What Google search is for blogs and Youtube is for video, iTunes is for podcasts. At least, that is often touted. And while the other platforms are gaining in relevance for us since we started doing video and plan to do more with our website, iTunes (most likely) remains the most important channel through which people find Epicenter Bitcoin.

It’s interesting, of course, that I can’t even make a clear statement on something as simple as that. And that also points to the biggest hurdle when it comes to optimizing iTunes: Apple provides no analytics whatsoever. We don’t know what keywords people search for. We don’t know how many people see our podcast or what percentage of them subscribe. The only thing we do know is that according to Podtracs analytics service (which isn’t great), just over 50% of all downloads have come through iTunes.

But there are some obvious thing we can do to optimize our iTunes presence that, most likely, will pay off.

Titles: It’s All About Keywords

If we look at popular podcasts of people for whom online marketing is their lifeblood like Pat Flynn or Cliff Ravenscraft, one notices that the titles of their podcasts look very similar:

  • Podcast Answer Man | Podcasting & Internet / Online / Social Media Marketing – Cliff J. Ravenscraft PodcastAnswerMan Answerman
  • The Smart Passive Income Podcast: Online Business | Blogging | Passive Income | Pat Flynn

And let’s do one more random podcast ranked highly for ‘online marketing’:

  • The $100 MBA Show – Daily 10-Minute Business Lessons | Online Business | Entrepreneurship | Marketing | Business School

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s going on here. These people are putting all the keywords that someone could use in iTunes search in the title of the show. They won’t actually ever say the full title, but it’s apparently used by iTunes to determine which podcasts are shown when people search. So they end up with 14, 12 and 13-word long titles respectively.

Contrast that to ours:

  • Epicenter Bitcoin

Ideas For Epicenter Bitcoin

So let’s follow the crowd and hope and see how we can improve this title by giving a key-word rich description of what we do. Here are some candidates.

  • Epicenter Bitcoin | Startups, Cryptocurrency, Decentralized Applications

That is a start, although even that is only half as long as the examples from above. We could, of course, add our names:

  • Epicenter Bitcoin | Startups, Cryptocurrency, Decentralized Applications – with Sebastien Couture and Brian Fabian Crain.

It’s admittedly unlikely that people will search for our name on iTunes. That is different for minor internet celebrities like Pat Flynn and Cliff Ravenscraft. So apart from flattering our vanity, this is probably not the best idea. Perhaps a better way would be to give a description of our content. That might not help with search, but could improve conversion.

  • Epicenter Bitcoin | Startups, Cryptocurrency, Decentralized Applications – In-Depth Conversations

I’m not sure if ‘in-depth conversations’ is very appealing. Maybe ‘Conversations and Analysis’ would be better, although it frankly sounds very dry as well…

We could give a high-level description of what this is:

  • Epicenter Bitcoin | Startups, Cryptocurrency, Decentralized Applications – Technology and Startup Podcast

Also sounds dry, although admittedly on a scale that has educational on the left side and entertaining on the right, we’d be very far left.

We could also share a message. Something that relates to our values. We think of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as revolutionary. We could exclaim that:

  • Epicenter Bitcoin | Startups, Cryptocurrency, Decentralized Applications – Join the Crypto-Revolution!

Maybe a bit too much…But something that shows values and includes a call-to-action sounds promising.

Description

With regards to description, our task is easier. Looking at other podcasts, there doesn’t seem to be systematic method of doing it. Currently, this is our description on iTunes:

Epicenter Bitcoin is a weekly podcast which talks about the latest news and developments in Bitcoin and crypto-currencies. Hosted by Brian Fabian Crain and Sebastien Couture.

That’s definitely far shorter than most, but more importantly it’s out-of-date. We stopped covering the latest news long ago. But we do have a pretty solid and up-to-date description on our website about page:

Epicenter Bitcoin is a podcast about the technologies, projects & startups driving decentralization and the global cryptocurrency revolution.

Every week, hosts Brian Fabian Crain and Sébastien Couture talk to some of the most influential people in the cryptocurrency space about their projects and get their perspectives on recent events. Their guests, which range from entrepreneurs, to academics, to industry experts, join the conversation from different locations around the globe, which gives EB a truly international scope.

This is a good basis, although a call-to-action at the end would help. And there isn’t enough emphasis of what people get from listening to our show. But that’s a bigger topic that remains to be covered another time. It points towards a deeper problem, which is that we may not be thinking enough in terms of what our listeners get.

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With a podcast, not unlike with a blog, content tends to get buried and forgotten over time. In fact, it’s probably worse with podcasts, since with a blog you might at least get some SEO traffic. But podcasts aren’t even searchable, so unless you make an effort old contents disappears into a void.

When we started out we took a fairly news-driven approach, so that might have been okay. But over time the way we produce content has evolved and today most of our episodes stay relevant. So as our episode count is now at 71, helping our listeners find previously released content that they care about becomes important. So this weeks post on growing Epicenter Bitcoin focuses on making more out of the content we already have.

Back Catalog Plays

One of the metrics, we have been tracking for a while are back catalog plays. I defined back catalog plays as all the downloads of episodes released during previous months in a given month. For example, in September we had ~9,400 total downloads. Of those, about 7,500 were downloads of episodes released that month and the remaining 1,900 were of episodes released in August or earlier. So for that month, back catalog plays were at just over 20% of the total.

