Why publishing your podcast transcripts on your website is BAD customer service
Are you an amazing podcast host? Then I’ve got a question for you. Have you been publishing your podcast transcripts on your website? I’m asking because if you’ve been doing this without first editing them I’d really like you to stop and consider doing something else instead. Truth is – your podcast transcripts don’t deliver great customer experience to your audience. Not at all.
And here’s why.
1. Your transcripts are too long
How long are your podcast episodes – 20 to 30 minutes? Longer?
Did you know that the average transcript of a 20-minute podcast episode is 4,000-5,000 words? Apparently, it takes the average reader approximately 3 and a half minutes to read 1,000 words of text.
So let’s say someone lands on your website and wants to find out what you talked about in your latest podcast episode. Assuming they read at ‘average speed’ and go through your transcript word-by-word, it’ll take them between 14 and 18 minutes to read. And that’s for a 20-minute podcast episode.
Most of my podcasting clients produce fantastic episodes that are around 30-40 minutes long, and their transcripts are often around 7,000-8,000 words, if not longer.
Do you think that someone who wants to get the gist of what you talked about would want to spend a minimum of 14 to 18 minutes (if not longer) to read your transcript?
I’ll hazard a guess here and say no.
Because in a world where we all seem to be short on time and patience (especially when consuming content online and often on the small screen of our smartphone), people don’t want to spend the best part of half an hour reading through your transcripts. Or, in the words in the words of Marketing Strategist Debbie Ekins:
“No one in the history of the world has ever trawled through a transcript”.
I’ll leave that there.
But that’s not the only problem.
2. Your transcripts are full of mistakes
No matter what transcription service you’re using, your podcast transcripts are never going to be perfect. The quality of the transcription might be great, but you’re still going to find mistakes.
- Names of people, places, or companies might be spelt incorrectly or not capitalised.
- If you have a strong, regional accent and pronounce certain words slightly differently, the software might repeatedly spell these words incorrectly. (And this isn’t a reflection on you or your accent! We all know that voice-recognition software and has its limitations!)
- The software might not transcribe a string of words correctly, resulting in full sentences that don’t make any sense. Want an actual example of this from one of my clients’ transcripts? Here:
“No first derivatives that sports nor brick MGM”.
No spelling mistakes there. Nothing out of the ordinary that a grammar or spelling tool would pick up and draw your attention to. So you go and put that in your transcript and then come and tell you what it means. Because your guess is as good as mine.
And I’ll be honest. As an avid podcast listener, if I was on the receiving end of that transcript, I’d probably move on to the next thing pretty quickly.
So unless you or your team spend some time going through your transcripts (word-by-word and all 4,000-8,000 words of them) and tidy them up to make sure that all mistakes are rectified, please don’t publish them!
3. Your transcripts are full of repetitions
Whenever I speak to my podcasting clients about how much I cut out from their transcripts when creating blog posts for their podcast show, they inevitably apologise for being so repetitive.
Podcasters, please never apologise for repeating a word, a phrase, a sentence, or a concept during a talk or a podcast episode – never! Because the spoken language is built on repetition. It’s how human beings learn.
The spoken medium has different rules from the written one. So while repetition makes a written piece sound ‘heavy’, you don’t get that same impression when you listen to a podcast episode.
Here are some of the things that are typical in podcast transcripts:
- Words repeated twice or more.
- Interjections, like ‘well’, ‘you know’, ‘actually’, ‘sort of’, ‘kind of’, etc.
- Sentences that get interrupted or abandoned in favour of a different train of thought.
None of these things are to be seen as a negative in your podcast episodes, so you shouldn’t feel self-conscious if you find loads of them in your transcripts. They are not a reflection on your ability as a podcast host!
But in writing, you don’t need them. Repetitions, interjections, and broken sentences are unnecessary in your transcripts. They certainly contribute to your transcripts being so long, and if you ask me, they’d put anyone off reading, especially when they want to get to the meaty stuff.
So, once again, unless you or your team spend some serious time ‘cleaning your transcripts up’, please don’t publish them!
