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If you’ve been in the SEO game for more than a minute or two, you’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” a few million times.
This phrase is overused (yep, we’re guilty too), but it’s only because it’s true. Content is king.
Content Comes First
Every time Google makes a change to its algorithm, the search giant takes this opportunity to remind us all that it’s our content we really need to be obsessing over, not our rankings. The theory is that when we put high-quality content first, high rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) will follow. And this theory tends to be mostly true.
But Content Can Be Complicated
Of course, as with all things SEO, the reality of the content-rankings link is a bit more complicated than that. If good quality content always came out on top, after all, then there would be little need for search engine optimization.
What Is a Content Gap Analysis?
That’s where the topic of this blog post comes in. So, just what is a content gap analysis, anyway?
There’s a lot of content on the web, no doubt. After all, how many times have you heard someone shout, “Google it!” when faced with a dilemma or question? A lot, right?
Believe it or not, though, there are still gaps of information online—places where a topic hasn’t been completely or accurately covered. A content gap analysis is the process of locating these voids.
And it’s not as difficult a process as you might think. When you know the right steps to take, it can be a quick and painless process that uncovers a wealth of insight.
How to Perform an SEO Content Gap Analysis
There are many ways to perform a content gap analysis, and the method will differ depending on who you ask. Some will say it’s all about keywords. Others look at content gaps from a consumer’s/reader’s perspective. Our advice? Don’t limit yourself. Take advantage of both approaches to content gap analysis!
Ready? Then, let’s get started.
Content Gap Analysis Starts with Keyword Research
There’s no disputing the facts. An effective content gap analysis begins with solid keyword research. As with any analysis, this process starts with posing some key questions that will drive your research.
Driving Questions for Your Content Gap Analysis from a Keyword Perspective
The important inquiries you need to be focused on here include:
- How do I look for keywords that are valuable to my business?
- Which keywords should inform my long-term content strategy?
- Who are my top competitors for keywords that are important to my industry?
- What keywords are my competitors ranking for that I’m not?
- What are some low-performing keywords that I can target and capitalize on?
Identify Your Top Competitors
The next step in performing a thorough content gap analysis is to determine who your competitors are. Don’t skip this step, even if you think you already know who you’re up against online. The results may surprise you.
To identify competitors, we suggest using SEMrush Organic Competitors Report. It’s simple to use, and reports are comprehensive.
To get started, just plug in your URL.
For the purpose of illustration, let’s pretend you have a fitness and nutrition website. When you enter your URL, you may see results like those below:
Next, you want to identify your top competitors. Look for sites that you share lots of keywords with that also have a lot of traffic.
For the sake of example, let’s say you’ve identified eatright.org and dietdoctor.com as your top two competitors.
Once you’ve identified these competitors, you’ll want to switch to another tool—namely, the SEMRush keyword gap tool.
Using this keywords gap tool, you’ll enter your top two competitors’ URLs as well as your own URL.
Then, you’ll need to click on the link between your first competitor’s site and your own site and select “Unique to the first domain’s keywords”.
Next, click on the link between your website and the second competitor’s site and select “Common keywords”.
Then click on the green “Go” button to get your results.
They’ll look something like this:
Here, you can see which keywords your top competitors rank for that you don’t. Yes, the burning question “What are the keywords that both of my competitors rank for that I don’t?” has been answered! Wasn’t that easy? These are the exact keywords you’ll want to focus on in order to fill the content gap!
As you can see, the keyword gap tool is an excellent way to generate topic and keyword ideas to inform your overall content strategy. And it only takes a few minutes to do it.
Target Low-Performing Keywords
This isn’t the end of the content gap analysis story, though. Why? Because a content gap isn’t comprised of just keywords and topics that you don’t rank for at all. It also includes those keywords and topics that are low-performing. Any seasoned SEO will tell you that the keywords that you’re on page 2 or 3 of Google for are those with the most opportunity for growth.
Identifying Low-Performing Keywords
Lucky for you, the SEMRush keyword gap tool is also effective at identifying your low-performing keywords. Here’s how to do it:
- Enter your top competitor’s URL, your own URL, and your second top competitor’s URL.
- Select “Common Keywords” for each of these.
- Click on “Go” to see the report.
- Then, click on “Advanced Filters.”
- Select “Less than” and enter the number 11 for your first top competitor.
- Select “Greater than” and enter the number 10 for your own website.
- Repeat step #5 for your second top competitor.
- Click the green “Apply” button.
The results show which keywords your competitors are ranking in the top 10 slots for that you are not.
Whoa. Can you say prime opportunities for growth?
