You’ve been creating content for a while, and you’ve built up a pretty robust library. Your content marketing efforts are humming right along.
But are you sure your marketing strategy covers all your bases? Are you finding it hard to come up with new topics? Maybe Google is ranking your competitor ahead of you? It’s probably time to perform a content gap analysis.
Content Gap Analysis: Onsite vs. On-page
There are two types of content gap analyses: onsite and on-page. You’ve probably heard of an onsite gap analysis, and you may have even performed one or two.
But you can also perform a gap analysis at the individual page level. Let’s take a look at both analyses, what they’re used for and when to use them.
Onsite and On-page Gap Analysis: What’s the Difference?
An onsite gap analysis gives you a big-picture idea of your content marketing coverage. Use it to:
- Generate new content ideas that strengthen your current offering
- Identify ranking keywords and topics that are missing from your content
- Conduct competitor analysis and compare your topic coverage to that of your competitors
- Ensure you’re covering every step of the buyer’s journey within your content
An on-page SEO content gap analysis works on a piece-by-piece basis. Use it to:
- Check each piece to ensure your content is in-depth
- Make sure you’ve included all ranking keywords for a topic
- Identify subtopics to integrate with your current content
Which Gap Analysis Is Better?
Both types of gap analysis are equally useful and an important part of a good content marketing plan.
Conducting an on-site analysis helps you stay competitive and ensures your site remains an authority within its space.
Look at topics you’ve covered to identify related topics which you haven’t yet explored. That's low-hanging fruit for which you can quickly create additional material. Determine whether there are subtopics or angles to include in a topic cluster. Or look for topics you haven’t covered at all.
An on-page gap analysis will make sure every piece you’ve created is as comprehensive as possible. Use it to refresh older content that still performs well, or take a look at thin content to see how you can beef it up.
How to Perform an Effective Onsite Gap Analysis
There are two approaches you can take towards conducting a gap analysis and its respective tasks:
Jerry-rig various pieces of software into a toolset that hopefully covers all bases
Use a platform like MarketMuse with optimized workflows to perform these operations at scale
In the first case, you’re like a cobbler producing one lovingly handcrafted pair of shoes each day. In the second instance, you own a factory whose output volume cannot be compared. You’ve got an unfair advantage.
The more content you have on your site, the more important it becomes in making the right choice.
1. Define Your Content Goals
Before you start measuring anything, you should understand what you are measuring. Why are you creating content in the first place? Who is your target audience? What do you want them to do with it?
When I ran content for a parenting site, we wanted to support expecting moms and provide all the information they needed (like blog posts) to prepare for their babies. We also wanted them to sign up for our daily pregnancy email.
We had our target audience (pregnant women), our reason for creating content (to support our audience through their journey) and our goal for them (sign up for our email newsletter).
If you have one, take a look at your buyer’s journey and match topics and keywords to each step.
2. Determine the Content You Want to Create
Now, I could look at our existing blog posts to see if we were covering all the topics pregnant women were searching for and compel them to sign up for our newsletter.
But I needed to do a little more research to determine which topics would actually do that. From there, I turned to trending keywords and topics covered by other parenting sites.
BuzzSumo is helpful for getting insight on the hottest topics in your vertical. You can also get a report on what your competitors are publishing.
Better yet, you can use MarketMuse Suite to determine what content you need to round out your clusters of topics. These are an extremely effective method of getting search visibility. You can read more about topic clusters here.
3. Take Inventory of Your Content
Next, take inventory of your existing content to get a full list of everything you have. You can do that in a few different ways. If you’re using Google Analytics, you could generate a list by vertical. You can even organize it by Pageviews, so you’re tackling the most popular verticals first.
There are tools out there that can better customize to display different search parameters. Moz, Screaming Frog and DYNO Mapper can all give you a complete list of all of your indexable content. You can include search items like URL, metadata, image, word count, inbound and outbound links and tags. Including tags, especially, will help you identify topics you’ve covered in the past.
Or you can use MarketMuse Suite which integrates inventory and auditing seamlessly into your workflow. That makes a big difference when performing these operations at scale.
4. Run an Audit
Now it’s time to run an audit of your content with all of that in mind.
Tools like SEMRush and Sistrix will run reports that compare the keywords your competitors rank on with your own. You can see which keywords for which you have no content.
Did I mention MarketMuse Suite fuses this process nicely within your workflow?
5. Plan Content for the Gaps
Once you have a list of gaps, start planning content to fill them. Create content briefs to provide a blueprint to ensure your writing team produces expert-level content every time.
6. Measure the Results
Filling the gaps isn’t the end of the process. Keep an eye on your new pieces, and on your site’s performance in general to measure their performance.
How to Perform an Effective on-page Gap Analysis
When you audited your content for gaps, did you find topics that were covered, but not very well?
Take those individual pieces and run them through their own gap analysis to make them as comprehensive as possible. Doing so will boost your credibility both with your audience and with search engines.
1. Look at Your Content Inventory
I’m writing this assuming you’re doing an on-page gap analysis as part of a larger content audit. In that case, you’ve already defined your content marketing goals and done your inventory.
Now you can look back at it and see which pieces are doing well for your goals and which ones aren’t. You can then determine which pieces are worth optimizing, which you should leave alone and which you should consider putting out to pasture.
2. Define Your Goals (Again)
You’ve defined the big-picture goals for your content, but each piece you create has its own purpose, right?
Let’s look at my pregnancy example again. Of course, the overall goal of all the pregnancy content is to support and inform expecting parents. But each piece had its own mini-goal, too.
A piece on the Zika virus was meant to draw in new users through a popular search term and then inform pregnant women of the risk. The day-by-day pregnancy calendar, on the other hand, was meant to keep users coming back to learn about their babies’ progress every day.
Look at each piece as its own micro-marketing effort. Define its specific goals and ask yourself how it supports your overarching goals for your content.
3. Audit and Optimize
Now, look at your content. Determine which pieces are doing well to help your content marketing goals, as well as those that aren’t, but you wish were.
Are there topics or keywords missing that could boost SEO on these pieces? Could they better fill a content cap if they are optimized?
MarketMuse will analyze each piece semantically to determine where the gaps lie within. It will suggest topics and keywords to include in each piece to make it the strongest possible piece for your content marketing goals.
4. Plan and Optimize
Next, use MarketMuse to plan your content refreshes. Create briefs that include all subheads, topics and organic keywords that should be included. Doing so will make it that much easier for your writers to deliver the content that fits your needs.
5. Measure the Results
Once it’s been optimized, measure how well it performs using Google Analytics. Keep comparing it to your competitor’s content using MarketMuse.
There’s no need to constantly come up with new content. Doing so may actually be hurting your content strategy efforts, rather than helping it. Look back at what you’ve created. Do a comprehensive content gap analysis to strengthen what you already have and get an edge over your competitors.