How Algorithm on iTunes Work

How Algorithm on iTunes Work

iTunes is one of the top platforms for listening to podcasts today. Getting into the top of the iTunes charts will help in getting the needed attention on your show.

With new podcasts being published every week, the landscape might look grim for someone who wants to start out. It cannot be denied that making it to the top can propel you and your podcast to greater popularity. This does not only increase the number of your subscribers. It’s also good for reaching a bigger audience.

In order to make your way to the top, it is necessary to understand how the algorithm works. However, decoding the iTunes algorithm for podcasts can be challenging.

What affects the iTunes search ranking

Whenever a potential listener searches for a podcast or an episode on iTunes, the search results can show a list of podcast episodes that match with the keywords. Being on top of that search result can help you in getting the attention that you need from potential listeners and sponsors, as well. The larger your reach, the higher your chances of getting more paid sponsorships and people hearing your message.

Here are the three factors that affect the iTunes search results ranking:

1.) Wording

Each word in iTunes is weighted whenever you search. iTunes do not give weight to phrases, only words. This means every single word on your podcast will be weighted including the articles. For example, podcasts with the article “the” on their episode titles will show up on searches with that specific word. Although this exposes your show to more potential listeners, you’re also competing with a lot of other podcasts. However, unique titles will ensure that you’re the only podcast that shows up on the search result.

2.) Downloads

How many downloads each of your episodes and podcast get also has an effect on your ranking. Podcasts and episodes with more downloads will definitely show up higher as compared to podcasts with fewer downloads on the search results.

3.) Subscribers

The overall subscribers of your podcast, or the cumulative number of people who subscribed to your podcast, will have a heavy weight on the search results and ranking on iTunes. This would also mean that the more subscribers that your podcast has, the higher it will rank on the search results.

A certain aspect that affects your ranking in the search result is also your show rating. If you’ve marked your podcast as explicit, then it will not show on searches with parental restrictions. This might limit your reach and audiences.

There are also certain search suggestions that show up on iTunes as soon as one types a certain word on the search box. This usually happens before enter is pressed. The podcasts that show up as soon as letters are typed are the ones that many listeners search for on iTunes. If listeners are frequently searching for your podcast, this can also increase your likelihood of showing up on the suggested podcast.

iTunes Algorithm


This is the data that describes other data in your show. The iD3 tags that you put in each of the MP3 file that you upload or submit. These descriptions can be the title of your episode, description, author, artwork, and others. The words you use for your metadata are also given weight by iTunes for the search results.

One aspect of the metadata that you should give thought to is the artwork. Remember that iTunes is particularly very picky with the episode and show artwork. If your artwork does not meet their standards, then your podcast will not be updated properly. Make sure that your artwork has the right size, format, and is of high quality for it to be at par with their standards. The artwork is also something that you should consider if you are aiming to be included on the new and noteworthy sections.

The iTunes mystery

Although all these factors affect how the algorithm in iTunes work, there’s still a big chunk of mystery that’s a part of the recipe.

You might have everything checked and have done your assignment in producing, uploading, and marketing your podcast, but you will still see other podcasts that go against all the pointers. This just proves that you don’t really have to meet every aspect just to make it.

Even iTunes is secretive regarding their algorithm. So, there will always be that part of you guessing for the exact factors especially when iTunes tend to handpick featured and top podcasts.

Does it matter?

Although being on top of the charts, whether that’s on What’s Hot or the New and Noteworthy sections, undeniably gives your podcast the attention that it needs, it does not assure you of consistently high number of downloads.

Where you are located in the section will also affect your downloads and subscriptions. Those that are on the first page will definitely get more views as compared to those in the succeeding pages. Just keep in mind that the results of being on these charts may vary from one podcast to another and will not guarantee you anything.

If you are on the Top 100 in your genre, then it will make a big of a difference in your podcast. This gives you a significant bump on your download and subscriber numbers.

The bottom line of making the iTunes algorithm work for you is prioritizing quality above anything else. Always strive to produce better episodes every time. Keep your artwork and titles catchy and use the right format. It’s all about working hard to create shows that your listeners and iTunes will love.

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