How do you measure share of voice on search?

September 22, 2021


Measuring share of voice on search helps marketers who want to become more well known for specific key words or topics. Jordan Crawford and Alison Reyes join the show to share their experience measuring share of voice. In this episode, we talk about:

  • why measuring share of voice is important for SEO
  • how to measure share of voice and tools to help
  • how to select competitors to measure against
  • real-life example of measuring share of voice

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John Tyreman:  Hi gang. Welcome to The Digital Marketing Troop, where we go in the trenches to help you learn more about digital marketing. I’m your host, John Tyreman, and I am joined today by two new guests, Alison Reyes, Associate Director of Client Services, and Jordan Crawford, Director of Strategy and Development at Silverback Strategies. And today we are here to talk about how you can measure Share of Voice on organic search. This is a topic that’s interesting to me because I love the concept of measuring a brand’s Share of Voice. But before we get into that topic today, just a quick icebreaker. What’s something about yourself that someone wouldn’t see if they looked at your LinkedIn profile? Jordan, let’s start with you.

Jordan Crawford:  I guess just on a personal note, I’m a huge basketball fan. You’ll see on my LinkedIn I went to UVA and grew up when we were terrible at basketball but lately we’ve been better. So, just something about me. 

Alison Reyes:  Probably that I’ve actually recently, located out west, to Utah. I don’t think I’ve even actually updated my location on LinkedIn, yet. They probably still think I’m in DC but yeah, I ventured out west, and living near Salt Lake so it’s definitely been a fun adventure these past few months.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, it’s beautiful out there. Well let’s dive into our topic at hand today. So we’re talking about measuring Share of Voice on organic search. Let’s start here, what is Share of Voice? Can you define it for our listeners?

Alison Reyes:  When we’re looking at organic Share of Voice, we’re really measuring how popular your brand is compared to your organic competitors. So, essentially what you’re looking at is how many times is your website, organically appearing compared to your organic competitors on the search engine results page or the SERP for certain keywords that you are tracking and targeting. So the assumption as well is the higher you appear, especially in those top 10 rankings, the more clicks you’re receiving and the more traffic to your site.

John Tyreman:  I’d imagine that measuring the Share of Voice is important but maybe Jordan, can you help me understand like, why is measuring Share of Voice so important for a brand or organization? Why would they want to do this? 

Jordan Crawford:  Sure. So when I think about Share of Voice, I like to think about it as a compliment to tracking your keyword rankings. I think that’s a pretty common KPI that most organizations do. You know, you want to see what position you’re ranking for, for your target keywords and how that’s moving over time. But what I see a lot of organizations do is just look at those keyword rankings, and just look at okay, how many keywords do we rank for on the first page versus second page over time. But what that doesn’t take into account is really two things. The first is that not all keywords are equal. So there’s going to be some keywords out there, say for example, how do you measure Share of Voice, there’s maybe 10-15 people a month that could be searching that and, you know, an organization may want to rank number one for that. If you’re just looking at keyword rankings, you would say, okay, that’s a great improvement. We got another keyword on the first spot. But there may be other keywords like SEO agency. Using a Silverback example that we want to rank for that probably has, you know, thousands of searches a month, that if we could get to the number one spot there, that would be, you know, super valuable. So Share of Voice takes into account that volume play, which sometimes just looking at keyword rankings doesn’t. The second piece is if you’re just looking at keyword rankings for your own site, as Alison said, the benefit of Share of Voice is that you can compare it against competitors more easily. So, taking into account how many people are searching for a topic, what is our organization’s visibility versus other organizations’ visibility is a key part of it that Share of Voice can help measure.

John Tyreman:  Alison is there anything that you’d add to that?

Alison Reyes:  Yeah, I definitely think another important metric to measure is just really understanding the SERP features for those keywords that you’re tracking and monitoring for a Share of Voice analysis. So, do certain keywords bring up people, so ask box questions or GMB features, and other keywords don’t, and I would also say when you’re comparing to competitors, it’s just beyond where they’re ranking and not. What are they doing differently, positioning content, targeting specific keywords in a different way, that we’re not doing and have an opportunity to also optimize upon?

John Tyreman:  Okay, so it sounds like there’s a few different factors here, and why it’s important. So I guess it’s number one, it’s kind of understanding the keywords that you want to rank for, and is there room to grow, are they the right keywords. There’s also looking at competitors in this space, what are they doing differently, how are they positioning their content, what keywords are they ranking for. But then there’s also these other sort of zero click features, like the Featured Snippet, and you know, the local map pack and different things like that, that are all being factored. Do I have that right? Does that sound right? 

