Your Podcast RSS feeds: Key Things You Should Look Into

Your Podcast RSS feeds: Key Things You Should Look Into

Regardless of the who you’ve chosen to generate your podcast RSS feed and media, look into the following fundamentals to ensure you own your platform.

  • Check the actual RSS feed that’s being utilised

This may sound surprising but in reality, many podcasters don’t have an idea which feed Apple Podcasts (and other apps) are actually using. Others don’t even know their very own RSS feed URL!

Whatever the case may be, you’d be delighted to know there’s a straightforward way to determine the feed that’s being used.

  • Log in to Podcasts Connect then click on your podcast. Look for the URL field.
  • Search for your podcast using the author or title and check what feed is listed.
  • Subscribe to your podcast and you’ll have the option to view and copy the feed URL. In Apple Podcasts, right click on your podcast in the subscriptions and click on “Copy Podcast URL.”
  • After subscribing to your podcast, export your subscription to an OPML file. Open said file in a text-editor and look for your podcast name as well as the feed URL after the xmlUrl= entry you can find in the same block.
  • Find out who has control over the Apple Podcasts Connect account

If you don’t have control over your podcast in the Apple Podcasts Connect, you will not be able to resolve any Apple compliance issues that may arise. Additionally, you also won’t be able to refresh your catalog listing and access your podcast analytics.

However, assuming that your podcast host has this covered accordingly, this should not be a problem.

One aspect about your RSS feed you should be particular about is the option to redirect your feed somewhere else. Having this level of control can help warrant you can move your podcast anywhere you deem apt and still be able to take your audience with you while you’re at it.

Typically, this redirect should comprise of 3 things:

  1. A 301 permanent direct as opposed to a 307 temporary
  2. Remains in place even after service has been cancelled
  3. An option you can set on your own (this often comes with several safety precautions)
  • Ensure your own email address is used in the feed

Even if you don’t personally control the Apple ID that’s used to submit your podcast, you have the option to easily verify ownership and stay informed in case there are podcast-related issues that will arise.

Ideally, the email address used should be branded to your podcast and not your personal email address. Fortunately, while some podcast hosting companies will automatically use their own email address, many companies will allow you to change the email address anyway so it shouldn’t be a worry.

  • Verify if the website URL is really pointing to your website

RSS feeds have simple <link> tags that point to web pages. Check and make sure the top <link> tag is pointing to the site for your podcast. If your site is not solely for your podcast, inserting the URL to the podcast-specific page is deemed ideal.

Majority of podcast media hosts will insert their URL for your webpage on their own platform. However, you always have the option to change it so it will reflect your own website.

  • Make sure episode links point to the right episode web pages

For a bit, there were concerns over usability and search engine optimisation (SEO) in cases where the episodes links are not pointing to the right web pages. Apple Podcasts in iOS 11 however already comes with an “Episode web page” link in their app.

The URL typically comes from the <link> tag for each episode. Some apps however will check the <guid> to validate if it’s a legit permalink URL. In most cases however, the tag is set to <guid isPermaLink=“false”>. It’s another way of saying that even if the GUID will appear like a URL, it shouldn’t be treated as one.

  • Check if you can include HTML in your show notes

Most podcast apps display the show notes or the full blog post with the episode. If it’s included in your feed, it would come from the <content:encoded> tag. Options like this makes it a lot easier for listeners to get show notes from the podcast app without them visiting your site.

If you prefer basic formatting of notes (including hyperlinks and lists), you need something that comes with the ability to include HTML. Thankfully, high-quality platforms like Libsyn and WordPress provides a rich text editor that can make hyperlinking as straightforward as possible.

  • Ensure there is full support for the new Apple Podcasts tags

Apple’s iOS 11 integrated new features in the Apple Podcasts RSS spec. While the new specs are not really mandatory, implementing them can help create a better experience for your listeners.

In addition, there’s a bigger chance for your podcast to be featured if you’re utilising the new tags accordingly. It’s recommended that you use <itunes:episode> tag for episode numbers and <itunes:title> for the episode titles.

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