Mastering Content Gap Analysis: A Comprehensive Guide for Marketers

Content gap analysis


As a digital marketer, you’ve whipped your website into shape — you’ve published great content, ranked well for keywords, and driven quality traffic to your site. But you also know your website hasn’t achieved its full potential for capturing leads. 

Enter the content gap analysis. Designed to find weaknesses in your strategy, an SEO content analysis helps you identify the topics you should be writing about to reach your target audience. This technique zeroes in on shortcomings within your overall content inventory and individual pieces of content so you can perform better in Google and satisfy your audience’s needs.

What Is Content Gap Analysis?

Content gap analysis is the process of finding limitations in your content offerings. It uses a number of techniques to find keyword, topic, and quality gaps so you can produce an effective mix of content to attract and engage your target audience. 

If you’ve followed conventional SEO best practices to date, you’ve built your site by defining your audience and performing keyword research to find the search terms they’re using. Each piece of content you’ve published should weave in keywords and lead users from the search engine result pages to your website.

These SEO strategies remain a critical step for laying the foundation of your site, but a competitive content analysis adds another layer to strengthen it. An analysis scans for cracks in this foundation — places where searchers slip through and have their needs met better on competing websites.

Purpose of an SEO content analysis

When you look for content marketing gaps, you can dig up elements missing from your content catalog. This can take a couple of different forms:

  • Keyword gaps: What keywords are your customers searching for that aren’t covered on your site? If you’re not appearing in the top searches for relevant terms, you’re losing out on a key audience segment. These phrases are usually longtail keywords that help you connect with a niche audience. 
  • Quality gaps: What’s lacking in individual pieces of content that would make your web page more useful and comprehensive? You can add more topics to lend depth to a piece, use media such as videos or images to complement text, or make the page easier to consume. After all, if you’re drawing customers to your content but they still aren’t satisfied, they’re going to return to Google to find a better source.

When to perform a content gap analysis

We recommend SEO content analysis for websites that have some traction, meaning there’s a collection of content optimized according to best practices. A content analysis is the natural next step to ensure peak performance. It’s useful to incorporate this step into your strategic planning so you’re constantly leveling up by assessing your content needs, prioritizing them, and building them into your editorial calendar.

If your website is brand new, focus on optimizing your website for core keywords related to your business. Keep the content gap analysis in your toolkit for use once you have a content base.

The Importance of an SEO Content Analysis

Now to the good stuff. How does looking for digital content gaps pay off? When executed well, a gap analysis improves SEO by:

  • Diversifying content you can rank for
  • Informing content strategies based on demand and data
  • Tapping into new audience segments
  • Improving your site’s relevance
  • Driving organic traffic to your web pages
  • Ensuring you’re visible in the same spaces your competitors are

Think of it this way: Each piece of content you publish is a path to your site. Your customers can follow many paths from the SERPs, but if yours isn’t there during their search, they’re taking another route to a competitor.

Here’s a simple example to illustrate a content gap. Let’s say you run a dog daycare. You’ve targeted high-value keywords such as “what is doggy daycare” and “what age for doggy daycare” and are generating some traffic. Your gap analysis techniques show competitors are also ranking for “dog daycare with webcams,” but alas! You have the technology but no content for this keyword. You’re missing an entire segment of customers who are only looking at daycares with webcam technology. You can now create content to target these potential new clients. 

Page-level content gaps

There’s another piece to this puzzle. The reality of modern-day SEO is that a well-written piece of content doesn’t stand alone — it’s not enough to drive your business goals. The value of your content is measured against your customers’ expectations and competitors’ offerings.

Gap analysis techniques can be used to find shortfalls in individual pieces of content. Remember, the content that ranks on the first page isn’t perfect — it’s just the best Google could find. If you can improve your content so it’s better than what’s currently available, you’re getting even more benefits by:

  • Providing value to readers
  • Improving engagement through top-notch content
  • Bringing customers into your marketing funnel to encourage conversions
  • Establishing expertise and authority in your niche

Here’s one more example from our fictitious dog daycare. A gap analysis might show your article about the benefits of dog daycare ranks just outside the first page of results. When you review the pages ahead of yours, you discover the articles cover the same points as yours, just reworded. You realize there’s an opportunity for a more dynamic piece by filling a media gap, so you create a video of clients explaining why they bring their dogs to daycare. You’re now offering unique insight, providing more value to your audience, and positioning your web page to start climbing the rankings.

Strategies and Tactics for Effective Gap Analysis

Looking for digital content gaps can be time-consuming because there are so many possible pieces missing from an SEO strategy. 

Tackle the process based on your business goals. Do you want to improve current content, broaden keyword opportunities, or boost engagement?

