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How to Get Started on Your Content Gap Analysis

11 min read

An important role of the content strategist is to understand what content you have, what content you don’t, and what content you have – that could be better. That usually falls under the umbrella of a content gap analysis – which is a subset of the content audit.

We talk a lot about content gap analysis on this blog. It’s an extremely important step in a content marketing team’s strategy for four reasons:

  1. Finding competitive topics and keyword opportunities that would help you rank with search engines
  2. Planning your content (and content formats) more easily
  3. Pleasing search engine crawlers by creating rich, in-depth content that matches user intent
  4. Creating a better experience with potential customers

If your company has been around for a while – and your current content library has hundreds of pieces of content, doing an audit to find your gaps can be akin to boiling the ocean. So here’s a pragmatic approach to a gap analysis that will keep you from losing your mind. 

I’ll explain what a content gap analysis is, why it’s important, and what tools you can use to help you get started.

Right now. Today.

What Is a Content Gap Analysis?

There are two kinds of content gap analysis you can conduct. The first one, your site-wide content gap analysis, is a deep dive into all the content on your site to look for gaps in topics, keywords, and verticals.

With a content gap analysis of your entire website, you’re taking your content audit to the next level. With a content audit, you’ve gotten a clear picture of what you do have, in terms of your content inventory. With a gap analysis, you’re taking a hard look at your content to understand what you don’t have.

A content gap analysis across your website is not something you need to do every week, or even every quarter. This may be something you do as part of a yearly or semi-yearly content audit.

Second, you can perform an on-page search engine optimization (SEO) content gap analysis. Here, you’re looking at a sample of your written content to see if each piece covers its’ given topic completely.

An SEO content gap analysis is something you can perform more regularly throughout your content creation process.

You may take a look at your high-performers, for instance, to see if you can optimize them further. Or you may look at pieces that aren’t performing as well to see if you can improve their performance with your audience, and in turn their SERP ranking, by plugging gaps.

The Purpose of Content Gap Analysis

A content gap analysis is an important element in a well-planned content strategy. And remember, a well-documented content strategy is a key part of the success of your content marketing.

In fact, in a study conducted by The Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs and BrightCove, 72 percent of surveyed B2B marketers credited a well-documented content marketing strategy with the key to their content marketing success.

The purposes of a content gap analysis vary depending on the kind of analysis you conduct, but make sure both sitewide and on-page gap analyses are a part of your overall marketing strategy.

Site-wide Content Gap Analysis

In the intro, I outlined some big reasons why every marketing team should be conducting regular content gap analyses. Let’s take a closer look at them now.

Understand What You Do and Don’t Have

When you perform a content audit, you get a full picture of what you already have. Now, you can start doing some serious research into what you’re missing.

Take a look at ranking keywords in your space and cross-reference them against your current content offerings. Are there keywords you haven’t addressed? Have you addressed this topic for necessary personas? Remember, too, relevant content is not just the messaging you want to push into the market. New innovations usually have an overlap with existing technologies. In the generative AI space, for example, suddenly, we needed new content on vector databases, RAG, and other types of adjacent topics. 

If so, plan content for those keywords and add them to your content calendar. Check to make sure you have content for all stages of the buyer’s journey. Offering the right content at the right time creates a great customer experience. To do that, you need to have the right content for your target audience.

Identify What Is Working – and What Is Not

This is a two step consideration. Again, knowledge of the customer journey, customer personas, and knowledge of your content is crucial. Take your topic cluster and map it to a customer journey. 

  • Do you have a high-level awareness piece? 
  • A piece that introduces the solution?
  • A cross-over more technical piece?
  • A piece on how your solution or service compares to others?

The journey varies by persona, with some business people having a high curiosity and acumen for technical content, and some technical people more attuned to the business needs. 

Use Google analytics and Google search console to monitor engagement. It’s not unusual to have blog posts draw traffic – but also have a high bounce rate with people leaving in the top quartile of the article.  Analyze the piece. Is it too technical for a business audience? Too high-level for a technical one? Consider putting some “off ramps” that take different personas to more appropriate content.

Stay Competitive

Competitor content analysis is a great way to get ideas. Use tools SEMRush and Ubersuggest to look competitors’ content. Are they blog posts, case studies, or buying guides? What are they ranking on? Are they missing any big content opportunities themselves?

If traffic is being driven to a competitor around a given topic, do a content gap analysis on the competitor. Write briefs that address this new-found content gap. 

For keywords they’re missing, take that opportunity to get something out there before they do. Think outside the box. 

Plan Your Calendar More Easily

A site-wide content gap analysis is immensely helpful when you’re planning your content calendar for the year. Take all those missing keywords, ideate around the topics, and schedule out content to address them. Do the same for the pieces you’re going to use to one-up your competitors.

