5 Methods to Increase your iTunes Podcast Reviews (Without Cheating)

5 Methods to Increase your iTunes Podcast Reviews (Without Cheating)

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itunes podcast reviewsiTunes is the biggest repository of podcasts on the Internet and also home of the largest podcast listener network.

That means a strong presence on iTunes is crucial to growing your podcast audience.

The quickest way to grow your iTunes audience is get listed on the New and Noteworthy section, or as one of the top options for the various categories of podcasts within iTunes, such as Management and Marketing.

Unfortunately, no one knows exactly how to do this.

If you thought ranking on Google is mysterious, try figuring out how to get to the top of an iTunes list where there is absolutely zero definitive knowledge on ranking factors…

Based on my own experience producing the Content Warfare Podcast {Listen to my interview with Ana Hoffman here} I’d like to share a few theories:

1) Number of subscribers and the rate at which people subscribe.

2) Number of reviews, quality of reviews, and the rate at which people review your podcast.

3) Quality of the artwork you use as your iTunes podcast thumbnail.

Listeners subscribe because you produce great content and the enjoy the show.

Additionally, I’m not a designer, so I can’t really help you with the quality of your artwork (though PicMonkey is a great DIY option and Fiverr is a cheap 3rd party option).

So we’re not going to focus on either of those two theories…

iTunes Podcast Reviews

What we are going to attack is increasing the number of iTunes Podcast Reviews you receive.

From my experience and research everything points to reviews as the most influential way of increasing your exposure on iTunes.

Plus if someone visits your iTunes page and is on the fence about subscribing, your reviews act as social validation for the quality of your podcast.

Growing the number and quality of reviews is very important to the success of your podcast on iTunes.

Disclosure: when I use the word cheating what I’m referring to is paying for reviews.  

There are different websites you can go to to buy reviews.

iTunes Reviews just like Google Reviews and Yelp Reviews are very particular and will filter results page.

I do not condone buying reviews in any form, especially on iTunes. This is in large part because, in recent history, review sites have become very strict and, if caught, will go so far as to cancel your account.

5 ways to increase your iTunes podcast reviews

1)  Create a short link or vanity URL

One of the most difficult challenges to getting reviews on iTunes is actually getting your listeners to iTunes.

Creating a short link or vanity URL will make it easy for people to find your iTunes listing and remember how to get there (I use www.ryanhanley.com/review as a short link I mention in every episode).

In many cases people are listening to your podcast while they’re working out at the gym, driving home from work, or doing something around the house.

They are not sitting in front of a computer.

A short link or vanity URL that is easy to remember helps increase the chance that, when your audience is in front a computer, they’ll leave you a review.

2) Ask loyal listeners directly for a review

The hardest part of getting reviews on any site are the first twenty or so.

Nobody wants to leave the first review…

However, a podcast with 50 reviews is more like a club that everyone wants to be part of.

Send a direct, personal email to a group of your most loyal listeners asking them to get the ball rolling.

This method may seem like a lot of work, but it ultimately is going to yield you the highest conversion rate.

3) Run short batch contests

ITunes will filter all reviews you get.

Assuming that iTunes review filter process is similar to Yelp and Google Plus, a large number of reviews posting at the same exact time could signify a contest and subsequently never to be shown (I learned this the hard way on Yelp).

You do not want to run a large scale contest that sends 25 reviews to iTunes all at once.

Instead consider running a contest where the first two people to leave a review of your podcast get a prize of some sort.

This way you’re acquiring new podcast reviews, but you’re not getting reviews caught in the filter.

4) Review call-to-action in podcast show notes

A good practice for your podcast is to include a “Show Notes” blog post with relevant links and information pertaining to the podcast episode.  I

ncluded in the show notes should be a prominent link and call-to-action for listeners to review your podcast.

5) Use social media outlets to generate new iTunes podcast reviews

It may make sense to build an entire community around your podcast (i.e. LinkedIn Group, Facebook Group or Google+ Community).

I haven’t done this yet, but I do see leveraging your connections in social media as a great way to generate new iTunes reviews.

That being said, I wouldn’t just post a link to your review page.  Try to explain to your social media followers why it’s important to you that they take the time to do so.

Marketing Takeaway

Generating iTunes podcast reviews is very challenging.

However, if you’d like to accelerate the popularity of your podcast on iTunes, you need to increase your reviews.

As of writing of this post, I’ve produced 21 episodes of the Content Warfare Podcast {view episode index here} and received 13 unfiltered reviews.

I know of at least five that have been filtered.

My absolute best advice for accumulating iTunes podcast reviews is to consistently create amazingly valuable content and make sure that everyone who listens to your show knows just how important iTunes podcast reviews are to your success.

