Notice anything different in Apple Podcasts and iTunes lately? If you’ve been podcasting for a few years, then you know about the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections.
Within the past few months Apple Podcasts has activated it’s once-stuck algorithm, making the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections alive and well again.
Well… they’re definitely alive at least.
Why the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections matter
Back in 2012 when John launched Entrepreneurs On Fire, he quickly hit the New & Noteworthy charts in iTunes. Like, within a day after he launched.
This placement meant that his brand, his name, and his podcast were being featured on the home page, front and center. All this on a platform that is visited and used for search by millions of active users.
The organic growth that resulted from this feature is hard to track, as there are many other factors that contributed to our rapid growth. But given the landscape back in 2012, it’s safe to say that Entrepreneurs On Fire benefited from those features.
Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of chatter about the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections. Everything from speculation that podcasters were paying for someone to manipulate the charts, to iTunes literally shutting down the algorithm, leaving the charts stuck for years.
So what happened?
We know from personal experience the visibility you gain from being featured in the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections is prime time.
Below is an image of the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections in iTunes for Podcasts > Education.
As you can see, a podcast creator is in an amazing spot if they’re featured here; millions of listeners are showing up on this page looking for content in the education space every single day.
Whether we like it or not, iTunes and Apple Podcasts remain the top podcast directory, and people do pay attention to these rankings when looking for podcasts to listen to.
What happened to New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot?
Within the past few years – for reasons unknown to nearly everyone in the podcasting space – iTunes decided to stop updating the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections.
Every now and then you might see a new podcast pop up on the home page, but the category pages for Business, Technology, Education… they were literally stuck.
Great for those who were stuck there, I guess.
Not so great for those who never had the opportunity to be featured there…
You can imagine the importance of prime real estate like this given the huge increase in the number of podcast creators and podcast listeners wanting to find the best of the best.
With the number of podcasts being published having sky-rocketed since 2012, it’s important to have a place where podcast listeners can easily find highly-rated podcasts that are right for them.
Getting into New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot
While the fact that the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections are alive again is good news for podcasters, the question still remains:
How do you get your podcast featured in New & Noteworthy?
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the exact algorithm iTunes uses to decide which podcasts end up in the New & Noteworthy and What’s Hot sections isn’t public knowledge.
However, over the past seven plus years we’ve learned a thing or two about how all the moving pieces work in the podcasting space.
Let’s break down the data
While we don’t know every detail, we do know the algorithm is at least partially made up of the following data sets:
- Downloads / listens within the last 24 hours
- Number of podcast subscribers (something you can’t look up)
- Ratings & Reviews
Also, momentum plays a huge role. If you can consistently show iTunes that people are interested in your podcast, that’s certainly going to help.
So what does “people being interested in your podcast” mean exactly?
Essentially, an increase in downloads day after day, week after week; consistent positive Ratings & Reviews; and an increase in your subscribers over time.
The checklist to accomplish these things is really quite simple:
- Tell your friends and family you’re launching a podcast;
- Create great content you know a specific audience wants and needs;
- Let your friends and family know once your podcast is live; and
- Ask for your friends and family to tune in, subscribe, leave you a Rating & Review, and share with their friends.
If you have an existing audience or following, all the better. You’ll want to repeat the steps above for them as well.
This is just Marketing 101. If you’re creating something that you want to be consumed by a specific market, then you have to let that market know it exists.
But even if you don’t have an existing audience, the initial momentum gained from sharing your podcast with the people you do know can make an impact on the growth of your show.
Other factors for getting into New & Noteworthy
We came up with a very specific launch plan that we teach on our free Podcast Masterclass to help new podcasters understand the most important factors of building a strong foundation.
Many of these strategies are focused more on future growth for your podcast, as we know podcasting is a marathon – not a sprint.
However, we also believe many of these strategies can help your chances of getting into New & Noteworthy.
