Guide to Content Gap Analysis: Steal Competitor Traffic

John Reinesch

Sep 28, 20204 min read
Content Gap Analysis

What Is Content Gap Analysis?

Content Gap Analysis is a process that evaluates an existing content topic and determines if there are any gaps, or missed opportunities, that could be improved. 

By looking at the search intent of each piece of content, you can determine if a piece of content needs to be quick and simple, long-form, as pillar content, etc. By quantifying the type of content, you can easily determine which gaps need to be filled. 

How a Content Gap Analysis and SEO Work Together

In the early stages of an SEO campaign, I typically run my clients through an SEO content gap analysis and a website 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?

The data we find after researching gives a clear direction for content creation and content improvements. Let's look at how you can get that data. 

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 data

Another cool option is to click on SE Keywords and see the keywords your competitors rank highly for that you may want to target. 

Search engine keyword rankings report

The next step is to use the Keywords Gap tool and enter competitor websites and quickly see the shared keywords the websites rank for, and where they rank. 

smerush keyword gap tool data

I can also compare their rankings to my site to determine what they rank for that 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, you can modify the settings in the SEMrush Keyword Gap tool. Between a competitor site and your own, you can change the comparison to any of the basic choices - shared, missing, weak, etc. Then, using advanced filters, set the report to only include keywords that rank in spots #1-#10.

top 10 keyword gap analysis data

You can then look and see where you rank in positions 11-20. 

Content gap analysis 11-20 data

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 and 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.

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.

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Start Implementing Content Gap Analysis Into Your SEO Workflow

This SEO content gap analysis and audit 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.

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Author Photo
John Reinesch is a digital marketing consultant based out of Long Island NY. He specializes in SEO, PPC, and web analytics with experience that spans multiple verticals.