The core components of a good podcast website are:
- A gateway episode
- A list of all your episodes, with links to each
- A “how to listen” page
- A page with reviews and press coverage
- Host and guest bios
A gateway episode might be your most recent one, but it could be your most popular over time, or the most evergreen. You can ask your existing audience what they think would make a good gateway episode, and you can read more about how to create gateway episodes in more detail.
Your homepage should ideally feature an embedded player for that gateway episode. If your website is configured to use a static homepage – as opposed to showing a list of all your most recent blog posts or episodes – then you can consider adding a manual list of starter episodes, and/or your most popular ones.
A visitor should be no more than 3 clicks away from hearing your voice
This is of course assuming you have a website dedicated to your podcast. If your podcast exists as part of a larger web presence, feel free to add another click into the pipeline.
It’s common for podcast websites to feature no audio at all on the homepage, and instead put it all behind an “Episodes” page which lists links to episodes, that then have to be clicked in order to get to the player… if there is one. With each click, you test your visitors’ patience just a little bit more, and as web users – and especially as mobile search engine users – we’re impatient beings. It might have taken a few tries to get to your website, or people just might not have the time to tap and scroll around, so try and pick any point within your website – on desktop or mobile – and make sure a visitor is no more than three clicks or taps away from hearing an episode, whether that’s your latest one, or one you recommend.
A quick hack for this is, if you have your logo or artwork at the top of every page, link that through to your homepage, where you prominently feature your latest or gateway episode.
Obviously every web visitor is different, and has differing needs and expectations. It might not be appropriate or desirable for one visitor to listen to your latest episode from their web browser; instead they might to go straight to their podcast app, so make sure those “Follow the show” buttons are nicely prominent on your homepage, and in a “How to listen” page.
Add subscription buttons to your most prominent pages
Here we’re using “subscription” in the old-world sense, meaning “following the podcast”, but differentiating it from following your work on social media. If you can put subscription buttons (links to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, with nice imagery) on every page of your website, that’s great. If you can’t, they should feature on your most prominent pages, ie the pages new visitors are most likely to discover you from. For example:
- Your homepage
- Each episode page
- Your blog page (if you have a blog)
- Each blog post page
Creating a “how-to-listen” page
This is simply a page of links to your podcast in all the apps and directories where you’re listed, linked to from your website’s main menu, and/or your homepage. If you don’t have your subscription links to hand, you can search podnews.net for your podcast name, right-click the images and copy the URLs, removing all the bits after
?utm_ and so on, as you don’t need that info. pod.link is also a useful service for gathering your most important podcast app links. Just search for your show, then follow each link, and copy the address from your browser’s address bar.
Armed with all these links, put them in a list at the top of your how-to-listen page, in alphabetical or popularity order (you can judge what “popular” might mean for your audience, but if that takes too long, just go from A to Z). This should also include your YouTube channel, if you publish entire episodes to it, as that’s another way that the visitor can subscribe to and consume your podcast.
Underneath the list, add some step-by-step instructions for the most popular apps: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google.
You might consider adding a link to your podcast’s RSS feed. It’s not unusual for podcasters to feature a “Subscribe via RSS” or “RSS feed” button, which lets those in-the-know ∆ump straight to your podcast feed. But beware: if you make this a link, it will confuse people. In most cases, your podcast feed will present as a bunch of code to your visitors, so they’re going to think something’s wrong (people tend to think seeing code means they’ve wondered into a bit of the Internet that’s broken). If you have the means, put your feed URL in a box on your website, with a button next to it that can copy the RSS feed URL into the visitor’s clipboard, then show a little message to say “It’s in your clipboard”. If you don’t have the means to do this, feel free to leave the feed off your website. Dyed-in-the-wool podcasters will be upset, but they’re not your target market (if they were, you wouldn’t be reading this).
