One of the most common questions I get regarding content marketing is “How do I know what to write about?”
Looking to SEO keyword research is one way to determine which topics to tackle on your website.
But how do you know if you are missing out on other, more lucrative opportunities?
Conducting a content gap analysis is a smart way to find the “gaps” in your content.
This will help you come up with strategic content ideas that will pull in more traffic, convert more customers, and provide even more value to your target audience.
Here’s how to do an effective content gap analysis to audit your content strategy and improve your website’s SEO.
What Is a Content Gap Analysis?
A content gap analysis is the process of finding holes in your existing content.
It involves identifying missing content pieces that could and should align with the various stages of your target audience’s buyer’s journey.
Analyzing your existing content offerings allows you to see where you might be missing valuable assets that could guide readers to the point of purchase.
You’re also likely to find new keyword opportunities you’re not currently taking advantage of with existing content.
A content gap analysis often includes an audit of your:
- Blog articles.
- Social media content.
- Landing pages.
- Ebooks and downloadables.
- And other content assets.
Running a content gap analysis is crucial to finding holes in your content so you can fill them and make it easier for users to find your website and buy from you.
Mapping Your Content to the Buyer’s Journey
Not every visitor who comes to your website will be ready to buy.
Oftentimes, they will simply be on the hunt for information, wanting to compare their options, or price-shopping for the best solution.
Your goal is to create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey – whether they are “problem-aware,” “solution-aware,” or at the final decision stage of your purchasing journey.
Many brands focus on creating informative content in the form of blog posts to draw in a wider audience, and “money” pages to convert those users into buyers.
But this creates gaps where people who are still considering various options may fall through the cracks.
In conducting your content gap analysis, you’ll want to identify whether you have content for the Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Success stages of the funnel.
Awareness pages target keywords related to a problem your audience is facing. This content serves to address this problem and offer valuable information but not immediately convert the reader into a customer.
At the Consideration stage, people are comparing various solutions to their problem. They might be reading comparison guides, reviews, or “best of” posts.
You can create content that compares your service/product to your competitors or simply pose your brand as one of many solutions in a round-up post.
The Decision stage is where you will find most “money” pages. These are your sales pages, service pages, etc. that serve as the final checkpoint before a user buys from you or contacts you.
These pages will be more branded than your Awareness and Consideration content.
Finally, Success content serves to reassure customers that they will achieve their desired outcome.
This can be as simple as a Thank You page or as complex as a follow-up email sequence that connects them with ongoing support or asks them for a review.
Conducting a content gap analysis will help you identify whether you have content at every step of the buyer’s journey for each of your website’s offerings (whether that means services, products, form fills, downloads, etc.).
You don’t want to give users an opportunity to fall through the gaps.
4 Steps to Conducting a Content Gap Analysis
Content gap analysis is more than simply combing through your blog posts to see if you are missing out on any juicy content ideas.
There is a simple, step-by-step process to find the clear gaps in your content and fill the holes in your content strategy.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Map Out Your Buyer’s Journey
What steps does your target audience need to go through to get from A to B to C?
Take some time literally drawing or writing out the primary questions your audience has, the various options they might consider, what they are looking for before they buy, and what calls-to-action are likely to compel them to contact you.
- A small business owner may be struggling to get their finances together.
- With this problem in mind, they search for “how to manage my small business finances.”
- This yields several articles talking about the “X best ways to manage your business finances.” They click an article titled “10 Methods for Getting Your Small Business Finances Under Control.”
- This article provides 10 helpful tips, one of which is to use online accounting and bookkeeping software.
- The business owner goes back to Google and searches for “best online bookkeeping software.”
- They are taken to a roundup post of the top five bookkeeping software providers.
- The business owner does a search for two of these companies, comparing the pros and cons of each.
- Once they are sure which company sounds like the best fit for them, they end up on the company’s Sign Up page and sign up for a free trial.
- After a week or so, the company follows up with an email sequence promoting it’s paid bookkeeping software.
- Because the business owner loved this brand, they decided to sign up for a paid subscription.
In the above example, you can see where there are several opportunities to create content at each stage of this buyer’s journey.
Your goal is to map this out for your own business, based on the various services and/products you have to offer.
2. Conduct Market Research
One of the best ways to come up with content ideas that align with what your audience wants is to simply ask them what they want.
Conducting a market research survey will help you uncover your audience’s most burning questions, concerns, pain points, needs, and goals.
This feedback then informs your website content strategy.
Use Google Forms to create a simple, anonymous survey to send to your target audience.
Some questions to have in your survey include:
- What questions do you have about [topic]?
- What do you struggle with the most when it comes to [topic]?
- What solutions have you tried in the past?
- Why didn’t these solutions work for you?
- What are the top three things you are looking for in a [service/product]?
- Where do you go to find/search for solutions like [service/product]?
- What’s the deciding factor between you choosing [Solution A] or [Solution B]?
The responses you get to your market research survey will provide you with a treasure trove of content ideas, all of which align with the real needs and concerns of your potential customers.
3. Analyze the Content on Your Website
While your brand likely publishes or shares content across a variety of platforms, you’ll want to be sure that the content on your website, at the very least, aligns with the buyer’s journey and doesn’t leave gaps for your potential customers to fall through.
Crawl your website for all URLs and determine how (or if) they align with each stage.
Then, you can determine whether you are missing content that bridges the gap between one stage and another.
For example, if you are a law firm and have an article titled “How to File for Divorce” and your immediate call-to-action is to “Hire a lawyer” and direct them to your Contact page, you may be deterring people who aren’t sure they need a lawyer yet.
Instead, you may want to link to an article like “12 Things to Know Before Hiring a Divorce Attorney” or “4 Steps to Finding the Best Divorce Lawyer in Your Area” so you can nurture them before you hit them with a pitch to hire you.
Another way to find gaps on your site is to use SEO tools to see what keywords your site is already ranking for.
Then, in searching for these keywords, you can find related keywords you may not be targeting with existing content.
Take advantage of these opportunities to maximize your traffic and solidify your content funnel.
4. Analyze Your Competitors’ Content
Determining what’s missing from your site often involves a bit of “process by elimination,” but looking at what your competitors are doing – and comparing how your site measures up – is a good way to find some additional gaps.
If your competitor’s funnel is more or less the same as yours, see what content they’ve created to lead users from one stage to another.
Do their articles direct readers immediately to a contact page?
Or is there other content that nurtures the user before they buy (like comparison guides, FAQ pages, case studies, etc.)?
Now, what works for one site doesn’t always work for another.
You don’t want to copy your competitor’s strategy. Rather, you want to see where you might have cracks in your own strategy so you can come up with something better than what your competitors are doing.
You can also use SEO tools like SEMrush to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for and align these with some new content ideas.
Mind the Gap
Many marketers and business owners make the mistake of focusing on “money” pages in order to push the sale, or informative blog articles to draw in readers.
You need both, but you also need content that bridges the gap between each step of the buyer’s journey: from when they are first “problem aware” to when they are at the point of making a purchase decision.
Conducting a content gap analysis is key to finding holes in your existing content strategy so you can be sure to create new content assets that generate traffic and funnel users to the point of purchase.
It also gives you a chance to identify new keyword opportunities based on what your competitors are (or are not) targeting.
A content gap analysis involves auditing what you currently have and then laying out a content strategy that meets users at multiple touchpoints.
That way, you have valuable content that nurtures even the coldest audience into a purchase-ready customer.