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 three reasons:
- It helps you identify competitive topics and keywords you’re missing that would help you rank
- It helps you plan your content more easily
- It gives you major credit with Google bots by creating rich, in-depth content that matches user intent.
Now don’t get me wrong. I realize a content gap analysis is a huge project to undertake, and the best way to get started is to arm yourself with the information you need to implement one yourself.
So, I’ve broken down 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 analyses you can conduct. The first one, your sitewide 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 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 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 on-page 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?
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.
Now look at the kinds of content your competitors are creating. Are they blog posts, case studies, or buying guides? What are they ranking on? Are they missing any big content opportunities themselves?
For content they’re ranking on, plan content that competes. Do an on-page content gap analysis on them, and then write a brief for a piece that addresses those gaps.
For keywords they’re missing, take that opportunity to get something out there before they do.
Plan Your Calendar More Easily
A sitewide content gap analysis is immensely helpful when you’re planning your content calendar for the year. Take all those missing keywords 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.
Of course, you can also use on-page gap analysis to take a look at your older content, perhaps the content 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 material.
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. They may even be looking for information on cutting their own Christmas tree.
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.
First, 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.
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 and any other information you deem necessary to complete your audit.
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.
Finally, 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. But there’s something to say for doing it this way. You will know your site and all its content offerings inside and out.
Of course, 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 of them.
MarketMuse is an excellent tool for conducting both on-page and sitewide content gap analyses. Their Compete Application, for example, will identify trending topics and keywords that are missing from your own 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.
For future content creation, feed MarketMuse a seed topic and it will give you all keywords, subtopics and intents to cover.
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.
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:
- 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.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
- 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.