Today, there’s no shortage of data being collected, cleaned, and analyzed. The question isn’t what data we can get, it’s a question of what data we care about. At the end of the day, the data you should be collecting and interpreting is determined by your business and marketing goals.
When it comes to SEO, there’s a wealth of business intelligence that can help you optimize your strategy, and I’ve discussed some of that in the past. Here, I want to dive into something called “share of voice,” which is a model that focuses on your SEO performance relative to competitors. There are a number of elements and moving parts that make up your share of voice, including pay-per-click, social media, and ad spend, which the team at Brandwatch do a great job digging into. But I’m going to focus on the organic SEO elements, and how and why you should be measuring your organic share of voice.
The Data You Can Get
Measuring share of voice in SEO involves performing the anxiety-inducing Google self-search for your company’s primary keywords and search terms — a search engine results page (SERP). The SERP analysis gives you an indicator of how well you and others are performing for those search terms. You’re collecting data on the results, not just your specific performance.
It’s easy to dive right into that.
Assuming you have already gone through the grueling process of nominating and refining your relevant, targeted keywords and implementing an SEO strategy, enter those target keywords and phrases into specific search engines, like Google, and look at the first page results. It’s important to look at how well you perform compared to your competitors (both direct and indirect), but also any other search results (e.g., blogs, news sites, etc.). This means you’re not just collecting data about your performance — you’re looking at your standing relative to your competitors and anyone and everyone else that shows up on the first page. Record these results for each of your targeted search terms and phrases — noting the search-ranking (i.e., where you are in the search results) and the frequency (i.e., how often you appeared).
The Analysis You Need
This is arguably the toughest part, or perhaps the most laborious. There are paid services that can do this for you, such as Moz, but it can also be done manually. Analyzing the share of voice focuses around two points, as mentioned — your search ranking and your search frequency.
Your search ranking will demonstrate how relevant and competitive you are for whichever search terms you are assessing. If you are at the top of the search results above all others, congrats! However, don’t become complacent with a great initial search result — that can change day to day and requires constant maintenance to ensure you are properly competitive (As Han Solo says: “Great shot, kid. Don’t get cocky!”). If you’re further down, especially below your competitors, then you have your work cut out for you. This means you have to work on your SEO, emphasis on the “O” (optimization).
The new focus point is really the most important aspect of share of voice. It looks at the frequency your company, brand, or website shows up for those search terms on the front page. This is helpful for a number of reasons, not least of all because the more you appear, the fewer spots available to your competitors (win-win!). Frequency also contributes to overall brand awareness by getting you in front of a potential customer more often, which also furthers your brand’s credibility, relevance, and accessibility in the eyes of those same potential customers. On top of that, having greater frequency of search results for a specific search term can give a user more opportunities to learn about you and what you have to offer at first glance. With results such as pages about your company, landing pages for products or services, blogs or insights pages, contact pages, and so on coming up in search results, you’re giving a user a greater chance of engagement and click-through.
All of this can be summarized in neat numbers and percentages. For example, if you own six of the ten spots on page one of Google for a certain search term, your share of voice there is 60%.
Like Han Says — Great Shot Kid, Don’t Get Cocky
Search-ranking, while incredibly important, can sometimes overstate your performance. While you might occupy the number one spot, a competitor might occupy the next four spots and that might answer more questions at a glance for the user than just the one page you’re ranking for. This would give greater click-through opportunity to your competitor, while possibly reducing yours.
Ultimately, you don’t just want to show up at the top of the search results — you want to have a louder voice. So, a proper SEO strategy should incorporate a share of voice analysis. It can provide some of the richest insights into your organization’s organic search performance. This all ties back to your overall marketing tactics as well. Gathering intelligence about search-ranking and the frequency in search results can also inform your efforts to optimize your digital marketing strategies to be more competitive.