Have you ever tried to bake cookies without a recipe? Perhaps you miss the baking soda, and your cookies don’t rise. One time when I was a kid I actually even mixed up the salt and the sugar. Let’s just say the cookies didn’t turn out well.
A recipe website would not last long if they only provided you with half the ingredient list or left out key steps along the way. Their users would have to go somewhere else to fill in the gaps, and you can bet they wouldn’t be coming back.
The truth is, your content strategy is no different than a chocolate chip cookie recipe.
The more comprehensively you answer the questions that your customers have throughout the purchase process, the better chance you have at ensuring they stick around and end up buying from you over a competitor.
What is a Content Gap Analysis?
A content gap analysis is as simple and simultaneously complicated as it sounds. It’s the process of mapping out your customer’s primary questions, goals, and concerns throughout their purchase journey and then measuring against your current content offerings for holes.
A full content gap analysis goes beyond the examination of keyword rankings. It takes into account all of your content, even pieces that are not on your website:
- Site pages
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
- Ebooks, whitepapers, and other premium content
- In-app messages
- Paid ad content
- Even social media and other distribution platforms
It is critical to assess how you are utilizing each of these content platforms to find the true gaps and execute the best strategy for filling them in.
The Importance of the Buyer’s Journey
You could not verify that you have a complete cookie recipe without a list of necessary ingredients for comparison and you cannot conduct a gap analysis without mapping out the key points that are important for your potential buyers in their purchase process.
While attending Pubcon Las Vegas last week many of the speakers reinforced the importance of this critical marketing step. Duane Forrester of Yext reiterated that, more than ever, with the onset of voice search and other tools that will allow people to consume information in a rapid, self-directed fashion, brands need to be ready with answers.
This is the buyer’s journey that we use with our clients:
With this template, there is a space for triggers, goals, pain points, and messaging for each phase. In the end, there is a place to map out your current content to visually see where your gaps exist.
The Role of Keywords
Categorizing your keyword research within phases of the buyer’s journey is a necessary step to accurately identify where your gaps exist. A good search marketer knows that your best shot at ranking for a keyword is by ensuring that the content you create for that keyword matches the searchers intent.
Jenny Halasz, a marketing consultant and writer here at Search Engine Journal, had a phenomenal presentation on this topic at Pubcon. She uses the KICC method to optimize a keyword strategy, which stands for:
- Keyword mapping
- Intention analysis
- Click-through rate optimization
- Content gap analysis
Understanding intent behind a keyword is so critical to a content gap analysis because if you optimize a page for the wrong keyword, you could be dramatically impacting the effectiveness of your campaign.
For example, keywords early on in the buyer’s journey tend to be more long-tail in nature and heavy on the five W’s (who, what, why, when, and where). You would not want to hit a visitor with a pushy sales driven piece of content when they come in through an awareness keyword because you risk turning them off and losing the lead.
At the same time, if the buyer searches a more bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) keyword about say price or competitor comparison, your conversion rate will go down if you don’t have the proper BOFU calls to action.
4 Reasons to Conduct a Content Gap Analysis
As I hope you can see by now, the risks of not conducting a content gap analysis can snowball quickly. Here are just a few of the reasons that a gap analysis is so important:
1. Find the Right Keywords and Using Them in the Right Context
We already went in detail about why this is important in the section above but without the right keyword strategy, you are going to have a hard time attracting visitors to your website, and you risk showing them the wrong content at the wrong time.
2. Prevent Your Potential Buyers from Going to Your Competitor for Help
If you don’t answer all of your customers’ questions, you can bet that they will go somewhere else for their information. Don’t give your competitors this opportunity! Fill in the gaps yourself and keep your potential buyers on your site longer.
3. Nurture Your Leads Along the Buyer’s Journey
Once you understand the journey your buyers take from awareness to decision, you can assess whether you have content that not only answers their questions along the way but also helps them move forward in the purchase process. This content may be satisfied by sequential blog posts or site pages, but also may include email workflows or even timed social media.
4. Provide the Right Calls to Action at the Right Time
Lastly, but certainly not least, you will ensure that you have the proper calls to action on your content for each stage to ensure that you capture those visitors and turn them into leads and sales.
Mind the Gap
As marketers, we tend to have “shiny object syndrome.” It’s very easy to get caught up in prioritizing high-volume keywords that will make our numbers look good or pushing BOFU “buy now” content with the hopes of getting more leads.
However, it doesn’t matter how many visitors you drive to your website if you don’t have the right content and user experience in place to optimize for conversion. This is why it’s essential to not only conduct a website gap analysis but a full content audit.
Once you understand the questions, goals, and pain points that your users have along their journey toward purchasing from you, you can review your content plan and get the right materials in place. You will improve your conversion rates and even customer satisfaction with your brand.
Have questions about what type of content you should assess in your gap analysis? Check out this comprehensive content strategy guide from Search Engine Journal for everything you need to know.
More Content Marketing Resources Here:
- From Content to Conversions: How to Turn a Blog Audience into Buyers
- How to Use SEO & Content to Influence Buyers
- Content Marketing KPIs & Metrics: 15 Important Considerations
Screenshot by Katy Katz. Taken November 2017.