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

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Should you put numbers in your episode title? | PodSchool Podcast

Thanks to Keturah for inspiring today’s episode with her question: “Should you include episode numbers in the title of each show?”

If you’ve got a question you want answered on the podcast, send me an email.

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

If you’re wondering whether you should include episode numbers at the start of each show’s title, let me save you the pen and ink because…you don’t have to worry about it!

And don’t just take my word for it!

I recently sat down with a rep from Apple who reliably informed me they weren’t digging it and when Apple’s not digging something it’s usually a sign that the rest of the platforms will follow.

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So how do you let people know about the numbers stuff if you’re not writing it down?

If you’ve already created your show you might have noticed some updates in the back end of your podcast host where there is now an option to label your episodes as either a ‘trailer’ a ‘bonus’ or a full ‘episode.’  As well as a way to indicate which season the show belongs to and what the episode number is.

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What this looks like in Whooshkaa

All of that gets imported into Apple podcasts so anyone who has their IOS11 update will see all those details appear in their podcast app.

Of course, you don’t need to do whatever Apple tells you to but the majority of your listeners are probably going to come through Apple Podcasts at least for the foreseeable future, so it’s important to optimise your show for that platform.

Apple also takes this into account when they’re considering whether to feature your show in the iTunes Store, so that’s another reason to delete those pesky numbers.

Why would you include episode numbers, anyway?

Some people use them because it can provide an easy way to point people to previous episodes.  It’s much easier to say “go back 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 your back catalogue episodes easy to find.

For starters, you can make sure you’ve got good search capability on your website, so if listeners come looking for the show notes for a specific topic they’ll be able to find them easily.

My recommendation for a plugin that will do that: SearchWP

You can also use episode numbers in your show notes URL instead of the episode title.

You can do this by using a plug-in ‘Pretty Link,’ which allows you to shorten the full URL (the original should contain all the important keywords) so you can point people to “mypodcastwebsite.com/episode5” (or whatever you choose) if that’s easier.

There’s a lot of shows that do this but I still prefer using a word or two that means something in the shortened link e.g. podcastwebsite.com/firstname-lastname or podcastwebsite.com/topic

Find the plugin here: Pretty Link

Why should I steer clear of episode numbers in the title?

For a start, if Apple aren’t down with it that’s probably a good sign it’ll be best practice in most places soon because they have a big slice of the listening market.

The other issue is that if you’re using the real estate at the front of your title to tell people it’s “Season 1 Episode 1,” that’s a lot of wasted space.  Especially if your audience is listening on a device with a smaller screen e.g. mobile.  If all that business is clogging up the front they’re not going to be able to see what the episodes are about, or they’re going to have to wait for the letters to tick across the screen to find out.  And who’s got time for that?

As with everything in podcasting there’s no hard and fast rule.

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

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

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Need some help getting started or setting up your home studio?  Download my free podcasting guide.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the show. Today I'm going to be covering a question that I've been asked by one of the students in my online podcasting course PodSchool.com.au - shout out to Keturah. She's been asking me about whether or not episode numbers are an important thing to put in your episode titles. And it was perfect timing because I sat down recently with someone from Apple to talk about whether or not this is a good approach and their answer was "No." If you've already created your show you might have noticed some updates in the back end of your podcast host where there is now an option to label your episodes as either a 'trailer' a 'bonus' or a full 'episode.' There's also an option there to highlight whether this is a season and to put a season number in and you can also put episode numbers in there. All of that gets imported into Apple podcasts so anyone who has their IOS11 update will see all those details appear in the podcast app. Of course you don't need to do whatever Apple tells you to do but the majority of your listeners are probably going to come through Apple Podcasts at least for the foreseeable future. They certainly have a huge portion of the listening market so it is really important to optimise your show for that platform especially since that's not going to be a detriment to any of the other platforms. In fact if those directories don't already use that system then they'll probably move toward eventually. So the current best practice is to take those episode numbers out of your episodes.

[00:01:30] Sometimes people might use it because it can be an easy way to point people to episodes in their back catalogues so if you want to refer to a show that happened two years ago it's much easier to say "go and have a look at episode five" than it is to say "go and look through for the episode that was about X Y Z." You can also use those numbers in your show notes U.R.L. so if you use a plug in called Pretty Link you can change up the U.R.L. So if you find it easier to say "Go to my podcast.com/episode5 you can point people there and then redirect to the page where your episode is. But having the numbers in the title is not necessary.

[00:02:14] It also clogs things up and you've only got a limited amount of space for your audience to actually see what that episode is about. If you're clogging up the front of that title with "Season 1 Episode 1" then on some mobile devices or when listeners are looking at that title on a smaller screen they're not going to be able to see what the episodes are about.

[00:02:34] It's going to be all business in terms of the season numbers and episode numbers rather than any actual content so it's always best to have your key words as close to the front of your title as possible and to make it as informative as you can. When people find your show this is what they're going to be looking at to see whether they find your episodes interesting and if all they can see is "Season 1 Episode 1" and I've got to wait until that little ticker scrolls across to see what your episode is about, I'm probably not going to be as enticed to listen. And if the big kids at Apple are saying that it's a no go, it's probably best to put content in your titles rather than numbers.

[00:03:13] As with everything in podcasting there is no hard and fast rule. If you go "bugger it I don't care what Apple says, I just want to put my damn numbers in the damn titles" that's entirely up to you. You just need to think about why you're doing it. Some people I think do it for vanity reasons so they can say look at me with my 350,000 episodes in my feed which is fine if you want to do that and that's important to you. It's your show you can do whatever you want with it. But it is best practice now to keep those numbers out and to just keep the information in.

[00:03:42] I'll let you go marinate on that. You can make a decision all on your own but I'm purely here to throw out some ideas and a bit of advice, then it's up to you to fashion your podcast however you wish to.

[00:03:54] You can find the show notes for this episode at podschoolpodcast.com and I will of course leave a link to that plugin on the page so you can have a look at that and pop it on your website.

[00:04:05] You'll also find my tech guide in case you haven't set up your home studio and you need a bit of assistance working out what you need and a link to my online podcasting course PodSchool.com.au which can take you through every step of the podcasting process from start to finish.

[00:04:21] Thanks so much for joining me I'll see you next week and until then, happy podcasting.

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