In an increasingly competitive podcasting landscape, getting your category choice right is an essential and fundamental part of capturing the attention of your desired listener base.
The categories you select in directories like the Apple Podcasts app and other podcast platforms are one factor (among many) that determines how easy it is for potential listeners to discover your podcast.
How do you determine the right ones for you? And what are some other ways to boost your visibility within directories? This short guide breaks down everything you need to know.
Which podcast categories are the most popular? (+ free download)
According to a recent study by Edison Research (Q4 2022-Q1 2023), the current top 10 podcast categories that top charts in the U.S. are:
- Society & Culture
- True Crime
- Health & Fitness
- TV & Film
- Religion and Spirituality
The degree of competition within these categories is likely high, and to stand out, the quality and uniqueness of the content, as well as your metadata, should be prioritized.
It's also worth noting alternative categories that might be less crowded, providing an opportunity to become a big fish in a smaller pond. Ultimately, your category choice should align with the podcast's target audience, content, and growth strategy.
Free resource: Check out this free podcast metadata cheat sheet for more ways to leverage your metadata to boost your visibility within directories!
Does every directory require categories?
Most podcast directories, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts, require you to select a primary category for your show, but not all directories have this requirement.
Some smaller or niche directories may simply list all their podcasts in one place without sorting them into categories. However, for broader reach and potential listener discovery, it's highly recommended to select a category that best fits the essence of your podcast.
Even if it's not a requirement, having a well-chosen category can help listeners find your podcast and increase your viewership.
What to know before choosing your categories
While choosing categories within podcast directories is essential, it's also crucial to select appropriate categories within your podcast hosting platform. This is because your hosting platform generates an RSS feed for your podcast that contains all the necessary metadata, including your selected categories.
With the RSS feed, your podcast can be discovered and subscribed to by potential listeners on various podcast directories. So, choosing accurate categories on your podcast hosting platform will ensure your podcast is correctly categorized on directories via your RSS feed, increasing its visibility.
How do I choose the right one?
Choosing the right categories for your show is a critical part of the success equation. Ask yourself the following questions to figure out which ones to choose:
- Who is my target audience, and what categories are they most likely to browse?
- What is the central theme or subject of my podcast, and which categories best match this content?
- Are there categories that are less saturated where my podcast might stand out more?
- What does the competition look like in the potential categories I'm considering?
- Can my content fit into multiple categories, and if so, which ones offer the best exposure?
Apple Podcasts allows you to select up to three categories for your podcast. This includes one primary category, which is the main category that your podcast falls into.
You'll also be asked to choose a subcategory or two that your content also relates to. Your primary category plays the most significant role in how easily listeners can discover your podcast, and the secondary category offers more opportunities for listeners to find your show.
Resource: Check out this short podcast episode to learn what to do when your podcast doesn’t fit neatly within any specific category.
Summary + additional resources
Choosing your podcast category involves careful consideration and research. It's essential to choose the ones that accurately reflect your content, appeal to your target audience, and provide maximum exposure for your podcast.
And remember, you can always change or add categories later on as your podcast evolves!
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