Tools

How To Conduct Keyword Gap Analysis

CopyPress

Published: December 30, 2022

Ranking on the first page of Google is an uphill battle. Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to smooth out the process. Conducting keyword gap analysis gives us insight into high-value keywords that our content strategy should focus on. After all, if it’s generating organic traffic for our competitors, it’s worth trying to take a piece of the pie. Today, we’re exploring how to conduct a keyword gap analysis to improve your content plans:

What Is Keyword Gap Analysis?

A keyword gap analysis will reveal keywords that your competitors rank for that you are missing out on. While there may be an overlap between you and a competitor, there are likely hundreds of keywords that you haven’t created content for or maybe haven’t even thought of. Identifying keywords with a high search volume allows you to start targeting new sources of traffic.

By prioritizing high-volume keywords with low or medium competition, you can quickly move up the rankings. Identifying your keyword gaps also gives you a basis for forming new topic clusters in your content plans, which results in high-quality content for your audience. But uncovering all the keywords a competitor is ranking for can be overwhelming. Instead, you narrow these competitor keywords down to your brand’s gaps. This way, your team can target these missing topics to create high-quality, engaging content.

Related: What Is a Content Gap Analysis? 

What Are the Benefits of Keyword Gap Analysis?

Keyword gap analysis is a vital tool for identifying how to outrank competitors and increase organic traffic to your business website. No keyword strategy is perfect. But conducting a gap analysis helps you pinpoint areas that you may have overlooked. For your readers, this means covering more content that they’d like to see, which further improves your SEO strategy and helps your content rank higher in SERPs. Check out several more advantages of running a keyword gap analysis for your business:

  • Discover new topics: You can pinpoint new opportunities that you’re currently missing out on. These “gaps” then become the topics you can focus on as your team plans for new content.
  • Create new content: New keywords can lead to new content—of all types. Using the topic areas and keyword gaps you find allows your team to outline new content.
  • Develop better plans: Craft detailed strategies on which keywords to target first based on competition, search volume, and desirability. Your team can also use this analysis to create optimization plans for your brands’ older content.
  • Gather information: Keyword gap analysis is extremely valuable for understanding competitors’ content performance. With the data you gather, you can identify the keyword and content strategies competitors are using to generate traffic and conversions.
  • Improve rankings: Covering more keywords can increase your rankings in search results—inevitably surpassing competitors and securing more top spots on SERPs. Keep in mind, though, that these results take time to see.

Whether you’re focusing on beating certain competitors or you simply want to improve your brand’s content rankings, a keyword gap analysis should be your starting point.

How To Conduct a Keyword Gap Analysis for SEO

Manually searching through keywords and search results pages is inefficient for conducting keyword gap analysis. Instead, use an online keyword and content gap analysis tool, like Semrush or Ahrefs. Then, follow the guide below to conduct your keyword gap analysis:

1. Select Your Competitors

There’s a reason keyword gap analysis is also called competitor keyword analysis. You’re going to need some competitors. Each competitor you select comes with a long list of keywords that they rank for. By comparing your own list against theirs, you’ll see keyword gaps start to emerge.

To get the process started, we suggest that you select between three and five competitors. If you can only think of one or two, that’s also fine. While more data provides a more detailed analysis, starting with a single competitor can still help orientate you within your content niche. When selecting competitors, there are a few things you should think about:

Size

Two businesses can offer a similar service on two very different scales. With 100s of businesses starting every day in North America alone, new companies enter the digital space of the internet all of the time. Depending on when you founded your business, you may already have clients and a steady stream of traffic.

If that’s the case, you want to look for other websites which have experienced a similar level of success. When selecting competitors, always aim for those that are similarly sized or slightly more successful than you. If you pick a company that hardly has a digital footprint online, your keyword gap analysis won’t return many useful results. Equally, if you compare yourself to the biggest contender in your niche, you could overwhelm yourself with content gaps.

We suggest that you pick between one and three companies of a similar size and two companies that are larger than you. Pulling all of these competitors into the mix will give you a better overview of the industry as a whole. From there, you’ll have more information to use to chart a pathway that gets your brand content into the top spots for new keywords and increases traffic.

Industry

The industry that a business operates within dramatically changes its content and keyword targets. Think about it. A content marketing agency is going to rank for different keywords than an automotive company. So to source the best competitors for your business, you need to stick to your own industry.

