Keyword Gap Analysis: Unleash More Ranking Opportunities
What Is Keyword Gap Analysis?
Your keyword strategy should be an integral part of your marketing plan. By selecting relevant keywords to target and incorporate in your website content, you can help your site perform well on search engines, which brings in more traffic.
SEO is a complex, constantly evolving field, and no keyword strategy is perfect. Because rankings can be so volatile, you should continue to analyze your site’s performance even after putting your SEO campaign in place. One of the best ways to strengthen your existing SEO strategy is with keyword gap research.
Gap research helps you identify valuable keywords that you may have overlooked. It involves comparing your competitors’ keywords with your own to discover the search queries that drive traffic to their site instead of yours. With gap analysis, you can fine-tune your keyword marketing strategy and find the most relevant, high-traffic words and phrases to target in your site content.
Benefits of Gap Analysis
Keyword gap research takes some time and effort, but the results are worth it. Here are some of the ways that gap analysis can help you achieve your SEO goals and increase traffic to your website:
Discover New Keywords
The main goal of gap research is to identify the keywords you could be utilizing but currently aren’t. By discovering the keywords your rivals are succeeding with, you can add to your list of target keywords to keep up with the competition.
There are several ways to do keyword research, but gap analysis is particularly effective because it identifies what is already working for similar websites. You can brainstorm keyword ideas without gap research, but it can be hard to know exactly what your target audience is looking for without doing an analysis.
Offer Helpful Information to Visitors
The purpose of gap analysis is to improve your SEO strategy and help your website perform better on search engines. However, it’s also important to keep the ultimate goal in mind: to provide relevant, helpful, and engaging content for visitors.
Search engines want to deliver the best possible content to users, so their algorithms determine which sites answer the search query and provide the best user experience. Keeping the user in mind is an excellent way to boost your search rankings while also improving the quality of your site. When you focus on the keywords you discover in your gap analysis, you know that your audience is actively searching for those terms. By crafting content around those phrases, you’re offering helpful and relevant information that will make users happy they visited your site.
Compare Yourself With Competitors
SEO is highly competitive. Unless you’re in an extremely specific niche, there are probably dozens or hundreds of other sites that are similar to yours. Knowing how you measure up to your competition is key.
Gap analysis is a great opportunity to see how your keyword strategy compares with other sites in your niche. You can discover which keywords your competitors target that you don’t as well as which keywords you target that aren’t as popular with your competitors.
While you explore your competitors’ keyword usage, you can also get some valuable insight into how they structure their content for SEO. Pay attention to how many keywords they use per page, where on the page they use the keywords, and what topics their content covers in order to use those keywords. All of this information can guide you in the right direction with your own strategy.
Identify New Competitors
There are probably a number of sites in direct competition with yours that aren’t yet on your radar. When you conduct gap research, you can find these rival sites. They may not outrank you now, but it’s important to be aware of their presence in case their rankings rise in the future. This gives you plenty of time to learn from their strategy and implement the same keywords.
Categorize Your Keywords
Organization is incredibly important with keyword planning. You should keep careful track of your target keywords, their search volume, and which keywords visitors use to discover your site. Sorting your keywords into categories is a helpful way to stay organized and focused with your SEO strategy.
When you research your keyword gaps, sorting both your competitors’ and your own keywords into categories helps you discover trends among similar search terms. For example, you may look at data for a group of location-based searches or for queries related to a particular product. Not only is this beneficial for the gap research itself, but your system of categories can make your entire keyword strategy more organized and efficient.
How to Use Gap Research Effectively
Keyword gap analysis involves several steps. For the best results, you should be as careful and thorough as possible with your research. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools and resources that are designed to help with the process.
Here are the main tasks involved in successful gap research:
Find Your Competitors
The first step in your gap research is identifying which competitors you want to analyze. Choose several competitors who are as similar to you as possible. Your target keywords are highly dependent on your audience, so the sites you analyze should have a similar audience.
If you’re not sure who your competitors are, search for your current target keywords and look at the sites that rank above you in the SERPs. It’s wise to select competitors who are performing slightly better than you. If you focus on websites that rank much higher than yours, you may be wasting your time on keywords that you have little or no chance of ranking for. However, websites that are in close competition with yours can be a great source for target keywords.
Identify Your Keyword Gaps
There are several online tools that can help you discover your keyword gaps once you’ve identified your competitors. One option is SEMRush’s Keyword Gap tool, which analyzes your competitors’ top keywords and suggests keyword opportunities for your site.
Alexa offers a keyword analysis tool as well. This service shows your your content gaps and compares your keywords with the competition. SpyFu is another helpful tool that is dedicated to tracking your competitors. It offers statistics about their ranking keywords for both paid and organic search.
With the help of a gap analysis tool, you can see how your top-ranking keywords compare with other sites in your niche. Now, you can make a list of the keywords your competitors rank with that you don’t currently use.
Categorize and Label Keywords
You’ll probably have a long list of gap keywords that you’ve discovered when analyzing your competitors’ websites. However, you don’t need to target all of these phrases. The next step is to categorize your gap keywords, which will help you identify the biggest gaps.
There are several options for categorizing the keywords. You can create multiple systems of organization and place your keywords into more than one category. For example, you could sort your list into local and organic search queries or into short-tail or long-tail keywords. You can also organize the keywords by topic.
After sorting your keywords, see if any particular category is larger than the others. If you notice that you have a lot of gap keywords in one category, it may be a sign that you’re missing out on ranking opportunities for those types of keywords.
Determine Which Keywords to Pursue
Not all of your gap keywords will be worth pursuing, and choosing which ones to target can be difficult. Focus on the ranking keywords that you think are the most achievable for your site. Highly-competitive keywords are tough to rank with, so it’s typically better to target phrases that are less frequently used.
Try to stick to keywords that will be easy to use within your site content, too. You could create new content for a gap keyword, but updating your existing content to include the keyword is far easier. This also ensures that the keywords are highly relevant to your website, so users who search those phrases are likely to be interested in your content.
Update Your Content
Once you’ve narrowed down your target gap keywords, it’s time to incorporate them into your site content. As you add these keywords, remember that search engines favor websites with high-quality and helpful information. Keep your readers in mind when you create and update your content. Everything should read naturally and offer something valuable to the site visitor.
You can use your target keywords on your “About” page, location pages, blog posts, or product listing pages. Keywords can appear in the body of the content as well as in page titles, headers, meta descriptions, and image alt text. If you choose keywords that don’t naturally fit within your existing content, use the phrases to inspire new content.
Look at the Big Picture
Keyword gap research is highly specific and data-driven, but remember not to lose sight of the big picture. Your overall goal is to bring more traffic to your website, and understanding why and how people visit your site is key. Why is your audience interested in these keywords? What do your competitors offer that you could learn from? How can you answer a question or fulfill a need for searchers?
Gap analysis can provide meaningful insight into your website’s performance. Use this information to understand your target audience, your competitors, and your own site’s purpose on the web.
Finding relevant and quality keywords can be difficult, but there are always new opportunities available. With gap research and analysis, you can find the most valuable target keywords to add to your strategy. Then, your website will perform better with search engines and reach a wider group of interested users.