There are over 100 reasons why you want to have a website dedicated to your podcast. It's extremely helpful. This post won't go into why having a website is important, instead it will go over what should be in a podcast website.
The Podcast RSS Feed
An RSS feed is basically a plain text file that's a map telling podcast players where your artwork is, descriptions, titles, and mp3 files are for your show. The RSS feed is submitted to iTunes and other players so they know where to find your show.
The RSS feed is either created by your website or hosting provider. Most hosting providers will give you one. But if you want one under your own domain, you will either need a podcast Wordpress plugin to generate one for you if you're using Wordpress, or if you're technical enough, you can generate one yourself. Sites like Squarespace have the ability to generate one too.
Open a browser you normally don't use, and make sure you're logged out of Google. Go to Google and type your podcast name in. Do the official name that's in iTunes. Your website should be the very first listing in the Google results. Not your iTunes pages, not your hosting page, or any other page. Your own domain to your podcast should be first. Play around with partial names too. If your podcast is called "Where should we begin? with Esther Perel", then try searching for just "Where should we begin". Here the thing, if people are typing your podcast name in Google, they better find your website first. Not someone elses like player.fm or something. Because you can 100% control what's on your website and what the user sees. If they end up on someone elses site, you don't have any visibility into that and have no control what they are seeing or doing there. You want them to land on your site so you can present yourself the best you can.
Do the same as #1 but this time add "podcast" to the end. If you failed on #1 you better be first in the Google rankings on this one. It's ok to fail on #1 if your podcast is a very common word like "Criminal", "Strangers", or "Reveal". If your rankings are so poor that you fail on both #1 and #2 look up tutorials on SEO. You basically need to have your podcast in your website title, an H1 tag with the podcast name, and then build links to your website.
Search for your own name (or hosts name) on Google. Unless you wish to be anonymous, you'll want your podcast website to at least be on the first 10 results on Google when searching your name. If people like your show, they'll want to know more about you. You want to guide them to your about page on the show, and not your criminal record when you were 18.
Contents of Website
- Your website should have a list of every episode. Preferably even a dedicated page for each episode with show notes and all. If I want to tell my friend to listen to an episode of your show, I want to link them to that episode only. So help me share it!
- On your website you should be able to play each episode directly. Without the need to go somewhere else or download some app. 20% of my downloads come directly from people listening on the website. This might be repeat visitors but I have a feeling it's people trying my show to see if they like it, and then subscribing when they do. Make it super easy for people to start listening.
- On your website you should have at least one way to contact the show creators. I give 3 ways, email, twitter, and Instagram. And guess what, people reach out to me all the time. So make it easy for them to do so if they want to. Especially when you're starting out, you want to foster all relationships you can with your fans. Do your part by holding your hand out, and see who shakes it.
- Supply links to where people can subscribe to your show. On my website I have links to Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, and the direct RSS feed. At the very minimum link to iTunes and the RSS feed. People will visit your website on their phone, and say "ooh I need to subscribe to this" and you want to make it as easy as possible for them! Make your site as frictionless as possible.
- Make your website and pages look good on social media. Here's the thing. If you have 10 super fans who love the crap out of your show, congrats, you just hired 10 people to help market your show for free. But guess what, they suck at it. Help them out by making easy to use links on your website, and make the links pretty when they are shared in social media. For instance, pop your website into the Twitter card validator and see if it looks good. Your links should pop with groovy images and catchy text. This is your chance to finish the deal when your fans try to market your show for you. So make it amazing! Also do this for a few episodes of your show too. Your main site might look good but an individual episode might not.
Advanced Features (only after you've covered your bases above will you be ready for these)
- Show your visitors your best episodes. Criminal does this well on their front page they say "New to Criminal? Start here". And that's their very best episodes. Get your new visitors to go directly to your best stuff. So many times I've looked at a podcast that has 100 episodes and I'm like "where do I start?" Help me get hooked on your show.
- Create social media buttons for sharing. I'm not sure how much these are used, but it's a nice reminder to people to share what they love. And it makes it an easy one click option for sharing making it easier for phone users.
- Create a mailing list. Look at who you are. You are a person who creates things. New projects that you want everyone to see. This podcast isn't the last thing you will create, trust me. You'll create lots more. But this podcast is earning you new fans. People who love YOU. So get their emails. Ask for them, collect them, find ways of getting them on a list. Some marketers say the email list is the most valuable thing you can possibly have. Because imagine if you stopped podcasting now. But 6 months from now started a new thing. How are you going to tell all your fans about it? Imagine if Twitter just disappeared and you had a large following. Your email list is something you own. That can't be taken away. And it's great for connecting and promoting with your fans. You can figure out what to put in the emails later but just create that list now so when you're ready to send a message you've got the audience. Tim Ferris is kicking butt with this email list of over 2 MILLION people. Once you get a list going, Google ways to grow that email list.
- Create reasons for people to visit your website. Put things like photos of the story you told or things for listeners to download. What you're doing here is interacting with your listeners for a longer period of time and widening the surface for people to discover you. Basically giving them bonuses and offering extra value. Things of value are often shareable and they may share the link with others who also want that thing. So many times I've shared links to the Audacity to Podcast website which has detailed show notes which answer someones question. And even though the answer is right on the page, I just sent them a potential new listener.
- Run the website through woorank.com (1 scan free each week). It will suggest ways of improving the website. They'll also suggest ways of improving the speed of the page load times. I personally hate hate hate slow website load times. So don't make me hate your website in the first second of using it. Google sometimes penalizes sites that have HTML errors and run slow.
- Get consistent branding. If your show is spooky and dark, make your website spooky and dark. Give me that visual sensory of "ooooOOOohhh". Basically check with yourself "how do I want my listeners to see me?" and use words like trustworthy, funny, innovator, etc. Then find ways to transfer those descriptive words to your website visually. This consistency will help a lot with delivering your message.
- Press page. As you're getting popular you can create one of these. There's a variety of ways to do this but at the very least you want your best reviews to shine here. Major influencers and news sites are the best. After that bring in fan reviews from Twitter, email, iTunes. This is my favorite page to make because it feels so good to see all positivity in one place.