Conducting a comprehensive keyword gap analysis is one of the most important things you can do to improve your SEO and content marketing strategy. A keyword gap analysis helps you discover new keyword opportunities, prioritize content creation, and optimize existing content to outrank your competitors. In this post, we’ll explore what a keyword gap analysis is, why it’s so valuable for SEO, and how to perform one using tools like Semrush or Ahrefs.
What Exactly is a Keyword Gap Analysis?
A keyword gap analysis is the process of comparing your current keyword rankings to those of your competitors to find opportunities where they are ranking for keywords that your site is not.
It helps you identify gaps in your keyword strategy and seed ideas for creating new content that can help you rank for valuable search terms and drive more organic traffic to your site.
Some of the key things a gap analysis helps uncover:
- Keywords your competitors rank for that your site does not
- Search terms with high volume that your site should be targeting
- Related keywords that you can optimize your existing content for
- Low competition keywords you can target easily to improve rankings
- New content topics and ideas based on missing keywords
Simply put, a keyword gap analysis is an SEO research method that generates a list of keywords you should be targeting in your content but currently aren’t ranking for. You can then create new content to fill those gaps or optimize existing content to bridge the gap between you and your competitors.
Why Is Keyword Gap Analysis Important for SEO?
There are a few key reasons why performing regular keyword gap analyses is so important for your SEO strategy:
- It identifies new keyword opportunities. A gap analysis looks beyond just the terms you already rank for and exposes all kinds of relevant keywords that you can target with new content. This gives you lots of ideas for your content marketing strategy.
- It helps you prioritize content creation. When looking at keyword gaps, you can filter by search volume and difficulty to find terms that are easy targets for your site. Focusing on these helps you rank faster.
- It uncovers areas where competitors are outranking you. Seeing where your competitors are ranking reveals topics and keywords where you have an opportunity to create better, more useful content.
- It lets you optimize existing content. You may find keywords closely related to your current content that you can optimize for. Strengthening existing content is easier than creating something new.
- It aligns your keyword and content strategies. Identifying gaps guides your content creation so that every new piece of content has a purpose – filling a gap and targeting specific terms.
In summary, a keyword gap analysis gives you data to inform your content marketing and SEO strategies. It’s a must for outranking competitors, driving more organic traffic, and getting in front of users at the right stage of their buyer’s journey.
How to Perform a Keyword Gap Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide
While you can do a basic keyword gap analysis manually using Google Keyword Planner, having robust analytics makes the process much more insightful. Here is a step-by-step guide to performing a detailed keyword gap analysis using a tool like Semrush:
Choose a Target Competitor
Start by identifying the competitor whose keyword strategy you want to analyze. Pick a competitor who ranks well for your shared target terms.
Generate a List of Their Keywords
Use a tool like Semrush to find all the keywords (search queries) that competitor ranks for. Export this to CSV for the next steps.
Filter for Keywords You Don’t Rank For
Upload the CSV to Semrush and use the filters to isolate keywords where you have no ranking at all while your competitor ranks. These are gaps you want to analyze.
Identify Low Difficulty Gaps
Filter further by low keyword difficulty and decent volume. This gives you a shortlist of gap keywords that are relatively easy to rank for.
Look at Keyword Gaps by Topic
Group keywords into topics and content pillars. Look for clusters around topics where competitor content is beating yours.
Brainstorm New Content Ideas
Review the grouped keyword gaps and identify ideas for new content pieces that would help fill those gaps.
Look for Optimization Opportunities
For keywords closely related to your top content, analyze why your competitor is ranking better. Look for ways to optimize and improve your content.
Prioritize Gaps by Importance
Based on things like search volume, difficulty, and relevance, pick the 3-5 most important gaps to fill with new content in the coming months.
This process gives you a data-driven way to make decisions about your content and SEO strategies. Keyword gaps reveal where competitors are outranking you so you can create better, more useful content targeting those terms.
Tips for Conducting an Effective Keyword Gap Analysis
Follow these tips to get the most value from your keyword gap research:
- Use a robust tool like Semrush, don’t rely only on Google Keyword Planner.
- Check for gaps against multiple top competitors for more insights.
- Analyze gaps for your important landing pages and content, not just the home page.
- Combine keyword gap analysis with search intent research.
- Filter gap keywords by difficulty and search volume to surface best targets.
- Group keywords by topic and content pillar to guide your content planning.
- Make keyword gap analysis part of your regular SEO research routine.
- Turn individual gap keywords into new content ideas and titles.
- Use the filters to isolate branded, low competition, location-based gaps.
- Check keyword gaps in paid search accounts too.
Conduct keyword research regularly, not just once a year. Search trends and competitors’ strategies constantly change so you need to track gaps continually.
Tools to Help You Perform a Keyword Gap Analysis
While you can technically do a manual keyword gap analysis with Google’s free Keyword Planner tool, the data is limited. Investing in a paid SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs gives you far more data to uncover meaningful keyword gaps.
Here are some of the key features to look for in a good gap analysis tool:
- Competitor keyword tracking
- Detailed keyword ranking and volume data
- Ability to filter and compare ranking for different domains
- Tools to group and analyze keywords
- Integration with Google Search Console and Analytics
- Prices range from around $100 to $200 per month usually
Both Semrush and Ahrefs offer robust gap analysis features. Moz and Serpstat are cheaper alternatives. Look for a tool that best fits your budget but still provides the data you need.
The best approach is to use a paid tool in combination with Google Keyword Planner to maximize insights. Export competitor keywords from Semrush then validate search volumes in Keyword Planner.
Key Takeaways and Action Steps
- Keyword gap analysis is an incredibly useful SEO research method for uncovering new keyword targets.
- It reveals opportunities to better optimize existing content and ideas for new gap-filling content.
- Use a robust tool like Semrush to extract competitor keywords and analyze ranking gaps.
- Filter keyword gaps by difficulty and volume to find the best targets.
- Turn groups of gap keywords into new content topics and titles.
- Make keyword gap analysis a regular part of your SEO strategy.
The key next steps are to select a top competitor, use Semrush to extract their keywords, and identify the gaps for your business to analyze. This will provide the data you need to craft a winning keyword strategy.
Now you have a better understanding of what keyword gap analysis is and why it’s so valuable for your SEO success. Put these tips into action and use gap analysis to drive more organic traffic by outranking your competitors.