Podcast transcripts are a great way to make your audio content work harder for you and create marketing opportunities to grow your subscribers. First and foremost, they increase the accessibility of your content, which should always be top of mind. But, there’s a lot more to gain by sharing a written version of your podcast.
Podcast transcripts are essential for enabling those with disabilities to engage with your content. Also, transcripts are extremely helpful for listeners who speak or are learning multiple languages.
The use of transcripts has been shown to increase comprehension and retention across the board. A study conducted by Oregon State University’s Ecampus Research Unit surveyed 2,124 students from 15 public, and private colleges and universities found that:
Provide Options for Social Media
An audio file alone won’t get you very far on social media. Long gone are the days when a simple link was enough to pique the interest of someone scrolling through their feed.
Transcription, which results in captions, opens many doors on social media, allowing you to create eye-catching and engaging posts, including:
Increase SEO and Organic Traffic
An audio file cannot be read and indexed by search engines, meaning that there’s no way for your content to appear in search results even if it’s extremely relevant.
Podcast transcripts are the perfect way to give search engines content they can index. Moz, one of the most trusted names in SEO, found that in just three months of adding transcripts to the Davis Phinney Foundation’s website, they saw a 15% increase in organic traffic and a 50% keyword lift around some of the keywords they were tracking.
This American Life, one of the most popular podcasts of all time, saw some very compelling results when they added podcast transcripts to their website. A case study of the project by 3PlayMedia concluded the show saw a 4.36% increase in inbound traffic and 6.68% in search traffic attributable to the addition of transcripts.
Create A Searchable Database of Your Content
You may be at the beginning of your podcast journey, or maybe you’ve been at this game for a long time, but eventually, you will have amassed hundreds of hours of audio content, which is hard to search and impossible to scan (we’ve learned that from search engines!).
By transcribing your podcast and publishing them or storing them for your own use, you will have an extremely searchable database of your content.
This database can come in handy if you need to quickly pull up information from an old episode or want to reference a previous episode in a new show.
You’ll often hear Josh and Chuck, hosts of Stuff You Should Know, reference previous episodes by number so the listener can go back and listen to more in-depth coverage of a topic. Josh and Chuck began podcasting in 2008 and have now recorded more than 1,600 episodes. Without a quickly searchable episode database, their show would be tough to produce and ensure topics aren’t repeated.
Headliner subscriptions (Basic and Pro) include unlimited transcription, and the Forever Free tier includes 10 minutes a month. We currently use what we believe is the best transcription software in the business, Google. We find transcripts created through Headliner to be 70-95% accurate depending on audio quality, accents, and other factors out of our control.
The transcript you can download from Headliner comes in the form of a .VTT file, and is the perfect starting place for creating a valuable transcript for your audience. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to edit and enhance your basic transcript.
Other Software or Subscriptions
When looking into creating podcast transcripts, be sure to check your current subscriptions, especially your hosting platform, which may have their own or may be a Headliner partner and included with your service.
Quickly searching for “transcription service” will offer plenty of other companies that specifically offer transcription either at a flat monthly fee or by the minute of audio transcribed. Here are a few:
Human transcription services are also available for a slightly higher price. They can correct and format automatic transcriptions or transcribe from scratch from the original audio file.
The prices of transcription services will vary depending on the number of speakers, length of audio, and any factors that could compromise the audio like background noise, accents, poor audio quality, etc.
Sometimes you want to do it yourself. Creating podcast transcripts by hand can be time-consuming, but it allows you to review your podcast down to the letter. Also, you’re able to edit and format your transcript while you create it rather than retroactively. We’d still suggest using Headliner (or another auto transcription tool) to create a baseline transcript to save yourself time.
There are quite a few podcast formats out there, but, in general, certain things can be added to your transcript to make it more valuable to the listener.
Over time, you will be creating a transcript style guide that works for you and your show. While you review and correct your transcript, you should consider including the following:
An introduction serves as your opportunity to hook the reader and give them a bit of background on what they’re about to read. If you have a guest, you should introduce them; if you’re discussing a particular topic or event, you should give a bit of context or background (without giving too much away).
Here’s a great example of an introduction from The Tim Ferriss Show.
In podcast formats with multiple voices, it’s important to indicate who’s speaking. Without these additions, your transcript would be extremely hard to interpret.
Whether you have multiple hosts, live interviews, or recordings of telephone conversations (like the one below from This American Life’s S-Town) giving the reader context to who is speaking is essential.
Adding links (both internal and external) will increase your content’s value to your user, boost SEO, and incentivize others to link to your website.
You should also include links for options to listen to your podcast episode in your transcription. While they may have chosen specifically to read the content, they may have landed on your transcript without realizing there’s an audio version. Or, they could decide that since they’re enjoying reading the episode that they’d like to listen to it.
