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Our Comprehensive Guide to Running a Content Gap Analysis for Maximum SEO Impact

Picture of Chris Kirksey
Chris Kirksey

CEO, Direction.com

4 Steps to Conducting a Complete Content Gap Analysis

Content gaps are revenue left on the table – gap analysis paired with prompt creation pumps up profits by driving qualified visitors stated intentions convert into.

What is a Content Gap Analysis?

Content gap analysis refers to the critical process of auditing your current website content assets and evaluating those assets against your identified keyword targets in order to reveal optimization opportunities. By thoroughly analyzing gaps between existing content against desired ranking targets, organizations can develop data-backed plans for creating content that drives more qualified organic traffic.

Formally, a content gap analysis involves the following prioritized steps:

  1. Compiling an exhaustive inventory of all current website content pages including but not limited to blog posts, guides, video transcripts, and tools.
  2. Documenting a master list of primary keyword targets segmented by priority tiers based on potential value.
  3. Performing a side-by-side comparative analysis of current content categories against keyword targets seeking out page types, subjects, and semantics without alignment.
  4. Quantifying and documenting content gaps across missing subjects, pages, and keywords that require new optimized assets for ranking improvements.
  5. Developing new tailored content pieces centered around filling identified high-priority gaps such as reviews, FAQs, or comparisons around commercial buyer terms.

By dedicating resources to routinely assessing content gaps as outlined above, brands can take the guesswork out of building high-performance content strategies that attract peak business searchers. These analytics-based insights chart an editorial roadmap calibrated directly to core search triggers measured within a brand’s market.

Why is a Content Gap Analysis Important for SEO?

Conducting a content gap analysis brings several key strategic values:

  • Identifies Unrealized Organic Traffic Opportunities – Comparing existing content against target keywords quickly reveals prime subjects, formats, and themes that could attract more visitors if created. This shows where investment should focus.
  • Connects Content Directly to Revenue Impact – By tying gaps directly to high-potential keywords and topics, new content scales overall SEO traffic and conversions. Growth accelerates.
  • Streamlines Editorial Planning – Content analysis informs what needs created next rather than best guessing. Keyword data feeds pragmatic ideas. Roadmaps clarify.
  • Lays Foundation for Expansion – The audit supplies baseline that ongoing analyses build upon as new keywords and pages accumulate over time. Scales uplift.
  • Benchmarking Against Competitors – Exposing categories and subjects competitors content cultivates traffic for makes keeping up easier.

All in all, routine content gap examination ensures continual alignment between search visibility, traffic volume, and revenue. It pulls content creation from theoretical to data-driven within a search context. The outputs drive meaningful organic growth through heightened discovery and engagement.

Kick Off Your Content Gap Discovery with Consumer Research

Before assessing content deficiencies, you first need to comprehensively understand your target keywords and buyer expectations. This consumer research fuels visibility into missing content opportunities aligned to highly-qualified organic traffic.

First, conduct expansive keyword research combining data and buyer analysis.

Leverage tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner to unearth the commercial search terms driving business searchers to competitors. Expand lists by analyzing keyword themes and drilling down on long-tail permutations aligned to products.

Pure data alone misses half the story, though. Complement your research with surveys, social listening, interviews, and personas to gain empathy into the motivations and goals behind these keywords. The human context informs content that truly connects once visitors click over from SEO rankings.

Then, bridge strategy with insights on search intent. 

Connecting target keywords to consumer expectations allows informed inferences on gaps where existing content fails to fulfill intent. Do blog posts answer the specific questions prioritized keywords represent?

Content firmly grounded in this research of both external shopping behavior signals and internal voices stands the best chance of closing knowledge deficiencies…while also forging genuine connections.

4 Steps to Conducting a Complete Content Gap Analysis

Once you have a solid grasp on existing content assets and target keyword opportunities, it’s time to roll up your sleeves for the heavy lifting – actually conducting the comparative content gap analysis.

This systematic head-to-head analysis uncovers the specific subjects, categories, and commercial queries your current content catalog falls short on targeting. The goal is precision and clarity in not only calling out gaps – but also mapping new content types across pillars, pages, and themes to fill them.

By following the comprehensive 4-step process detailed below examining owned versus aspirational content, you can reveal strategic new article, guide, and tool ideas weighted towards highest business impact. Let’s explore exactly how to extract actionable insights tied directly to growth through this process.

1. Audit Your Existing Content

One of the first steps in conducting a content gap analysis is to audit your existing content. This process involves examining all aspects of your website’s written material, from blog posts to landing pages.

By analyzing these elements closely, you’ll gain valuable insights into potential gaps in coverage that need addressing. To make this task easier and more efficient, consider using a spreadsheet or dedicated tool like Ahrefs’ Content Audit.