Alison Reyes:  Yeah.

John Tyreman:  It sounds like this could get real complex, real quick. So, Jordan, I’m curious, from your perspective, how is Share of Voice measured?

Jordan Crawford:  Sure and as you noted, it can get complicated. But at the core of how you calculate your voice are really two main metrics: first is, where does your site rank for a given keyword, and the second is, what’s the search volume of that keyword. The reason that those two factors come together is because where you rank is a good proxy for how much visibility you have for that keyword. So, I’m sure we’ve all heard, you know, the second page of Google is a grave, no one goes there, but there’s actual data that backs that up, and many tools out there like advanced web ranking, do studies every day on what click through rate you can expect based on where your site ranks. So if you’re in the first position, generally, you can get 20 to 30% of those clicks, whereas if you’re in position five, you can expect about 5% of those total clicks. So those are the two factors that really go into it. In terms of ways to calculate it, there’s a more manual route where you can use those tools like AWR that do those studies on your expected click through rate, take into account how many searches your keyword has per month, multiply that by the expected click through rate of your current position and that’s going to give you a number that’s your estimated clicks that you’ll get from that ranking. You could do that on a keyword by keyword level, do that also for your competitors and compare it, that’s definitely a more manual process but doable. The other option is there are keyword ranking tools out there like STAT that we use that automatically calculates that for you. It’s using those same inputs, but the tool provides that to you and it also provides it for your competitors. So definitely nice to have a tool like STAT – it can be a big time saver and focus more of your time on the analysis versus having to calculate it.

John Tyreman:  I’ve got a working theory that… this is just my own theory, this is not based on any data but from a user’s perspective, when I go to the first page of search results, and it’s nothing but ads, I’m always clicking to page two. So if anyone’s got any dead bodies on page two, I’m gonna find them.

Alison Reyes:  That makes you ad adverse. I think that’s what the term is. People who just cannot click on an ad.

John Tyreman:  I am a bit ad adverse, yeah. Unless there’s something that’s really compelling, Alison, I’m curious, from your perspective, getting a true understanding of the competitive landscape, I would imagine that can be really hard. I know that in my experience as a market researcher back when I used to do a bunch of research for clients, in a competitor analysis I’d find that businesses think that they’re competing against a certain number of competitors, and then when you go and you talk to their buyers, they view a different set of competitors as, you know, competing with that business. So I’m curious, from your perspective, what’s the best way to select the right competitors to measure Share of Voice against?

Alison Reyes:  Yeah definitely. I think for the selecting competitors for the Share of Voice analysis, the first thing to do is a SERP analysis. So, Search Engine Results Page Analysis. What you’ll want to do is first audit the keywords that you’re targeting for your business – what is most important to your website, especially for those really important product or service pages, and then using a tool such as STAT, like Jordan had mentioned, or even SEMrush, you can determine what domains are consistently ranking across the SERP for those keywords. I would pull up probably, maybe about four of those competitors to take a look at. And from there you get a really good idea for your organic competitors for the Share of Voice analysis.

John Tyreman:  That’s an interesting point because I would imagine that would uncover competitors that you really didn’t, you wouldn’t think that you’re competing against, and they may not appear as a direct competitor per se but there could be some organizations that were thinking about this in terms of competing against Share of Voice, right? So the issue the industry issues you’re talking about are the topics that you want to create content around, there could be some overlap with a tangential organization. So I think that that’s just an important distinction to make when we’re talking about competitors that they may not be direct. 

Jordan Crawford:  Yeah. I think that’s a conversation that we have with our prospects and clients a lot, and there’s always a bit of an initial shock that can come out of these analyses. You know, if it was a perfect world, users would Google exactly what they’re looking for by who. Like for example, for cybersecurity, we have a client that targets really small size businesses. In an ideal world, people would search advanced threat protection services for small sized businesses, but in reality, you know, we as users, as people know, we’ve grown to trust that we don’t have to get that super specific with Google and we’re going to get the results we need. Therefore what most people are going to search is advanced threat protection services and not include that modifier on what type of business they are. But for a keyword like that, there’s going to be a lot of companies that are going to want to rank for that term, who may have a different target audience, so we have those conversations a lot around, you know, here’s your direct competitors, here’s where they rank, but we also really need to look out for these, you know, five, six other competitors that are frequently showing up on the keywords that we’re trying to rank for.

