Not every content gap needs to be filled, at least not right away. We’ve come pretty far from the days when finding content gaps required advanced Excel knowledge and hours of wrangling multiple spreadsheets. Unfortunately, most SEO tools have simply automated a faulty process.
It’s faster but not necessarily better. Let me explain.
Content Gap Analysis at The Site Level
In this article we look at content gap analysis at the site level. If you’re interested in page level analysis, read How to Conduct Competitive Content Analysis Using MarketMuse along with the practical examples found in Content Gap Analysis Examples.
Now back to looking at site level gap analysis.
There are a number of SEO tools that enable content gap analysis at the site level. Typically they compare the keywords your competitors rank for that you don’t and spit out a list of “keywords that you should be targeting.”
MarketMuse provides something similar…
The Problem With Competitive Content Gap Analysis
Competitive analysis is an important input into formulating a solid content strategy. But by itself, it’s not a content strategy – at least not a good one. It’s a dangerous game to define yourself as a shadow of your competition.
You are not your competitor.
You have different resources, a different budget, a different, and different topical authority. Your site and organization are unique and your strategy should play to those differences.
Just because your competitor ranks for a term doesn’t mean you should pursue it – at least not right now and maybe never.
Working through a competitive content gap analysis list is a crapshoot. So is the list provided by MarketMuse, if you don’t take advantage of the additional data and insight provided.
MarketMuse Content Gap Analysis
With MarketMuse, you can quickly conduct site level content gap analysis using Topic Inventory and using the Content gaps view template. This shows all the topics mentioned on your site that need improvement.
This list contains insightful data about your site and its contents that you should take advantage of. Let’s see how.
The first three columns in this report are typical:
There’s nothing special here other than to note that none of the topics have a rank because that’s the way it’s set up in the filter. Table configuration controls what columns are displayed and the filter controls what data passes through to the display.
Let’s look at the next four columns because they are much more interesting.
Difficulty – This is what many know as keyword difficulty and considers off-page factors for the top search results on a topic. This non-personalized metric indicates how hard it is for anyone to rank for a specific term. It’s expressed as a number from 1 to 100, with 100 being most difficult.
Personalized Difficulty – This MarketMuse metric is unique to you. It measures how difficult it will be for your domain to rank for a topic based on your coverage of related topics and overall authority. It’s expressed as a number from 1 to 100, with 100 being most difficult.
Topic Authority – This measures the difference between Personalized Difficulty and Difficulty.
Competitive Advantage – A candlestick display that incorporates Difficulty, Personalized Difficulty, and Topic Authority all in one.
Using MarketMuse Metrics to Prioritize Your Approach
Instead of randomly working off topics in a content gap analysis list that sound good, we’ll take a data-driven approach. You’ll notice a lot of entries on the list have negative topic authority (look for anything red) making them very difficult for you to rank. The fact that they’re not ranking is why they’re on the list in the first place.
But some of these topics might have some authority or at least less negative authority, making them better candidates to target.
Sort and Filter the Content Gap List by Topic Authority
Sorting the list by Topic Authority allows you to quickly identify the strongest contenders in this list. Remember, you always want to create content from a position of strength, it’s easier to build more authority when you already have some.
If the size of the list makes it unmanageable then add another filter to reduce the number of candidates.
By adding a filter for Topic Authority greater than zero, we eliminate candidates with a disadvantage to begin with.
Use Competitive Advantage to Increase Your Likelihood of Success
Personalized Difficulty provides a good indication of how much work will be involved to adequately address a topic. Hint: You’ll most likely find that filling content gaps frequently requires multiple pieces of content.
Given that amount of work, ideally you should restrict your activities to those that have the most chance of success.
Enter Competitive Advantage, a MarketMuse metric that helps determine your likelihood of success. The greater your competitive advantage, the more likely you are to succeed in your coverage of a topic – whether that takes one article or a cluster of 10.
You can either sort on this metric, add it to your filter, or just keep an eye on it as you evaluate potential candidates.
Adding Value to Content Gap Analysis
Some content gaps require a lot of work to fill. With others, the likelihood of success can vary. And some content gaps are worth more to fill than others. Let’s look at how we can work this last concept into our analysis using another metric, Potential Value.
Based on the monthly search volume times the value per visit (CPC is the default), this provides a way to compare one alternative to another. It’s far more useful than traffic because it establishes the worth of that traffic. Search terms with lower monthly traffic volume can be worth more if than higher traffic ones if their value per visit is higher.
Once again you can filter, sort, or just include this metric in your line by line analysis as you investigate the opportunities in your list.
Whatever you do, don’t just run your list and call it a day. Content gap analysis can give you some ideas for what terms to target, but don’t use the list indiscriminately. Instead, refine the list to find those for which you have a competitive advantage, no matter how small. Go after those first before moving on to the rest. Some may prove too difficult to target at this stage, which is okay. Work to build up your topical authority in adjacent topics first.