Case Study - Music Podcast & YouTube Channel

 

About the client

This is an LA-based client that runs a podcast and YouTube channel which caters to up-and-coming musicians across a variety of genres, though I’d say it caters to a predominantly rap following. 

There were a few challenges presented with this client. Primarily because podcasts are fairly difficult to showcase online (e.g. when a user wants to listen to a podcast, they open up the podcast app and go from there). How do people discover new podcasts via a simple web search?

This client was unique in that it wasn’t just a podcast, but also a YouTube channel in which they showcase one-take studio performances. Because the podcast had two different formats - audio and visual - and because there really is nothing else like it (believe me, I looked), it took a lot of brainstorming to figure out how we were going to approach content strategy moving forward. 
 

Goals

The main goals for this site was not merely organic traffic, but subscribers. The client was less focused less on the traffic, more focused on conversions. As a podcast and YouTube channel, subscribers and views are how they generate money (otherwise they do not sell products, merchandise, advertisement slots, etc.).

  • Increase YouTube subscribers
  • Increase Podcast subscribers
  • Increase Mailing List subscribers (in this case, we had no mailing list to start with)
  • Rank on first page in SERPs for various long-tail related keywords

First thing I did after the audit was setup Google Analytics, Bing Webmaster Tools & Search Console Setup. It is impossible to make assumptions about the traffic of the site or demographics of the user if nothing is being tracked. So the entire first month was setup. 

Behind the scenes work started in September 2016, the site launch was January 2017.
 

Technical

The goal of a technical audit is to find out how accessible the site is to search engines and robots. Indexation is the goal. In order for that to happen, you need to make sure that all the technical pieces are in place.

This is the most tedious and unsexy parts of the audit, but it’s foundational.

The good

  • DNS settings
  • Server Errors (none)
  • 404 Handling and Errors
  • Indexation

The not-so-good

  • Structured data markup errors
  • Metadata & Schema
  • Site Speed
  • XML sitemap issues
  • Analytics
  • Robots.txt

Other issues uncovered during the audit:

  • Most of the sites meta data was automatically generated, and missed out on keyword opportunities.
  • The sitemap was split into several sitemaps with configurations which made the crawling of the site slower than better.
  • There was no schema or markup on the site whatsoever. In fact, there was a significant amount of structured data errors.
  • The client had no analytics setup, no way of tracking how users navigated to the site, how they were using the site, etc. 
  • The site really served as a place to host the podcast and was little more than a standard blogroll.

Speed

Minifying JS and CSS files, as well as image optimization vastly improved issues with site speed. Edits were made to the robots.txt file to prevent unnecessary crawling and indexation of non-public files.

Sitemap

Previously, the sitemaps seemed completely random and weren’t automatically generated which meant it missed hundreds of new pages that had been created since the previous agency created the old sitemap.

We split the sitemap into several sitemaps:

  • Main Pages (Home, About)
  • Blog Posts

Microdata

The structured data errors actually ended up being a WP theme issue, which was addressed through some making some changes in various php files. We also added author and article schema to the author box on each blog posts.

On-Page

The OnPage changes we made took a total of 3 months (October - December). With a limited budget, the client opted to implement much of the content changes on their own. With hundreds of posts to update, this naturally took a while. 

Structure

The site had very poor structure, with random folders & layout that didn’t make much sense. So we changed it!

Previously, the structure levels were:

  • Level 1: Home (Root)
  • Level 2: Artists  (/artist-name/) OR
  • Level 2: Song-Title (/name-of-song-being-performed)
  • We decided to go with /artist-name for consistency and also because users were not searching for song titles (via Search Console).

We also created 'About' and 'FAQ' pages to further target relevant keywords.

Broken outgoing links were discovered and fixed. 

Image Optimization

All images were rebranded & compressed and each given unique meta titles and descriptions, which further targeted related keywords.

Image compression resulted in a significant improvement in site speed (3MB per to 400KB for each image).

Titles & Meta Descriptions

At this point I should explain a little bit how their process works. Each artist does a 1-hour interview for the podcast and then does a live one-take performance in studio. 

Previously, the blog had about ~250 posts over a span of just under 4, one post being just the podcast episode, and one post just the video performance. There was no write-up (yikes) for either which is generally bad for SEO (skim content is seen as less trustworthy). Because of this, I developed a content strategy which would require the client to re-do every post. 

We decided that instead of 2 posts per artist, it would be consolidated into one. Because the site primarily serves as the host for the podcast, each title would contain Episode #s and the artist's name, as this makes the most sense for podcasting. 
To target more keywords, the posts were restructured as: 

H1 - Episode X: Artist Name
H2 - Artist Talks Viral Successes, College Culture Shock, and Performs “Song Name” Live In Studio (etc.)
Body - No less than 300 words, focusing on artist name & the conversation they had during the podcast

I also had the client make sure every post was targeted and interlinked, which adds topical relevancy to the entire site and passes link juice throughout these pages.

Through fixing the content alone, the client went from an average overall ranking position from 40 in January to 9.8 in April.

Social & Marketing Strategies

First of all, the client was missing out on HUGE list building potential. Simply adding a mailchimp form on the site resulted in thousands of signups. Though the client is not presently selling any product, the list is a great opportunity to target future buyers for events, music, merch, & more. 

The client had no active link building campaign, and had acquired links naturally or from promotions, such as interviews, live shows, local newspapers etc. The client points to the new site as a source of "legitimacy" from a writing perspective, and has landed recurring work with music brands as a content creator, resulting in a significant amount of backlinks from high DA sites. Link juice! 

The client was most engaged on Twitter than any other social platform. I proposed that instead of posting a YouTube link in twitter, to instead uploading a clip of the video directly into a tweet with a link to the client's website instead. Through campaign tagging via analytics, I discovered that twitter became biggest driver of organic traffic.

Results

Though our efforts are still ongoing, these are the numbers I can give as of now…

YouTube: +22k subscribers
Mailing List: +5894k subscribers
Podcast Subscribers: currently unavailable (in the middle of switching host), estimated +10k subscribers

YouTube Subscribers

Mailing List Subscribers

Proof

The client currently ranks on the first page in SERPs for "los angeles music podcast" and "music podcast los angeles", which were our main target keywords The pages ranking before the client are industry powerhouses so we are very pleased! 

In addition to those keywords, the client currently ranks FIRST in SERPS for 17 different keywords & on the first page in SERPs for 215 long-tail keywords.