Google discontinues feature that places playable podcasts directly in search results • businessupdates.org

by Ana Lopez

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 podcasts feature popped up when they matched a user’s query, including those cases where a user specifically included the word “podcast” in their search terms. But a few weeks ago, some creators noticed that the podcast carousels had disappeared from Google’s search results – and now the company explains why that’s the case.

The disappearance was first noticed by Podnews.net, who noted in January that searches for podcasts no longer turned up playback controls or links to Google Podcasts itself. When they tested the feature by searching for “history podcasts,” all they got was a list of shows alongside links to podcast reviews, Apple Podcast pages, and other places to stream.

At the time, Google simply told the site that the feature was working “as intended”.

But a new announcement in Google Podcasts Manager indicates the function is officially closed from February 13.

“Google Search will stop serving podcast carousels on February 13. As a result, clicks and impressions are coming in How people find your program will drop to zero after that date,” the message said. Podcasters are also instructed to download any historical data they wish to keep prior to this final shutdown.

Of course, as many podcasters discovered, their stats had already dropped when the feature was phased out.

To be fair, searchable podcasts weren’t a remarkably well-executed product, offering little more than clicks to play an episode. By comparison, YouTube’s Podcasts vertical allows podcast creators to create an index to the different parts of an episode, allowing users to jump directly to the part they wanted to hear. In addition, users can watch a video of the podcast, if the creator chooses to film.

YouTube has also proved more popular than Google Podcasts and other competitors. In a market survey from 2022 for example, among podcast listeners, YouTube came out ahead of Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts as users’ podcasting platform of choice. While many podcast market analysis reports do not take YouTube into account when comparing the popularity of different podcast apps, a recent report from Buzzsprout at least suggests that using a web browser as a listening app is a very small market share of only 3.5%. And had that share hardly increased over the years, despite Google’s indexing of programs.

Reached for comment, Google explained that its decision to phase out playable podcasts in Search will allow it to focus on a new addition.

“Our existing podcast features will be gradually replaced with a new, single feature, What to Podcast,” a spokesman told us. They noticed The future is currently live on mobile for English users in the US. “This feature provides detailed information about podcasts, links to listen to shows on different platforms, and links to podcasters’ own websites when available,” the spokesperson added.

According to the help documentation, these recommendations are personalized for the user when signed in to their Google account and take into account things like the user’s previous searches and browsing history, saved podcasts, and other podcast preferences. However, the personalized results can be turned off if the user wants more generic suggestions, Google says.

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