You think your podcast has disappeared from iTunes/Apple Podcasts, and you're in a blind panic. That's understandable. Apple/iTunes is still comfortably the biggest podcast listening space on the planet. If your show isn't in there, your growth will be severely limited.
But of course, you know all that. That's why you're looking for a way to fix it as quickly as possible!
Fear not though, we're going to help you out in this article by doing a bit of troubleshooting. Podcasts vanishing from Apple/iTunes isn't an uncommon scenario, and it's usually a fairly easy fix. Let's get to it.
First Up, Has Your Podcast *Really* Disappeared From iTunes?
There's a decent chance there's actually nothing wrong with your show. So let's quickly rule that out first.
For starters, it could be that you've just published a new episode, and it isn't showing in Apple Podcasts. This is because it can take 12-24 hours for new episodes to appear in your catalogue.
However, your subscribers usually get this new episode within a few minutes of publication. This is a compelling reason to encourage your listeners to subscribe to the show, which will help it perform better in the Apple Podcast rankings.
It's also worth checking your show on more than one device. Take a look on your iPhone, as well as the iTunes desktop app, and if possible, ask a friend to check on their phone too. It could just be a temporary glitch somewhere.
You can also quickly check the status of your podcast inside Apple by logging in to podcastsconnect.apple.com. Is your show displaying as ‘Active' in there? If so, it's probably fine, but worth checking your feed (see below) as a precaution anyway.
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Next, we need to check if it's something Apple themselves are doing. On occasion, they do maintenance behind the scenes. In some instances, this has resulted in certain podcasts being temporarily unavailable.
Check your email (the one associated with your Apple ID) to see if there's any word from them. If they're aware of it, they'll reach out to podcasters and let them know. Situations like this are temporary, and shouldn't affect your subscribers' consumption.
Check Your Feed
Apple Podcasts is really just a shop window for your podcast. Your media host is the storage space for all of your podcast's audio files and information.
So if your media host is the factory, and Apple Podcasts is the shop, the delivery truck is your RSS Feed. This is a unique URL associated with your podcast. When you set up your show inside your media host, the host created your RSS feed.
So, how do we make sure the truck hasn't broken down? Firstly, grab your RSS Feed link from your media host. Most hosting platforms make this easy to find in your dashboard. For example, here's our show Hostile Worlds‘ feed link inside Libsyn, under Libsyn Classic Feed. Note the /rss.
Next, we're going to head over to the very handy Cast Feed Validator and do a quick diagnostics check. Simply paste your RSS Feed link into the box, and click ‘Start Validation'.
Commonly, running this check will return 99% green ticks, and the odd minor warning that likely isn't responsible for your issues. If there's a mention of a “Fatal” error, then this will be the reason why your podcast has disappeared from iTunes.
Reasons For A Broken Feed
Unfortunately, there are many potential reasons. A couple are quite common.
Your Podcast Artwork
Having the wrong specs for your cover art can break your feed. Double check that it is either a 1400 x 1400 OR a 3000 x 3000 pixel JPG or PNG.
Libsyn have also mentioned on their podcast The Feed, that they regularly see issues with cover art that's over 500KB in size. If yours is an extra-large file, it could be responsible for the problem. Try re-uploading a smaller version.
Hidden Code In Your Shownotes
Do you write your shownotes in a Google Doc or Word Doc, then copy them into your media host before hitting publish? If so, it could be some hidden code, disrupting your feed.
Use the ‘Clear Formatting' tool in your media host's episode tab. You may then need to re-enter things like hyperlinks, bullet points, etc. As long as you add those inside your media host, they won't sneak in any hidden feed-breaking code.
A Website Plugin Conflict
Hosting with Blubrry/PowerPress is a great way to simplify your workflow and manage your podcast from inside WordPress.
Unfortunately though, on rare occasions, the PowerPress plugin can fall into conflict with another plugin on your site, and cause issues for your feed.
If you suspect this is the case, have a look through your plugins for any that need updating, or seem inactive or unsupported.
Have Apple Emailed You?
If Apple kicked you out for some reason, they've likely notified you via the email associated with your Apple ID. Remember to check your spam/junk folder.
These emails are titled Apple Podcasts Rejection. Here's the typical content displayed in them…
Dear Podcast Provider,
The following show has been removed from Apple Podcasts due to technical problems with the feed.
Name: Podcast Name
Feed URL: ExampleFeed/rss
If you wish to resubmit your show to Apple Podcasts, first validate your feed in Podcasts Connect [podcastsconnect.apple.com]. Check your feed for missing tags and verify the functionality of each episode. If you use a third-party host for your show's content, review your host's documentation for resolving feed issues. After you have resolved the technical issues, resubmit using Podcasts Connect [podcastsconnect.apple.com].
For more information on troubleshooting feed problems and best practices for metadata and artwork on Apple Podcasts, visit Resources and Help [http://itunespartner.apple.com/podcasts].
Other Reasons For Being Kicked Out Of Apple Podcasts
In recent years, Apple have gotten pretty strict on things like podcast names, and what they consider “keyword spamming”.
For the full lowdown on this, check out our guide to Podcast Names & Naming Your Show. Here's the TLDR though…
- Your podcast name must simply be that – your podcast name. If you run a show called ‘The Brilliant Great Internet Marketing Podcast', that's all you enter in there. No keywords. If you put a long list of famous business folks the show is “inspired by” in your podcast name, it's likely to make Apple Podcasts kick you out.
- Your author name should really only be your name. If you have something like “Johnny Jones | Business Coach, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Chocolate Covered Bacon Addict, & Crocodile Wrestler. If Seth Godin and Jeff Bezos had a baby it'd be me!” that will cause Apple to take action, too. To be fair, I'd kick you out if you told me that was your name. Have a word with yourself.
Another thing worth considering is explicit content. Podcasts labelled ‘explicit' (even just one single episode) will not appear in the iTunes store of entire countries (such as India).
Alternatively, if your episodes are full of swearing, and you've not added any explicit tags, it's possible a listener might've reported you to Apple and had you removed. Here, you'll either need to add explicit tags to the relevant episodes, or go back through them and edit/bleep out all the swearing, before re-submitting.
Summary: Help! My Podcast Has Disappeared From iTunes!
We've ran through the many potential ways this issue could've happened. Hopefully, this helped you identify exactly what's gone wrong.
Remember, always first check that your podcast actually has disappeared from iTunes/Apple Podcasts. If so, go through the process of elimination.
- Check your email (the one associated with your Apple ID) for any correspondence from Apple.
- Check your RSS Feed.
Also, make sure you're taking no risks by uploading artwork that doesn't follow the Apple guidelines, or copying in code-filled shownotes from a Word or Google doc. Props to media host Captivate who've put checks in place so you literally can't upload stuff that's invalid on those fronts.
If you're still struggling, and need this fixed ASAP, the best folks to reach out to will be the support team of your chosen media host. You're always best to do this through the support channel on their website, rather than via social media. That way you'll get a response and the help that you need much quicker.
But, if you're looking for more ongoing support and advice, then check out The Podcast Host Academy. Not only will we help you avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that can put a spanner in your works, we'll also give you the guidance and resources that'll help your podcast to thrive and grow!