Google has announced it would no longer provide playable podcast links inside search results. Instead, the company will provide suggestions for related podcasts. The functionality, which was officially released in 2019, prioritized podcasts when they matched a user's query, including when the user included the word "podcast" in their search. However, in recent weeks, several producers have noticed that the podcast carousels no longer display in Google Search results.
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When Did The Update Roll Out?
Podcast news site Podnews.net discovered the absence in January when it noticed that Google Podcasts' play buttons and links no longer appeared in search results. When they tried it out by searching for "history podcasts," they got a list of episodes with reviews and links to Apple Podcast sites and other streaming options.
In response, Google informed the site that the functionality was functioning "as intended."
However, starting on Wednesday, February 13, according to a new statement in Google Podcasts Manager, the service will no longer support the capability.
By February 13th, Google Search will no longer provide podcast carousels. The notification warns that "after that date, clicks and impressions in How people discover your program will plummet to zero." Podcasters are also being urged to save any data they need for the future before the service is shut down permanently.
Of course, as many podcasters learned, their numbers dropped even before the service was officially discontinued.
How Do Competitors Display Podcasts?
Although listening to podcast episodes directly from the search results was convenient, playable podcasts could have been a more polished offering. By contrast, podcasts uploaded to YouTube's Podcasts vertical enable producers to compile an episode's index, so listeners may skip to the specific segment they're interested in. In addition, viewers may see a podcast video if its producer has filmed it.
Additionally, YouTube is more prominent than Google Podcasts web and other rivals. For instance, a 2022 market study of podcast listeners found that YouTube was the most popular podcasting platform, edging off Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. A recent survey by Buzzsprout says that utilizing a web browser as a hearing app had a relatively modest market share, about 3.5%. Yet, many podcast market analysis studies need to mention YouTube when analyzing the popularity of different podcast applications. And despite Google's indexing of programs, that percentage had grown a little over the years.
Why Did Google Take This Decision?
When asked for comment, Google said that the retirement of playable podcasts in Search would free up resources for a new feature.
A representative said that "our current podcast capabilities will be progressively replaced by a new, single function," What to Podcast. The functionality was announced as being available now on U.S. English mobile devices. A representative for the company further said that "this tool includes thorough information on podcasts, links to listen to broadcasts on multiple platforms, and links to podcasters' websites, when accessible."
If the user is logged into their Google account, the suggestions will be tailored to their individual tastes based on their search history; pages visited, podcasts subscribed to, and more. However, Google notes that users may disable the customized results to get more generic options.
Featured image: Google Podcasts
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