Are you working to figure out how to calculate the search share of voice (SOV) but don’t have an enterprise search tool at hand to do it for you? This post walks through how I developed a rough SOV calculation for an enterprise client across one topic set using SEMRush and Ahrefs.
When I was working at Ketchum, I spent quite a bit of time working to figure out how much social media share of voice clients had. I was a fan of Brandwatch which let you target by keywords used in the social media posts + their brand term and then compare that against their competitors to determine how many shares of social media voice they had (versus just a share of their brand vs competitor brand mentions).
So for example, “coke” + “soda” + “pop” + “cola” + “Coca Cola” vs the same set + “Pepsi”. At the time, Brandwatch was the only tool on the market allowing you to configure your reporting in that way.
I now have large federal and enterprise clients who are interested in a similar exercise but focused on search visibility (impressions) – their organic share of voice. This answers the question of how often a federal agency is ranking for queries for any given specific topic. It seems simple enough, and if you have an enterprise-level SEO tool, they have this type of reporting built into the toolset.
As I dug deeper, I realized the challenge in executing this exercise for enterprise sites that cover a large number of topics is directly related to the volume of the number of different queries related to an overarching topic. Often times, just ONE topic on a federal agency website is an entire mission of a nonprofit organization or is a single issue that a .com addresses.
Here’s an example to illustrate the challenge:
What if a federal agency (e.g. the EPA) wanted to see how often they were ranking for terms related to climate change, where there are (based on Ahrefs) 314,009 distinct keywords? Or based on SEMRush results, 164,587 keywords. How do you manage a group like that to make the reporting and insights relevant?
It also turns out that all of the SEO toolsets out there by default will not let you compare a topic on a subfolder of one site (or maybe it’s in more than one location on your client’s site) to a subdomain or domain on another site.
EPA actually has climate change information distributed across these subfolders:
Ahref’s Domain Comparison only lets you compare high-level domain metrics, and it’s mostly link oriented. In SEMRush, with their domain vs domain report defaults to the five main domains, and does not give any way to combine multiple subfolders into one topic set, also even though it looks like it will take subfolders, once you hit “run” you get this:
EPA.gov covers a variety of environmental topics and for each of those topics, they have different organic competitors, so a full domain by domain analysis isn’t helpful.
Let’s look at another example. Here’s their clean water work: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/water-topics
Again, SEMRush only shows competitors by the overall domain and defaults us back to a full overall domain comparison.
If we just look at the term “clean water” (3.6K searches/mo), here are the top competitors:
- Cleanwateraction.org (https://www.cleanwateraction.org/)
- Cleanwaterservices.org (https://www.cleanwaterservices.org/)
- Thewaterproject.org (https://thewaterproject.org/why-water/10-ways-clean-water-changes-the-world)
- Worldvision.org (https://www.worldvision.org/our-work/clean-water)
- Charitywater.org (https://www.charitywater.org/)
- Un.org (https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/water-and-sanitation/)
- Cleanwaterfund.org (https://www.cleanwaterfund.org/)
- Who.int (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water)
- Epa.gov (https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/water-topics)
- Pciglobal.org (https://www.pciglobal.org/clean-water/)
Now let’s take “environmental waste management” and you can see that their top competitors are different:
- wm.com (https://www.wm.com/sustainability/protection-and-management.jsp)
- Enviroliteracy.org (https://enviroliteracy.org/environment-society/waste-management/)
- Enviroliteracy.org (https://enviroliteracy.org/environment-society/waste-management/what-is-waste/)
- Crcpress.com (https://www.crcpress.com/Environmental-Waste-Management/Chandra/p/book/9781498724746)
- Epa.gov (https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/land-waste-and-cleanup-topics)
- Epa.gov (https://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-materials-management-non-hazardous-materials-and-waste-management-hierarchy)
- Ewastedisposal.net (https://www.ewastedisposal.net)
- Iu.edu (https://protect.iu.edu/environmental-health/environmental-management/waste-management/index.html)
- Iu.edu (https://ehs.iu.edu/environmental-management/waste-management.html)
- Opastonline.com (http://www.opastonline.com/advance-environmental-waste-management-recycling/)
OK. So now that we see the challenge, here’s the solution I worked out:
You *could* hand-select 1,000 keywords in SEMRush and send them to the Keyword Analyzer tool, which will then show you competitors per keyword (like above) and hand export each to Excel, and then you might be able to do some wizardry in Excel to find the most mentioned top competitors for the overall keyword topic.
Or you can let Ahrefs do that work for you.
Here’s the process that I undertook using both SEMRUsh and Ahrefs:
I used SEMRush’s Keyword Magic Tool for my keyword research as it has a basic content grouping that allows you to just grab the higher volume terms across each grouping. It looks like this:
I ran the keyword research for “climate change”, exported the list into Excel from SEMRush. You can see the full sheet of all climate change keywords with volume here.
Then I pulled just the higher volume terms from each category and dropped those into a new sheet.
Then, I imported this new keyword list (that included all of the seed keywords) into Ahrefs’s Keyword Explorer like this:
Once the keywords are in there as a group, you can then pull the top competitors by keyword group by using the Traffic Share by Domains report:
Based on this data, it looks like NASA.gov actually receives the most climate change-related traffic.
You can also take this a step further by looking at each domain in Ahref’s Organic Keywords report and add include “All” that has the words climate change. You then get every URL on the NASA domain that is ranking. You can filter for position 1-11 to just see what is ranking in the top 10:
You can then compare each competitor based on keyword ranking in the top 10, by adding it to a chart to see what kind of optimization efforts have been put in place.
Here’s the EPA effort for comparison:
If you export the data for each competitor domain, you can also deduplicate the URLs to get a total # of URLs created on the topic.
That looks like this:
And that’s a way of how you hand-generate a search SOV (based on impressions measured by an SEO tool) and by traffic, if you only have Ahrefs or SEMRush but not an enterprise-level tool.
Do you have other tips around generating a sense of organic traffic/ share of voice-based on a topic in search? If so, let me know in the comments, as well as any feedback on the tutorial.
- Off the shelf SEO, non-enterprise software only allows you to measure organic SOV with a domain vs domain comparison. How do you go about measuring SOV for just one topic your site covers?
- This post walks through how to use a combination of keyword research from SEMRush and the Ahrefs SOV feature in its keyword tracking reporting to generate that answer for you and your site!
- Also, as a freebie to anyone working on climate change issues, I’ve provided a full report of climate change keywords for you.