John Tyreman:  That’s great. Thank you, Jordan. You gave an example of a client that you’ve worked with. Do you have any other examples where we’ve actively measured Share of Voice for a client?

Jordan Crawford:  One use case that I find Share of Voice especially helpful for is when a client has various topics that they are really trying to be seen as an expert on. That can be, you know, a nonprofit that has multiple issue areas that they really want to dominate. It could also be a B2B company that has historically provided top level expertise in a couple areas but then sees in the next two years that they really want to be seen as an expert in these two emerging areas. So by breaking down our keywords into those categories and then measuring Share of Voice over time, we can have conversations like, these two segments or issue areas in that example, we are maintaining a really high Share of Voice in our strategy here. Let’s maintain these ratings, monitor for new themes that may come up, but our focus for the next quarter should really be on these two issue areas that we have very low Share of Voice on, and are going to require more effort to increase it. And by having that data, it allows for those conversations with clients more easily to make sure we’re aligned on where the priorities are. If new segments emerge, we have a way to establish a baseline and then track that progress over time. So we’ve used it in a few cases, especially when there’s either multiple topics or multiple service options that a client wants to keep a pulse on.

Alison Reyes:  I think another layer to it too, is, for one of my clients, is if they have a very strong local strategy, and you’ll see in the Share of Voice analysis, it’s pretty consistent because when you have that local strategy, there are a certain amount of businesses that will consistently show up, and it’ll be very high competition. So that’s really important and kind of another layer to add, when you’re looking at Share of Voice where, even if it’s consistent and it’s very competitive, it’s something to continuously monitor because, as new players arise in the location, it will change and won’t be steady, even if you are a large business within this specific area.

Jordan Crawford:  Yeah that’s a great point.

John Tyreman:  I love that perspective, Alison. So, some objectives for measuring Share of Voice to be seen as an expert in a certain industry, to defend your current market position, or to gain market Share of Voice, it seems like those could be common reasons to start measuring Share of Voice and invest in kind of understanding and growing that. And then some of the inputs, obviously the keywords that you’re targeting, the competitors that you’re selecting to measure against, whether it’s on thought leadership competitors, competitors at the local level, like you mentioned Alison, or direct competitors that you know you’re competing directly against. And then factoring in those other search engine results features, and then measuring all of this activity, and the progress that you make through tools like STAT, or Advanced Web Ranking (AWR), and then acting on it, executing and performing, creating new content, optimizing content for those target keywords is how you move the needle. Is there anything that I missed in that? Any other key elements?

Alison Reyes:  I think what you said at the end is very important, too. That after you perform the analysis, it’s important that you turn them into actionable items. It’s very easy to just say oh we’re doing fantastic, we have a great Share of Voice with these keywords, but it doesn’t mean a competitor can come up tomorrow especially with the change of Google rankings all the time. So it’s definitely important to make sure you’re monitoring it, but also acting upon your findings. 

Jordan Crawford:  Yes, I totally agree. I think that’s the most important part here. You know, you want the benchmark, you want to measure it over time, but if you’re not actively doing anything, most likely it’s going to go down, there’s going to be a competitor there that’s trying harder than you to take your spot. So, I think you making it actionable and making it a consistent metric that you hold yourself to is the most important part.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, a few weeks ago I was talking with Jacob Clark about SEO content strategies, and I, from what I remember from that conversation, there’s a lot that you can apply to creating content for SEO that fits in with this conversation about measuring Share of Voice. It sounds like there’s some natural overlap between those two topics. Well, Jordan, Alison, thank you both so much for the time to hop on this podcast chat. I know I learned a lot about how to measure Share of Voice. I’m sure our listeners did too. If folks want to learn more about search engine optimization or measuring Share of Voice, where can they find you?

Alison Reyes:  They can find me on LinkedIn, at, Alison Joy Reyes. 

Jordan Crawford:  Same, yeah for me, LinkedIn is probably the best spot for me as well: Jordan Crawford. Send me a message, love to connect and talk more about SEO.

John Tyreman:  There you have it folks, LinkedIn, that’s the place to be. Alright, go ahead and connect with Alison and Jordan. 

Alison Reyes:  Thanks, John. 

Jordan Crawford:  Thanks, John.