Jan. 12, 2022

Should I transcribe my podcast?

How many Podcatchers support transcription? Does transcription increase Downloads? What are the Benefits to Transcription? Those are the questions answered in today's episode.

Listener and friend of the show Glenn has a few questions about podcast transcriptions. First of all, are they useful? And if they're useful, how so? I'll answer these questions from three different vantage points: those of the podcatchers, the podcast hosting providers, and those in need of accessibility options.

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Podcasting Sucks is a property of Tanner Campbell Consulting, LLC. Other properties under the Tanner Campbell Consulting brand include Retold Myths and Tales, Practical Stoicism, The Guthtaigh Studio, and the Pysma Learning Platform.


Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. And welcome to episode 119 of Podcasting Sucks in today's episode, which is sponsored by Indeed Drop In. I got so heated in my last episode that I didn't mention that this podcast is sponsored by A. Nd Drop In. If you are a true crime, horror, paranormal or otherwise scary or a comedy podcast, and you want to get one of your episodes in front of another audience, an audience that is already listening to a podcast that matches your genre and already has an established listenership. Go to Indropin. Comcreators and submit your episode. 

This is free, you guys. And I've seen the new numbers that doing this can bring to podcasters in those genres. This is really worth doing if you're holding off because you think your podcast isn't good enough to be dropped in somewhere, put that thought out of your mind and just go do it. We are our own worst critic, so please do not let that prevent you from reaching new people who would probably love your podcast and it's free, so there's absolutely no risk in it. So go and do it. Go to Indropin. Comcreators. In today's episode, I'm answering a question from the one the only stinky dad. He submitted another one via Twitter, and that question is all about podcast transcripts. And that's up next.

Listener and friend of the show, GlennB AKA Stinkydad87 on Twitter, has asked, how many podcasters support transcription? Does transcription increase downloads? What are the benefits to transcription? Let's start with the responsibility of the hosting provider in order for a podcaster to parse information, that information has to be present in the RSS feed in order for it to be present in the RSS feed. 

For most people who aren't constructing their own RSS feeds, the podcast hosting provider needs to provide a field in the episode upload form for a transcription so that it can pass that information to the RSS document so the RSS document can pass it to the podcaster that's receiving that information. More and more podcast hosting providers are doing this. I know that transistor FM does it. I know that Simplecast, does it. I'm pretty sure that captivate does it. I should know that better. I'm sure they do, and others do as well. The smaller the outfit, the newer the outfit, the less likely it is that they're doing this yet, but the big guys are on board. Now let's talk about the podcasts and that will actually parse that information and display it in app. Actually, before we do that, let's talk about how that information is displayed. 

If it's being passed through the RSS feed, well, then all you have on the screen is a section where you could read the transcript. Another way, it could be parsed in app, and this would be completely the burden of the app developer is you could have some sort of animated captions that transcribe the audio in real time so that people who are using that podcaster could read on the screen what was being said while it was being said. I don't know if any podcatchers do that. I might be wrong, but I don't know that any do. And if I'm right, that none do, it makes a little bit of sense because creating a podcaster is not a very lucrative business, right? You're creating something that people expect to be free for the most part, and you might get some display ad placements in there. 

But if you use display ad placements in your free podcast player or you restrict the experience or degrade the experience at all, your podcast app is probably not going to perform that well or be that popular. And in order to do that kind of real time transcription, which would be more like closed captioning, there's some money you're going to have to spend to afford those services and to develop your app to implement those services once you pay for them. And like I said, developing a podcast app probably isn't that lucrative. So there'd likely have to be another vertical of revenue available to the developer to eat that cost. And I think it would be great if a podcast app did do that. Like I said, I could be wrong. I've never seen one that has closed captioning, but it would be cool if there were some out there. 

As far as podcast apps, which display the result of the podcast hosting provider having a field for you to paste that transcript into. Yes, some of them do do that. If I'm not mistaken, podcast addict does that. I believe also that Pod verse does that. I think also Pocket Cast may have a section to display that as well. And of course, Spotify has it. In fact, Spotify is beginning to transcribe the audio of every podcast on its platform. It started to do that in May or June of last year, and you may have noticed, for example, if you listen to the DAX shepherd podcast armchair expert, my girlfriend listens to it every day, and she was actually the first person to point this out to me before I even knew what was going on. They've begun doing that. 

Transcription have been doing it for a while now because I was an adviser to Pods and Pods sold to Spotify, and one of the things that Pods was doing was transcribing audio in real time and providing closed caption. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see in the not too distant future that that automatic transcription is used with time codes to provide a closed captioning experience, which I think would be a first in the podcast player environment. Again, I might be wrong about that, but I don't know another podcast player that does that. And the reason I don't think any other ones do that is, first of all, I've never seen one. And second of all, because of the cost that I mentioned before, it would be expensive for them to roll out that kind of tech for a free product. 

And if they started charging to build that, the kinds of people who need accessibility options would probably be very upset that a podcast player which offered that could only offer that by charging them, because then it seems like they have to pay for accessibility. And I don't think that would go over too well from a PR standpoint. Again, I might be wrong about all this if you know of a podcast player that does have open closed captioning. That's pretty cool. I'd love to know about it, but I don't think there are any out there. The second part of Stinky Dad's question was, does transcription increase downloads? I would say categorically. No, at least I see no evidence of that happening. I have a transcript for almost every episode of my podcast. My podcast hosting provider, Timber, doesn't have a section. Timber is in beta. I think I've said this before, so they don't have all those bells and whistles yet. 

