If you’ve been in marketing for any period of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “share of voice”—but you might have just a vague idea of its meaning. In fact, you might have heard that share of voice is a PR metric.
In this article, we will go over not only exactly what share of voice is (hint: it’s not just a PR task) but also how you calculate it and how you can increase it; and, finally, we'll talk about a toolkit that will help make life easier for you as you pursue building your own share of voice.
Let’s get to it!
What Is Share of Voice?
Share of voice is a marketing figure/calculation that tells businesses just how much (percentage) of the market they own compared to the competition.
Now, “own” in the context of this calculation can mean several things. Some believe that share of voice refers to how much paid advertising a company has compared to its competitors. Other experts expand the definition to include things like organic keyword traffic, social media shares, and more. Still others might include share of voice as part of their Surround Sound SEO strategy and KPIs.
How to Calculate Share of Voice
Put simply, calculating the share of voice for your business will look something like:
Your total estimated traffic is divided by the total estimated traffic for brands in your industry and then multiplied by 100. (Source: Search Engine Journal)
In other words:
Your share of voice = organic search traffic/total market organic search traffic x 100.
So, let’s say you want to track your share of voice for the keyword phrase “women’s running shoes.” You would use the following formula:
50,000 (your monthly search volume for that term) ÷ 200,000 (industry average monthly search volume for that term) x 100 = 25%
The answer is your website would boast 25% of the share of voice percentage for that industry term.
Calculating share of voice metrics will look different for every business. In fact, you may want to track several different data points under the umbrella of “share of voice.”
Here are a few examples of share of voice metrics to consider:
- Organic keyword traffic
- Paid advertisements
- Total revenue
- Unique website impressions
You’re probably starting to get the impression that, while the initial calculation itself isn’t so bad, tracking even just one metric can involve some serious math. If you want to track two or more metrics? Well, it becomes even more difficult to stay on top of this important key performance indicator (KPI). And there is no singular share of voice definition out there.
For instance, let’s say you want to know how much “coverage” your brand has—that is, the number of pages on Google that mention your brand or are owned by your brand. In this case, you’d have to scour the web for mentions of your brand, in addition to tracking unique pages from your website that appear in these results. That’s a lot of digital footwork.
How Can You Increase Your Share of Voice?
At the risk of being repetitive: calculating share of voice is a highly individualized task. That said, we will outline a few examples that you can use when building your own definitions.
Increase Brand Visibility and Website Traffic
Falling somewhere between SEO and reputation management, brand visibility refers to how visible your brand is in relevant searches. Website traffic is usually considered a search engine optimization (SEO) metric, but it can also be a measure of how big your share of voice is in your industry. Estimated web traffic is defined as the unique number of website interactions a set of keywords generates for your business.
Let’s say you’re a shoe company running a marketing campaign on women’s running shoes. You do some keyword research and find that “women’s running shoes” is a popular search term and that there are other popular keywords in this arena you would like to target.
The thing is, not all keywords are created equal when it comes to increasing visibility and traffic. A page that ranks for a keyword with a high monthly search volume might not have a high visibility score. That is, it may be included in search engine results pages (SERPs), but it may be at position 19 - a spot that most searchers are not likely to see. A mention on that page is good, but not terribly likely to increase your practical share of voice or your website traffic.
Meanwhile, during your keyword research, you might find that a search term like “lightweight women’s running shoes” doesn’t have nearly as much monthly volume as “women’s running shoes,” but a page ranking for that term might have high visibility in the SERPs (ranking toward the top of Google’s results pages). This would be a great page on which you might try to get mentioned.
Visibility, in other words, is weighted coverage. This sweet spot that considers keyword volume and visibility helps you prioritize your outreach. It’s sometimes referred to as “potential” as in Surround Sound:
So, how do you increase your estimated traffic? The first step is to do an in-depth keyword analysis to find keyword groups that target moderate-to-high monthly search volume and get mentioned on pages with moderate-to-high keyword visibility. Of course, you can also start small if your brand is new, looking at keywords with lower monthly search volume.
You can do this using a keyword research tool or by diving deep into the SERPs to see what kind of keywords and content your competitors are using to draw in new customers.
Or, even better, you can use a tool that does the calculating for you. We’ll get into that in just a second.
Increase Your Coverage
“Coverage” has a looser definition. Unlike “visibility,” coverage considers all mentions of your brand as equal. Just as the name implies, coverage looks to see just how far your message has spread across the web. This could mean that your content appears in the Google SERPs directly from your web property, or someone links back to your web content from their website, or they make a simple mention of your brand without linking to your website.
To increase your coverage, you can do several things:
- Start building backlinks to your content by contacting publishers in your industry and asking them to publish your content on their web properties or in reviews, roundups, and list articles. Easily spot valuable opportunities with Surround Sound by Semrush.
- Create more content on your website that is keyword-targeted and highly relevant to your audience. This increases the likelihood of getting your content to rank, but also that other websites will mention you without linking to you.
- Make sure your Local Pack information is up-to-date on Google. This is the initial business listing most customers will interact with. It will tell them, as well as anyone who might mention your business (as part of, for example, a blog article titled “12 Best Shoe Companies”), that they can trust your business. You can use a Listing Management tool to manage the Local Pack.
Increase Your Mentions
Mentions are a little bit more complex than other share of voice metrics. Mentions can include things like social media mentions or mentions across the web.
But, no matter what type of mentions you’re looking to track and improve, you’ll more than likely want to increase the number of mentions with a positive brand sentiment, not a negative one. To do this, you’ll want to be sure that you are answering customer reviews quickly—both good and bad.
You’ll also want to be responsive on social media and through any contact forms you put on your website. In other words, you want to give customers the best possible brand experience that you can at every available opportunity.
You can also encourage regular customers to leave positive reviews and testimonials on sites like Yelp and Google. This is one relatively easy and cost-effective way to increase your positive mentions across the web. Don’t forget to take a look at what your competitors are doing for their customers, too!
Approach publishers who have written list articles, reviews, and roundups to see if they are willing to mention you. Oftentimes, the best publishers to approach are those who have already mentioned your competition, but haven't yet included you in the article. This strategy is sometimes referred to as Surround Sound SEO.
See how one podcaster increased his share of search by 45% using Surround Sound SEO.
Are There Share of Voice Tools That Can Help?
Tracking share of voice metrics can be a time-consuming, resource-draining process. If you plan on defining share of voice in a number of ways for your business, or if you plan on defining it in any of the ways we covered above, you don’t have to do that math by yourself or update the metrics solo, either.
Save your precious time and energy for other marketing tasks by leaning on a share of voice tool like Surround Sound. Surround Sound can help you track coverage, mentions, visibility, and estimated traffic.
You can use one dashboard to track trends in these metrics from week to week, month to month, and year over year. If you want more details about how these calculations are made, check out this handy article on Surround Sound’s calculations.
Don’t spend time crunching complex numbers on a calculator; you have better things to do. Give Surround Sound a try.