more stats on how quickly podcasting is taking off.

If you look at the numbers, podcast listener numbers have been increasing for quite some time now. Improvements to both car and home audio devices (think smartphones and virtual assistants like Alexa) have certainly made audiences more receptive.

But, if we're to be honest, podcasts are also just pretty darn cool.

What podcasters can do even better

Granted, most podcasters have not suddenly found themselves swimming in subscribers. In 2017, 54% of all audio listening time still went to AM/FM radio and 15% to owned music and streaming audio (each). SiriusXM owns 7% of all audio airtime. Podcasts, by comparison, are still sitting at 2%.


Podcast adoption is on the rise, but it's not a solid and sustainable business model yet. That's exactly why podcasters could be doing more to give their visitors a better first impression. For example, check out this Quora question. As it turns out, many podcast enthusiasts would like to tune in more often. But sometimes they just can't.

Maybe they're in a noisy place without headphones. Maybe the speaker has an accent. Or maybe they just really need to scan quickly through a write up and CTRL-F search for a specific keyword or phrase.

The truth is, while podcasts are awesome, they don't exactly play nice with search engines - until now.

The problem with podcasts

You know how you can search for an article by headline, subheader, or even a particular sentence anywhere in the text just by typing it into Google? That kind of SEO transparency is a big reason why written content still dominates the web.

It's a lot harder to search for pictures, although recent improvements have led to Google image search. And it's even harder to search for specific parts of video or audio content like podcasts. In fact, it's basically impossible given the current state of search engines.

That's why it's so important for podcasters to include transcripts with their podcasts. Adding a transcript to each episode podcast will:

  • Allow search engines to properly index episodes, leading to improved search visibility
  • Increase the podcast's rank on search engine results pages (SERPs) for those keywords
  • Increase the overall ranking of that website domain in SERPs for those keywords
  • Give visitors another much-needed option for viewing the episode

Of course, this all leads to another very important question: What's the right way to add a transcript to a podcast?

How to add transcripts to podcasts

Here are some simple pointers on how to start adding transcripts to your podcasts:

  • Make sure to include timestamps in your transcription. You'd be surprised at the number of podcasters who don't bother doing this. If you don't include timestamps, it's really hard for a reader to go to the corresponding part of the audio.
  • When possible, don't just copy and paste a transcript'format it like a blog post. That means editing, adding in subheads, etc. Search engines give blog-like posts far more weight than unedited or poorly formatted transcriptions.
  • If you're going to hire an editor, reduce costs by automating transcription. Some transcription services are still labor-intensive, while others use AI-supported transcription. The second option tends to be more affordable.

Convenience is king

Podcasters have a lot going for them these days, and they can confidently look forward to growing audiences and increasing engagement. But they still have to work within and respect the limitations of search engines if they want to be discovered.

Keep in mind that even if Google, Bing and other search engines do add audio and video search functionality'transcripts will still be useful. It's hard to beat a neat transcript when it comes to quick scanning and content consumption.

For more on how to transcribe your podcast using Trint, shoot us an email at Keep calm and Trint on :)

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