But I put transcription on my website, which is a good practice because transcription on a website allows Google to index a larger body of work from you, because Google, I don't think can yet index audio, or if it can, it doesn't do a very great job of it. And so it's going to have to rely on other textual content on that page to determine what the hell the page is about. It may very well be able to determine that it is a podcast episode on that page. But in order to know what that podcast episode is about, it needs more information. 

And so that is one of the benefits of transcriptions outside of podcast players. But does it increase downloads? Well, maybe in a roundabout way, because if it's increasing the SEO value on your site where you might have a page dedicated to a podcast episode, you might have a player on that episode. Certainly it's increasing the indexability of that page, which is likely to increase the findability of that page and the domain authority of that page or the domain that page lives on. And in that way, yeah, sure. Maybe transcripts could increase downloads, but not transcripts specifically. I mean, any text on that page, which did a good job of explaining the content. So really, it's just informative text writ large. 

That can help you get more downloads because it can help people find you easier. The last part of Glenn's question is, what are the benefits of transcription? Well, for one, if you are hearing impaired now, I understand you might hear hearing impaired. Why would they even want to listen to a podcast? Well, five years ago, I might have been insensitive enough to ask a question like that. And then I got friendly with a lot of not just deaf podcast, quote unquote listeners, but also blind podcast creators. And I learned a lot about the accessibility world, and I will admit that I was very ignorant about that world. I made a lot of really ignorant assumptions about what they would be interested in or how they consumed content. It was very foolish of me, and I learned a lot mostly because of clubhouse, I should say, was the medium that brought me together with those people so that I could learn. 

It was a real shock to me that a blind person was using clubhouse and it shouldn't have been a little bit off the beaten path there. But transcription is helpful because people who can't hear need another way to consume the content, and they are of course, consuming the content. So that's a benefit for others. As a benefit for you. I mentioned the SEO value on a website. Is there any SEO value within a podcast player or on a podcast listing platform? I would say there's not a lot of it right now beyond the title and the podcast name. I don't think they do a great job of indexing keywords and such in descriptions. I think they do a pretty piss poor job of that, and I think there are no exceptions across the board. But of course, this is going to change. 

And just like having more informative text on a website will help someone searching via Google or Bing or Yahoo if that's still a thing to find your website more frequently and more successfully when they start to do a better job of search and discovery within these larger podcast platforms and podcast players, it only stands to reason that that will help you become more searchable in those places. So on the website. Tons of benefit. Although any descriptive text would be helpful in app, not so much benefit right now, but I think that will change. So it's a benefit to those who need accessibility. It's a benefit to you in varying degrees of beneficialness as far as SEO and find ability are concerned. And I think another benefit of it is allowing people to quickly get to the portion of your audio that they would most like to get to. I think chapters are also really useful for this. If you guys aren't familiar with an iOS app called Podcast Chapters, it's really the best way, at least on a Mac OS based system to create podcast chapters in your MP threes. But outside of that one app, I've never been able to find another one that does a really reliable good job, and so most people don't utilize chapters, and all they can really rely on. 

As far as someone being able to find a certain bookmark or spot in their audio is to have a transcript. With timestamps you might wonder why would I want to provide information that would allow an individual to get right to the part they wanted and not listen to the rest of the content? That sounds like it wouldn't be good for me, I don't have any evidence to support what I'm about to say, but I suspect based on my experience in marketing and whatever knowledge I have of human behavior, that if a listener shows up to get a specific answer from an episode, it would only benefit you in the long run to be able to direct them right to that spot as quickly as possible. Again, I don't have evidence for that claim, but I feel like it's true if I have cut my podcast episode up into five segments, let's say there may be three segments at the outset that nobody wants to hear or that one person doesn't want to hear. 

Ten people don't want to hear, and so they'd rather skip it, but they don't know what's next. And so they stick through the entire duration to get to the part they care about because they have no other way of making sure they don't miss something if they scrub through the audio, and that's a very manual process anyway. So nobody wants to do that. And I think in making them listen up to the point that they want, you actually have a greater risk of losing them. Oh, this has gone on for too long about something I'm not interested in. I guess I'll go to someplace else to try to find this thing that I jumped in specifically to get from this episode. So I think ultimately giving the listener the power to get to exactly what they want when they want. 

I think in the long run, that will have more benefit to you. And that's about all I've got for you. Glenn. Mr. Stinkydad, 87 on Twitter. Thanks for sending in the question. I appreciate it. I actually didn't have anything to talk about tonight. I mean, this morning. So a last minute questions like that is really appreciated. And thanks for responding to the call when I put it out on Twitter. If you have a question you'd like to hear answered on a future episode of podcasting sucks. There are a number of ways to get that question to me. You can go to podinbox. Com podcastingsucks, and I strongly prefer this way because you will record your questions with your voice on that site, and I think that's better. I think that's more dynamic and engaging for listeners to hear someone else speaking and asking their own questions. But I understand that not everybody will want to be that brave or is necessarily that open. 

And so they might want to send me an email and request anonymity and you can do that as well. By addressing the email to Tanner at tannerhelps. Com. You can also send me a message on Twitter or send me a DM if you'd like my DMs are open whether or not we follow each other. And lastly, if I have been of use to you in this episode or any previous episode, please consider leaving me a tip by going to buymyacoffee.com/tannerhealths thank you so much for being here today. I appreciate you taking the time to spend your mornings with me. And until next time. Take care.