Many businesses already have an idea of their direct competitors. But if you’re not sure where to begin, search for your own content and similar content to yours on Google. If you craft SEO strategies for small businesses, then type that in and see what comes up. SERP pages are going to be your best friend here, as they’ll show you what brands and businesses are ranking most for your related content topics.

Of course, many of the top results can and do often include content from long-established companies. And thanks to Google’s guidelines and ranking factors (such as content for financial services), it favors content that comes from consistent and authoritative sites and sources. This means the best fit for you might not be the very first result on Google. And if your company is just starting, don’t overlook audience size as an important factor.

Audience

While some companies work in the same industry and are of a similar size, they might have totally different audience demographics and psychographics. Clothing stores are a great example of this. Two brands might be similarly sized but could target completely different age ranges, genders, and geographic locations.

If a company works in your industry and is of a similar size to you, you’ve likely found the perfect candidate. The final hurdle is to check what demographics the brand markets to. Do some research into its publications, moving from the most recent to older published content. What kind of topics does the brand touch on, and what demographics can you gather about the audience?

Using your analysis tools, your team can gather these pieces of information to form a clearer picture of the target audience you’re competing for. Across size, industry, and audience match, you’ll be able to source top-quality competitors. That will give us a solid base from which we can begin our keyword gap analysis.

2. Pick Your Keyword Gap Analysis Tool

To cut down on time for keyword research, use your analysis tool. All of the leading SEO platforms have a keyword gap tool your team can use to begin the process. But if you’re not sure where to start, try one of the following keyword research platforms:

  • CopyPress Analysis Tool: Generate a customized competitor report in seconds, giving you everything you need to know to craft your keyword gap strategy.
  • Semrush: Great for visualizing keyword gaps and how you compare to your competitors.
  • Ahrefs: Useful for generating lists of keywords that your competitors are focusing on.

The vast majority of marketing teams actively use one or more of these types of tools for keyword gap analysis.

Read more: Keyword Gap Analysis Tools for Planning Your Strategy

3. Generate the Data

Screenshot from keyword gap analysis tool competitive comparison concept.

You’ve got a list of competitors and your chosen tool, now it’s time to start the analysis. Alongside your own domain, list the URLs of your competitors. You can search for organic keywords, paid keywords, or product listing ad (PLA) keywords. In our recent eBook, Director of Content Analysis, Jeremy Rivera, dives into these and demonstrates how you can use these variations to plan out content types, topics, and clusters and increase your rankings.

Once you decide on the type of keywords to search for, select a geographical region. Always select the region that you’re operating in, as locations have played a factor in search rankings since named Google updates, like Venice in 2012. You can use worldwide traffic, but it won’t be as accurate as your own territory. From here, your SEO tool generates a list of keywords that your brand ranks for, that your competitors rank for, and the keywords you have in common.

screenshot of keyword gap analysis tool showing search comparisons.

Comparing Moz and Ahrefs, you can see there’s a great deal of overlap. Across the two businesses, it seems like Moz is ranking for around 10,000 more keywords than Ahrefs. This gap provides Ahrefs with 10,000 unique opportunities to start focusing on new keywords. So, comparing your list of keywords with your competitors shows you where to focus your content plan and which topics are worth thinking about in the future.

4. Dive into the Results

If this is your first time analyzing keyword gap results, you might be a little overwhelmed. To give you a helping hand, we’ll quickly summarize what each category you could be seeing means:

  • Intent: Search intent is the main reason that a person is typing in that search term. They could be looking for information, trying to buy something, or finding a specific site.
  • Volume: The search volume shows how many times users are searching for a keyword each month. This is the average calculated over a 12-month period.
  • Keyword difficulty: Keyword difficulty is a number from 1 to 100 that reflects the relative difficulty of ranking on the first page for that search term. As the percentage rises, so does the difficulty of getting your content to rank in the top spots.
  • CPC: The average price that an advertiser would pay if a user clicked on their promoted page on the SERPs. This uses data from Google Ads.
  • Competitive density: The relative density of advertisers that are targeting the keyword in their ads. On a scale from 0.00-1, with one being the highest.

