How to Rank on Apple Podcasts Charts

apple podcasts

Achieving a place high up on the coveted Apple Podcasts Charts is something every aspiring podcaster wants.

Ranking on Apple Podcasts Charts doesn’t need to feel impossible – Apple’s ranking factors are based on real, measurable metrics.

Let’s dive into what those metrics are and review best practices to boost your own rankings.

What Are Apple Podcasts Charts?

Apple Podcasts Charts, aka iTunes charts, are used by listeners to explore the most popular podcasts and episodes.

There are charts by category (what Apple calls “market”) that showcase the top 200 results within each of those categories.

Earning a spot on these charts can propel your show into the spotlight which could significantly raise your download and subscriber numbers.

apple podcast charts

Apple Podcast Charts Ranking Factors

1. Number of Subscribers & Growth Rate

According to a recent study that analyzed hundreds of shows, the #1 ranking factor is the number of new subscribers and subscriber growth rate.

Apple specifically looks at the number of new subscribers your show has gained in the past seven days, with a weighted average for the last 24, 48, and 72 hours.

When people follow or subscribe to your podcast, they’re telling Apple’s ranking algorithm that your show is engaging and worth recommending.

2. Number of Listens

Listens are calculated based on the number of times people have played your episodes.

Podcasts that rank at the top of the charts usually have the most listens, and it trickles down from there.

Listens are one of the most heavily weighted ranking factors as they’re a strong indicator of how popular a show is.  

3. Completion Rate

Apple also looks at completion rate, or the percentage of people that tuned in and listened to an episode. 

When people don’t stick around, it’s a signal that the episode failed to meet expectations.

Your goal is for listeners to stick around for as much, if not all of your episode as possible.

4. Downloads

As with listens, podcasts with high numbers of downloads tell Apple’s ranking algorithm that people are enjoying your episodes.

Since downloading an episode takes up device space, most users aren’t going to download every podcast episode they see -it’s saved only for the podcasts that users enjoy enough to subscribe to.

📈 Best Practices for Optimal Podcast Visibility

1. Optimize Your Episode Titles & Notes

One common misconception is that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn’t matter for an audio-first medium like podcasting.

Your show’s episodes can surface in search results on your own website (if you publish your episodes), on Apple Podcasts and more. 

Optimize your episodes in a way that aligns with how people are searching for similar topics can increase your podcast’s visibility in Google Search.

Use a keyword tool like Google Keyword Planner to find the popular keywords and phrases people are searching for, and then use that data to optimize your episode title and side notes.

A good example of an optimized title and episode notes is Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy

example from Google's keyword planner
Google's Keyword Planner

Her description for her episode “How to Define Success on Your Own Terms” explains exactly what her episode is about, and has a catchy headline that people are searching for.

amy porterfield on apple podcasts

Because Amy has optimized her show, she is ranking on the first page of Google Search results for the phrase “How to Define Success on Your Terms.” This is just one example of why optimizing your episodes for SEO can increase your podcast’s visibility and help people discover your show.

2. Use Quality Artwork

If you scroll through the Apple Podcasts charts – nearly every single podcast within the top 200 has high-quality cover art.

Even simple art can be high-quality.

What makes your artwork high quality?

First, it’s not pixelated.

The best resolution for podcast artwork is between 1400 and 3000 pixels square, with 72 dpi (dots per inch).

It’s also worth noting that all podcast thumbnails need to follow a 1:1 ratio – i.e. artwork should be square.

A good example of quality artwork is from the podcast Internal Affairs by NBC News.

cover art for internal affairs nbc podcast

The image is colorful, features eye-catching imagery, and makes it clear what the show is about. You know just from seeing the bullet, badge, title, and crime scene evidence number that you’re going to be listening to a show about police officers.

We explain how you can you make amazing podcast cover art in greater detail in this post, but for now here are the basic tools you will want to consider using:

  • Canva or Stencil to DIY your own
  • Fiverr or Upwork to hire this job out

3. Get Ratings & Reviews

According to Apple Podcasts, ratings aren’t directly factored into the algorithm that determines the rankings for Top Shows and Top Episodes.

With that being said, ratings are important because they indirectly affect other ranking factors.

A podcast with poor or no ratings may have a hard time attracting new listeners – thus no new downloads or followers – compared to a podcast with hundreds of positive reviews.

So how can you encourage listeners to leave a good review for your podcast? 

Here are a few tips:

1. Make it easy for them. Include a link to your show’s page on iTunes or another popular podcast platform in your show notes, so they can easily find it and leave a review.

2. Give them a reason to leave a review. Offer something special, like an exclusive bonus episode, for listeners who leave a positive review for your show.

The Product Boss Podcast hosted a weekly giveaway when they first launched their show

review giveaway example

Every week they announced a new prize winner on their Instagram page, and the only way you could be “entered” was to give them a five star review, take a screenshot, load it, and add a special hashtag in their Facebook community.

3. Let your listeners know how much it would mean to you. A personal touch can go a long way in getting people to take action. Let your listeners know that you would really appreciate it if they took the time to leave a review for your show.

4. Social Shares

Podcasts with a lot of social shares typically enjoy the benefit of reaching new listeners. As a result they are more likely to have more listens and/or follows.

If you’re looking to get more people interested in your podcast and drive up your download numbers, there are a few things you can do:

1. First, make sure you’re promoting your show on social media and in any other forums or groups where potential listeners might congregate.

2. Create some attractive artwork for your show and post it along with links to wherever people can find and subscribe to your podcast.

3. Try reaching out to popular bloggers or other online influencers in your niche and asking if they’ll promote your show to their audience.
If you can get even just a few key people talking about your podcast, it can make a big difference.

4. Don’t forget the power of good old-fashioned word of mouth – tell all your friends, family, and colleagues about your show and encourage them to check it out.

Here are some related blog posts to help you get the word out and grow your show:

The Easiest Way To Podcast

Ready to start your own podcast? You'll enjoy unlimited episodes, a beautiful podcasting website, cross-platform analytics, episode scheduling, custom embed players, automatic distribution to Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more

More to Explore

Looking for inspiration? Check out our latest podcasting tips and resources to grow your show! 

alejandro vargas

Podcast Movement 2021

Are you going to Podcast Movement 2021 in Nashville, TN? If you’re a podcaster, you definitely should! Whether you choose to go virtually or in-person,

Read More »