INTERVIEW WITH JOE DAVIS
Best SEO Marketing Strategies For Voice Actors:
Tips To Raise Your Website Ranking And Stand Out
By Kim HandysidesVoice Actor & Coach
If you're a voice over actor with a website - whether existing or under construction - you need to consider it first and foremost as the storefront for your business.
But in order to accomplish all that, your storefront needs to be easy to find. A good SEO strategy can help.
Three years ago, that was about all I knew about this three-lettered marketing tactic. And because of this lack of knowledge, I had the unfortunate experience of being swindled by a company that claimed to provide good SEO services.
Happily, I was able to unwind that contract with help from Joe Davis (pictured), owner/founder of WebStuff LLC and voiceactorwebsites.com. Since then I've had the pleasure of developing a great working relationship with him, and in the process have received a wonderful SEO education.
In a recent detailed conversation with Joe, I asked about the best strategies for SEO for voice over actors. Here are my notes from that conversation.
VO WEBSITE SIZE
A good place to start when considering what your website should look like is to consider your website's size.
I've had voice over students ask me if they need more than a one-page website - is it enough to just have demos, maybe a headshot and contact information?
Joe's answer to this question is:
For example, if your goal is for your website to be an extension of your business card - a simple, easy place for you to send voice seekers to hear you and contact you, then a one-page website is fine.
For this use, make sure that:
If, however, your goal is to create a combination of direct marketing and organic search results - and you want to employ SEO to assist you in that goal - then the bigger the website, the better.
Some caveats to that:
SEO AS A MARKETING STRATEGY
Because SEO is a "seeming amorphous thing," as Joe calls it, it can be a bit daunting to non-SEO professionals to employ as a marketing strategy.
But for a small business, Joe points out that over time SEO can be a long-lasting and cost-effective way to attract traffic to your website as opposed to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or paid social media advertising.
With PPC and ads, a cost is associated with every customer gained that can sometimes be quite high.
Instead, with SEO, the results build over time and limit your cost exposure per client.
Yet it's never good to put all your eggs in one basket (strategy).
For example, up until a few months into 2020, Google shopping was a paid platform for advertising products for sale, and many companies paid to take advantage of it.
Then Google decided to open up the listings and allow free listings as well, thus exposing those who had paid for listings to competitors who now get to list for free. Those companies are now scrambling to implement SEO strategies.
BEWARE SEO 'GUARANTEES'
Here's a word of caution to voice actors who think they want SEO help, but haven't taken the time to get (at least) a cursory education in what it is.
Unfortunately, there are lots of unscrupulous entities that are happy to take your money and make you guarantees they cannot deliver on. What happened to me was quite awful to unwind.
Joe's advice is to keep in mind that no one can "guarantee" a quick and easy result.
The ultimate test of any SEO strategy is for your website to improve in Google ranking for the search terms you are targeting in a reasonable amount of time. One week is not reasonable, six months is.
TO IMPROVE YOUR RANKING ...
There are two general "areas" of SEO – on-page and off-page, and they're basically what they sound like - things you can do on and off your website to improve your ranking.
On-page SEO is easier for a voice actor to implement themselves (if they are maintaining their own website).
The main focus for on-page SEO is text. While that may seem counter-intuitive for a voice actor, the important element, as far as ranking in search engines is concerned, is text, not audio, video or images.
Google ignores all non-text items, except for what is called their "alt tag" - basically, the text name for the image/audio/video - so be sure to give them good, relevant names, or have your webmaster do it.
Keep in mind that humans download audio from your site, so name the audio files appropriately for easy recognition later and SEO (i.e. "Kim Handysides government eLearning demo.mp3" and not "govt-el-demo.mp3").
When writing copy for your website, Joe suggests finding "a balance between what is good for Google and what is good for a voice seeker."
STRATEGIC 'KEY WORDS'
What you write should include primary and secondary keywords, but also be informative and engaging for humans to read. You don't want them to click away after 3 seconds on your page.
Use the keywords that you want to rank strategically in your "h" tags (headers) and body copy.
Put primary keywords in your H1 tag (the header on your page) and then secondary keywords for H2, H3, etc. tags (the sub-headers for sections of your page).
The more relevant the keywords, the better.
For example, if you have a government eLearning demo and want to attract government eLearning jobs, "male government eLearning narration" will allow you to rank higher than a page that is simply labelled as "eLearning narration" or "eLearning."
Keywords should also appear in Title Tags and Page Descriptions, which are the two items that actually show up in the Google search results page.
STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD
I asked Joe how to stand out in the crowd from the many voice actors who are leveraging SEO.
His advice is to work with an SEO professional if you're going after really competitive search terms.
Also, a good source of unique terms may be to ask your clients what search terms they use when they're looking for talent. You may find there's a term you haven't thought of that you can leverage to rank higher.
ABOUT COPY & LINKS
The sweet spot for copy on your pages is about 800 words. Joe believes 500 words might be ok, depending on how competitive your keywords are. And 300 words is the absolute minimum you should start with, as that is considered "thin."
But keep in mind that you can always add to your copy, so it's ok to start thin and grow.
Links to other pages within your website can also help - for example, if you have both a Corporate Narration page and an Explainer Video page, mentioning those services and linking to the respective pages is a good strategy. It's also an organic way to increase the number of words on your page.
Finally, a great acronym for what Google wants to "see" in a website is "EAT" - which stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. The more relative your keywords and the more text on the page, the more Google thinks you are an expert with authority.
By far the most important element to having competitive SEO is relevant, contextual backlinks to your website from high domain authority websites.
Joe advises to think of Google as part relevancy engine - keywords and related information - and popularity contest - who gets the attention.
When very popular sites that have a high authority score (lots of attention) link to your website, they share some of their score with you.
There are two levels of authority, both domain and page authority, but without getting too mired in math, they work on a logarithmic scale based on 100. Moving from 10 to 11 is easier than 11 to 12 and so on.
Most voice over websites have very low scores, so sites that can grow their authority score with these backlinks do very well. This is also why working with a reputable SEO service can help because they often have developed relationships with publications and other sites with authority, and can help you get featured or mentioned.
MORE SEO STRATEGIES ...
No matter your ultimate decision of whether to have a one-page extension of your business card website, or to expand to multiple genre pages with SEO-focused copywriting and internal and external links, there are additional strategies you can employ to help both your search ranking and your appeal to voice seekers. Include:
Editor's Note: Joe Davis offers many additional SEO marketing tips in an instant download VoiceOverXtra webinar recording: Voice Over SEO - Everything You Need To Know. Check it out here.
Kim Handysides is a top voice over artist in commercials, eLearning and narration. With a background in theatre and film and a thorough grounding in radio and television, she's a 2019 Voice Arts Awards winner and five time nominee, and "loves sharing advice, tips and experience with anyone who asks." She also loves dogs, mountains, beaches and story.
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