Have you heard the hype about Podcasts? Or maybe you’re just curious if it is a fit for you or your business? This guide isn’t going to help you succeed and have 50, 100, or 1000’s of listeners, but it will help you walk through some initial validation steps.
By the end of this guide you will have some ways to determine if you should have a podcast and hopefully zero in a bit more on what it should be about as well.
Should You Even Podcast?
In terms of how to launch a podcast, what you need to have a podcast, what format you should have, and a number of other questions I would suggest you check out the lists below.
These resources are by no means exhaustive, but if you are really early in the “should I?” phase this might save you some time and push you to either a “yes I should!” or “no this is not a good fit for me!” fairly early in the process.
- This post covers some reasons why you should and shouldn’t.
- Ryan Holiday also covered this in late 2016 or just hop over to Forbes which gives a (much) quicker “lessons learned” from Ryan’s post.
- Why so negative Dave? Here you go – Jerod Morris goes positive at Copyblogger and gives you some reasons that you SHOULD start a podcast.
- Sujan Patel recently put out a really in-depth post that covers what you need to start a podcast and much more.
- A few years ago Melissa Fach talked about creating videos for your blog instead of writing. Many of the same principles apply to podcasts that she talked about for video. The biggest one is “You need to have something to say!”.
What is Your Podcast Idea?
So are you still reading? Not scared off yet?
Time for you to dig deeper into your podcast idea before we look to “validate it”. When I say “validate it” what do I mean? That will really depend on what you are thinking of having a podcast about.
It could be that you try and validate the podcast category, the idea of a podcast itself, or perhaps it just means you look at specific topics if you have already started a podcast. If you have already started a podcast feel free to skip down a few sections though!
If you have yet to start one I highly recommend you sit and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there any podcasts already on this topic?
- Take a look at some of these sites if you are unsure:
- Search Google for Top “Topic” Podcast or Best “Topic” Podcast and see if you find any listed on lists. Below are two quick example searches:
- If yes, how many? How many are good? Bad? Great?
- If yes, was there a different angle I can take?
- If you said No initially or said Yes and have made it this far your next hurdle:
- Can you come up with 5 show topics? 10? 20? What about 50? Can you think of 100? Go start writing and come back when you are done. If coming up with topics now is an issue then no amount of keyword research is going to help you.
- For the record I think there are 20-30 flushed out show ideas and 30+ guest ideas + topic currently in a spreadsheet for The Business of Digital Podcast. Feel free to copy and use this Google sheet to help get you started.
- Need some inspiration? Here are some podcasts to inspire you in terms of different topics and angles you can take – from Selling on Amazon to The Business of Digital to covering an industry to whatever your area of expertise is (in Roger Dooley’s case it is Neuromarketing).
- If your show is going to be guest driven (i.e. you will have a new guest on for every show) then also make sure you can think of enough people to have on your show (and that would do it!)
Podcast Keyword Research
If you are still reading at this point – congrats! Time to dig into some keyword research and further validate your idea(s).
If you are exploring starting a new podcast I advise you to take a look at the overall topic along with some podcast episode topics to help best help you get started.
If you are already past the “what the heck should I talk about” then I suggest you dig into your topics.
Validate the Overall Podcast Idea
- Blog Content
The first test for me is to think through or see if people are blogging about this topic already. If people are creating and consuming content on the topic then you are on to something.
- Create a Competitor List
Save every list and blog you find to your Competitor List.
- Podcast Content
Repeat or do searches similar to what you did for blogs but this time for podcasts. The goal is to really get a good list of competitors (if there are any).Note that at the bottom of iTunes listings are recommendations of what else people listened too – be sure to check those out.
- Add to the Competitor List
Save every list and podcast you find to your Competitor List
- If you have a list like the Comptitor Google Sheet Tab I think you can consider your idea validated. I honestly took only 5-10 minutes to get that list and there were many I didnt add. At this point I would say can say that there is a market and instead try and figure out your angle.
- Did you not find any competitors? No Podcasts? No Blogs?
Nothing like what you are thinking? Are you really the first mover? Here are some ways I would suggest to dig a bit deeper:
- Buzzsumo – Paid Solution W/ Some Free Data – enter a topic and see what content is popular
- Ahrefs – Paid Solution – they have a Content Explorer or you can get granular with the Keywords Explorer
- SpyFu – Paid Solution W/ Some Free Data – enter a topic or website and see what ideas jump out at you
- Google Trends – Free Solution – is there any interest in your topic?
- SEMRush – Paid Solution W/ Some Free Data – enter a topic or website and see what ideas jump out at you
- Infinite Suggest – Free Solution – enter a topic and see what related ideas jump out
- Google Keyword Planner – Free(ish) Solution – enter a keyword and find similar keywords and ideas
Here is a quick example for a Dentist that has had a practice for sometime now and is thinking about starting a podcast (I randomly picked this topic as I just made an appointment to see my own dentist).
- Hop over to Google or Bing and start doing some quick high level searches. Look at things like “blogs for dentists”, “dentist blog ideas”, and “top dentistry blogs” to get you started. Quickly we see that there are a ton of people covering this topic.