Before you know it, you’ll have entire sections of your calendar already planned out, and a lot fewer open slots to fill with new topics.

On-Page Content Gap Analysis

Now it’s time to incorporate on-page gap analysis into your strategy.

The practice can actually be a part of your Agile marketing methodology. Regular tests and iterations of selected content pieces or content clusters can help you improve your ranking.

As Search Engine Journal points out, your goal with Agile content marketing is to get to a minimum viable product (MVP) and then monitor that product to determine its success.

On-page gap analysis can be a part of that monitoring process. As trending topics and keywords change, you can analyze your existing content and fill in the gaps to meet those changes.

MarketMuse heat map showing content gaps for a set of pages.
MarketMuse heat map for content gap analysis.

Of course, you can also use on-page gap analysis to take a look at your existing content, perhaps material that hasn’t been optimized in quite a while. Updating old content can be a source of low-hanging fruit and often provides a better ROI than creating new content.

Ranking on Google now means offering content that is comprehensive, authoritative and a match for user intent. To do that, it’s not enough to write around one keyword and call it a day (which we were all guilty of once upon a time).

You need to look at the user intent behind a keyword. When someone is Googling how to cut down a tree, what are they really looking for? Are they looking for safety tips? Perhaps they’re looking for tree removal for small trees instead of larger trees. And if you offer local services, make sure you have optimized for local SEO. 

Covering all the possible angles of a topic will push you up in SERP rankings and garner higher time-on-page and scroll depth metrics.

Content Gap Analysis Tools

You know why and when you should perform a content gap analysis. Now it’s time to talk about how to go about doing it.

Of course, you can do it all by hand.

  1. Understand and record the goals you’re trying to achieve through your content. Having a solid set of goals that all stakeholders agree on gives you a framework for the rest of the process.
  2. Next, perform a content audit. To do that, pull every URL from your site and place them in the first column of a spreadsheet. Record the titles, topics, keywords, subheads, word count, stage of funnel, persona – and any other information necessary.
  3. Pour through your spreadsheet to analyze the topics and keywords covered and cross-reference them with popular keywords and topics, as well as those of your competitors. 
  4. Create a list of missing topics and keywords to create content for and add those to your content calendar.

You’re probably thinking this is a pretty labor-intensive process, and you’re right. There’s something to be said for doing it this way. You will know your site and all its content offerings inside and out.

But realistically, there are tools that can make the process a lot faster and easier for you and your team. And with everything a modern marketing team has on their plate, it’s certainly worth at least considering one or all four of them.


Keyword difficulty is a terrific metric if you have never written about that topic (or adjacent topics) before. A PD takes into consideration all your content — and how hard it would be for your domain to rank. 

A content gap suggests that you already have a ton of related, relevant content. You can use heatmaps to identify gaps in your top 20 ranking articles and measure your content against the top 20 ranking pieces in that topic area. Use the PD score to prioritize quick wins!

For future content creation, feed MarketMuse a seed topic and it will give you all the keywords, subtopics, and intents to cover.

What you have is a quick way to find out what you have, what you are missing, and where you need to go to get quick traffic wins.


You can use Ahrefs to conduct your competitive content gap analysis. The tool will take all of the keywords your competitors are ranking for, compare them to all of the keywords you are ranking for, and then give you a list of keywords that you’re missing.

You can also use Ahrefs to conduct your initial content audit and to do your keyword research.


SEMRush will also perform a content audit for you. It will also let you compare your content against that of your competitors, using their Domain vs. Domain tool. Finally, you can analyze the performance of your content and research keywords in depth as you determine where your gaps are.


Ubersuggest is a tool by Neil Patel, which I happen to like because of its easy interface. Type in a competitor’s domain to see what topics are driving traffic to its site. Ubersuggest will tell you where your opportunity is. Pair it with MarketMuse to see how easy it is to win the topic!

There are plenty of other tools out there to help you do your content gap analysis. These are just a few of the larger ones out there. What’s important when choosing a tool is how it fits in with your process and your content goals.

No doubt there’s a lot of work that goes into a content gap analysis, especially if you’re doing one for the first time.

The best way to do it is to just get started. Take the first steps to plan and implement your content gap analysis and slowly integrate it into your content strategy.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Laurie is a freelance writer, editor, and content consultant and adjunct professor at Fisher College.  Her work includes the development and execution of content strategies for B2B and B2C companies, including marketing and audience research, content calendar creation, hiring and managing writers and editors, and SEO optimization. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Diane Burley has three decades experience creating high-impact content at scale. As a published author and seasoned technologist, she translates complex concepts into clear, engaging messaging that connects with audiences. She can help you build a content factory that drives results.