For instance, Freakonomics does an excellent job at interrupting the podcast transcript with valuable commentary and links to additional reading and resources.
Interruptions and Other Speech Patterns
There are two schools of thought when transcribing audio: standard and verbatim. Rev, a popular transcription service, describes the two types of transcription as:
When looking at most podcast transcripts, you’ll likely see a combination of the two styles. They may indicate things like laughter or other sounds but not include stutters or false starts.
The style you choose is up to you! Use whatever style makes the most sense for the type and formality of your show. The most important thing is to create a style and then stick to it. Consistency is key to building and strengthening your brand.
Making your podcast transcripts SEO-friendly means borrowing rules from other content on your website and consistently implementing quite a few of the things we discussed here.
Sub-headings play a factor in the technical writing component of SEO. We know headings are weighted more heavily by search engines. Also, the use of headings and sub-headings is an opportunity to increase your text’s scanability.
While a transcript won’t include as many subheads as a blog post, there are most likely obvious breaking points in your recording. These might be at commercial breaks or transitions from one topic or guest to another where a sub-heading would be appropriate. Think of them as mile markers on a road trip—they’re a good indicator of progress and a reference point for where you are on your drive.
Links, both internal and external, allow the reader to learn more and dive deeper into a topic. Also, they show that you can back up your content with your own research or others’ research, which builds trust.
SEO guru Neil Patel describes the importance of links as they relate to Google:
Page links tell Google that you’re connected and sociable and that you’ve got useful content that people can access somewhere else. This content could be your own or it could be from another author or site.
Linking out to other authority sites and pages is an indication that you value what other people create. Google will reward you for being in sync with their mission: organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible.
From research and scripting to recording and editing, your podcast episodes take hours to produce. To get the most bang for your buck, you should repurpose that content and make it work harder for you.
Blog posts do lots of things for your brand. Creating blog posts using your transcript will increase your credibility as you will be publishing more content on a regular schedule. These posts will also likely include links (both internal and external) essential to website authority and SEO rankings. Even more, creating blog posts out of your content provides more text and opportunities for search engines to scan and index.
More content + regular publishing + purposeful and well-executed work = higher rankings, increased brand authority, and better odds of return visitors with longer hang time.
A great example of this type of content comes from the sister team of A Beautiful Mess Podcast. Elise and Emma have a popular and long-running lifestyle blog, A Beautiful Mess, to which they added a podcast component in late 2019.
They create a companion blog post for each episode of the show, including links and pictures of things they’ve discussed. These posts allow them to provide context to their audio and integrate nicely into their existing blog structure.
For example, episode #65, “Painting Exterior Brick,” is much more useful with the companion post, which includes photos of their painted homes, links to exact colors, and internal and external posts about the process of painting brick.
Audiograms (Our Personal Favorite)
Here at Headliner, we’re a little partial to the power of video to promote your podcast content. But there’s no denying it—video is the best and most engaging form of podcast marketing.
Audiograms (or waveform videos) can be used across all social platforms to promote your podcast. Choose a particularly poignant or funny excerpt from your show and create a visual trailer or teaser for your episode.
Podcast transcripts play a crucial role in the creation of audiograms that include captions. Luckily, Headliner has a transcription feature built right into the editor.
Tig Notaro’s podcast Don’t Ask Tig promotes new episodes with audiograms that include the podcast branding, captions, and images of her guests. Captions are added using the Headliner transcription tool, and all captions can be edited within Headliner to ensure they are correct and correspond to the audio timing.
— DontAskTig (@DontAskTig)
Full Episode Videos for YouTube
While you may not be comfortable being on camera, you can still have a home for your podcast on YouTube.
Your podcast transcript can be used to create full episode videos, giving users the option to listen to the audio directly from YouTube, which is the second most-used search engine in the world. Learn more about creating full episode videos, including captions in Headliner.
Enhance An Existing Website
Maybe you actually started as a blogger or have a company website, and your podcast is a new addition to your content mix. Sprinkling your podcast content retroactively throughout your website is a great way to continue to increase its value.
Audiograms can come in handy here, as they create more visual interest than a plain audio embed.
You could also dedicate a section of your homepage to promoting your podcast. This “in-house ad” could either point directly to your preferred streaming platform or a section of your website.
There you have it. It’s that easy…
But seriously, all joking aside. There are nearly endless possibilities when it comes to podcast transcripts. The first step should be finding out the most cost effective and efficient way for you to create a transcript.
Once you’ve done that, establishing your transcript style and how to integrate and enhance your content using your transcript will be a work in progress.
If you’re a Headliner subscriber or want to try it for free, we hope you’ll give our transcription tool a try.