Podcasts with multiple feeds

Overview

If your podcast has multiple RSS feeds associated with it, you should understand how Google and Podcasts Manager work with shows that have multiple feeds.

If your podcast has only a single feed (see your verified feed history) you do not need to read this page.

If you are notified about a feed change, you should verify feed ownership as soon as possible

If the served feed for your show changes, you will see an alert in Podcasts Manager. When this happens, you should verify ownership of the new feed quickly. This is because data for episodes in the new feed will be dropped from the time of the feed change until the the new feed is verified. Dropped data is not recoverable.

 

How Google defines a podcast

The concept of a podcast differs slightly, depending on whether you're a podcast listener or a podcast owner:

  • Podcast listeners are exposed to shows and episodes on various Google Podcasts platforms, such as the Google Podcast app or the Google Assistant. Listeners search for a show or an episode, or subscribe to a show. Most listeners aren't even aware that their show subscription and episode list is managed by an RSS feed.
  • Podcast owners see listening data from Google Podcasts platforms on Google Podcasts Manager. Podcast owners create a show in Podcasts Manager that represents their podcast by verifying ownership of the RSS feed that Google serves to listeners. If your show has multiple feeds, you should read this entire page to understand some important background.

Multiple feeds, feed groups, and the served feed

If the world were simple, every podcast served by Google would have exactly one feed. But in the real world, a podcast can have many feeds. This happens for various reasons: for example, a podcast might have a "Top 10" feed, a "Holiday playlist" feed, and a "Latest episodes" feed.

If Google finds multiple feeds that seem to describe the same podcast, it groups them together. From this feed group, Google selects one feed as representative for the podcast, and serves only that feed on all Google Podcasts platforms. Google Podcasts platforms don't disclose a podcast's feed group, either to listeners or to podcast owners.

Step 1: Google finds RSS feeds when it crawls the web
1. Google finds RSS feeds as it crawls the web
 
  Step 2: Google groups the feeds that it thinks describe the same show
2. Google groups the feeds that it thinks describe the same show
Step 3: Google selects one feed from each group and serves that feed on all Google Podcasts platforms
3. Google selects one feed from each group and serves that feed on all Google Podcasts platforms
 

 

The served feed can change

Occasionally, Google might determine that a different feed in the group is more representative of the podcast than the currently chosen feed, and will start serving that new feed instead of the previous feed. Podcasts Manager shows a feed history that lists all served feeds that were successfully verified for the show in Podcasts Manager.

When Google changes the served feed, listeners on Google Podcasts platforms (such as the Google Podcast app) will see their episode list change to reflect the newly served feed. It takes 2-3 days to migrate all listeners to the new feed. If a user has downloaded an episode, they will not lose access to the episode when the feed changes. How this affects listener data in Podcasts manager is described below.

How Podcasts Manager defines a show

Google Podcasts Manager has a slightly different definition of a podcast than the listener-facing playback system (Google Podcasts platforms).

In Google Podcasts Manager, a show is created by someone to represent a specific podcast. You create a show by verifying ownership of the currently served feed. A show is an independent entity that, once created and verified by you, does not depend on any particular person retaining permissions to the show.

A Podcasts Manager show is aware of only the feeds that were added and verified for that show after the show was created. Only the currently served feed can be added to a show.

Change in served feed

Changes in a podcast's served feed do not occur often; however, when they do, you should verify ownership of the new served feed quickly to avoid losing new data.

If Google changes the served feed for a podcast:

  • If the newly served feed was previously verified for this show, the change happens invisibly to the show in Podcasts Manager (though you can see the new served feed in the feed history).
  • If the feed changes to a new, never-verified feed:
    • Podcasts Manager will expose a notification in your show about the feed change, prompting show owners to verify the new feed.
    • Any episode that appears on both the old and new feed can no longer accrue listening data until ownership of the new feed is verified for the show. Listening data during this intervening period is lost permanently, though there is typically a 2-3 day grace period where you might continue to see data.
    • Thus, a feed change will typically be visible as a dip in your show data; the faster you verify the new feed, the shorter the dip. If you do not verify the newly served feed, data for those episodes in the new feed will eventually go down to zero.

Example

Here's an example showing the feed group for a podcast as seen by listeners compared to a show on Podcasts Manager, when the served feed changes.

