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Should you include episode numbers in the title of each show?

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Numbers colourful set in vintage style

Wouldn’t you be better off using that space for something else?

If you’re wondering whether to include episode numbers in the title of each episode, let me save you the virtual ink.

There are, of course, some cases where this might be necessary but for the most part, you want to enter your episode numbers in the back end of your podcast host rather than in the title of your show.

And here’s why…

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It wastes valuable real estate

While including ‘Season 1 Episode 1’ or ‘S1 E1’ might be useful for navigating through your playlist, it’s not terribly inspiring for new listeners wandering by.

The title of your episode is like the headline of an article so you need to make sure it’s compelling enough for people to click.

As podcast discovery becomes more advanced and apps like Spotify start surfacing individual episodes in suggested playlists your episode title might be the very first impression a new listener gets of your show.

If the title is clogged up with a whole bunch of letters and numbers it’s not going to be terribly appealing.  And when you’re trying to encourage people to listen in a split second, as they’re scrolling through their phone, every letter counts.

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You can put the information elsewhere

If you’ve already created your show you might have noticed a section similar to this in the back end of your podcast host…

PodSchool Podcast

This is what it looks like in Whooshkaa

This is where you can enter all the important metadata about the season and episode numbers as well as what type of episode it is e.g. full episode, bonus or trailer.

That information then appears in podcast apps like Pocket Casts and Apple Podcasts like this…

Screenshot of podcast episode and season metadata

Unfortunately, this labelling doesn’t appear in every single podcast app.  But in the ones where it does (usually, they’ve pulled your show through from Apple Podcasts) it’s a clean and simple way of getting that information across.

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Apple doesn’t like it

This metadata section in the back end of your podcast host was introduced because Apple decided they didn’t want people putting episode and season numbers in titles.

After a short-lived threat that they might remove episodes that had this, they walked that back and now suggest that number-free titles are best practice.

iPhone users still make up a huge portion of the podcast audience.  Plus, most of the places you can be discovered in the iTunes store e.g New & Noteworthy are curated by real people.  So, it’s a good idea for your show to comply with Apple’s best practices.

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What’s the benefit of including numbers?

As I mentioned before it can be useful for listeners to navigate their way through seasons in chronological order.  But some people also use them because it makes it easier to point to previous episodes when they’re talking about them on their show.

Obviously, it’s much easier to say “For more on this topic go back and listen to episode five” than it is to say “Go and find the episode that was about X Y Z.”

But there are other ways to make eps in your back catalogue easier to find that don’t involve numbers.

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Improve the search on your website

Uploading a good search plugin to your website will make it easier for people to find the content they’re looking for.

This is how I point people to other episodes of the PodSchool Podcast when I’m talking about them on the show.

Instead of saying “Look for episode number 6” I say “Head to podschoolpodcast.com and pop “whatever topic I’m talking about” into the search bar.

Not all search plugins are created equal so it’s important when you put one on your site to test it and make sure the posts you’re looking for are the ones that pop up.

The plugin I use on my website is SearchWP.

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Include episode numbers in the URL for each episode

You can do this using a plugin called Pretty Link.

This plugin lets you shorten the full URL to something simpler like “mypodcastwebsite.com/ep5.”

Your original URL should include all the relevant keywords you want your show to be searched for but you can make a simpler version using Pretty Link.

Even if you do this I still think it’s a better idea to use words in your URL instead of numbers because they’re often more memorable.

So, if your episode is about chickens (not sure why it would be but there’s content out there for everyone!) your URL could be mypodcastwebsite.com/chickens.

That’s a lot more memorable.

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Remember…

As with everything in podcasting, there are no hard and fast rules.

So, if you think “I don’t care what Apple says, I want to put my damn numbers in my damn titles!” that’s entirely up to you.

But my advice would be to keep the numbers out and the useful information in.

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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GET MY FREE PODCAST GUIDE

WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

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