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How to Do an Effective Content Gap Analysis for SEO

In this lesson, we’re going to fill in the gaps in your content marketing strategy with a seriously cool content gap analysis.

You’ll learn you how to do a little bit of incognito work on your competitors.

More specifically, you’ll learn 3 hyper-effective content gap strategies that should give your content marketing and blogging efforts a friendly boost in traffic.

So let’s jump right in.

Discover keywords that your competitors rank for

The first content gap analysis we’re going to do is to find keywords that your competitors rank for, but your website isn’t ranking in the top 100 Google search results.

So we’ll go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool and enter in a URL or domain. In our case, since we’re looking for new blogging topics, we are going to do a prefix search on Ahrefs blog.

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Next, we’ll click on the Content Gap tool in the left sidebar.

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When you’re looking for new keywords to target, the top section here is where you’ll need to enter in the domains or URLs of your competitors in organic search.

So, we’ll put in moz.com/blog, yoast.com, and backlinko.com.

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If you’re not sure who your competitors are, then you can use the competing domains report right here within Site Explorer to find websites that are ranking for similar keywords as your site.

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For Moz’s blog, we’ll have to make sure that the mode is set to prefix, since we only want to find keyword topics from their blog.

And you’ll see that their blog posts all have URLs prefixed with /blog/.

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As for Yoast and Backlinko, we can leave it as a domain search since their blog post URLs are just domain.com slash slug.

And for our own blog, we’ll have to make sure it’s also set to “prefix” since our posts are all under the /blog subfolder.

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Before we hit the “show keywords” button, let us add a bit of context as to what we’re searching for here.

In the first part, we’re asking Content Gap to show us keywords that any of these websites rank for, where at least one of these sites ranks in the top 10 of Google’s search results.

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And the final condition is that this site, which is our blog, doesn’t rank at all in the top 100 Google search results for that keyword.

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But we want to make our results even more relevant, so we are going to change the “show keywords” filter from “any” to all of the below targets.

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So we’ll only see keywords where all 3 of our competitors have pages ranking somewhere in the top 100, but our own site is not seen there.

And in almost all cases, we recommend leaving the “top 10 ranking” checkbox checked.

Generally speaking, if none of your competitors rank in the top 10 search results for a keyword, then they’re likely going to be irrelevant for your blog too.

Now, we’ll run the search.

So you can see here that we have 492 keywords where every single one of these sites are ranking in the top 100 Google search results and at least one of them ranks in the top 10 for a target keyword.

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The ones that immediately stand out are the keywords “seo copywriting” and “video SEO.”

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You can see that all 3 of our competitors are ranking decently high, which tells us that they have made intentional efforts to target these topics, and probably for good reason.

These would both be perfectly relevant for our business too, so we’ll make a mental note to create content around these topics.

And from here, we can click on the SERP dropdown to see the top 10 ranking results and even click the button at the bottom of the page to see the top 100 results!

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Also, there’s a couple really valuable shortcuts that will help your workflow.

If you click on the caret beside any of the numbers you see below, you can get some quick stats on the page plus shortcut links to your favorite reports like the backlinks or organic keywords reports.

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And you can also click on any of these numbers to open the respective page.

Now, if you find that there are too many keywords in here, you can narrow down your results even further by clicking the plus button and adding more competitors. And you can add up to 10 competitors here, but we’ll just add one more (neilpatel.com/blog/) and run the search again.

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And you can see that the results set has shrunk to 423 keyword ideas.

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If you’re on the other end, and you’re not getting enough keyword ideas, you can change this filter from “all of the below targets” to something like “at least 2 or 3 of the below targets” or “any of the below targets.”

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So we’ll set this to at least 2 of the below targets and run the search again.

And now we’re exponentially higher at over 8,000 keyword results!

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And if that isn’t enough for you, then you could also uncheck the top 10 Google ranking requirement.

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Then you’ll see we’re at just under 48,000 results, which is just bananas!

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But you’ll also find phrases that you probably have no interest in targeting.

So again, we recommend starting narrow and broadening your search from there.

Pretty cool, right? If all of your competitors are going after these keywords, then why wouldn’t you target them when all of the data is right in front of you?

Using the Content Gap analysis tool for a content refresh

Alright, the next way you can use the Content Gap analysis tool is for a content refresh. And by content refresh, we are referring to updating your old articles to a new and current version.

We’ve seen significant boosts in organic rankings when we update old content on the Ahrefs blog, so this is definitely a blogging strategy that we highly recommend.

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So the way this strategy works is to search for other relevant pages that are ranking high in Google’s search results for your target keyword and then to find sub topics that you can include in your new and up to date post.

For example, in our organic keywords report, we’ve filtered down the results for keyword terms between positions 5-10. And you can see that we rank in position 7 for the keyword phrase “link building.”

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If we click through to our article, you can see that this was published in 2016, so it’s probably due for an update.

So now, we can click on the SERP drop down and copy and paste a few of these URLs into the top section of the Content Gap tool.

Finally, we’ll paste our link building guide in the bottom section where it says “But the following target doesn’t rank for.”

And again, we’ll start with the “all of the below targets rank for” filter and broaden our search from there if needed.

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And BOOM! There are about 30 keywords here which tells us that there are actually quite a few things we might be missing in our guide.

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From the looks of this report, we can see that if and when we update this post, we may make note of “SEO links”, “link building campaigns”, and possibly have a short section on explaining what backlinks are.

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How awesome is that??

From what we’ve seen, this feature is unique to Ahrefs where you can do a content gap analysis on exact URLs and prefix searches.

Now, you don’t need to limit yourself to only old content. You can do this exact same thing with one minor tweak that will basically have content gap write an entire outline for a new post you want to create.

Just leave this bottom section blank and BOOM.

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You now have a list of 83 keywords that are highly relevant to this topic.

And we know this because all of the top ranking pages for the parent term “link building” are also ranking for these other relevant keywords.

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How awesome is that?!?!?

Consolidating content

Alright, so the last use case we want to share with you in this lesson is one regarding consolidating content.

Now, there’s a good chance that you’ve written about the same topic on more than one occasion. So rather than battling with your own pages in Google search, you can compare two or more of your articles, see which one is ranking best, and then merge the posts together.

So we’ve already put two URLs in Content Gap from our blog.

The first one is about growing website traffic and the other is about increasing website traffic. So basically the same thing.

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By leaving this setting to “any of the below targets” and searching for only keywords where either of these pages rank in the top 10 search results, you can see that the first article is performing much better in Google search.

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So from here, we could analyze the second article and see if any points from here could be integrated into the more dominant piece. Then, we would redirect the less dominant article to the one that seems to be better serving the searcher’s intent.

Now, we are sure you can see how this simple little tool can provide powerful insights for your content strategy.

So give content gap a shot and find new topics you probably should be targeting.

Use content gap to update some of your old content. And use content gap to create new blog posts with this data-driven strategy to maximize your organic keyword rankings.

Over to you

And that wraps up this tutorial on data-driven blog topics. Make sure to come by for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials.

And don’t be a stranger. If you have any questions related to the content gap analysis or you just want to say hey, then leave a comment and we’ll be sure to get back to you.

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