In the past few weeks Apple has slowly rolled out some algorithm changes to their popular podcasting directory aimed at cleaning up some less-than-noble tactics that some podcasters have used to boost their show’s rankings.
Please take a few minutes now to review some of the information we know about this change, how it might affect your podcast, and what you can do to ensure that your show remains in good standing in Apple Podcasts (formerly known as iTunes to those of us who have been podcasting for more than a few years).
If you find your podcast has been rejected or even removed from Apple Podcasts, it may be due to the recent push by Apple to not allow podcasters to use keyword stuffing in the title and additional information you’ve supplied with your podcast.
Podcasters often use keyword stuffing to help their podcast come up in Apple Podcast searches. Apple is now taking note of that practice and it could result in a warning and ultimate rejection or removal of your existing show for irrelevant content or spam.
Title and Author Tags
You should pay special attention to the words you use in your podcast title and author tag.
If you previously used long entries in your Podcast Title or Author fields then consider removing some of those unnecessary items. Here’s a few examples:
- The Unofficial StarWars Podcast | We talk all things Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Wookies – if you like movies, SciFi, and space travel then this is for you
- A Better You – Lifestyle, Health, Fitness, Zen, Spirituality and how to bring all those into your life with The Dude
See how each of these podcast titles are just way longer than they need to be and (understandably) Apple may look at these and say “Hey, I think they’re trying to do some funny business here with keyword stuffing the title field”.
The same shows might instead simply be:
- The Unofficial Starwars Podcast
- A Better You with The Dude
Similar to the Title field the Author field is somewhere that some podcasters have abused the concept of keywords, and Apple may take action on your show if they deem it inappropriate.
Here’s a few examples of things that probably aren’t OK:
- Perry Podcaster | Author, Kiteboarder, Father, Dog owner and Lover of a good latte
- Mary Marketer – Blogger, YouTube personality, and Social Media guru
Just unnecessary, right? And who are we trying to fool anyhow?
Instead, keep it clean and simple with something like:
- Perry Podcaster
- Mary Marketer from MaryMarketer.com
Podcast Cover Images
We all know that every podcast feed has to have a Square podcast cover image that is between 1400×1400 to 3000x3000px in size. But did you know also that Apple forbids the use of any of their trademarked logos in that image?
That’s right, any use of logos or words that include Apple Podcasts, iTunes, iTunes Store, Apple, Inc. or that of any third party podcast aggregator is strictly forbidden in Apple Podcasts and can result in your show getting the hook, without warning.
Broken feeds or No Episodes
Apple also will remove podcasts that have technical problems or are without any episodes. They state that if you fail to update your podcast with new episodes, your podcast may disappear from areas within the Apple Podcasts, although it will remain available through search in Apple Podcasts.
If you’re in doubt about the health and validity of your feed check out our two favorite podcast specific feed validators:
Both of these tools do an excellent job at letting you know if there are any structural issues with your feed and how to resolve those. We like using both as they do give slightly different details about your podcast RSS feed.
Other podcast updates from Apple
As you can see, it’s best if you remove ALL keywords, even text that may look like a tagline, just to be on the safe side. You don’t want Apple whipping your podcast offline, after all.
Additionally, Apple will reject or remove podcast that:
- Contains explicit language without setting the <explicit> tag to yes, explicit or true.
- Contains content that could be construed as racist, misogynist, or homophobic.
- Has explicit language in titles, subtitles or descriptions. That includes no explicit language in written form in any show notes on a particular episode. If the audio in your episode is explicit, be sure to mark it as such.
- References to illegal drugs, profanity, or violence in the title description, artwork or episodes.
- Contains content that depicts graphic sex, violence, gore, illegal drugs or hate themes.
- Third-party content or trademarks of any kind without legal authorization.
What to do if your show is removed by Apple
If your show has been removed because of the show title and author keyword stuffing, you can make the changes to those fields and then re-submit your show into Apple Podcasts.
Similarly, if Apple removed a podcast for technical reasons, you can use Podcasts Connect to resubmit the podcast once you resolve the issue.
And if Apple removed a podcast for a concern type that doesn’t allow you to resubmit the podcast, Podcasts Connect dims the podcast in the dashboard and you can’t delete the podcast. Instead, you need to fix the issue, change the RSS feed URL, and submit the podcast as a new podcast.
Overall we think these changes by Apple are very positive steps for the podcasting community. Things like Keyword Stuffing were things that some people took advantage of previously and diluted the real power of great content in the podcasting world.
Now with a more level playing field, it is easier for great podcasts to shine, and not get outranked by shows that just use crafty techniques to get more visibility for their shows in directories like Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Play.