If you’re a voiceover actor with a website, (whether existing or under construction) you need to consider it first and foremost as the storefront for your business. It introduces you to buyers and explains the services you provide. It displays samples of your work and embodies your brand. You want your storefront to attract customers to stay and browse and get to know how you can solve their voice over needs, but in order to accomplish that, your storefront needs to be easy to find. A good SEO strategy can help.
Three years ago, this was about all I knew about this three-lettered marketing tactic. And because of this lack of knowledge, 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 and with help from Joe Davis, owner/founder of Web Stuff LLC (and owner of voiceactorwebsites.com). Since then I’ve had the pleasure of developing a great working relationship with him and in the process received a wonderful SEO education. In a recent detailed conversation with Joe, I asked him about the best strategies for SEO for voice over actors. Here are my notes from that conversation:
Voice Over 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 voiceover students ask me if they need more than a one-page website – is it enough to have demos, maybe a headshot and contact information? Joe’s answer to this question is “it depends on the goal you have for your website”.
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. Make sure your demos are “above the fold” (meaning that a visitor does not need to scroll down to find them) and playable and downloadable, provide information about your services, and make sure people can get in contact with you.
If, however, your goal is 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 – you still need to make sure your website is mobile friendly and loads quickly. When you think “bigger”, think multiple pages and lots of text, rather than tons of video content hosted on your website and animated graphics that slow down page load times.
SEO As A Marketing Strategy
Because SEO is this “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 it 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, there is a cost associated with every customer gained that can sometimes be quite high. With SEO, the results build over time and limit your cost exposure per client.
As in most things, it’s also never good to put all your eggs in one basket (strategy). For example, Google shopping was, up until a few months into 2020, 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 opening up that market and 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.
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 out there 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 – is your website improving in google ranking for the search terms you are targeting in a reasonable amount of time (1 week is not reasonable, 6 months is).
SEO Part One – On-Page SEO
There are 2 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 counterintuitive 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 them 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 says you have to “find a balance between what is good for Google and what is good for a voice seeker”. What you write should include primary and secondary keywords, but also be informative and engaging for humans reading (you don’t want them to click away after 3 seconds on your page). Use the keywords that you want to rank for strategically in your “h” tags (headers) and body copy. Use 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 “eLearning narration” or “eLearning”. Keywords should also appear in Title Tags and Page Descriptions (the two items that actually show up in the Google search results page).
I asked Joe how one might stand out in the crowd from the many voice actors who are seeing the trend to SEO and working to leverage it. His advice is to work with an SEO professional if you’re going after really competitive search terms, but 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.
The sweet spot for copy on your pages is about 800 words. Joe feels like 500 might be ok, depending on how competitive your keywords are and 300 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 another good strategy (and 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 & trustworthiness. The more relative your keywords and the more text on the page, the more Google thinks you are an expert with authority (more on that in a moment).
SEO Part Two – Off-Page SEO
By far the most important element to competitive SEO is having relevant, contextual backlinks to your website from high domain authority websites. Joe says 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 2 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 (like Joe’s) can help because they often have developed relationships with publications and other sites with authority and can help you get featured or mentioned.
Other Strategies To Consider For Your Voice Over Website
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 some other strategies you could employ that can help both your search ranking and your appeal to voice seekers.
- Include Testimonials from clients
- Mention your studio specs and connectivity options. If you have Source Connect, is it Pro, Standard, or SC Now? Do you also have Skype and Zoom available? Can you connect with ISDN? (Tip: If you have Source Connect Pro or Standard, you have the ability to connect with ISDN for a small fee)
- Client Logos (appropriately alt tagged with relevant keywords)
- Contact Information and Form