I work on SEO strategies with a lot of podcasters, and one of the topics that repeatedly comes up is how to get your podcast show notes to rank in Google search results.

And one of the hottest questions is whether to add a transcript to their podcast show notes, and how to do it best.

3 reasons your podcast show notes should have a transcript:

1) Google Crawler bots can read transcripts

Google’s software can’t see images or hear audio … but it can read text. So if you want people to be able to find you for the words you’re speaking in the podcast, a transcript is a great solution.

And if people can find the answers to their Google questions in your show notes, maybe click around to find more podcast episodes or subscribe to the podcast while they’re there.

2) Transcripts are great for accessibility for Deaf & hard of hearing

Chances are, you have people in your audience who may have trouble listening to podcasts. Just like you should add alt tags to your images for readers with visual impairments, it’s important to find ways to be inclusive with the way you share your content.

3) It helps your existing audience trust you more

Let’s say a listener loves something you said in your podcast & wants to make it into an Instagram quote … but you sorta mumbled, or they’re listening on 1.5x speed, or they were driving and couldn’t write it down. They can go to your website, copy/paste, and share wherever they want. Plus while they’re on your site? Maybe they’ll Read some blog posts or sign up for your email list.

Ok, so hopefully I’ve convinced you: you know why it’s important to add a transcript to your show notes … so I know what you’re thinking next:

What’s the best way to add a transcript to your podcast show notes?

Step 1: Get the transcription done

No, you don’t need to listen to the audio & frantically type out every word you say. (Please, please don’t do this!) You can either:

  • Hire a transcription service like Rev or Temi, where real people listen to the audio & type it out for about $1/minute, or
  • Use an artificial intelligence service to auto-transcribe it for you (Rev & Temi do this for $0.10/minute, or you can do it for free using Otter.ai)

Once you’ve finished your recording (whether you use Zoom, Squadcast, Skype or another software), you can upload the audio file directly to the transcription service.

If you use a real person, your transcription will probably be pretty close to accurate (you might need to change out the words “speaker one” with your name); if you use AI transcriptions, I suggest you have a VA go through and clean up the document before your post.

Step 2: Write your show notes

What can go in your podcast show notes?

  • An embedded audio player
  • Links to subscribe on major platforms
  • Guest bio & links
  • Shareable images
  • Links & pics of anything you discuss in the episode
  • Key takeaways (if possible, timestamp these)
  • Anything else you damn well please!

Step 3: Add your podcast transcript to your show notes

Some people like to include the transcript as a separate page or a downloadable PDF, but I don’t recommend these — these would show up as a different URL and therefore compete in search with the show notes.

Instead, I recommend including the transcript as some sort of drop-down, such as an accordion or toggle, so that people who are specifically looking for the transcript can access it, but it doesn’t take over the whole page.

Step 4: Get more listeners

Some people are afraid that providing a transcript will decrease subscribers. There’s no research to support or disprove this, so here’s my take on it:

  • The people who don’t want to listen to your podcast, won’t. Period. Not providing a transcript won’t force them to start listening … it’ll drive them to find the information they want from somebody else. Giving both options allows them to make a choice, and still see you as an authority.
  • The people who want to listen, will. The addition of the transcript probably won’t stop them from popping you into their ears on a walk … and maybe they’ll turn to the transcript for clarifications.
  • The people who can’t listen, can still learn from you. Whether for health or lifestyle reasons, non-listeners can benefit from the transcript, and appreciate you providing it.
  • Google can’t listen, but it can read. Providing the transcript will make you more likely to show up in search results for your content, and potentially reach new people.

Download the SEO Podcast checklist below to get even more tips for getting your podcast found in searches on Google and iTunes: