Share of voice: what it is, why it matters and how to measure it

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The share of voice is one of the basic metrics of marketing and digital advertising, because it measures the visibility of a brand within a market and compared to competitors. This percentage value can also be useful for SEO and, in general, it is useful to know how to calculate the share of voice on different channels to understand the evolution of our brand and its position in the perception of users, and in this guide we try to provide some useful information.

What is the Share of Voice or SOV

Let’s start from definitions: the share of voice or SOV is the measurement of the weight of a given brand within a reference market, and therefore a metric that estimates the percentage of visibility of the brand compared to the total media exposure of all competitors.

Basically, the share of voice helps us understand how popular our brand is compared to all your competitors; in addition to being useful in itself, several studies have shown that the value of this metric for a brand tends to be related to its market share and revenues.

The idea behind Share of Voice is simple: a brand that has a greater presence in the minds of the public is also likely to have greater consumer recognition and preference. Therefore, the goal of many companies is to increase SOV to improve their market position.

SOV digital advertising, the evolution of the metric

Traditionally, SOV has been applied to the advertising world, expressing as a percentage the advertising value (in print, radio or TV) held by a brand in a market or market segment compared to all competitors in the niche, defined in terms of expenses, pages, sites, posters and so on.

In fact, the share is often studied in terms of advertising investments in relation to total investments in the reference sector, even if in this sense we speak more precisely of share of spending.

With the evolution of marketing and digital advertising, Share of Voice has also begun to be used to monitor visibility in organic channels such as social media and research, thus measuring the weight of the brand in relation to the total of the media exposure and mentions.

Marketing SOV, definition of the metric

And so, nowadays the term has a broader meaning and includes all measurable forms of brand awareness, such as the number and scope of online mentions, PPC, website traffic and more.

Digital marketing allows more accurate calculations, as it is much easier to determine and monitor online competitors; therefore, using the right tools and with the appropriate information it is not difficult to calculate the SOV of our brand.

In this context, therefore, the Share of Voice of an organization can be defined as the share of conversations generated around brands, products or services monitored within different communication channels, such as search engines (studying for example SEO positioning and CTR on content according to specific keyword), news sites, blogs, forums, social media and offline channels, compared to its direct competitors.

We can therefore think of SOV as a useful indicator for a competitive analysis, which can be broken down and detailed to monitor the weight of the brand on specific topics, geographical regions and languages, so as to perfect our strategy.

How to calculate the share of voice

Regardless of the area of marketing we’re focusing on, the general formula for calculating the share of voice is:

SOV = Brand visibility value / Total market visibility value

The value and measurements used to calculate the SOV depend on our goals and the most suitable metrics to measure the visibility in the reference channel.

To calculate the values in the various channels you may need some digital marketing tools, and now we will try to figure out how to measure SOV in social media and blogs, online media outputs, PPC and Google.

Share of voice on Social Media

Mentions on social media are often considered the only “real” share of voice metric, because it allows you to measure the voice of customers.

Social media allows us to find out how often people talk about our brand organically, and there are two ways to calculate this type of share of voice: manually and with a paid social listening tool.

The first method, as Anna Bredava explains on Search Engine Journal, still requires to use a media monitoring tool – but there are also free ones – to calculate the number of mentions for each competitor and more advanced analytics as scope, sentiment, influencers and more.

In summary, the work to measure the SOV in social media consists in annotating the total number of mentions of our brand and that for direct competitors, and then perform a formula:

(number of mentions of our brand / total number of mentions of brands (our + that of competitors) x 100 = SOV

This method is useful when we need a quick evaluation of the share of voice, but it has its disadvantages, because it is not very precise, does not cover all social media networks, does not provide detailed statistics, gives us no way to track changes in the share of voice over time and see growth patterns.

More precise in this is the use of a social listening tool, which allows you to create an alert system for all brands and compare insights. A social listening alert – social listening alert – is essentially a keyword or a set of keywords, such as (in this particular case) the brand name and its variants (social media handle).

The tools allow us to deepen the main differences between us and our competitors, such as the platforms that work best for them, which brand has a greater share of positive and negative mentions, who is more popular and where, which influencers talk about it.

Share of voice within media

If the previous one is the voice of the users and the customer, the share of voice in the media could be defined as the metric of the “sector voice“, because it shows how consolidated our brand is in the eyes of industry experts and peers.

The SOV calculation for online media is particularly useful for evaluating our public relations and content strategies and finding new outlets to focus on.

Most social listening tools also allows scanning of news websites and blogs, so we can also use the same tool to calculate the share of voice in the media: the workflow is practically the same, only by limiting the sources of mentions only to news and sector blogs.

Share of voice for the PPC

Traditionally the share of voice was used to calculate the share of advertising, so it is logical that digital marketers measure the share of voice in the PPC.

Fortunately, this calculation is easy, because you only need to check the statistics of Google Ads.

The metric equivalent to the share of voice PPC is the share of impressions (the percentage of impressions that ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that they might get), visible in the Campaigns tab of the Google Ads account.

The formula used by Google to calculate the share impressions is:

Share of impressions = total suitable impressions/impressions

Appropriate impressions are calculated on the basis of various elements, such as targeting settings, approval status, other participants in the same auctions as the advertisements, and the quality and share data impressions are available for campaigns, ad groups, product groups (in Shopping campaigns) and keywords.

The SEO share of voice, namely Google’s share

In our industry, as well, has spread the use of this metric, which is called SEO share of voice, share of topic or, in some cases, share of Google: namely, the share of voice in organic search, an analysis showing which websites rank most frequently for a given set of keyword or topic in organic search.

This type of exercise helps website owners to better understand the competitive pressures in search engines, as well as to identify opportunities for link building, content creation and social media.

How to calculate SOV in the organic search

There are various systems to measure the SEO SOV, and this in particular is divided into 3 simple steps.

  1. Choice of main topics

First, we need to identify the target group of topics for which our site should position itself, using:

  • Analysis of the personas.
  • Mapping of the customer journey for each persona.
  • Interviews with current and potential customers, partners and actual sales representatives to validate the research.
  • Content gap analysis to identify uncovered keywords.

After completing this step, we must elaborate 3-5 initial main arguments that align with each of the personas and each stage of the respective buyer’s journey.

  1. Verification of ranking in the topic

The next step is to locate the domains placed on the first page of Google for each of these topics, using Seozoom as a reference for data and exporting the results.

The advice is to locate rankings for at least 15-30 keywords, so you get a wider set of domains and topics.

  1. Creation of a pivot tab

At this point, we enter the domain data into a pivot table to see how many times a domain has been ranked into a given set of arguments.

The SEO Share of Voice will be the number of times our brand ranks divided by the number of total domains that are classified on Google.

The article of smartbugmedia also offers an example of analysis for illustrative purposes, which examines four topics related to the topic “construction management software”, with table and graphic representation of the Google Share of Voice of brands that rank most frequently for these keywords.

SOV su Google, elenco domini

This type of analysis opens a door that will help us to understand what can be needed to earn a wider share of topic in our industry.

SOV su Google, il grafico a torta

In this specific case, software review sites such as Capterra and have a greater share of voice than individual software brands, industry news or social media sites; so if we were a small software brand, it would be better to focus efforts on improving ad placement within those software review sites (via a greater number of 5-star reviews), because trying to overcome competitively placed review sites for certain topics on Google might be pointless and wasteful.

Why the share of voice metric is important

Digital marketing has not only opened up many exciting new ways to promote our brands and products, but it has also increased the number of metrics we need to monitor, often making it difficult to really understand where we stand with our brand.

The share of voice helps precisely this, because it shows us the position of our company on the market and can be a great starting point to map our industry and discover complete insights on the competition.

More specifically, it tells us where our brand is currently located, where it could be and how to get there, while providing a reference to compare our success with that of competitors.

In addition, the metric can become useful in many marketing areas, to improve investments and efforts in this field, and in particular in the aspects described below, that represent only a handful of ways to use SOV as a first step to a complete market research.

  • Brand management

Brand awareness is probably the first element that can be evaluated with the share of voice, because tracing the online mentions and the PPC we can see how many people know our brand, how many times they find it online and how much they talk about it.

  • Campaign monitoring

The measurement of the share of voice must not be limited only to our brand: we can also calculate the SOV of multiple campaigns running on the market at the same time, drawing on different and specific insights of the public, segmented by country, language, social media platform and more.

Performing this analysis regularly will help us to understand what our audience finds favorable and from what elements of our competitors’ campaigns we could draw inspiration.

  • Consumer Insights

Speaking of public favor, SOV monitoring can also help us uncover unexpected information about our consumers.

The online share of voice is based on the actual conversations and behavior of Internet users, as opposed to the traditional share of voice which is simply based on the number of ads, and so we can use the data to draw conclusions about our brand’s audience.

Exploring the specific conversations that take place around competitors’ brands can also provide inspiration for products and help us improve our company and strategy.

  1. Public relationships

Determining our share of voice in the news can show how effective our multimedia strategy is compared to that of competitors.

For example, by exploring the mentions from the media collected during the calculation of the share of voice we can find out if there are sources that cover the competitors but do not give space to us, or more generally what are the stories the media are interested in.

How to use the SEO share of voice to improve marketing strategies

Diving more into the details of SOV SEO, we can say that the identification of the weight of the brand in organic research allows us to have insights useful to improve our strategies in various aspects and, in particular, for content analysis – and indeed we also mentioned it about KPI content to verify the concrete results of our work.

In this sense, let’s study the types of content that the main competitors are creating and that help their positioning: we can first deepen the format of these contents (type, length, publication frequency) and information architecture, which is how competitors are structuring their product or editorial content – for example, using a Pillar content structure with well-organised internal links. In addition, we can also proceed to a topical analysis, identifying what are the types of topics on which they focus and how the contents that are positioned treat these topics, also highlighting the gaps on our site.

More generally, then, the analysis of the share of voice SEO allows us to identify opportunities for the link building – discovering which sites link the main competitors but not us and trying to intercept them – and wider SEO opportunities. By examining all the listings in the SERP (both paid and organic), we can find out if paid ads push out the organic listings: in this case, faced with a low opportunity to classify us organically for this given set of topics due to overwhelming organic and paid competition, the SEO may not be the best channel on which you should invest compared to other forms of marketing.

Conclusions on the share of voice

Compared to the past, the share of voice is a much more complex metric, but also much more useful.

Calculating the SOV for different areas of our digital marketing strategy and segmenting it further based on data analytics we can derive more than one starting point for the business strategy. We get, that is, an in-depth look at the current state of affairs for our company and the market in general.

This information will support the brand, products and marketing decisions, and SOV’s ongoing monitoring over time will demonstrate the impact of these decisions and our interventions.