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Connecting Keywords and SOV

August 29, 2017 - Share of voice - , ,
By: Yolanda Fintschenko

Calculating share of voice (SOV), and building and maintaining keyword strategies are often two disparate activities. While this may be okay operationally, strategically, they are linked at the hip, and changes in one will impact the other.

The challenge we have seen for our customers is that organizations don’t give the two strategies equal weight in their marketing efforts, and/or don’t evaluate them in the same context. However, linking the two together provides a third tool that is both a validator of what they are doing and a way to maximize their marketing efforts.

Share of voice is fundamentally market-in. It tells you what is happening in the real world relative to your marketing efforts. Keywords strategies are vendor-out. Your keyword selection documents your understanding of the buyer personas that you are going after. This understanding influences the topics of the content you create.

Breaking down SOV and keywords

Many organizations have not synced their keyword strategies with their share of voice analytics. Nearly everyone leverages keywords to some degree in planning their marketing activities, but many do not know how to connect their keywords to their share of voice analytics. This trend is changing, and SOV is becoming more and more popular as a key metric in understanding the exposure in key conversations relative to your offering.

Even if we convince you to use SOV as you develop your keyword strategy, calculating it can be tricky. You can use several tools like Meltwater, Trendkite, and Cision for global share of voice. These tools help you determine your place in the world of conversations—social, blog, advertising, news media. However, these tools require that you know your conversations and speakers in the conversations in advance, and that’s not great for markets that have nuanced segments (for example, it works when you’re selling yoga pants, but isn’t so great when you’re selling DevOps tools or medical devices).

Instead, you could use a tool like what Fixate has built around conversation share of voice. And all signs point to a whole new generation of SOV tooling that will challenge existing marketing analytics.

Thinking differently about keywords

When it comes to keywords, companies need to modify how they view them. Many organizations will create a project around keyword strategy development. This includes looking at search volumes, competitors’ keywords, etc. And once the top 10 keywords are determined, they make sure they pack those puppies in as many places as they can. This is useful.

But the other aspect of a good keyword strategy is that the monthly analytics on page views and the source of those views should redefine your assumptions about the keywords. If a particular keyword does not show up in the visitor’s journey, then maybe your assumptions about that keyword are incorrect. Not only should the metrics show how you are doing today, but they should also help you redefine your keywords, as well as how you interpret SOV analytics.

SOV and keywords unite

It may seem like the two metrics sit side-by-side, but do not interact in your monthly marketing slide deck—yet this should not be the case. Organizations should talk about the two metrics in the context of each other, not separately. Not only do they relate, but their relationship enhances the value of both metrics. (Gasp, synergy!!!)

  • Conversation topics and conversation text itself used to calculate SOV should contain a high density of what you have identified as your target keywords. If they don’t, it means the keywords you have selected do not match the conversations that your prospects are participating in, which means you are amplifying your content in conversations that your customers don’t participate in or care about.
  • Disparity between what is happening with the impact of your keywords (such as an increase in page views combined with a reduction in your share of the conversation) is a measure of the accuracy of your assumptions. It could mean that your leads are not market qualified (MQL), or your campaigns are attracting the wrong people. The greater the delta between SOV and your traditional marketing KPIs, the more likely something is wrong with a key assumption or assumptions. If they trend the same, then you are on the right path.
  • Conversation share of voice calculations very often give insight into industry trends. These trends often point to relevant and timely topics that can be used in future content. At Fixate, we use the Conversation share of voice tool to guide the topic suggestions we give our clients. But these suggestions can also be checked against the keywords selected. If there is a good match, it speaks even more to the strength of the topic; if not, perhaps there is some refining to be done. Both together serve as a great system for picking topics.

Having a strong keyword strategy that drives marketing campaigns is a must. Having a robust metric like share of voice which measures the impact of all activity you do is also a must. Because keyword strategy is an inside-out activity, and share of voice is outside-in, their intersection is a third meta-metric that tells you how accurate your assumptions are, and helps you cross-check your activity and content.


Yolanda is a scientist, writer, marketer, coach and avid runner who lives and works in Livermore, CA.  She founded Common SciSense, a marketing company for technical products, and co-founded founderTRACTION, lean marketing services for startups.