Table of Contents
What is Digital Audio?
In our context, we are using the term “Digital Audio” to refer to audio delivered on smartphones as podcasts, microcasts, radio, and music, as well as audio delivered via smart speakers and earbuds/AirPods, voice assistants, audio delivered on Social Audio platforms such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, and audio embedded in web pages, whether recorded audio or audio generated by Text to Speech software.
What is Short-form Audio?
Short form audio — also referred to as microcasting or briefcasting — is audio between 1 to 5 minutes long that focuses on the delivery of focused bits of information or entertainment.
Examples would be flash briefings that one encounters in the Amazon Echo or Google Assistant platforms, where news outlets such as the BBC, NPR, and CNN, publish a daily (or several times a day) brief summary of the main highlights of the news.
Short-form audio contrasts with long-form audio, audiobooks, and regular podcasts where episodes run on average 20 to 30 minutes (many are hour-long or multiple-hours long).
Why care about Digital Audio?
First, three meaningful numbers: (1) 73% of the U.S. population twelve and older listened to online audio in July 2022, up by 5 percent from 68% the same month last year (2021); (2) 62% of that population said that they have listened to a podcast, again up 5 points from 57% last year; and (3) More than 70% of teens in the US own AirPods.(You can find more numbers here.)
Those three numbers tell us a story:
- (a) Audio consumption has reached critical mass adoption: we are no longer talking about tinkering by a single digit percentage of the population, but adoption by more than half of many populations,
- (b) Adoption is growing;
- and (c) those embracing audio most aggressively are the young, the future shapers of market demands.
Leveraging short-form audio to boost your SEO?
Short-form audio is an interesting opportunity for digital marketers for many reasons. We touch on these here, but in this article, we will focus on one topic closest to the heart of a digital marketer: Boosting the SEO of websites.
As any SEO professional will tell you, the core needle movers in SEO management are content creation and backlinking.
The more fresh and useful content you create and post on your website, the greater authority your website will gain. And equally importantly, the more other digital properties point to your website, the greater your authority.
Short-form audio enables you to contribute to both of those needle movers.
Short-form audio provides the digital marketer with the opportunity to be creative and to deliver not only bite-sized, easy-to-consume nuggets of information and entertainment but also, because of the nature of short-form audio, content that is authentic and emotionally engaging.
First, if you want to deliver content that your user will love, identify nuggets of value that you know your audience will appreciate: this may be in the form of facts, tips, lessons learned, best practices, or even trivia that may spark ideas and conversations.
Second, digital marketers have at their disposal several constituencies that prospects and customers would be interested in hearing from.
For instance, prospects might be interested in hearing from your happy customers. What do they value in your company and your products and services?
Thirty seconds of authentic, unrehearsed audio from a customer can convey the message very effectively. Enthusiasm, satisfaction, appreciation, respect – all these emotions will come across loud and clear in audio spoken by a real person. They can have far greater impact than a highly produced, slick, yet another 60 seconds of corporate chest-beating.
But beyond the customer, the digital marketer can also tap into those who make the company run: the engineers, the product managers, the customer care people, the executives: these are the real flesh and blood people that make the company run, and prospects and customers love to hear what they have to say. They want to feel that they will be dealing with people and not a cold corporate entity.
In addition to lending voice to the various company stakeholders, you can also easily create short-form audio content by, for instance, creating a summary of each important page on your website.
Not a verbatim reading of that page, but a short 1-3 minute description of what it’s about, something that tells listeners the main things they should know. For instance, you can have an episode about your company, one for each of your products, each one about your executives, and so forth.
One last thing on content, reminding yourselves of the basics and the fundamentals: People want authenticity. Audio allows you to create authentic content by letting you and those you engage speak using their real voice, with all the natural hesitations, the emotional signals, and the quirkiness that makes each human an individual that other quirky humans can relate with.
Now that you have collected interesting audio content, what to do with it?
The obvious first step is to use social media to link back to your audio content. Make sure that you are hosting the content on your website, on the appropriate web pages so that when you tweet about that content (for instance, “Listen to what our customers say about us”), you can use a link to the page that hosts that audio.
But the really interesting opportunity is publishing your audio as a microcast on the main podcasting platforms.
That is, create a brand new podcast — a microcast — where the episodes of this podcast are the short-form audio that you are creating with your team and your customers.
First, to get the most out of this content, make sure that you include in both the description of your podcast as well as that of each episode links to the relevant pages on your website.
Second, ensure that you include in your episode descriptions the right keywords about what your company does — the same ones that you know people will search on in regular search engines. This way, when people search the podcast platforms for anything related to what you do, your podcast episodes will emerge, surfacing your business in those searches.
Third: did you know that pages that include audiovisuals have an average 27% more time on page more than those that don’t? And longer time on page means lower bounce rates, and that can only be a good thing for your SEO.
And fourth, by using automatic transcription services, you have an easy and effective way of creating original textual content. One minute of audio is about 150 words, so 6 minutes gives you 900 words or so, which is the perfect size for a blog post. And as we know, the more frequently you post content, the higher your authority grows, and your SEO will benefit more.
Short-form audio is a low-hanging fruit opportunity for not only engaging your prospects and customers in novel ways but also in ways that can concretely and cost-effectively improve your SEO.
Given that very few digital marketers are currently leveraging short-form audio, those using it are enjoying a distinct advantage over those who have yet to wake up to the opportunity of digital audio.
Dr. Ahmed Bouzid, is Founder and CEO of Witlingo, a McLean, Virginia, based startup that builds products and solutions that enable brands to engage with their clients and prospects using voice, audio, and conversational AI. Prior to Witlingo, Dr. Bouzid was Head of Alexa’s Smart Home Product at Amazon and VP of Product and Innovation at Angel.com. Dr. Bouzid holds 12 patents in the Speech Recognition and Natural Language Processing field and was recognized as a “Speech Luminary” by Speech Technology Magazine is the recipient of several other industry honors and awards. He is also an Open Voice Network Ambassador and author at Opus Research and at CMSWire. His new book, The Elements of Voice First Style: A Practical Guide to Voice User Interface Design, co-authored with Dr. Weiye Ma, is now available on Amazon.com.