Hey Squarespace, Let’s have some normal analytics for podcasts!!!

Those familiar with Squarespace may notice that this website is running on Squarespace. Having used Squarespace for many projects for over eight years, it was a natural choice of mine for launching Be Heard Technology. Overall, I have a very favorable opinion of Squarespace and recommend it to others for their projects.

That being said, I am very disappointed with their support for podcasters. One of the features available on the platform is the ability to host audio files, specifically podcasts. If you are already paying the $12-$24 a month to host and create a website with Squarespace, it’s a nice feature to be able to host a podcast for free with the subscription.

Squarespace also had added RSS and tagging features to make it easy to distribute any hosted podcast across multiple podcast platforms like Stitcher, iTunes, Google, Overcast and Spotify.

However, that’s where the love ends. What is missing and it’s a Grand Canyon sized hole in their podcast support is analytics.

Currently, Squarespace provides no details on how many people have listened to an uploaded audio file. This is in contrast to the company’s available website stats that have gone through multiple updates and are in a few ways better than Google Analytics (they do a better job of filtering bots). Therefore, for audio stats to be so poor is very disappointing.

RSS Subscribers?

Instead of providing details on listens, which should be pretty easy since the audio files are hosted with them, they provide statistics on RSS subscribers. The rationale is that podcast players grab data from an RSS feed, subscriber growth is indicative of increased listens.

Reality speaking, RSS subscribers doesn’t provide anything tangible. Most subscriber stats are just connections to podcast player apps that automatically add shows added to iTunes and Stitcher to their available podcasts. But, it isn’t indicative that any individual user has subscribed to the podcast or is listening.

For example, stats of a new podcast of mine in the image below. The first jump from 3 to over 20 is when iTunes accepted Five Minutes of Fintech. It gradually rose to the high 30’s as the podcast was picked up by more players like Overcast. There was another jump to over around the 100 level upon having the show accepted by Google Podcast and Stitcher. Also, adding another two episodes triggered activity in the RSS which also helped it get caught by other apps.

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However, despite the RSS subscriber rates, statistics from iTunes, Stitcher and Google showed only a few listens. This makes sense as the show was yet to be marketed and is in its initial setup phase.

Squarespace hosts lots of podcast websites

Adding to this issue is that Squarespace happens to be used by plenty of podcast websites. This is partially explained by the fact that Squarespace the company was an early and active advertiser on many widely heard podcasts.

As a product, Squarespace is easier to get up and running and looking nice for many new website creators than Wordpress. However, it does have its imperfections, the biggest being that it’s not a CMS. This means you can’t store images to use multiple times and need to upload them separately each time they are reused. The product is also geared towards static websites and bloggers will see some important features like ‘related content’ and ‘sidebars’ working on some templates but not others.

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These issues haven’t been lost on some industry insiders. A great example is a recent post (read here) from blind journalist Robert Kingett who explains how issues with Squarespace’s code make it difficult for the visually impaired to interact with Squarespace sites.

While focused on blind web users, Robert’s points are also relevant to SEO and flexibility to make tweaks. It’s also why many podcast creators, even after starting with Squarespace are migrating to Wordpress and the many plugins specializing in their needs.

For their part, they aren’t a podcast hosting company. However, having such a tight relationship with the podcast industry, it makes sense for them to make improvements to cater to this large customer base. And better stats would be a great start.