Identifying Low-Performing Articles Based on Traffic Metrics

To pinpoint underperforming pieces, start by evaluating traffic metrics such as page views and bounce rates. These indicators can help identify articles that aren’t resonating with your audience or driving desired actions. You can use tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to gather this data.

Evaluating Keyword Usage Within Each Piece

In addition to traffic metrics, assess keyword usage within each piece of content. Analyzing how well-targeted keywords are incorporated throughout the text will reveal opportunities for optimization and improved search engine rankings. Tools such as RankMath SEO (a wp plugin) can assist in identifying keyword-related issues.

Taking the time to audit your existing content not only helps uncover gaps but also provides an opportunity for improvement across various user experience (UX) factors – including broken links or outdated information – ultimately enhancing overall site performance and customer satisfaction.

2. Analyze Competitor Content Strategies

Stay ahead of the competition by examining their top-ranking articles along with any unaddressed pain points they might have missed. Use this information as inspiration for creating new high-quality materials that cater specifically towards those needs while also differentiating yourself from rival businesses.

Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs for competitor gap analysis

Utilize powerful SEO tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs to analyze your competitors’ keyword strategies. These platforms provide valuable insights into which keywords are driving traffic to their websites, allowing you to identify potential opportunities for targeting similar terms within your own content.

How to use Ahrefs to find low keyword difficulty keywords

Let’s say I want to promote our SaaS product that helps businesses with local SEO. Finding competitor keywords will help you in my marketing efforts by identifying the best keywords to target in my blog content and other landing pages. By analyzing the keywords my competitors are ranking for, I’m able to create better content and improve my SEO to attract more traffic, and ultimately, sales.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how I use Ahrefs’ keyword explorer tool to find the best keywords based on my competition’s domain rating and the keyword difficulty score:

  1. Go to Ahrefs.com and click on “Keyword Explorer” in the top menu.
  2. Enter a relevant keyword related to your product or service in the search bar and select your target country and search engine.
  3. Scroll down to the “Position History” section to see the top-ranking competitors for the given keyword.
  4. Analyze the results with Ahrefs to see which domains are ranking for the most organic keywords related to your niche.
  5. Select one of your main competitors and click on the domain name to view their organic keywords report.
  6. Set Keyword Difficulty/KD filter to 0-10.
  7. In the Keyword filter, type in just one word from the search term you want to rank for (ex. I want to rank for local SEO software, but in the filter, I’m only putting the word “SEO”).
  8. In the Position filter, I put a minimum of 10 searches per month.
  9. Hit “Show Results”
  10. Sort the results by the “Keyword Difficulty” column to identify low difficulty keywords that your competitor is ranking for.
  11. Analyze the search volume and traffic potential of each keyword and prioritize the ones with the highest search volume and traffic potential.
  12. Use these keywords to create high-quality content and optimize your website’s pages to improve your SEO and attract more traffic from your competitors by creating better content than them, and a wider range of content. (example: if they only have written content on the ranking blog articles, think about one-upping that by making a video and embedding it into the content.)

It’s important to target keywords with low to medium difficulty and high search volume to get the best results. Avoid targeting highly competitive keywords with a high difficulty score as it may take months or even years to rank for them.

Assessing strengths and weaknesses in competitors’ backlinks

In addition to analyzing keywords and creating content, it’s essential to examine the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing towards your competitors’ sites. Tools like Majestic SEO can help you assess their link-building efforts, revealing areas where they may be out performing or underperforming compared to industry standards. By understanding these patterns, you can develop a more effective strategy for acquiring high-authority links yourself.

  • Action Step 1: Conduct a thorough competitor keyword gap analysis using tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs – focusing on both keyword usage and backlink profiles.
  • Action Step 2: Create a list of topics where your rivals are excelling but haven’t fully addressed specific audience pain points; use this as inspiration when developing new content ideas tailored towards filling those gaps effectively.
  • Action Step 3: Continuously monitor competitor strategies, their target keywords, top-performing pages, and adjust your approach accordingly to maintain a competitive edge within the marketplace.

3. Fill in Content Gaps with High-Quality Material

Now that you’re armed with clarity from the gap analysis on which keywords lack content support, the next imperative step is filling those holes.

Dedicate time upfront to connect gaps to ideas for new pieces that can rank. Consider specifically:

A) Types of Pages Needed

Review keywords without content and assess what kinds of pages searchers likely expect to find. Is it product comparison articles, explainers about a concept, or tutorials around use case?

Match page formats to searcher intent!

B) Subjects to Prioritize First

Size up priority based on factors like search volume, revenue potential, and existing authority gaps.

Building onto established pages with new linked content accelerates indexing and rankings over launching net new subjects.

