In the last few years, podcasts have evolved. Once a niche interest, the most popular podcasts are listened to by millions of people. Anyone with an internet connection, a microphone, and something to say can publish a podcast. Businesses use podcasts as part of their content marketing strategy. Popular podcasts attract a significant amount of advertising money, largely because their niche appeal allows for targeted advertising.
But once a podcast has been recorded, it needs to be hosted online. Unlike a blog post, a podcast can’t just be uploaded to a site — that’s a hosted audio file, not a podcast. Before taking a look at the role WordPress plays in podcast hosting, let’s discuss the various components that make up a podcast.
The anatomy of a podcast
Of course, the audio file is the most important part of a podcast. The audio file can be hosted on the same server as a WordPress site, but most podcasters choose to use external file hosting designed for that purpose. Podcast files are large and they can burn through a WordPress hosting account’s bandwidth.
Although a traditional website isn’t strictly necessary for a podcast, most podcasts have a site. It is used to promote the podcast, to display show notes, and a site is necessary if the podcast is to be discoverable by Google and other search engines.
Next is the RSS feed. Just like a blog, a podcast has an RSS feed. But unlike a blog, the feed is an essential part of a podcast. It is unusual for podcast listeners to visit a podcast’s website to listen, instead they use a podcast app’s search tools, which provide results from a podcast directory.
Podcasts are submitted to directories via the RSS feed. Without an RSS feed, there is no directory listing. The RSS feed is also used by podcast apps to list episodes, discover new episodes, and download the podcast’s file.
WordPress provides two of the important parts of a podcast: the website and the RSS feed — three if you also want to host the podcast audio files on a WordPress server.
WordPress and podcasts
The RSS feed for a podcast is a little different to the RSS feed used by a blog: it contains an “enclosure” for the audio file and additional information that isn’t part of the standard feed. Not so long ago, creating a podcast RSS feed was a bit of a pain, but today there are excellent WordPress plugins that will take care of it.
Seriously Simple Podcasting (SSP) is one of the most full-featured podcasting solutions available for WordPress. It makes it easy to create a podcast feed suitable for submission to podcast directories, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play. It also includes a media player, should people want to listen via your WordPress site. The media files can be hosted on any third-party hosting platform or on the site itself. SSP has its own plugin ecosystem, which includes useful additions such as podcast analytics.
WordPress, combined with performance-optimized WordPress hosting and the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, provides everything you need to publish your podcasts.