4. No one wants to trawl through a big block of text
How do you feel when you click on a title because you’re genuinely interested in the topic, and then find out the article is a big wall of text? Let’s say about 4,000-8,000 words long? Does that make you want to read it? Or do you think you’ll click the back button and go back to scrolling Facebook?
I know what I would do!
Let’s be honest here. No matter how good your content is, no one goes online to read thousands of words of text without breaks. It’s just not how we consume online content. Think about what you want as a user – you expect to access online content quickly and easily, and in order for that to happen, it needs to be user-friendly.
What do I mean by that?
- You need breaks and spaces – your text must be broken down into sections and paragraphs, preferably with titles and sub-titles that let the reader know what each section is about.
- The page needs ‘white space’ around it. Let the text breathe – if it’s squashed in big chunks, people won’t want to read it.
- You need images to break the text up.
And that’s not all, but that leads me nicely to my next point…
5. Your readers can’t skim through the text
Sometimes your audience is on the lookout for specific bits of information and wants to get to the key points you made in your episode.
Unless you spend some time formatting your transcripts, you’re not helping your website visitors find the information they need.
You can only do that when you:
- Include bullet points (just like these!) to make it easier for your readers to find the information they need.
- Bold, highlight, or colour some of the text to give prominence to the key messages or takeaways.
- Add enough sub-sections and sub-headings to allow your reader to skim read the text and jump to the bits they’re most interested in.
If you don’t do any of this, you won’t enable your readers to quickly scan your transcripts. And you know what that means, right? That they won’t stick around to read them at all!
But what about SEO?
You may have heard on the grapevine that using a transcript is ‘good for SEO’.
There’s some truth in this. Publishing a written version of your podcast episodes means that you’re updating your website frequently, and this sends Google information about the fact that your website is active and relevant, which is great.
By having a write-up of the episode, you can also include keywords as well as internal and external links. That, once again, tells Google more about how your various pieces of content are connected to each other and to other content on the internet. All great news for SEO.
Google’s mission statement (and I quote) is to:
“organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Transcripts aren’t that ‘universally accessible and useful’ (for the reasons discussed above). So if you want to up your SEO game and let Google know that you’ve got something even better than a transcript up your sleeve, then you’re better off replacing your podcast transcripts with either in-depth show notes or fully-optimised blog posts.
Create in-depth show notes or blog posts for your podcast episodes
Did you know that you can’t publish transcripts on podcasting directories like iTunes, Google Play, or Spotify? If the big players won’t allow it, why would you want to publish them on your website?
I know that you want to provide great value to your audience, but you can do this without publishing your transcripts.
Here’s what you can do instead.
Write in-depth show notes
Have a short introduction that talks about the topic, list the key takeaways and learning points, and don’t forget to include any links to resources you may have mentioned.
‘In-depth’ show notes can be around 800-1,000 word long (so a good length from an SEO perspective). But because of how they’re structured and formatted, they are comprehensive, accessible, and easy to read.
Turn your podcast episodes into blog posts
As I mentioned earlier, a transcript may be anything between 4,000-8,000 words. But the blog post equivalent of that transcript will probably be around 1,500-2,000 words. And that’s much more digestible for your readers, especially because (being a blog post) it’s formatted as one! It has paragraphs, sub-headings, images, space on the page, etc.
Here’s an example of the type of blog posts I write for my clients using their podcast transcript as a starting point.
Would you like some help with your podcast transcripts?
If you’ve been publishing your podcast transcripts on your website but have also spent time on each one of them to make them user-friendly (and effectively turning them into blog posts), that’s great! It’s the way to go, and not many podcasters are doing this yet, so keep going!
But if you’ve been publishing your transcripts as they are, I’d invite you to re-think your strategy because you’re probably investing money in a transcription service that’s not giving you a return.
If you’d like some tips on how to go about doing this, here’s a step-by-step blog post that might help, based on the exact trialed-and-tested process I follow for my own clients: How to turn your podcast episodes into blog posts.
And if you feel that creating in-depth show notes or blog posts from your podcast transcripts takes up too much of your own precious time, just know there are people out there (hint: me!) who do this for a living. So check out my podcasting packages and give me a shout if you’d like some help with show notes or blog posts. (And please stop publishing your podcast transcripts!).