Over a billion people a day are searching on Google for podcasts, according to the tech giant. Starting today those search results will include direct links to a show on Google Podcasts. And Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Product Manager at Google Podcasts, says the results will go right down to the episode level.
“Starting today, when you’re searching for a podcast about a topic on Google, such as “podcasts about ‘Awkwafina’ or ‘Instant Pot recipe podcasts,’ we’ll show you playable episodes in Search results alongside web pages, news, images and videos,” Reneau-Wedeen said in a blog post. “We’ll surface these episodes based on Google’s understanding of what’s being talked about on a podcast, so you can find even more relevant information about a topic in audio form.” He said Google is already working on an update that will mean search engine users won’t necessarily need the term “podcast” in their search to see episodes, a move that will make podcast discovery simpler.
The move will not only help show discovery, but also boost listening on Google Podcasts, which has been an also-ran to date. Libsyn estimated Google Podcasts had a 1.4% share of downloads and streams during June, compared to a 60.1% share for Apple.
But that built-in advantage will be short-lived. Reneau-Wedeen said engineers are working on another tweak. “As part of our work to help podcasters build audiences and grow their businesses, we’ll soon add the ability for publishers to specify where you can listen to their podcasts, such as other apps or websites,” he said. “This means you’ll be able to discover podcasts that may be exclusively available by purchase or subscription.”
The new Google search feature went live in the U.S. today among English-language podcasts. Later this year, Reneau-Wedeen said they’ll extend the same functionality to the Google Assistant and Google Podcasts for web. That will mean when someone asks Google Assistant for podcasts about a certain topic, such as “Hey Google, play a podcast about Marie Curie,” it will suggest relevant episodes. In Google Podcasts for web, they’ll be able to search for relevant shows and episodes and listen right on their computer or phone. “As always, your listening progress is synced everywhere, so you can pick up where you left off anywhere you use Google Podcasts,” Reneau-Wedeen added.
Last spring Google updated its search engine so that users began receiving results that feature links to specific podcast episodes using speech-to-text technology to generate transcripts of podcasts. That transcript gives the search engine a lot more data about what podcast fits the search parameters, according to the company.