You're on Page One, But How Does Your Voice Compare?
As far as SEO goes, there’s a wealth of business intelligence that can help you optimize your approach. We’ve discussed some of that in the past. Play your B2B marketing cards really well and you may just end up on page one of a Google search for your targeted keywords. However, that’s one battle, and not the end of the war.
Share of voice is an analysis model that focuses on your SEO performance relative to competitors. There are a number of elements and moving parts that make up a share-of-voice analysis, including pay-per-click, social media, and ad spend. But, in this blog I’m going to focus on just the organic SEO elements. That alone should give you enough to think about, and demonstrate how and why you should be measuring your organic share of voice along with other KPIs.
Get the Data You Can Get
Measuring share of voice for SEO starts with a good, old-fashioned self-search for your company’s primary keywords and search terms to see if and how you appear on a search engine results page (SERP). But, it’s not just about you — SERP analysis gives you an indicator of how well others are performing for those search terms too. So, you should be collecting data on how that SERP is looking overall, not just how you’re performing.
Getting this crucial information is straightforward. Assuming you are keeping the process of nominating and refining your relevant, targeted keywords up to date (and implementing that work into your regular SEO process), entering those target keywords and phrases into specific search engines, like Google, should render some interesting first-page results that can be easily analyzed for share of voice.
While you’re at it, you can also look at how well you do against your competitors for any other search results (e.g., blogs, news sites, etc.). Recording these kinds of 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) — will give you a solid base of data to work with for your own eventual basic or advanced analysis.
Do the Analysis You Need
Arguably the toughest and most laborious part of a share of voice analysis is not the process of getting the kind of data you need, but doing something meaningful with it once you have it. And producing actionable takeaways. There are paid services that can do this analysis for you, such as Moz. But you can also do a high-level analysis manually.
Your manual share of voice analysis should focus on two points: your search ranking and your search frequency.
The 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, congrats!
However, if your brand occupies only one slot on the first page of a search result and your competitor has four slots, it can be argued that your competitor has a stronger share of voice. That’s because frequency is just as important as ranking. Think of it in terms of numbers and percentages. If your competitor owns four of the 10 spots on the SERP for a certain search term and your company has only one, the competitor’s share of voice is 40% and yours is 10%.
Why is this important?
Frequency is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is 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, a 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 more SERP results in front of a user, such as overview 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 providing users with a greater chance to engage with your brand and click through to your website.
Don't Mistake the Battle for the War
Obviously, search-ranking is still incredibly important. I don’t know about you, but I do at times still instinctively just click on what happens to be at the top of a Google SERP.
However, users are getting more savvy and they are keeping an eye out for whether a top listing is a paid ad or an organic result. Many take a few seconds to see who looks to be more “popular” on the first page based on the number of spots the company occupies.
So, when it come to share of voice, a top ranking can sometimes overstate the value of your SERP performance. Although you may occupy the number one spot, a competitor might occupy the next four. That sometimes answers more questions about popularity and relevance at a glance, and provides a greater click-through opportunity to your competitor, while possibly reducing yours.
Ultimately, you don’t just want your brand to show up at the top of search results — you want to have a bigger share of voice. That’s why a proper SEO strategy should incorporate this type of share of voice analysis. It can provide insights into your organization’s organic search performance, and more clues about how to improve and optimize your overall digital marketing strategies.
*Updated version of blog published 04-26-2019*