You want to pinpoint keywords, or longtails, that you haven’t previously focused on. Remember, we want high-volume search terms. There’s little point in starting with a keyword that less than 10 people search for each month. Some keyword gap analysis tools will allow you to order the keywords by volume. We recommend you do this, taking into consideration the keyword difficulty before coming to a final decision.

Identify keywords that can provide a growth opportunity. And don’t overlook longtails—if they have the search volume, they’re worth focusing on. At the end of this process, you should have a list of new keywords to focus on. Pass them over to your content team and start to plan out the titles that you’ll use for future content. Alongside finding high-impact opportunities, keyword gap analysis can come in handy if you can’t think of what topics you should write about.

Read more: Analyzing Marketing Data: What Works and What Doesn’t?

Using the Data from Keyword Gap Analysis

Putting your keyword gap analysis data to use will help you create an effective content marketing strategy going forward. According to HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report, keyword rankings are the number-one way to measure the success of your SEO strategies.

Gap analysis data points you in the right direction of the best keywords for your team to target. No matter how successful your business is, there’s always room to grow. So comparing with competitors and uncovering keyword gaps ultimately supercharges your content strategy. Here’s how your team can put the data from a keyword gap analysis to use:

Find Keywords to Target

Use the data to find ideal keywords to target. Look for missing keywords and topic areas that your brand has no published content on. Maybe your business is just getting started, or maybe you overlooked this area. No matter the reason, you should focus on filling in these keyword gaps, first.

High-value keywords are ones that are currently pulling in lots of traffic for your competitors. If you notice that several top competitor traffic pages are based on keywords that you’re not targeting, it’s time to make a change. Target these areas to lead traffic away from your competitors and over to your brand’s content. Weak keywords are ones that you cover, but not as well as you could. If both you and your competitor are ranking for a particular search term, but they’re at a much higher position than you, check out your content page. Open their article and put it next to yours. What do you notice about length, style, and content detail?

Especially after Google’s Helpful Content Update, SERPs prioritize longer and more insightful content. Alongside farming this information, you can also use “Related Search Terms” on Google. If you were writing about “Christmas cookies,” for example, here are some related ideas Google offers:

screenshot of related search terms on Google. Concept for keyword gap analysis.

When you target these keywords in your content plans, your brand will have a strategy that increases traffic and boosts search rankings.

Understand Search Intent

During your keyword gap analysis, every keyword you find has a particular type of search intent connected to it. Sometimes, you’ll see two intents attached to the keyword, indicating that the term is common between both. Look for the first letter of each intent as you research your keyword gaps:

  • Informational (I): Informational intent is for people that are looking for information. Most blogs that explain how to do something (like this one) fall into this category.
  • Navigational (N): Navigational intent is when someone wants to reach a specific website, so they type its name in.
  • Transactional (T): Transactional intent is what someone types in when they’re looking to buy something in the near future.
  • Commercial (C): Commercial intent is anything to do with products, product information, or service reviews.

Although search intent might seem unimportant at first glance, it gives you a very useful piece of the puzzle. When planning your content around new keywords, understand the search intent to identify formats and types that are best for your brand.

Think about it this way: if the search intent is informational, then readers are looking for guides and articles that educate or provide information on a topic. On the other hand, business reviews or product demonstrations would be better content to use to target commercial intent.

Plan the Content

All keyword gap analysis data eventually leads to planning the content. While the search graphics may look pretty, they’re not doing you any favors unless you use them to further your strategy. Moving through the various keywords that you’ve identified gives you a broad base of new areas to explore.

You might find longtails that you never considered or maybe even entire content genres that you’ve previously overlooked. The important thing is that you approach your content planning methodically. Start with the keywords that are either going to be most useful to your brand or are most profitable for your competitors.

If competitor analysis metrics show that there is a specific company that you want to overtake, the former will work well. If you just want to holistically build your online presence, you should go for the latter. Especially if you’re scaling your content marketing strategy, then continuing to close keyword gaps is vital.

Get More Insight Into Your Keyword Gaps

When used correctly, a keyword gap analysis is a phenomenal tool. Giving your business the power to identify new growth opportunities, increase traffic to your site, and outrank competitors, this strategy is a must-use. Wondering where to get started using the data? Get in touch with the team at CopyPress. Our SEO experts and strategists will apply the data from your gap analysis and craft a winning strategy to help your business or agency reach its goals.

CopyPress

Read More About Tools