So in addition to the checklist above, here are some of the boxes we recommend you check if you want to see your podcast hit the New & Noteworthy section.
- Launch with 3 episodes
- Enlist a launch team
- Have at least 1 month’s worth of content in the bank
Again, this checklist is not filled with rocket-science-grade to-do’s. Rather, a set of steps you have to be disciplined and focused to accomplish.
Launch with 3 episodes
The 3 episodes should include episode 000 (your intro episode), and 2 regular episodes.
This gives your listener access to 3 episodes immediately so they can get a clear idea of what to expect. If you allow them to make a decision as to whether or not they’ll continue to tune in, and they will.
Hopefully their decision is to subscribe and leave you a Rating & Review.
This also gives you 3x the downloads right off the bat.
But don’t get greedy… We do not recommend launching with more than 3 episodes.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to realize…
…If part of iTunes algorithm is to look at your downloads in the last 24 hours, you wouldn’t want to launch with 10 episodes, get (for example) 50 downloads, and then the next week, when you only launch 1 episode, get just 5 downloads.
Enlist a launch team
Having a launch team means gathering a group of 5-10 friends, colleagues, and/or family members to help support your launch.
Once you have a group committed, put together some social media copy for them. This will make it easy for them to share your podcast with their friends and followers when it goes live.
Also, request that they all tune in, subscribe, and leave you a Rating & Review once your podcast is live.
Big rule here: play fair.
This strategy is not meant to encourage individuals listening to your podcast who wouldn’t otherwise find value in it. Nor is it meant to condone asking for Ratings & Reviews that aren’t the honest opinion of the individual tuning in.
One month’s worth of content
Launching a podcast is a big deal.
And it’s a lot of work.
Getting to launch is going to be serious business, and continuing to stay consistent with your podcast will not be easy.
That’s why we recommend having at least 1 month’s worth of content “in the bank” before you launch.
There will be a lot going on once you launch, and giving yourself space to live in that and be active and engaged during this time is important.
We also recommend you keep this going and always be at least 1 month ahead. This is because consistency is so important.
Consistency is what will gain you know, like, and trust from your listeners.
Does my podcast have to be “new” to get into New & Noteworthy?
There’s also the question around the idea that New & Noteworthy – according to its name – would only feature podcasts that are NEW, right?
For some time the rule of thumb was that your New & Noteworthy “window” lasted 8 weeks – starting the day you submit your RSS feed to Apple Podcasts.
Does that rule still apply?
If you scan the New & Noteworthy section, you’ll see there are podcasts featured there that have episodes dating back way before 8 weeks.
So how the age of your podcast is factored into the New & Noteworthy algorithm, well that’s a part of the algorithm we can’t be 100% sure of.
What if I already launched – did I miss my window?
Another question that comes up a lot is “what if I already launched – did I miss my window?”
The initial momentum you can gain from being “brand new” in iTunes is a plus. However, if you’ve already launched and have a decent following and solid Ratings & Reviews, it might not be worth starting over.
You can still follow the checklist above and leverage the strategies outline in this post to “re-launch” your existing podcast right now. Meaning, you’re not actually doing anything with your RSS feed, rather you’re actually announcing and promoting your show as you should have done at launch.
Again, this is simply Marketing 101.
So now what?
What other components iTunes adds to their algorithm – maybe we’ll never know.
But our belief is that while New & Noteworthy and the What’s Hot sections are (and should be) highly sought-after spaces for all the reasons mentioned above, they shouldn’t be your primary focus.
Your primary focus as a podcast creator should be to constantly improve your content, your show, and your skills every single day in order to serve your audience.
Your primary focus as a podcast creator should be to create the best content possible for your listeners.
As a part of your marketing efforts, it’s of course a great idea to try and increase your number of listens, subscribers, and your Ratings & Reviews… once again, Marketing 101. But don’t let it overshadow your attempts to become better as a podcast creator and host.
Ready to create and launch your podcast? Join us in our Free Podcast Course where we guide you every step of the way!