If you’ve done any research along your journey to becoming a podcaster, you’ve very likely encountered the term “ID3 Tags.”
Much of the information online about ID3 Tags is outdated, and from a time in the earlier days of podcasting where they were of greater importance. Nevertheless, questions about ID3 tags still pop up quite often.
What is an ID3 tag?
ID3 tags are simply metadata embedded within an MP3 audio file used to store or show information to the listener.
For example, if you play an MP3 file of a song in your vehicle and see the artist’s name + song title on the display, this is a result of the ID3 tags storing that text.
You can now probably understand why this may be relevant to your podcast.
Why ID3 tags generally aren’t important today
As podcast technology evolved, so too has the use of ID3 tags. The RSS feed generated for your podcast by the hosting platform also contains all this important data such as the podcast name, episode title, artwork, and for the most part, this is where today’s digital devices retrieve information.
That’s right, very few listeners will ever see the content of your actual ID3 tags because they’re rarely used anymore. Unless the listener is downloading the MP3 file directly to their computer, rather than using a podcast app, it’s likely that the ID3 tags will be irrelevant to most of your audience.
Tags, tags, and more tags
ID3 tags are often conflated with the type of tagging that you would use on something like a blog post, or even a podcast post in the past.
Yes, to make it even more confusing, once upon a time, you could assign tags to podcast episodes so directories like iTunes could categorize them by topic. As users became wise to this and started practices like “keyword stuffing,” search engines and algorithms also became smarter, and keyword tagging as we know it essentially became extinct.
This type of tagging was an entirely different concept than ID3 tags, but nevertheless, the two are still confused to this day.
The bottom line on ID3 tags
The bottom line here is that ID3 tags don’t require a whole lot of thought. They have no impact on SEO or search results. In rare cases, a listener may see the ID3 metadata if they download the file directly, but most will never even know if it has been filled out.
Some hosts, such as Libsyn, offer an option to automatically populate the ID3, so you can do this with ease.
Beyond that, it is possible to manually fill out these details if your hosting platform doesn’t support them, if you want to. You can use a software or ask your podcast editor for further details. The importance of ID3 tags at this point has greatly diminished. Thus, they have no real bearing on your podcast’s success, but it’s also not harmful to use them.