Here are some quick examples of my searches:
- It took me longer to write out the links and examples then it actually took me to gather up the examples for Competitor List
- It only took me 2 searches to quickly find a large number of podcasts. One thing I did notice that many were old and hadn’t been updated in 1-2 years so pay attention if the blog/podcast is still active.
- It didn’t take me long to find a number of active podcasts or recent lists of them.
- For this example, I didn’t need to dig any deeper to validate that there is a market and a fair amount of competition here. But, if I had needed to dig deeper I would have started with some searches like Dentist Podcast vs. Dental Podcast in Google Trends, a list of popular Dental Podcast content on Buzzsumo and while no one appears to search for “Dental Podcast” there is some interest in Dental Blog so says SEMRush.
If at this point you aren’t sure if your idea has legs then you will have to just go with your gut. The number of people that get this far I would imagine are on the small side as just about every topic has some type of blog, magazine, conference, podcast, or some type of online/offiline channel covering it.
It was just 5 years ago and drones were just taking off (pardon the pun!).
Validate a Podcast Session Idea
So, you either have a podcast or you now know what your topic and angle is… time to dig into some actual ideas for episodes. If you have ever done keyword research for a blog post or article it really is the same process.
You should try and have a single main topic/keyword, your audience, know the question and the goal of the episode. Just like a blog post (like this one you are reading now) a podcast episode should try and focus on that one idea.
If your idea is to do a weekly roundup type podcast then:
- Open up your version of the Google Sheet and take a look at the first idea you have.
- First take a look at your Search Analytics within Google Search Console for your site. Do any queries show up that line up with the topic? Do you already have content on the site? How many impressions for that keyword are there? If some then you know you are onto something. If there are none take a look at your Average Position. If you are in the Top 10 and there are still zero or few impressions then I would say move on.
- Do you use Bing or Google PPC? If you do take a look at your keyword data there to help gather up data. One of my favourite reports in Google AdWords is the Search Term report.
- Need some external data to help? I recommend starting with Answer the Public, Infinite Suggest or do a search in Google and scroll down to the bottom where you see the “Searches related to” and see what ideas pop up there.
- I also recommend hopping over to either a Buzzsumo, Ahrefs or SEMRush again and digging in there for your episode idea. From popular content to related keywords to estimated monthly searches there is a vast amount of data to help you there.
- Lastly take your full list of keywords, ideas, related ideas and anything else you have put together and drop it into the Google Keyword Planner (I also do this with SEMRush as well) and see what has some traffic and what doesnt.
Now you should be able to quickly dig into a topic and validate it, get some keyword ideas and possibly even find new angles/ideas. Keeping with the Dental Podcast idea I thought I would go with “social media for dentists” in a quick example.
- In the spreadsheet I went with Topic #2 – “Social Media for Dentists”. There are a ton of things that could fall under this and maybe some quick research will help me narrow down the topic idea.
- Since there is no site, I can’t do this for the example. That being said, if I was going to do it I would dig in and see if my site got any traffic around Social Media or perhaps a specific social network. Maybe I have a blog on the site and some years ago we made a post that talked about Twitter – that might make for a great podcast session idea or maybe there would be some queries showing up in GSC.
- Again, no data here for us to use but I would take the same approach here as within GSC. Look at anything containing “social” – I doubt a dentist would bid on this but maybe your topic is a better match!
- A quick dig into infinitesuggest.com with the term “dentist social media” and something jumped out at me – “dental social media policy”. Taking that as my seed keyword Answer the Public doesn’t give me much but it does give me “why dental social media policy” which is a nice angle or way to break up the topic further. A simple search in Google points out that “dental practice” is a better option than just “dental” and “social media policy for dental practices” is another great option that comes out of this.
- So, in just a few minutes I quickly have a few keyword/topic options, but which way should I go? A check in Buzzsumo shows lots of content around Social Media ideas but nothing on policy. SEMRush shows me nothing on “social media policy for dental practices” and “why dental social media policy” but gives me some data and other ideas when I try “dentist social media”.
So now I also have “social media for dentists” as another option, it is a big general but people are looking for it.
- A quick hop over to the Google Keyword Planner and I drop in “social media for dentists, dentist social media, dental social media, why dental social media policy, dentist social media policy, dental practice social media policy, social media policy for dental practices” and see if there is any search data or other good ideas. The result isn’t what I hoped for as nothing with policy comes back with a great number of searches, but lots of the keywords support the idea of social media for dental practices.
What is the final topic that I go with out of all of that? I think someone could do quite a series but “social media policy for dental practices” would make for a great topic.
If you were a dentist you could talk about your own policy to explain it to your customers. If you market to dentists you could do it with the intent to educate them on some ways to create a policy and if you were a publisher you could focus on pros/cons or perhaps find some dentists to interview and talk about their own policies.
Hopefully the steps and examples help you with your podcast (or blog or video channel).
There is a balance when it comes to keyword research and you can dig not deep enough or you can spend all day digging and just end up with analysis paralysis and not get anywhere.
Good luck podcasting!
Dave Rohrer has spent more than 10 years as a web developer, SEO manager, and online marketing manager. He has also spent 5 plus years at agencies where he worked directly with Internet Retailer 100 and Fortune 500 clients.
He currently co-hosts The Business of Digital Podcast and runs Chicago-based digital agency NorthSide Metrics, where he helps a wide range of business sizes and models improve their digital marketing.