Google has confirmed that it is ending a feature that allowed users to access playable podcasts directly from Google search results in favor of offering podcast recommendations. Officially launched in 2019, the feature surfaced podcasts when they matched a user’s query, including when a user specifically included the word “podcast” in their search terms. But a few weeks ago, some creators started noticing that podcast carousels had disappeared from Google search results — and now the company is explaining why that’s the case.
The disappearance was first spotted by Podnews.net, which noted in January that searches for podcasts no longer returned any play buttons or links to Google Podcasts itself. When they tested the feature by searching for “historical podcasts,” they only received a list of shows with links to podcast reviews, Apple Podcast pages, and other streaming locations.
At the time, Google simply told the site that the feature was working “as expected.”
But a new announcement in Google Podcasts Manager says the feature is officially shut down from February 13.
“Google Search will stop showing podcast carousels by February 13. As a result, clicks and impressions in How people find your show will drop to zero after that date,” the message read. Podcasters are also encouraged to download any historical data they wish to retain prior to this permanent shutdown.
Of course, as many podcasters have already discovered, their stats had already decreased as the feature was removed.
To be fair, searchable podcasts weren’t a remarkably well-executed product because they didn’t offer a way to do much more than click to play an episode. On YouTube’s Podcasts vertical, by comparison, podcast creators can create an index of different parts of an episode, letting users jump right to the section they wanted to hear. Additionally, users can watch a video from the podcast, if the creator chooses to film.
YouTube has also proven to be more popular than Google Podcasts and other competitors. In a 2022 market study of podcast listeners, for example, YouTube edged out Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts as users’ favorite podcast platform. Although many podcast market analysis reports do not consider YouTube when comparing the popularity of various podcast applications, a recent report by Buzzsprout at least suggests that using the web browser as a listening application had a very small market share of only 3.5%. And that share had barely grown over the years, despite Google indexing the shows.
Reached for comment, Google explained that its decision to remove search-readable podcasts would allow it to focus on a new addition instead.
“Our existing podcast features will be gradually replaced with a unique new feature, What to podcast? » a spokesperson told us. They noted that the feature is currently live on mobile for English users in the United States “This feature provides detailed information about podcasts, links to listen to shows on different platforms, and links to the websites of podcasters, if applicable,” the spokesperson added.
According to the help documentation, these recommendations will be personalized for the user if they’re signed in to their Google Account and will take into account things like the user’s past searches and browsing history, saved podcasts, and other podcast preferences. However, personalized results can be turned off if the user wants more generic suggestions, Google says.
Leave a Reply