August 9, 2017

Steal Your Competitors’ Traffic with Content Gap Analysis

This article first appeared on SEMRush.

What Is Content Gap Analysis?

In the early stages of an SEO campaign, I typically run my SEO clients through a content gap analysis and a content audit. These processes help lay the foundation for our content strategy by helping to generate topic and keyword ideas for our clients’ campaigns.

The process consists of two primary steps that help answer the following questions:

  1. Which keywords are your competitors ranking for that you are not?

  2. Which keywords are your competitors ranking for on the first page that you are for on page 2-10?

Which Keywords Does the Competition Rank for That You Do Not?

The first step is to discover which keywords your competitors rank for, but you do not. This data will give you great examples of potential keywords that could be valuable to your business and the types of content your competitors are using to rank for those keywords.

With the SEMrush Organic Competitors Report, I can determine who my top competitors are and how many keywords we share in common. I typically start with the competitors who have the most common keywords and a high amount of total keywords and traffic.

seo content gap analysis

Next, I head over to the Keywords Gap tool and plug in one of my competitors first, my own website second, and the final competitor third. Between the first competitor and my own website, I select the “Unique to the first domain’s keywords” option.

smerush keyword gap tool

Then I select common keywords for the third competitor.

content gap analysis common keywords

This results in a report that shows me all of the keywords that both of my competitors rank for, but I do not.

content gap report

From here I export the data into Google Sheets and start to filter through and look for keywords that are valuable to my business that I don’t have the proper content for. Once I assemble a decent keyword list, it is off to the copywriters for blog posts or landing page content.

Which Keywords Does the Competition Rank for on Page One That You Rank for on Pages 2-10?

The content you find that ranks in the #11-#100 range are prime targets to update and improve upon. Few thrills are more exciting to an SEO than seeing a formerly ranked 9th-page keyword showing up on page 1.

To configure this report, I modify the settings in the SEMrush Keyword Gap tool. Between competitor one and my own site, I change the comparison to “Common Keywords.” Then, using advanced filters, I set the report to only include keywords for which my competition ranks in spots #1-#10 and for which I rank #11 and up.

seo competitor keyword research

The result is a highly actionable report showing keywords that I need to either improve the content for or acquire some more backlinks to surpass the competition.

I can also compare my website to one competitor at a time and then use the same filters for even more keyword opportunities.

Use Google Search Console to Determine if Title Tags & Meta Descriptions Can Be Improved

Once I have identified the keywords and pages that are not performing as well as my competitors from the steps above, I have a pretty good idea about the new content I need to create and which existing content needs reworking.

When onboarding a new SEO client, it is important to start to show results as quickly as possible. With our long-term content strategy in place, I shift my focus to low-hanging fruit that can quickly start driving traffic and move the needle. By analyzing how a website’s title tags and meta descriptions are performing, I can determine quick changes that can lead to fast traffic improvements.

Make a copy of the Google Sheets template (don’t request access) and then follow the instructions to import Google Search Console data using the search analytics for sheets add-on.

This Google Sheets template will then create a report that shows queries and landing page combinations that receive a high number of impressions but have a low CTR. The sheet also pulls in each page’s current title tag, meta description, and character counts, so you can quickly analyze which search snippets can be improved to boost your CTR.

google sheets content audit template

Often, the page/query combinations sitting on page 2-3 can see rankings and traffic improve quite a bit by reworking the basic meta information.

It is important to analyze page/query combinations that are on the first page but have a low CTR as well. By writing higher-quality title and meta description tags, I’ve seen up to a 30% traffic improvement due to the increase in CTR, even without increasing average position. Sometimes, we SEOs focus so much on improving rankings that we lose sight of the low-hanging fruit, which is maximizing the rankings you already have.

Start Implementing Content Gap Analysis Into Your SEO Workflow

This content audit and gap analysis works no matter what stage your website is in, whether your client has just on-boarded or has been with you for nearly a decade. Plus, the beauty of automation courtesy of integrating the SEMrush platform and Google Sheets tools means you can spend more time analyzing--and less time copying and pasting between CSVs--while diagnosing your client’s site.