You can use every trick, tactic, and strategy out there to generate more reviews – ultimately, your audience is going to have to find enough value in your content that they take the time to leave you a review…

Thank you and good luck,

Ryan Hanley

Ryan Hanley is the Director of Marketing for the Murray Group Insurance Services, Inc, located in Albany, NY. You can connect with Ryan on , visit his blog Content Warfare or learn to win the battle for attention online by listening to the Content Warfare Podcast.

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19 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Good solid advice Ryan! iTunes is a tough nut to crack and your tips will certainly give us a helping hand. I’m going to put them to good use. Getting top billing in the iTunes store is something that I struggle with since most of my listeners are coming from organic searches and listening to Ms. Ileane Speaks Podcast via my blog.

    • Ileane,

      I struggle with the same issue. A lot of people listen via the blog and actually I have a large contingent on Stitcher as well.


      Ryan H

      • Ana Hoffman

        Here’s a question to both of you: how do people listen to your podcasts via your blog?

        Do they download them to something? Or just literally press “Play” button and listen to it while doing something else?

        (I know, sounds a bit silly, but the only way I could ever imagine listening to a podcast is while driving maybe, since it’s too passive otherwise).

          • Ana Hoffman

            Download to what, Ryan?

            Again, just trying to understand the logistics of it.

            So someone would go to your blog post with podcast posted there, download it to a mobile device of sorts and listen to it on the go?

            Here’s what I am trying to get at: I’ve been thinking of doing blog post audios (not a podcast per se, but repurposing content by reading my blog posts to audio and adding those audios to posts as an extra way to consume content).

            If your readers listen to podcasts from your blog, then it stands to reason that they might want to “read” my blog by downloading blog post audios.

            What do you think?

            Again, personally I’d never do it; I prefer to read over audio or videos, but I know most people receive content better in more visual forms.

            • Ana,

              Download to their computers where they can listen whenever they like or can upload to a mp3 player of some type. Most people listen through iTunes or some other “player” like Stitcher.

              I think it’s a good idea. Chris Brogan does this with his newsletter, he reads it and provides the audio for download.

              It’s worth a try no doubt.


  2. I am just in the process of planning a podcast. I am a great fan of podcasting – on the listening end so far. Love how I can have my favorites on phone and ipad and be listening/learning every chance I get. Recently I have been encouraged to start one as a new lead generation source and opportunity to provide value to my audience. I love to help people find solutions and solve problems. Now I have some new content for my file on podcasting and followup. Thanks very much.

  3. Evan

    Great post. Firstly a lot of marketers and businesses just focus on improving their Google search but forget to diversify their keywords to index them on other search engines. Secondly, podcasts are a great way to get content across and although video and blogging are ahead, I believe podcast is a “dark horse.”

    • Evan,

      Podcasting is a very intimate form of delivering content. Without a visual aspect to the content you must good deeper with the words you use.

      I love it.


      Ryan H.

  4. What a great post Ryan – this is something that I’ve been thinking about, since I DO have people listening to my podcast, but not as many as I’d like . . . (although that’s like not having as much traffic as you’d like – there doesn’t really seem to be a point where you say “that’s plenty” but that’s beside the point.) 😉

    I’ve been wondering how to direct people to rate and review other than a quick note in the ‘casts themselves. I ask for a rating, but I’ll add a review request in there and remind listeners of how important their thoughts are.

    My listeners seem more than happy to comment on my blog, so I’ve wondered why I’m not getting any reviews on my podcast. So I’m assuming I simply haven’t made it easy enough.

    So thank you for your pointers! :)

    • Lindsey,

      If listeners are commenting on your blog then you should have a great base for getting them to review on iTunes. If you can push a bunch of reviews through iTunes you’ll see your download number increase as iTunes will begin displaying your show more. It’s really that simple.



  5. Good post Ryan,

    I’m hearing more and more about iTunes podcasting.

    I have to say I’m always hesitant to promote another blog.

    What if iTunes catches a wild hair one day and deletes your show?

    I know the iTunes platform makes it easy for people to get the latest show because it syncs right?

    Are there any alternatives that you would consider if iTunes went the way of Google reader?

  6. Ana,

    Thank you for the opportunity to contribute again to your wonderful community. Podcasting is topic that has filled brain lately and items like iTunes reviews seem to be a common question.

    I hope everyone finds the post of value.

    All the best,

    Ryan H.

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are so welcome, Ryan; always love to have you.

      Meant to ask you, by the way – did my review stick?

      If I ever pull it together and start a podcast, I’d be sure to use what you’ve learned when collected your reviews.

      • Ana,

        It did, thank you! I’ve found that some come right through almost immediately while other can take a week or more. But in looking at the reviews themselves I can’t find a rhyme or reason to it.

        As always I appreciate the support!!

        Ryan H.