How To Identify Content Gaps: 9 Effective Methods

Christy Walters


May 23, 2023

Image of person's hand, holding and writing with a pen, drawing a line between wooden blocks with a cutout of a person; concept for how to identify content gaps.

Is your company cranking out content but not getting the results you expect? If so, your strategy likely has content gaps. These gaps can be one of the best things for your content marketing strategy, even though having holes in a content plan can seem like a negative. Identifying these content gaps, though, will open up new opportunities to reach your target audience and deliver the value they need with content you may not even know you’ve been missing. Luckily, this guide shows you exactly how to identify content gaps to improve your strategy and generate results for your brand.

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What Are Content Gaps?

Content gaps are important industry or niche topics that you haven’t yet addressed in your content. An even better gap is one that isn’t currently addressed or covered by content anywhere online. These gaps also reach areas where your content is outdated, lacking clarity, or missing key examples and details that provide better value for your audience. Content gaps help you fill a void with the information your audience wants or is looking for.

Identifying and covering topics within your content gaps can offer effective link-building opportunities. If your content is the only piece on a topic, it automatically becomes the source other organizations will reference and link to when discussing it. Finding gaps in your content also helps it perform better because it’s targeting information people actually want to find.

How To Identify Content Gaps

Use these methods to identify content gaps in your marketing strategy:

1. Research Your Target Audience

If there are times it feels like your audience holds the key to your company’s success, it’s because it does. As a marketer, almost everything you do comes back to the audience. These are the people you’re trying to persuade and charm. If you’re not playing to their wants, needs, and questions, what are you doing? The same principle applies: when you’re looking for content gaps, look to your audience. Use client personas to identify customer pain points.

Then use some of the additional content gap research methods, like audits or a competitor analysis, to see if you have content on these topics, or if any exists at all. Poll a trusted group of leads and customers and ask them outright what kind of content they’re looking for online. Asking questions like “what do you want to know more about?” or “what problems do you encounter in this industry?” are ones that guide the content gap analysis. You can poll the audience on a wider scale, too, through email, social media, or direct marketing.

Related: 100 Digital Marketing Tools To Make Your Life Easier

2. Review the Competition

There are two types of content gaps: company gaps and industry gaps. Company gaps are topics and areas your business hasn’t covered in content. These may be popular industry topics and related to the products or services you offer. You just haven’t created pieces about them yet. Industry gaps are ones that nobody has covered yet, not even other sources, like your top competitors. Looking at the competition can help you find both types, but most specifically, the company gaps.

Let’s say you run a computer repair business. You offer all the same services as your top two competitors. You find that one of your competitors covers tutorials on how to repair hard drives and you don’t, even though you offer that service. When someone in your target audience looks for that content, they won’t find you, they’ll find the competition.

Once you identify the gap areas, then look at the competitor content itself. Is it outdated or missing something? Is there information you can add to make the piece more relevant? These guiding questions help you fill the company content gaps and provide even greater value to your audience.

3. Monitor Community Discussions

Social media, comments sections, and discussion boards are where people go to air their grievances. They may feel more powerful and anonymous behind that screen. But this gives another way to examine the thoughts, wants, and needs of your audience. Community forums and platforms make it easy for people to ask questions and get responses, but sometimes a short answer isn’t enough. Especially if you see people asking the same questions over and over on different platforms, that’s when you’ve found a content gap.

Even if you don’t have content ready immediately when you see a question, you can still engage with the audience to let them know you’re looking into it. For example, if someone asks a question about how to use Google Analytics with a certain platform or program, you may not have a piece ready yet. But you could respond with the following:

“Hey, Julianne. That’s a great question. At CopyPress, we’re developing content resources to provide helpful answers. We’ll share it here when it’s ready. Until then, check out some of our other great Google Analytics resources.”

This initial engagement not only helps you see the gaps, but introduces you to a potential lead, sets you up to deliver on a promise, and helps increase brand awareness.

4. Look at Keyword Rankings

Review the keywords you’re using when you create content. Are your pieces ranking for any of those keywords? You may be excited if they are, but that’s less important if they’re not generating traffic. Keyword and search engine results page (SERP) rankings can be a vanity metric if they’re not translating to real traffic or sales.

Sometimes you might not have a traditional content gap, but you’re not targeting the right keywords or angles for a topic. For example, it is difficult to rank for the term SEO in SERPs. There are tons of pieces of content out there that have to do with the topic. But if you flip the angle, like SEO for computer repair companies, or SEO best practices for technology companies, you may have a narrower niche to target.

This lets you provide more valuable content for your audience. You can then take some of your content that isn’t ranking high enough and restructure it to fill those gaps.

