iTunes operates similar to a Digg type website. In this case, people vote by subscribing to a podcast inside iTunes. The more people click on your podcast, the higher the ranking goes. The top spot on the podcast ranking can be valuable real estate to hold, but how does one become (and stay) king of the mountain?
Of course, it really helps if you have a popular website that can drive people to your podcast. Then you can use a link like the one below (every podcast has their own unique url) to send people to the iTunes Store.
The above link brings up iTunes and preloads it to a screen like this one. Where iTunes ratings are concerned, it’s all about clicking that last button.
It’s also entirely time-based. You can have 3 Million podcasters sign up over the course of a year. Assume that all of them are avid listeners who hear the show every day. That would be 10,000 people/day. However, say a TV show ends and posts a snippet on iTunes, and they get 150,000 people to download the snippet over 3 days. Even though the theoretical TV show only has 5% of your theoretical audience, they would have 40,000 more subscribers per day and presumably take the #1 slot for 3-4 days.
It’s an interesting animal. A while back, we added images to our podcast feed, and almost immediately we jumped to #1 in the business category, and for the first time we broke the top 100 overall. Late last year, we started to combine 2 feeds, and jumped from an average ranking around 80 to an average ranking around 40 – and we have more changes coming. (I’ll detail what we’ve done in a future post.)
When you start working with groups of people in the millions, small changes can make a HUGE difference. We’ve seen it here many times in various forms, but to me it’s like a jet leaving the runway – it still amazes me every time.