Content Gap Analysis Isn’t Just About Keywords, Though
From an SEO perspective, we tend to get caught up on keywords. And let’s be clear—keywords are crucial when performing an SEO content gap analysis. And they are also crucial for getting the rankings you want on SERPs. It’s just a fact. And it’s been proven time and time again.
Don’t Have Keyword Tunnel Vision
So we can’t start ignoring keywords. But if you’re looking at your content from purely a keywords perspective, then you’re limiting yourself and doing your readers a disservice as well. Don’t be that guy (or gal!).
First and foremost, filling a content gap is about—(you guessed it!)—content!
Content Gap Analysis From a Consumer Perspective
Let’s look at content gap analysis from a consumer perspective.
The same report that gave you insight into the keywords you need to be targeting to make ranking gains also gives you clues to where your content is lacking from a reader’s perspective. It’s just about looking at the data from a different angle.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the process and give you an example to illustrate what this looks like.
Identify Topic Gaps
A look at the keywords that surfaced from your SEO content gap analysis should give you an idea of the topics that you should be addressing that haven’t quite made it to your content calendar yet.
Content Insights from Keyword Gap Analyses
For instance, a look at our example keyword gap report shows us that our top two competitors are ranking in the top ten for the related keywords “whole grain diet,” “grain diet,” and “whole wheat diet.” This data should clue us in on two things: 1) our target audience is looking for information on diets containing whole grains and 2) we aren’t providing them with this information, at least not to any significant extent.
Fill Gaps with Relevant Content
As a result of this insight, we now know that we need to put content about whole grain diets on our publishing radar ASAP. Doing so will not only result in quick gains on SERPs for these keywords, but it also guarantees we’re giving our readers the relevant content they’re searching for in the nutrition and fitness niche. That’s what we call a win-win!
So first, you’ll want to make a list of these keywords that your top competitors are ranking for that you’re not. Just take a second and jot them down.
Next, you’ll want to generate some topic ideas that correspond with each of these keywords. To get this step right, you need to know your reader base pretty well. Think about the kinds of things you already know they’re interested in and then make a link between these subjects and the keywords you’ve just identified.
Got a list? Great! Now that you’ve been able to generate topic and keyword ideas, it’s time to produce some great content around these topics!
Focus on High-Quality Content
Knowing which keywords and topics you need to address is a great first step and will definitely give you a competitive edge IF you follow through. Nothing can replace the hard work of addressing the content and keyword gaps you’ve identified with high quality content. Real talk: There’s no quick fix here.
And no, you can’t just stick these keywords into your existing content and expect any type of satisfactory result. Here’s what will help:
- Well-researched blog posts
- Descriptive infographics
- Informative Q&As
- Instructional videos
- And any other content that is relevant and trust-worthy!
These pieces of high-quality content take time to create, so don’t expect overnight results. Instead, invest in a long-term content strategy that will reap impressive and long-lasting results.
Short-Term And Long-Term Gains from Content Gap Analysis
Performing routine content gap analyses like the kind we’ve detailed in this post will result in both short-term and long-term gains. When you address gaps in keywords and content, you’ll see quick rankings gains on SERPs, which is nothing to sneeze at, for sure! There’s no reason to stop there, though.
Become a Content Authority in Your Niche
The benefits of content gap analysis can be much richer than just these instant gratification type wins. With this approach to your long-term content strategy, you’ll be investing in the authority of your site over time. Visitors will come to view you as the go-to source for comprehensive information about niche topics they’re interested in.
Be the Best Source of Information on a Topic
The truth is that if web users don’t find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’ll quickly abandon it and head to your competitor’s site instead. To prevent this from happening, commit to becoming the best source of information on a given topic. That way, visitors on your site will have no reason to leave.
Then, rinse and repeat for the next topic. Remember, the longer visitors are on your site, the higher the chance of clicks and conversions. Now, we’re talking!
Consider Performing a Website Content Audit
Content gap analysis is about analyzing the content currently on the web and looking for gaps you can fill with new content. Another technique that can work hand in hand with a content gap analysis is a website content audit.
What is A Website Content Audit?
A content audit is a thorough analysis of the existing content on your site. To properly conduct a website content audit, you’ll need to look at your site map and go through each and every piece of your content in order to evaluate how well it is performing. It is a time-consuming process, but it can reap big rewards, especially when it’s done in tandem with a content gap analysis.
Performing a Content Gap Analysis and Website Content Audit Simultaneously
Using content gap analysis and a website content audit side by side can help you look for opportunities to replace outdated or poor-performing content with fresh content that fills the gaps you’ve identified. Of course, you can always perform these analyses in isolation, but it won’t be as efficient or as effective.
If you’ve reached the end of this post, you’re ready to perform a content gap analysis on your website. Good luck, and happy analyzing!