How to perform a content gap analysis

Generating valuable content is essential for any SEO strategy. But how can you be sure that the content you produce covers all the topics and concepts that your prospects desire? One of the best options is to perform a content gap analysis.

What is a Content Gap?

There are a couple of different ways to think about content gaps. You can use it to measure:

  1. Content your target audience wants, but you currently don’t provide
  2. Content your target audience wants but the broader market doesn’t offer.

No matter how you want to define it, the common factor is the target audience. What information are your prospects looking for that you or your competitors have left untapped?

Once you understand and define where content gaps exist, you can identify the keywords and topics you need for your content strategy. This process can help you win traffic from your competitors and flesh out and improve your current digital content marketing approach.

OK, so you understand the benefits of content gap analysis. But how do you do it?

How to Perform Content Gap Analysis in a Few Easy Steps

At its core, a content gap analysis is about increasing web traffic. Every business wants to take the coveted number one spot for search terms. The best way to do that is by providing authoritative and helpful content that answers users’ questions and provides value.

Here is a simple step-by-step guide that will help you identify areas you or your competitors are leaving untapped.

#1. Know your competition

There’s a set amount of traffic for each niche or industry. To rank highly for specific terms or keywords, you need to know your competition.

The first step of your content gap analysis is to list around five of the biggest competitors in your space. You can use keyword analysis tools like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMRush to study how these companies serve the market. Some helpful information you can find is stuff like:

  1. How many backlinks do your competitors have?
  2. What is their authority score?
  3. Do they have dofollow and nofollow links?

While there are many tools to help you with this stage, there are benefits to a manual approach. Sites like People Also Asked and Answer the Public are a goldmine for topics and subjects that resonate with your audience because they show you what search terms they use for each subject.

Finally, it’s crucial to look at content that is already ranking well. Enter some keywords and topics that are relevant to your product or service and see what the search engine results page throws back. 

Examine the existing content. Look for answers to questions such as:

  • How old is the content? Does it contain outdated facts and figures or concepts that have become less relevant?
  • How much detail does the content contain? Is there an opportunity to serve the market with a deeper dive into the subject?
  • Is the content readable? Some content is thorough and technical. While specialized content is excellent for people who are already experts, it can alienate some users. Is there an opportunity to write something that explains these concepts so that users can easily digest them?

#2. Examine your own content

Now that you’re well versed in what’s out there, it’s time to turn the lens onto your own content. Depending on how long your business has been operating, you might already have lots of existing material.

If you have a good amount of blogs and articles, look at each one and see how well they:

  1. Compares with your competitors
  2. Answer the search terms and topics your target audiences have

Updating and refreshing existing content is a popular strategy. This method can involve making content thorough, relevant or changing the language to better fit how people search and talk about your product or service.

Look at the on-page and off-page SEO factors.

On-page SEO

Optimize things like your:

  • Titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Headings 
  • Image data
  • Calls to action

See how your content measures up against competitor pages that rank highly on the SERP.

Look at things like:

  • Content length
  • How thoroughly do your competitors deal with specific subjects
  • What keywords and terms other companies use
  • How competing businesses talks to their prospects

Off-page SEO

Examine off-page SEO factors, too, like:

  • Page speed
  • Bounce rates 
  • Slow loading


#3. Define your customer journey

The next thing you need to do is define your customer journey. Doing this will help you understand what type of content you need for every stage of your marketing or sales funnel.

There are several different steps that customers need to take, from first hearing about your brand to becoming paying customers. Each stage requires a different type of content to help them on their journey. 

Map out your customer journey and identify what type of content will lead to conversions. Then, compare it to your current roster of content. What articles or material is missing? 

You can categorize this content as:


Early-stage funnel content

What type of content does someone with little knowledge or experience in your industry need? Define what types of problems or pain points they have, and show how you can address them.

Early-stage content should have a strong focus on education. Ideally, you should help your customers understand more about your industry and your solution.


Mid-stage funnel content 

Middle stage funnel content is designed to hook educated readers in the consideration stage. They know about your solution, and they are aware of your competitors. This stage is an excellent time for addressing concerns, answering questions, and showing how your product or service will improve their situation.

Things like case studies, white papers, webinars, etc., are all appropriate here.


Late-stage funnel (and beyond) content

Late-stage funnel content has a couple of different functions. 

Firstly, it’s about conversions. This content needs to push your prospects toward making decisions. Use strong CTAs, comparisons, deal with any final objections, and generate materials that demonstrate how your product impacts your users’ lives.

Additionally, your late-stage funnel content should also seek to retain your existing users. Publish material that shows how they can get the most from your product or service like how-to guides can drive engagement and loyalty. 

In the best cases, you want your customers to be so delighted with your product or service that they become advocates for your product.


#4. Put It All Together

By now, you’ll understand:

  1. What content currently exists for your product or service
  2. How your content compares with what’s out there
  3. What type of content you need to convert your prospects

Now, you need to put it all together. 

Keep a spreadsheet of the keywords, terms, and questions your target audience uses. 

Then note:

  1. The areas where your competitors have content that satisfies those searches
  2. The places where you already meet these topics
  3. The spots where you are falling short.

Then you’ll be able to visualize the areas where you need to plan new content and outmuscle your rivals.

For best results, ensure that each piece of content has a defined purpose in your sales funnel, like brand awareness, lead generation, or sales conversions.

A solid content gap analysis should help you plan what new content you need to write and which parts of your existing content need to be updated and improved.

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