How To Plan Content With A Content Gap Analysis

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Search Engine Optimization

Knowledge is your greatest asset for search engine optimization. 

If everyone knew what you knew, they wouldn’t have a reason to use a search engine! That’s why content development is a huge part of the day-to-day at Intuitive Digital.

This post will help you leverage your knowledge and expertise to create valuable content. The ultimate goal is to improve your site’s ability to win meaningful search traffic. 

It is not an easy task, but it is worth pursuing.

A word of warning – there are currently no tools that provide easy answers to content gaps. You will need to dive deeper into the information provided by the tool you use – and then lean on your expertise to develop a unique strategy. 

Content Gap Basics

A “content gap” refers to the difference between your website’s content and a comprehensive collection of relevant information on your business. 

Let’s look at an example.

Imagine you have a business that’s marketing pet products in a local area. Some of these scenarios illustrate potential content gaps:

  • The online pet store doesn’t include updated product listings.
  • The pet store’s content doesn’t help shoppers make informed purchasing decisions about similar products from different brands.
  • A competing pet store across town publishes guides and blogs with expert insights, but your pet store doesn’t.

Each of these scenarios illustrates a missed opportunity to gain organic traffic, leads, and customers. 

That is why you should care about your own website’s content gaps. 

Most online resources focus on a specific type of content gap: the competitor search gap. The next section talks more about this and other types of gaps (as well as why and how to fill them).

Content Gaps And Their Importance

From a marketer’s perspective, content gaps represent untapped opportunities to grow your audience and brand. 

In SEO-specific terms, content gaps show opportunities to gain potentially valuable website traffic. You may hear them referred to as Keyword or Topic Gaps, but any discussion of revenue opportunities and marketing goals can apply. 

Content gaps can be broken down into four main categories:

  • Expertise Gap
  • Comprehensive Knowledge Gap
  • Media Gap
  • Search Gap

Let’s briefly define each. 

Expertise Gap

An Expertise Gap is the difference between what the experts at your organization know versus the information shared on your website. If your business can’t convey competency through your website’s content, then you’ll have an uphill battle convincing traffic to convert into a customer.

For instance, an online cosmetic seller should be able to explain the difference between blush and bronzer. While this might not make an immediate impact on website traffic, it can help broaden reach and convey specific knowledge about a customer’s needs.

With Google focusing on E-EA-T to gauge content quality (that’s Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust), it’s more important than ever to share expert knowledge and advice on your website. 

Comprehensive Knowledge Gap

A Comprehensive Gap is the difference between the information offered on your website and a complete collection of all the knowledge and information relevant to your niche. Think Wikipedia or the Great Library of Alexandria. 

This gap will almost always be aspirational but can act as a “true north” for long-term content strategy. It can differ from an expertise gap in scale, but that depends on the subject material and the overall human knowledge of the given topic. 

Media Gap

A Media Gap is the difference between online competitor buzz and buzz around your business. This includes news coverage, videos and video channels, image sharing, social media, and much more. We won’t go deep into this, but it’s important to consider it as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy

Search Gap

A Search Gap is the difference between keywords and phrases with search volume that your website ranks for on a search engine versus your competitors. This is where most SEO agencies seek to help – but is far from the only place to grow traffic and revenue via search. 

Most online resources focus on the Search Gap with an emphasis on competitive research. The rest of this guide will cover how to start with a Search Gap and develop a growth-oriented strategy. 

How To Do A Competitive Search Content Gap Analysis 

Let’s look at a process you can use to identify a topic gap – then develop a strategy to address it. 

Step #1: Understand Your Current Rankings And Business Climate

Most content gap guides mention an “audit” at some point, so here it is! You need to audit your website. 

The details of a content gap audit can help you decide what to write about next. To know where to go, you need to know what to look for. 

Here’s a breakdown of mission-critical information when conducting a gap analysis:

  • Who your competitors are
  • What your competitors rank for
  • What drives valuable traffic to your website
  • How you compare to competitors

With these items in mind, you’ll want to dive deeper into the following:

Google Tools

  • Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC) will always provide valuable insights into your website traffic, user behavior, and more.
  • Use the GSC Search Analytics report to see which queries are driving traffic to your site and the pages that are ranking.
  • Check your GA’s organic search traffic to understand how well your website is performing in search engines.

Keyword Ranking Tools:

  • Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz can provide detailed insights into your keyword rankings. Monitor how your rankings change over time.
  • You can also compare your rankings with competitors to identify areas for improvement (we’ll come back to this in the next step).

Business Climate:

  • Stay updated on industry trends and changes in consumer behavior.
  • Monitor online reviews and chatter to see if there are major trends regarding customer pain points – this can illustrate a gap that affects customer perceptions. 

With this information, you’ll be ready to conduct a detailed analysis. 

Step #2: Conduct A Gap Analysis

As mentioned in the section above, this step typically requires access to specialty tools. For example, SEO tech like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush have tools that compare one domain against another. Depending on the type of content gap you are targeting, you may need to research the best tool for your needs. 