Below are some tactics you can put into action. And if it seems daunting, remember that gap analyses should be a regular part of your content strategy. You don’t have to do it all now — break it down and focus on one component at a time. 

Perform a content audit for SEO

No matter what your goals, your gap analysis should begin with a content inventory so you have the big picture. Begin by creating an inventory in a spreadsheet.

Your spreadsheet should detail each page on your site, including assets such as videos, images, and PDFs. At a minimum, itemize the URL, page title, topic, content type, date published, and date last updated. You can refer to this spreadsheet when you’re checking to see if your site has covered a topic.

Pro tip: Until we create a better one, we recommend you check out the free audit template that Wordstream offers (no email required), but bookmark it for later because we’ve got more to cover. 

Look for gaps in the buyer’s journey

Review your content inventory and ensure you have content for every phase of the buyer’s journey. You want to capture them at early stages to build brand recognition and answer their questions as they move through the awareness, consideration, and decision-making stages. This helps you build engagement and prevents them from abandoning your site to find answers elsewhere. 

Here are ideas for filling in gaps at different stages:

  • Awareness: High-level content providing background and context, such as blog posts, e-books, podcasts, and videos
  • Consideration: Website content that distinguishes your business or shows benefits, such as case studies, white papers, testimonials, reviews, and product comparison pages
  • Decision-making: Landing pages and offers that move customers toward conversion, such as free trials, free consultations, and discounts

Find gaps in content depth

Another common content void is the gap between your content and what’s available in the SERPs. You can try a couple of tactics to provide more substance to your readers.

  • Analyze your content manually by reading through the top-ranking pages to see how they treat the topic. Make note of images, references, and other content assets they provide. Compare this to your content to see where you can enhance your offerings.
  • Try using AI to dig up content ideas to enrich your existing content. For example, give ChatGPT a prompt such as, “Create an outline for an informational blog post about mortgage underwriting.” The platform will generate a response based on patterns in the massive amounts of text the platform has processed. Sift through the suggestions to see which ones can help you rework your article.

Identify holes in available content

For best results, provide unique content that can’t be found elsewhere. When you address the gap between what readers are interested in and what’s available in the SERPs, you’re improving value for readers and scoring points with Google’s helpful content system.

In a recent webinar about mastering content strategy (47:05), George Chasiotis, Managing Director of Minuttia, illustrated how businesses can creatively set their content apart and provide insight not found elsewhere. Discussing the importance of information gain, he suggests a business targeting the keyword “types of marketing” might survey 125 marketing executives for their thoughts. These insights can feed into a powerful piece of content based on proprietary data that no other company has. 

Review on-page SEO practices

In addition to topic coverage, look at each piece of content on your website to ensure it’s fully optimized. This can help lift your content in the SERPs.

Depending on the size of your website, you might narrow down page types, beginning with the ones that are most important to your core business.

Assess each web page for a mix of on-page SEO elements and overall readability. Here’s a checklist of some things to watch for:

  • Compelling meta title and description
  • Effective keyword placement
  • Optimized schema markup
  • Well-organized copy (clear headers, short sections and paragraphs, bullet points)
  • Easy-to-grasp concepts (jargon-free)
  • Recent statistics and research 
  • Interesting images and graphics 

Pinpoint issues in SEO performance

It’s helpful to know how your current content is performing. Turn to Google Analytics or an SEO tool to identify where you’re ranking for keywords. Some pages may not be as visible as they could be and require some revamping.

  • Prioritize pages that are ranking well but could use a little lift to crack the top positions. You’re doing something right on those pages, so they may simply require a few tweaks to get you to leapfrog the competition.
  • Use an SEO tool such as Semrush to see where your competition might be experiencing a decline in keyword performance. As Nizam Uddin shares in our webinar about content gap analysis (55:10), Google has found a reason to downgrade these pages in the rankings, which opens the door for your optimized content to climb above them.

Uncover lost keyword opportunities

Finally, your competitors may be generating traffic for topics you haven’t covered on your website. If these topics are also important to your business model, you’ve just unearthed new ways of reaching your target audience. 

SEO tools can make quick work of keyword gap analysis, and you’ll find some recommended tools to explore further in the next section.

Monitor content performance

As you find opportunities to bolster your website, add them to your content optimization strategy. Once implemented, use a tool such as Google Analytics to track your progress in gaining a bigger share of the SERPs.

Your positioning will fluctuate over time as consumer behavior changes and new competitors enter the scene. Make sure you’re regularly looking for content marketing gaps to adapt to these shifts. 