C) Content Formats That Attract Links

Assess each gap through the lens of what will draw backlinks once created, not just visitors.

Pieces like guides, number posts, controversial opinion pieces, and research studies compel sharing, embedding, and external links.

D) Surfacing Competitor Blindspots

Spy on competitors using SEMrush to identify types of content driving their organic traffic that you could produce your own version of.

Blindspot analysis spots big areas they rank well in that your current content completely neglects.

Follow this criteria when brainstorming and outlining the actual new articles and pieces to develop. Map what formats will fuel sustainable growth, not just one-off traffic spikes.

The goal is creating remarkable content matched directly to gaps search engines spotlights. Doing so cements enduring rankings growth.

4. Ongoing Optimization Through Continuous Re-Analysis

The most effective content strategies evolve dynamically based on constant re-examination of performance data and search trends. Just as your website technically optimizes through rolling updates as algorithms shift, so should your editorial calendar.

Building a recurring quarterly gap analysis process fuels this agility through 3 key cyclical steps:

Rinse and Repeat The Audit

  • Don’t start fully from scratch each quarter
  • Pull latest content audit analysis and add in any new published pieces
  • Update keyword lists with expanded new terms and rising performers

Compare Current VS Aspirational

  • With latest site content assets and keywords both updated, run the comparative analysis again searching for new gaps
  • Pay attention to groups of mid-tail keywords gaining volume that lack content support

Strategically Plug New Gaps

  • Review the new specific topics and keywords now uncovered without content
  • Brainstorm what formats of post or tools would attract searchers
  • Map creation of 10-20 new pieces around largest gaps over next 90 days

By making gap examination quarterly, you build momentum – new content plugs previous gaps raising rankings and visibility, which reveals new keyword opportunities to target. Optimizing around this cycle avoids stagnation.

Monitoring Results and Adjusting Strategy — The Job is Never Done

Continuously measuring the results of your updated content strategy is essential for ongoing success against competitors within the marketplace. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as organic traffic, social shares, and backlinks acquired, you can make necessary adjustments over time to ensure your content remains relevant and engaging.

Setting up Google Analytics Goals for Specific Actions Taken by Users

Using Google Analytics goals, you can track the actions taken by users on your website to assess how well your content is performing and determine which materials are driving conversions most effectively. For example, if a goal is set up to measure newsletter sign-ups or product purchases resulting from a particular piece of content, you can easily determine which materials are driving conversions most effectively.

A/B Testing Different Headlines or Article Structures to Optimize Engagement

To further refine your content strategy, consider implementing A/B testing techniques when you create content. This involves creating two versions of an article with different headlines or structures and analyzing user engagement metrics like click-through rates (CTRs) or time spent on page. Based on these findings, you can identify which version resonates better with readers – allowing for continuous improvement in future materials.

  • Action Item: Regularly review KPIs related to organic traffic growth and user engagement levels.
  • Action Item: Utilize Google Analytics goals to track specific user actions and measure content performance.
  • Action Item: Conduct A/B testing on headlines or article structures to optimize engagement rates.

Close Content Gaps. Own Search Results.

Implementing a consistent yet continually evolving methodology around content gap identification, analysis, plugging, and optimization establishes what it takes to domineer search rankings long term.

But it takes a multi-disciplinary team and technology to actualize smoothly. From data scientists discerning insights, writers aligned to keyword needs, link builders escalating amplification, and CRO experts elevating engagement post-click.

At Direction.com – we’ve spent close to a decade specializing content audits and creation, as well as, distribution and traffic-to-revenue facilitation for complex B2B ecosystems.

So if you are ready to bridge the gaps holding your content strategy back from peak performance, then contact us today!

Content Gap Analysis FAQs

Content gap analysis is the process of identifying and addressing gaps in your existing content strategy. This involves evaluating your current content, analyzing competitor strategies, understanding customer behavior, and mapping out touchpoints in the customer journey. The goal is to create high-quality material that fills these gaps and improves overall engagement with your target audience.

A content gap could be a topic or keyword that’s relevant to your industry but not adequately covered by your existing content marketing strategies. For instance, if you run a fitness blog but lack articles on specific workout routines or nutritional advice, this would represent a gap in your coverage that competitors might exploit to attract more traffic.

The three fundamental components of a gap analysis include:

  1. Conducting consumer behavior research through surveys and social media listening;
  2. Auditing existing content based on performance metrics like traffic data;
  3. Analyzing competitor strategies using tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs for keyword insights and backlink profiles.

In academic research, “gap analysis” refers to identifying areas where previous studies have left unanswered questions or unexplored topics within a given field. Scholars conduct literature reviews to find these gaps before proposing new research projects aimed at filling them with fresh insights, similarly informing future work by other researchers.

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