Show off your reviews
If you’ve got some nice reviews from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Podchaser, don’t be afraid to showcase them on your homepage, and a separate “Coverage” page. This should also include any positive press coverage you’ve received, even if you’ve just sent out a press release and had it picked up by a local newspaper.
You can use Podrover to help you keep track of, and easily embed reviews from around the world. This is especially useful given that you might not see the reviews your podcast has received outside of your jurisdiction, since Apple maintains separate iTunes Stores (which is the engine behind Apple Podcasts) around the world, which all carry disparate copies of your podcast, and thus disparate reviews. If you’re outside of the US, Podrover is especially useful because it’ll help you pick up a bunch of reviews you might well be missing.
Tell us a bit about yourself
Put a photo of you and your co-host(s) on your homepage, with a link through to a page on your website that has more info: a bigger photo, a bio, and a set of links for each host. You might also consider listing everyone who’s involved in putting the podcast together, linking through to their Podchaser profile. Podchaser is the IMDb of the podcast world, so as your work grows, you could be helping those who work on your show find more work, as a Podchaser Creator page can act as an interactive CV.
If your podcast has guests, you could create a Guests page. This is a bit more hard work if your host doesn’t support this out of the box, but Fireside is one that does, provided you upgrade to one of their higher plans. If you’ve had prominent guests, feature their names and faces on your homepage, with links through to their episodes.
Don’t put your best work inside a carousel
You know the sort. A bit of information with an image behind it, some arrows or dots to indicate there’s more, and just as you’re about to click the link, the whole thing swipes away to reveal something else entirely.
Designers like them because they’re a good way of turning lots of pieces of content into one… effectively by hiding that content from view. Their automatic animations are disruptive to readers, and it can be unclear how they can be interacted with, especially on a desktop, whereas on a mobile we’re more familiar with swiping left and right.
Prioritise the information that should be on your homepage, and put the most important stuff at the top, not inside a carousel.
Your website’s main menu
Here’s a suggested set of links for your menu (which should be easily accessible on mobile as well as desktop or laptop):
- Homepage and/or “episodes” page if they’re different
- Potentially a page for each season, if that’s important to your show
- How to listen
- Hosts or cast and crew
- About the show
- Contact us
Everyone’s tastes are different
Aesthetics are different from informational hierarchy, so we’re not looking to make any judgements on what looks pleasing to the eye. That can change from culture to culture, and is somewhat (a little) dictated by current trends. What is evergreen however, is a good structure and priority of information, starting with the mission-critical stuff up top, accessible without needing to scroll.
Think about the needs of a mobile user. They’re on the go, and they might be checking out your website while doing something else, or waiting for something or someone. Your artwork might look beautiful when shown front-and-centre on a big iMac screen or even on a laptop, but on a mobile, it just means the visitor has to scroll past it to get to the important stuff. If you – or a friendly developer – are proficient in a little light coding for the web, you can look up responsive web design techniques, to help you structure your site differently (removing extraneous images for example) on mobile or tablet, while keeping them in tact on larger screens. This might sound complex, but it usually isn’t.
Your website is here to serve the listener, not just you
We talked in previous episodes about how important it is to have a website for your podcast, because it’s an area where you have control over the experience, and you can guide the visitor in actions that benefit you. That’s important, but it’s also crucial to remember that the priority is to serve the listener’s needs, to help a new potential subscriber experience your work, and build up that trust. Then when they’re ready, they’ll be interested in your newsletter.
Try and avoid time-based popups that invite people to subscribe to your newsletter after a visitor has been reading for a few seconds, or worse still the ones that try and infer when you might be heading for the Back button. Put prominent invitations to sign up to your newsletter in the flow of your content, rather than interrupting their scrolling behaviour or obscuring the text they were reading. It’s just a bit rude, really.
Examples of good podcast webistes
Wrapping it up
- Put your most inviting work on your homepage
- Never let your visitors be more than three taps away from hearing you
- Have a “how to listen” page
- Put your best reviews and press coverage on your homepage
- Check the visitor experience on mobile and laptop