How to get your podcast onto Google Home
January 24, 2018
Smart speakers like Google Home, and the Google Assistant that runs it, are increasingly important ways to get your podcast listened-to. According to figures unveiled in January 2018 by Edison Research, 25% of smart speaker owners requested a podcast last week; and 35% say they bought a smart speaker to listen to podcasts.
But how to get your podcast playable by Google Home? They don't use a third-party listing service like TuneIn: so what's the secret?
If you have a Google Home speaker or Google Assistant on your Android phone, try saying this:
- "OK, Google - play This American Life podcast"
- "OK, Google - play Reasons to be Cheerful podcast"
- "OK, Google - play This Week In Tech podcast"
- "OK, Google - play James Cridland's podcast"
These all work. It's a quick and sensible way of getting the podcast you like. Google remembers which you've listened to, and how far you've got, so you can stop a podcast ("OK, Google: Stop") and next time you try playing the podcast, you'll continue where you left off.
As a listener, you can also add a podcast to your home screen from the phone's player, so it's always there. If you're a podcaster, this is a great opportunity to always be on a listener's home screen.
So - how can you get listed?
Good question. Here's what we know.
It's nothing to do with Google Play Music Podcasts.
Google Play Music Podcasts is not available anywhere outside North America. Many podcasts that play quite happily on your Google Home are not listed in Google Play Music Podcasts. There's no relationship between Google Play Music Podcasts and the appearance of your podcast on Google Assistant.
As proof, we waited until Podnews was available as a listed podcast on Google Assistant before we submitted it to Google Play Music Podcasts. (It's now there).
(As an aside: everyone can submit podcasts to Google Play Music Podcasts. You need a VPN to connect "from" the United States, though. Here's a good and simple one: Tunnelbear, which is free for 500MB and should be enough to allow you to submit. You may find it reads your location from other devices logged-in to your Google account - we used a work one in an incognito window.)
It's got everything to do with Google Search
If you search Google from your phone for "This American Life Podcast", for example, you'll notice little play buttons appearing in the search results. Click one, and it'll play the episode. Whenever you see these in Google Search, it appears that the podcast is playable in Google Assistant (and therefore on a Google Home).
Here's what it looks like for us.
So - how do you make these little play buttons appear for your podcast?
On your website - Google Search recommends the use of Podcast Structured Data. Other pieces of structured data by Google are complicated JSON fragments, but this requires one thing: a specific link to your RSS feed.
Here's what ours looks like. It goes in the
<HEAD> section of your HTML code. We put it on every page, but it only really needs to go on your home page.
<link type="application/rss+xml" rel="alternate" title="Podnews" href="https://podnews.net/rss"/>
In your RSS feed - you must link back to your homepage. Our RSS feed has
<link>https://podnews.net</link> in there.
So, one links to the other; and the other links back.
It won't instantly appear
It seems that even if you ensure you've linked correctly to your RSS following Google's guidelines, you won't be listed instantly. It took around a month for us.
One way to speed it up is to manually submit the page to Google. That may hurry it along a little. Using Google's Webmaster Tools is also recommended: this way, Google can inform you if there are any errors in your website.
It will work eventually, hopefully
At least, that's our experience. There's no real feedback to know whether you've done this correctly.
You might not need to do all this
This is Google's recommended method of adding your podcast. It makes it appear correctly under your own website.
However, we've also spotted, on another of our podcasts, the Google Podcast search results appear underneath the iTunes listing. We assume Google has done a manual piece of work here.
We'd much rather, of course, that our podcast appears under our own website (which, itself, is #1 in the SERPS).
You might also want to consider a custom action
We coded our own podnews action. "OK, Google, ask podnews for the latest" returns the latest headline, and a question of whether you'd like to hear the full update. "OK, Google, ask podnews to play in full" will go straight to the audio. As of writing this, 6% of all requests to our audio come from Google Assistant.
However, that's only useful if people know how to ask In most cases, they'll ask using the standard method above: so it's still useful to ensure you're listed.
And it's also only useful if your podcast is, um, less than two minutes: Google doesn't allow any audio longer than that onto their system. We hope Google will relax this in future.
Here are many other places to add your podcast
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