SEO, Thought Leaders

How a Content Gap Analysis Can Increase Keyword Rankings

September 16, 2020

by Courtney Culligan

SEO & Content Manager, Perfect Search Media

Performing a content gap analysis helps you pinpoint valuable keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you aren’t. By identifying these, you can craft content ideas to close this gap and start ranking.

Content managers and SEO specialists everywhere know it can be difficult to constantly come up with new, effective content strategies – especially with Google’s ranking algorithms changing what seems like every few minutes. 

Which keywords should we prioritize improving? What new Google result feature should we focus on winning this month? What types of content should we come out with? 

With Google shifting and SEO strategies evolving daily, there’s one foolproof strategy you should always integrate: finding out where your competitors are performing well. You simply need to see where there are blind spots (or gaps) lay in your content vs. theirs. 

So, how can you find these areas? That’s where a content gap analysis comes in. 

What is a Content Gap Analysis?

A content gap analysis is a strategy in which you compare keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but that you’re not doing too well with. This strategy allows you to discover content categories that your website is missing the boat on. 

Your website might not be ranking for certain keywords at all, but by finding that your competitors are, you can have a better idea of what topics to write about and eventually close those gaps.

How to Conduct a Content Gap Analysis

1.    Decide which competitors you want to analyze
2.    Download their entire keyword portfolio
3.    VLOOKUP rankings for each competitor
4.    Pull your website’s entire keyword list
5.    Comb through keywords to find content gap themes
6.    Organize your content calendar

1. Decide Which Competitors You Want to Analyze

Before you begin your analysis, choose which of your competitors you want to deep dive. For each content gap analysis you conduct, we recommend not exceeding 2 competitors at one time to avoid getting overwhelmed and “lost” in the amount of data. 

Also, if you’re looking at content ideas specifically for your blog, be sure to analyze only the blog portion of their website. 

Try to choose 2 competitors that have strong content on their website and are ranking for keywords that are relevant and conversion-friendly to your business as well.

2.   Download Their Entire Keyword Portfolio

Although there are some SEO tools that can help you compile your competitor’s keyword portfolio, you can do so manually as well. Begin by downloading the entire keyword portfolios of each of the competitors you have chosen to analyze from your chosen SEO keyword tool. 

When doing so, be sure to download the:

  • Keyword
  • Monthly search volume
  • Competitive data (cost per click, keyword difficulty, etc.)
  • Competitor’s current ranking

Repeat this process for all competitors.

3. VLOOKUP Rankings for Each Competitor

Now that you’ve downloaded the spreadsheets for both of your competitors’ rankings, you should VLOOKUP the rankings of how they compare to each other’s profiles. 
This way you can now see how Competitor A is ranking for Competitor B’s keywords, and vice versa. In this example, we can compare Hydroflask vs. Yeti:

 Hydroflask vs. Yeti Content Gap

A VLOOKUP is calculated by using =vlookup in a blank Excel cell. There are 4 parts to a VLOOKUP equation and they are:

  1. Lookup_value: You are telling Excel which keyword you are trying to find the ranking for. In the above screenshot example, you can click on the cell containing ‘kids flask.’ Add a comma after.
  2. Table_array: You are telling Excel which other documents you are pulling data from. You can double click the arrow in the corner of the Yeti keyword list. Add a comma after.

Table Array

  1. Col_index_num: You are telling Excel which column the keywords from the Yeti document are located in. Since they are in column B, they are in the 2nd column, so you would say “2”. Add a comma after.
  2. range_lookup: You are telling Excel if you want an approximate match (“TRUE”) or an exact match (“FALSE”). In this instance, you want exact, so you would enter “false”. Hit enter.

Repeat this process for the other competitor’s list as well. For more information on VLOOKUPs, check out Microsoft’s Support page.

4. Pull Your Website’s Entire Keyword List

Just like you did with your competitors, now download your own keyword portfolio. 

Now, repeat the same VLOOKUP process as above to see where your website ranks (if at all) for both of your competitor’s keyword lists. 

Filter for any keyword where your rank is “#N/A” (ie. not ranking).

5. Comb Through Keywords to Find Content Gap Themes

Now this is where the fun begins (well, at least for us). Begin reviewing all of the keywords that your competitors rank for, that you do not. 

It’s okay if one competitor ranks but the other doesn’t (ie. Hydroflask is ranking in position 5, but Yeti isn’t ranking at all). The main goal is to see where there is a gap for your content.

You can find categories by sorting by A-Z to pinpoint keyword similarities. Once you find a potential theme, you can filter by that keyword. 

If you’re working in an Excel doc, make a new tab for each content category, with the keywords that one or both of your competitors are ranking for. Here’s an example of a potential content gap analysis structure for a dog health advice blog:

Dog Health Keywords

And the rest of the tabs organized by category:

Keywords Organized by Category
6. Organize Your Content Calendar

From here, you can decide which high search volume content topics you want to move forward with and slate into your content calendar:
You can distribute the list of topics amongst your team, or take them on by yourself. The important thing is to start creating and publishing, so you can start ranking.

Get to Writing — and Ranking!

And there you have it! You now (hopefully) have tons of new content ideas for your website that strategically work to increase your keyword rankings and outrank your competitors.

And, if you need more guidance as to how to do this work for your business, or simply want the ease of someone else coming to you with the results, consider hiring a team of experts

The joint work of SEO experts and content strategists can help guide you toward solutions that fit your company and industry the best. 

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