Google’s New Rules for Podcasts and Why They Matter

Ed Pronley


August 19, 2021 (Updated: January 24, 2024)

Woman talking into a microphone.

Google recently announced that podcasts on its site must meet certain requirements before they’re recommended to listeners. With the growing number of podcasts and podcast platforms, these changes are helping Google establish itself as a serious source of audio news and entertainment. For podcasts themselves, it’s also separating the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Image via Giphy from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

What’s New?

First, let’s look at these new rules Google’s introducing:

  • Podcasts need a crawlable image. That’s a fancy term for, “make sure your image appears when you list a podcast on Google’s site.”
  • Podcasts require a valid email address. Google requires that the podcast’s owner has a real email address associated with it. The article didn’t mention a reason for this, but I don’t think the email team intends to spam your inbox — hopefully.
  • Podcasts need to have an author’s name. This one’s fairly straightforward. Google just wants its listeners to know who they’re listening to.
  • Podcasts need to have a link to their homepage. Does your podcast have a website or a platform you want listeners to join? Google wants you to give your listeners that link. It can help people discover your podcast more easily.
  • Podcasts require a show description. Google wants people to know what your podcast is about. If it recommends your show to listeners, it wants to ensure they’ll actually find your podcast helpful and interesting.

These rules go into effect starting September 21st, but don’t worry. Even if you don’t follow them, Google has plans to continue to host your content for the foreseeable future. These rules are in place only if you want Google to recommend your podcasts to other listeners. If you’d rather keep your name a secret or your content a surprise, you’ll just have to let listeners find your podcast on their own.

Google’s Brand

So what’s the deal? Why is Google suddenly so interested in controlling how you want to display your podcast?

Image via Giphy from Paradise Hotel

It’s all about the brand. Foremost, it’s about being uniform. Google wants to make recommendations to its users based on what they’re listening to. But if they recommend some podcasts without images and other podcasts without authors, it creates an inconsistent experience for listeners. By ensuring that each recommended show follows the same rules, Google ensures it’s providing a consistent experience for everyone on the site.

However, it’s also about making the right recommendations. If your podcast doesn’t have a show description, Google can only make recommendations based on your title and your listeners. For instance, if your podcast name is “Let’s Rock!”, the show could easily be about music or geology. How can Google tell the difference without more information? With a recommendation like that, it’s either going to confuse a lot of musicians or a lot of quartz lovers.

Image via Giphy by @diversifyscience

How Can You Double Down?

I know it’s tempting to rebel against the new orders because, well, Google has a lot of rules.

Image via Giphy from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

But truth be told, if you want to make it easier for your podcast to get new listeners, you need to follow the new rules. However, there are other ways you can make your podcast more noticeable, including great copy! Start with your show description. Don’t just tell listeners what your show’s about, but really entice them to hit play. Then, write a new description for each episode. List a teaser of what you talk about in the episode, but also leave them wanting more so they actually listen to the podcast itself.

Do you have a website? Not only can you optimize your website for search engines with great copy, but you can also start a blog. By creating a blog, you can write on topics that closely relate to your podcast and generate more organic traffic and listeners. That’s because audience members can find your blog posts online or on social media, and from there you can direct them to your podcast. Start a blog today, or talk with some experts at CopyPress to see how you can grow your audience through excellent copy.

Author Image - Ed Pronley
Ed Pronley

CopyPress writer

More from the author:

Read More About Authority Building