5. Use the Right Tools

We’ve discussed plenty of ways to do manual content gap research, but you can also find a variety of automated tools to help you out. Keyword research and SEO tools help you learn about which topics people search for online. If you find there’s a high search volume for a topic, but not many results, that shows a content gap. Other programs, like social listening or online reputation management (ORM) tools, help you find out how people talk about your brand online. Knowing what your target audiences are saying can also lead to gaps where people ask questions or raise concerns about a topic or trend in the industry.

The CopyPress content marketing analysis tool is also available to use for identifying and building on your content gaps. When you access your report, you’ll get in-depth data about your current content performance, your competitors’ keyword gaps, your keyword gaps, and potential opportunities for syndication outreach and content promotion.

Access the CopyPress Content Marketing Analysis Tool

6. Check the SERPs

If you’re looking for content gaps, what is looking at the top-ranking content going to do? Especially if you’re not trying to copy exactly what’s already out there? Checking the SERPs isn’t about looking for what’s available. It’s about looking for what’s missing. SEO can be a tricky area for content marketing. It doesn’t have hard and fast rules. You have to play both sides, looking at what artists call the positive and negative space of the search results.

The positive space is what you see when you look at the top-ranking content. What do all the pieces on page one have in common? This tells you what people are searching for and what they find interesting or helpful. But then you have to look at the negative space and find what’s missing. How old are the articles that rank at the top? Are they thorough enough? Do they look at the content from all different angles? Is this content people want to share?

If you find yourself saying “no” to some of these questions, those are the negative spaces and your content gaps. You can create pieces that cover the same topics but fill in the information other sources are missing. While you still include some of the same things as the top articles, there are still opportunities for you to tell each story in a new way.

7. Run a Content Audit

Like you went over SERP content with a fine-tooth comb, you can review your own content the same way. Look at pieces like:

While it’s helpful to look at all your content during an audit, your underperforming content usually tells the most about your gaps. These pieces likely underperform because they have those gaps. When you can identify them, you can fill them. It should help boost rankings. We might call this process optimization or a content refresh. It allows you to look at all aspects like length, clarity, visuals, and accessibility to boost the usefulness of any piece. When your content becomes more useful, it’s more appealing to the audience. That’ll increase traffic, and hopefully conversions and sales.

8. Identify Audiences’ Search Intent

Another way to look into the negative space of search engine results is to research your audience’s search intent for certain keywords or topics. Search intent is the reason someone searches online. Are people looking to buy something? Find a specific location? Get information? If you understand what people are looking for online, you can find out if it exists. And if it does, you can see if your company or others are actually targeting the right search intent to the pieces that appear when people run a query.

The better you can target search intent, the more helpful your content is to the audience. If you find you’re not honing in on the right information for search intent, then that’s a content gap. You can use what you learn during the research to write new content and optimize old pieces to make sure they’re most valuable and relevant to your audience.

Webinar Replay: How To Use Search Intent for Better SEO

9. Map Your Client Journey

Not every person who finds your content is automatically ready to buy a product or create a service partnership. There are varying stages of the buyer journey and we create content to target each one. The three primary stages include:

  • Awareness: Leads are looking for options available to find their problems or meet their needs.
  • Consideration: Leads identified their options and are comparing and contrasting the best or most relevant selections.
  • Decision: Leads are ready to buy a product or create a service partnership and are discovering how to do so.

The content you create for each stage differs because the goals of each stage differ. If you’re not aware of the buyer journey, or your specific audience goes through more phases than just these three, you might be missing key target areas.

When you’ve identified every stage of the journey, then you can make sure you’re developing pieces for each one. Look at how you anticipate getting leads from the awareness to the decision stage, and every step they take to reach the destination. If there are parts where you’re missing targeted content, fill those gaps with new information and pieces.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Marketing Funnels

Why Should You Incorporate Content Gap Research Into Your Marketing Strategy?

This process isn’t just about finding the content gaps. It’s about why you’re doing it and how it benefits your overall strategy. Doing a gap analysis without an implementation plan is like being able to solve a math problem but not understanding how it helps you in real life. It doesn’t matter if you can solve the area formula or calculate an interest rate if you can’t turn around and apply it practically in your day-to-day life.

You’re not creating content to spit back out what already exists. What’s the point of that? What’s going to make people want to click your content over another on the same topic? When you know how to identify content gaps, you’ll be able to provide the info that your audience wants to engage with.

When you work with CopyPress, we help your team during each stage of the process. With our expert strategy team, you’ll be able to figure out where you have content gaps and how your team can take steps to fill them. Ready to take advantage of these perks for your business or agency? Get in touch with the team for your free strategy consultation and we’ll show you how you can plan a strategy that gets the results you want.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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