Once you’re aware of your current rankings and understand the overall landscape, you’re ready to dive into the gap. 

This tutorial will focus on using Ahrefs to identify organic competitors and compare rankings. Thankfully, it’s pretty simple. 

First, you’ll need access to Ahrefs – or a tool like it. You’ll also need to have your account set up, which can include adding access to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and other tools. 

Once you’re ready, navigate to the Organic Competitors tab and review the sites that Ahrefs compares you to:

Ahrefs Organic Competitors Tool

These are your organic competitors. You’ll want to make a note of each for an audit. You can also review the top 2-3 sites manually to see what you’re up against. 

That said, we’re not done with the tool yet. 

Once you’ve noted your top competitors, click the Content Gap tool and add as many competing URLs as you like. We’ll just use one competitor for this comparison:

Ahrefs Content Gap Analysis Tool

When you run the analysis, Ahrefs will generate a report showing keywords that your competitors rank for but you don’t:

Ahrefs content gap results

Once you’ve collected this information (you can export it to a spreadsheet if you like!), the next step is to see what it can tell you about a potential content gap. This is where the fun really starts. 

Step #3: Study The Results Of Your Analysis

Conducting an audit and analyzing the results are two separate tasks – give yourself and your brain a break if you need to!

Once you’ve compiled your data, you’ll need to spend time studying the results to discover appropriate insights. Maybe one day we’ll have an AI tool that can do this for us, but not just yet.

To help guide you through your analysis, here are three overarching questions that need answers:

Is it relevant?

It’s important to break down any “gap” in content based on its relevance to your business and goals. For instance:

  • Relevant Search Gap – Commercial keywords where your competitors outrank you, informational keywords that are relevant 
  • Irrelevant Search Gap – Competitor brand names, service areas, or offerings that have no overlap with your audience, fringe cases.

If you’re using a tool or spreadsheet to study your gap analysis data, I recommend using filters to quickly identify and eliminate irrelevant data points. Depending on the size of the dataset you’re working with, you may find this step mandatory. 

Is it realistic?

Setting realistic goals is one of the biggest challenges for SEO. At the end of the day, search engines and their complex algorithms decide what ranks and what doesn’t. 

That’s why you should always set reasonable and realistic expectations for SEO efforts. 

Here’s a list of questions that can help you determine which insights present realistic opportunities for your business:

  • Is your website and digital presence mature enough to rank at the competitive level of your target? 
  • Are there easier targets that can act as stepping stones to your goal?
  • Do you have the resources to go after the gap you’ve uncovered? 
  • Will filling a content gap draw away from higher-priority initiatives?
  • Does your team have the ability to create top-ranking pages for these gaps?
  • Are there contextual indicators that make you confident plugging this topic gap is the correct course of action?

These are just some of the questions you might ask – your needs may differ and that’s okay too!

Is that right?

Not everyone asks this question, but we do at Intuitive Digital. 

This question seeks to answer whether or not the gaps you hope to fill align with ideals of sustainability, inclusivity, and justice. 

Ask some of these questions:

  • Will growing business from this content gap help grow sustainability initiatives at your organization? Will it undermine anything?
  • Does competing in this gap help you challenge harmful practices or norms in your niche?
  • Are you perpetuating stereotypes, social cycles, or untrue ideas by ranking in your targetted gap?

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to rank for topic gaps that allow you to act ethically in an SEO campaign!

Step #4: Develop A Strategy 

Insights from an audit are just that: insights. 

What they lack is a way to make them actionable – which is why your next step is to include them in your overall digital marketing strategy.

To fix this, you’ll want to organize the following elements for yourself and your team:

  • You or your team’s capacity to create content, design, and develop the appropriate web pages
  • A timeline of projects and expected milestones
  • Priority projects and sub-projects
  • An organization scheme with clear tasks for creatives, developers, and project managers involved with your website expansion.

In essence, your goal at this stage is to organize the insights you’ve found into an actionable plan. 

The more detail you can share on an idea, why it’s important when it needs to go live, and what you want to achieve – the better. This is especially true if you’re planning to delegate tasks or entire projects. 

If you already have a system, great! Use that. If not, check out online project management tools or research online templates to see how others stay organized.

Step #5: Execute, Monitor, And Accelerate

If you’ve taken the time to follow each step, you’ve already laid the foundation for my final recommendation here. 

If you hang around marketing blogs (and I mean why wouldn’t you??) then you may be familiar with a few idioms like:

  • Done is better than perfect
  • Content is king
  • Bigfoot is real
  • Always monitor the performance of your digital marketing campaigns and be prepared to rewrite, remove things that don’t work, or go in a different direction. Writers use the phrase “kill your darlings” 

That’s it – good job. Way to fill that gap.

Conclusion

Topic gaps = Opportunities

Finding and capitalizing on those opportunities is a process that requires the correct tools and a willingness to sift through a lot of data.

The insights you can uncover though? They’re worth it. The rest is up to you. 

Want more? Check out some of our ChatGPT prompts to help you make the most of your content gap insights.

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