An increase in back catalog play is a great sign in my view. For the most part, those downloads come from people who have discovered our podcast, like it a lot and then go back and download previous episodes. If that happens more, it seems to indicate that we succeed at producing content that is good enough so people want more of it and retains value so listeners are happy to go back to listen to old episodes.

We’ve had between 800 and 2600 such back catalog plays each month, which constituted between 12% and 35% of our monthly downloads. When we switched to Soundcloud two months after starting our podcast, we put our previous episodes there too. (Although, they were not again pushed out to our RSS subscribers.) So for our first episodes all the plays we see on Soundcloud are back catalog plays. It’s interesting to see that the our very first pilot episode, which was of very poor quality, received by now over 300 plays. So the going back and listening to old episodes is happening, but in a haphazard way.

The Problem

If people love our podcast and want to hear more, it’s a burden for them to go through all the episodes to see which ones they like. Some have even lost their value and are outdated now. Others were of mediocre quality in the first place. And the ordering on our blog and in podcasting applications is by publication date. This really doesn’t make a lot of sense in this case.

Let’s change that by providing people with a powerful way to find our most relevant and best content. And let’s offer a guided way to go through that content by topic area. And let’s even build this in a way to have a resource people can rely on if they want to go deep on one of the areas we’ve focused on.

Introducing Epicenter Curricula

Here is how we want to go about this. You will in the near future find pages on our website that give an overview of specific topic areas, describe the content we’ve already produced on that topic and how it fits in the larger picture. Let’s call them Epicenter Curricula. They’ll offer a way to go through our best content on a specific topic in a sequence that is thought-through.

Here are some of the curricula we have planned right now:

  • Decentralized Applications
  • Regulation
  • Economics
  • Startups

I think the coverage we have on Decentralized Applications and Regulation (most of it thanks to Siân Jones) are particularly strong and comprehensive. We’ll build those pages first. But thinking in terms of focus areas, also makes me realize what episodes we might still have to produce to provide a comprehensive coverage on an areas. For example, we have done a lot of episodes with specific Bitcoin startups, but it would be fantastic to have a big picture episode on the cryptocurrency startup space in general to introduce that topic. The same is true for Bitcoin economics. For those pages we may produce a few more targeted episode first or we might release them now and complement later.

In the end, I think we can develop these into solid resources. So that people who want to learn as much as they can about decentralized applications or regulation, know where to turn to.

Measuring Results

The effectiveness of this campaign should be reasonably easy to measure. First, with Google Analytics we’ll be able to see changes in the behavior on our website. Increased page views and visit duration should be expected. Second, we should see an increase in our back catalog plays. The overall number of back catalog plays and share of back catalog of total plays will give an indication. However, by looking at how the plays of the episodes included in one of the curricula develop relative to the plays to episodes not included, we should have a very precise idea of the effect.

The curricula pages may also have positive effect in SEO terms. It may rank well on Google for the keyword, it might garner a good amount of inbound links and it creates more link within our site itself.

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Growing Epicenter Bitcoin

November 12, 2014

Until the end of January, I’m focusing on growing Epicenter Bitcoin. If you want to read some background on what Epicenter Bitcoin is and where are at the moment, I just finished writing a long post on exactly that. The basic format of the project will be this: In this post, I will give a [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 8 – 10

September 30, 2013

In November 2012, I set myself the goal to program 500 hours over the next ten months, become a solid programmer and get into Hacker School. These ten months have now ended two weeks ago while I was in Scotland in a monastery. I was behind with my monthly updates so this will be the [...]

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September Plans

August 28, 2013

In the last few weeks the things I have spent most of the last few months working on have ended. I have handed in my Master’s dissertation ten days ago, I had the last interview for Hacker School on Monday and I gave my first Quantified Self talk last Thursday. While I still don’t have [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 7

July 22, 2013

I’m about to submit my Hacker School application for the fall 2013 cohort. This, of course, is a good reason to bring this blog up to date and report on what I have been up to in Month 7 – June. How I Spent my Time I spent a total of 57 hours programming in [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Months 4 to 6

June 6, 2013

Just yesterday I passed the 250 hour mark which means I have completed half of my total target hours. This, of course, is a great reason to finally (!) write the update post on my last three months on the project. The last three months have been very busy. In March and April, I was [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Months 2 & 3

March 3, 2013

Months two and three of my ten-month project to become a solid programmer have now ended. In total I have spent 121 hours programming since the start of the project which means I’m one hour ahead of schedule (Hooray!) and have completed 24.2% of the targeted 500 hours. In this post, I will discuss how [...]

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A Picture A Day – 365 Project

January 4, 2013

With the new year, I started a new project that I’m calling 365. The premise is simple: Every day I will take a picture and upload to the 365 website.  I will use my IPhone’s camera to take the picture and used Tumblr to set up a separate blog that is on a subdomain of [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 1

December 1, 2012

The first month of my Ten Months of Programming has now ended. Next week, I’m heading to South East Asia to travel with my wonderful girlfriend for a while so I’ll have a month-long break from the project. What have I learned these past three weeks? How did it go? Measurements and Their Use I [...]

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