Leveraging SEO Tools for Content Gap Analysis

Now that you’re inspired to supercharge your website, here are popular platforms you can leverage to find content gaps, along with use cases.

1. Ahrefs Content Gap for keyword gaps

Purpose: Compare your site with up to 10 competing sites to identify keywords your site is not ranking for. 

The Ahrefs Content Gap tool uncovers keyword opportunities by retrieving keywords that selected sites rank for in the top 100 positions. It then eliminates the keywords your site ranks for in the top 100. The resulting list is your keyword gap.

You can filter results to only provide keywords that all or some of your competitors rank for, which can indicate their importance. The report also provides search volume and keyword difficulty to help in your decision-making.

Don’t target a keyword simply because your competitor is, however. Make sure it’s relevant to your audience and fits your business goals before adding it to your content strategy.

To use the Content Gap Report for keyword gaps:

  • Enter up to 10 domains you want to analyze.
  • Enter your domain.
  • Click “Show keywords”.
  • Apply the intersections filter if you want keywords where all or some of your competitors rank. You can also filter by keyword difficulty, search volume, and word count.

2. Ahrefs Content Gap for topic gaps

Purpose: Compare your web page with competing pages to identify topics they cover but you do not.

Perhaps you want to revamp a page on your site that you feel isn’t performing to its potential. The Ahrefs Content Gap tool can analyze specific URLs to find topic gaps. You can use the results to find ideas for adding depth to your content and making it more useful and comprehensive for readers.

To use Content Gap for topic gaps:

  • Enter up to 10 URLs for pages that you want to analyze, such as the top-ranking pages for the keyword.
  • Enter the URL for your content.
  • Click “Show keywords”.
  • Apply the intersections filter if you only want keywords where all or some of your competitors rank. You can also filter by keyword difficulty, search volume, and word count.

3. Semrush Keyword Gap for missing and weak keywords

Purpose: Compare your site with up to four competing sites to find keywords you’re missing and weak keywords you can better optimize.

To use Keyword Gap:

  • Visit the Semrush Keyword Gap tool.
  • Enter your domain.
  • Enter the domains of your competitors (or subfolders on the domain).
  • Select “Organic keywords.”
  • Click “Compare.”

How to use the results:

  • Review the list of missing keywords, ones you don’t rank for but all the sites you entered do. Identify ones relevant to your business goals and audience, and consider incorporating them into your keyword strategy.  
  • Toggle to view the list of weak keywords, ones you do rank for but lower than your competitors. For best results, target keywords where you’re just outside the coveted first page of search results and aim to optimize them to break into the top results.
  • In the paid tool, you can also view untapped keywords, ones you don’t rank for but one of your competitors does. 

You can set filters to narrow your results:

  • Ranking: See the most relevant opportunities by filtering for keywords where your competitors are ranking in the top 10, 20, or 50 positions.
  • Search volume: Ensure reasonable traffic by filtering for search volume. You may want to aim for 100-300.
  • Keyword difficulty: Consider filtering for easy keyword difficulty between 0 and 29% to rank more quickly.
  • Intent: If you’re targeting certain stages of the buyer’s journey, specify informational, commercial, or transactional keywords.

4. Ubersuggest for content ideas

Purpose: Explore keywords related to a topic to find new ranking opportunities.

When you’ve found topics you’d like to tackle, Ubersuggest can generate keyword suggestions to help you shape and refine content ideas.

To use Ubersuggest:

  • Visit the Ubersuggest home page.
  • Enter a seed keyword.
  • Click “search” to generate a list of keyword ideas.

For example, if you run a wellness website and see your competitors are ranking for searches related to turmeric health benefits, plug this term into Ubersuggest. You’ll see a variety of keyword suggestions, which you can distill into related keywords, question keywords, keywords with prepositions, and comparison keywords. 

You can also view search volume and SEO difficulty. You might decide “turmeric health benefits” is too competitive, but “health benefits of turmeric and black pepper” is a more realistic target.

Reap the Rewards of Content Strategy Optimization

Content gap analysis is the competitive edge that can elevate your site in the search engine results pages. By identifying digital spaces where your business isn’t visible (but should be) and improving content to provide a better user experience, you can improve SEO performance and drive high-quality traffic to your site. Reach out to Crowd Content, and find out how we can support your content strategy and production.

Carlos Meza

Article by

President and Chief Executive Officer at Crowd Content.

Carlos is a guiding voice in an SEO and content creation industry brimming with turbulent growth. He has leveraged his past experience as a technology executive, engineer, and corporate financier to bring innovative end-to-end content creation solutions to SMBs and enterprise clients around the globe — delivering high-quality, scalable products through the marriage of human talent, technology, automation, and artificial intelligence.

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