As of June 2019, there were over 750,000 podcast shows available on the Internet, streaming over 30 million episodes in over 100 languages.

And the number increases exponentially each day.

In fact, over 200,000 new podcasts have appeared on iTunes alone between June 2018 and June 2019.

So if you are a podcaster, getting your show established and in the charts is becoming increasingly harder.   However, there is one thing that you can do to differentiate yourself: include an automatic transcript.

Benefits of Adding Automatic Transcripts

We know that there are numerous benefits to adding automatic transcripts to your podcast:

  • Higher Search Engine Rankings: Google can’t trawl through audio but it can index text.
  • Increased Accessibility: Difficult accents and fast talkers make some podcasts difficult to follow for individuals that are hard of hearing or non-native speakers.
  • Offers Convenience: Transcripts allow your listeners to jump to the part of your podcast that most interests them, providing a convenience that will help differentiate your show.
  • Helps Create Show Notes and Social Media Quotes: Copying and pasting text for show notes and finding quotes for social media posts is much easier from text than from audio.

Best Transcription Practices for Podcasters:

What You Should Be Doing

Just knowing you need to add automatic transcriptions to your podcast isn’t enough. You need to be adding them the proper way. Let’s look at some chart-ranking podcasts to discover the best way to include transcripts with your podcast.

Display in an Easy to Find Place

You can embed the transcription in a variety of places, but the most common is on your website or on your episode show notes. Wherever you decide to place them, don’t make your listeners go hunting for them.

The chart-ranking true-crime documentary Up and Vanished does an excellent job of providing a dedicated show notes page for each episode.  Even though their first season streams over 30 episodes on the cold-case disappearance of beauty queen and high school teacher Tara Grinstead, each includes a full transcript at the bottom of the episode page.

Up and Vanished lays out each episode page with the episode title, a brief description, a gripping quote or two from the episode, a list of the characters mentioned in the episode story, followed by the full transcript at the bottom.  This format makes an engaging, yet user friendly way to access the transcript.

'Up and Vanished' show notes for 'Cold As Alaska' demonstrates an effective way to include automatic transcripts with podcasts.

Consider a Dropdown Transcript

Insomniac, a podcast that deep dives into the cases of some of the most disturbing serial killers cases in US history, goes one step further.  

Like Up and Vanished, Insomniac has a dedicated show notes page for each episode.  However, as its show notes page is heavier on photos and quotes from the show, the full transcript is displayed as a drop-down option.

This formatting option keeps the show notes pages more streamlined and less cluttered, yet still easy to find.

Currently ranked as the #12 podcast amongst all podcasts in the US, it is certainly doing something right.

'The I-70 Strangler' show notes by 'Insomniac' demonstrates how to include automatic transcripts as a drop down menu.

Keep the Audio Playing. Always!

Another option for displaying your transcription is to include an icon button under the headline, and launch the full transcript in a new browser window.  This is an excellent option for both keeping the transcript easy to find and keeping the show notes page clutter free.

However if you choose to launch the transcript in a new page, be sure the audio continues to play.  Let’s look at two examples:

The podcast Philosophize This, demonstrates the wrong way. On their brief episode page, you find the audio clip.  You push play, then scroll down looking for the transcript where you find: ‘See the full transcript of this episode here’. You click the highlighted link, which opens up in a new browser, and the audio stops.  How annoying!  

You should still be able to hear the audio whilst reading the transcript.

The story based, public radio programme podcast This American Life, demonstrates how to effectively include a transcript in a streamlined way, whilst keeping the audio and script linked. Each of their 680+ episodes offer a one-liner description, which underneath are separate icons for downloading, sharing, and getting the transcript.  To keep the episode show notes page streamlined, the transcript launches in a new browser. However, unlike Philosophize This, the audio keeps playing.

Having the ability to listen to the audio whilst following along to the text is beneficial for both non-native speakers and those who are hard of hearing.

'This American Life' uses icons underneath the episode description to embed the automatic transcript.
'This American Life' transcripts open in a new page, but the audio bar is still available at the top.

Identify Speakers With Different Font Formatting

No matter what the length of your podcast or the number of speakers, each time a person speaks you should identify them and include a line break in between.  

Additionally, if your show is lengthy (over 30 minutes) and has multiple speakers, you would benefit from varying your font formatting and color for each speaker. This makes it easier for the listener to register speaker changes and keep track of who is talking.

One podcast effectively using this strategy is Freakonomics.  Freakonomics is a spin-off from the 2005 Times best-selling book about the riddles in everyday life. In their recent podcast, ‘How Much Does Your Name Matter? (Ep. 122 Rebroadcast)’ you can see how the guests’ comments in the transcript text are indented and the guests names are in italics as well.

'Freakonomics' automatic transcripts use different font formatting.

Describe Music & Note Sound Effects

Many podcasts today are jazzed up by musical interludes that help the show segue from one topic to the next.  When you include music or sound effects in your podcast it is advised to describe the sounds in a detailed way, using [brackets] and single line breaks to separate the annotation from the dialogue.  This helps transcript readers get a sense of the mood in the audio.

Freakonomics does a great job of including this element in their transcripts.  Below is an example of how they annotate the transcript when music is included in the show:

The podcast 'Freakonomics' describes music using brackets.

Include Timestamps and Synch Text with Audio

The industry standard on how to include automatic transcripts with podcasts comes from Ted Talks Daily.

TED Talks Daily provides thought-provoking insights on every subject imaginable. With talks from How to Tame Your Wandering Mind? to What it was like to grow up under China's one-child policy,’ the world’s leading thinkers discuss a gauntlet of topics.  

The brilliance of the TED Talks Daily podcast, is that all podcasts link back to the Ted Talks website where each talk offers subtitles with the video, full transcripts in multiple languages, and timestamps to allow the listener to see the text highlighted in synch with the audio.  Moreover if you click to a portion of the text in the transcript, it will jump to that point in the audio. Brilliant!

TED Talks Daily ranks as the industry standard on how automatic transcriptions should be included with podcasts. This may contribute why Ted Talks Daily ranks amongst some of the most listened to podcasts in the world.

'Ted Talks Daily' offer transcripts in multiple languages.
All 'Ted Talks' transcripts include timestamps and blue highlighted text in synch with the audio.

As podcasting edges into mainstream media, it is becoming increasingly crucial to differentiate your show in order to be heard.  By incorporating automatic transcripts into your website and show notes in an effective way, you will be able to get ahead of the crowd.

For a cost effective and quick way to obtain audio to text transcriptions for your podcasts, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Happy Scribe.