Suppose you have a successful zebra podcast on the web, and you want to start tracking your listener data on Google Podcasts platforms. On January 1 you create a new show for your podcast on Podcasts Manager. At that time, your podcast has 3 feeds. Google knows about all 3 feeds, associates them all with your podcast, and serves the feed zebras.example.com/latest. Here is how your feeds would be represented:

January 1 podcast definition

Zebra podcast feed group*
(Google's view)
Zebra show verified feed list
(Podcasts Manager show view)
Listener view
(Google Podcasts platforms)
  • zebras.example.com/latest Served
  • zebras.example.com/best_of
  • zebras.example.com/full_list
  • zebras.example.com/latest Served
  • zebras.example.com/latest

 

Six months later, Google selects a different feed as the best definition of the Zebra show for listeners, and starts serving best_of feed instead:

July 1 podcast definition

Zebra podcast feed group*
(Google's view)
Zebra show verified feed list
(Podcasts Manager show view)
Listener view
(Google Podcasts platforms)
  • zebras.example.com/best_of Served
  • zebras.example.com/latest
  • zebras.example.com/full_list
  • zebras.example.com/best_of Served
  • zebras.example.com/latest
  • zebras.example.com/best_of

 

* The feed group for a given podcast according to Google Podcasts is not public.

The verified feed list for a show in Podcasts Manager can be seen by anyone with read access to the show. The Podcasts Manager group is a subset of the Google Podcasts platform group, and consists of all served, verified feeds since the show was created in Podcasts Manager.

Manage your feeds

See your verified feed history

You can see a list of all served feeds that were successfully verified for your show in Podcasts Manager. To see your show's verified feed history, click settings Settings then Feeds on the show's homepage. Only feeds that were verified during the lifetime of the show in Podcasts Manager are listed.

See the served feed for your show

  1. Click settings Settings then Feeds on the show's homepage to see a list of all feeds that were ever verified for your show. Any feed listed was verified and served at least once for this show. The currently served feed is marked Served.
  2. If you see a warning that the show is now served from a different feed, click Verify new feed to see the URL of the new served feed in the verification wizard. However, do not click "Send code" in the wizard unless you plan to complete the verification process for your show promptly. You can step through the first few windows of the verification wizard before reaching the Send code step. However, don't send the verification code until you're ready to complete the verification process. This is because you will lose access to the show in Podcasts Manager from the time you send the code until you complete the verification process.

Add a new feed to your show

You cannot arbitrarily add an additional feed to an existing show on Podcasts Manager. If the served feed changes, you will be guided on how to verify the proper feed the next time you open the show in Podcasts Manager. If you have an entirely new podcast, follow the instructions for adding a new show.

Remove a feed from your show

You can't remove feeds from your show's feed history in Podcasts Manager. You can delete or block the actual RSS feed to prevent a feed from being used by Google, but any feed shown in your feed history will remain there forever.

Maintain show ownership

Once a show is created in Podcasts Manager, if the served feed changes, a show Admin or Editor must verify ownership of the new served feed.

The following rules apply whenever the served feed changes:

  • From the time that you send a verification code until you complete the verification process, all users will lose access to the show in Podcasts Manager. However, new data for the show is dropped from the time that the feed changes until you complete the verification process. Therefore, if you think that you can complete the verification process soon, send the code to continue aggregating data, even though you will lose access to the show until you complete the verification process. If you don't think that you will ever be able to complete the verification process, we recommend not sending the code, as you will lose access to the show until you complete the verification process.
  • After a certain grace period, new data for any episodes in the new feed will be dropped, even if the episodes were also present in the old feed. Dropped data is not recoverable.
  • Feed verification is tied to a show in Podcasts Manager, not to a specific user. If User 1 verifies ownership of a feed for show X, but later quits the show, the show remains verified for all remaining users of that show.

Request a change in the served feed

If you think that Google has chosen an incorrect feed to represent your podcast, you can file a request to change the served feed for your podcast. This process takes several weeks, and is subject to the discretion of Google.

To request that Google serve a different feed for your show, file a request using this form.​​​​​​

Feed FAQs

For help troubleshooting your feed issues, see the Troubleshooting guide

 

What happens to my Podcasts Manager show if Google changes the served feed?

  • If you've claimed ownership of the served feed, and Google later selects a different feed, you'll see a notification in Podcasts Manager warning you about the change, with a link to verify the new served feed. (You'll also get an email telling you about the change). If you don't verify ownership of the new feed within a certain period of time, you will not be able to see any new data for the show, even if your (non-served) verified feed has some of the same episodes.

How can I indicate to Google which feed should be served for my podcast?

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