4 steps to keyword gap analysis to boost your SEO strategy 

11 MINS
Faith Lisondra

As a small business owner or brand manager, you may feel like you’re in an uphill battle to attract high-quality traffic to your website. Despite putting in considerable effort, you grapple with content strategies that don’t seem to hit the mark with your target audience.   

This challenge often stems from a missing piece in your SEO puzzle — understanding precisely what your potential customers are actively searching for.   

This is where keyword gap analysis steps in. By employing this technique, you uncover the keywords your competitors are capitalizing on. More importantly, you spot valuable opportunities you’ve been missing.   

Keyword gap analysis allows you to boost your online visibility and engage with your audience in a more meaningful way. Read on to learn more about the advantages of applying keyword gap analysis to your strategy and how to get started.   

Understanding keyword gap analysis  

At its core, keyword gap analysis involves comparing the keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites with those driving traffic to your own. This comparison helps identify the ‘gaps’ – the valuable keywords that your competitors are ranking for, but you are not.  

Now, you might wonder, how does this differ from general keyword research?   

While keyword research is about finding relevant keywords in your industry, keyword gap analysis takes this a step further. It’s about competitive intelligence. General keyword research might tell you that ‘organic coffee beans’ is a popular search term, but keyword gap analysis reveals that your competitors are gaining traction with ‘single-origin organic coffee beans’ or ‘fair-trade organic coffee’ – specific terms you might have overlooked.  

In essence, keyword gap analysis is about discovering the keywords that offer the most potential for your situation. It’s an in-depth look into your competitors’ strategies to find out what’s working for them and how you can adapt those insights to your advantage. By identifying these gaps, you strategically target your SEO efforts, improving your visibility, driving more traffic, and enhancing your market share.  

Why you need a keyword gap analysis for your SEO and paid search campaigns  

By identifying and leveraging missing opportunities, keyword gap analysis helps fine-tune your approach in several impactful ways:  

  • Refines your target market. By uncovering the keywords your competitors are using effectively, keyword gap analysis allows you to target your campaigns more precisely. This means your content and ads are more likely to reach the right audience, resulting in higher engagement and conversion rates.  
  • Brings you a competitive edge. Understanding the keywords your competitors haven’t capitalized on presents an opportunity for you to lead in those areas. This proactive approach can give you a competitive advantage in market segments that others may have overlooked or neglected.  
  • Optimizes your budget allocation. In paid search campaigns, budget efficiency is key. By identifying high-potential, low-competition keywords through gap analysis, you can allocate your budget more effectively, avoiding overspending on overly competitive keywords where ROI is lower.  
  • Improves organic rankings. By integrating these uncovered keywords into your SEO strategy, you can improve your organic rankings. Higher rankings typically lead to increased traffic, better user engagement, and enhanced credibility in your industry.  
  • Offers valuable insight into market trends. This analysis can reveal trending keywords and emerging topics in your industry. By quickly adapting to these trends, you can keep your content and campaigns fresh and relevant, attracting more traffic.  
  • Customer insights. Keyword gap analysis often reveals the language and terms your potential customers use, offering deeper insights into their needs and preferences. This understanding can be pivotal in tailoring your campaigns and content to resonate more effectively with your audience.  

By identifying and leveraging these opportunities, you can create more targeted, effective, and competitive SEO and paid search campaigns.  

Let’s get started: How to conduct a keyword gap analysis  

The next question is — where to get started? Follow these simple steps to start enhancing your keyword strategy.   

Identify your competitors   

Spot competitors that are successfully reaching your potential customers. Perform searches for your primary products or services on search engines like Google. Take note of which companies appear in the top search results. These are your SEO competitors, and they may differ from your direct business competitors.  

Social media platforms and industry forums can offer insights into who your audience follows and interacts with. This can reveal competitors who are effectively engaging with your target market.  

Choose the right tools   

The digital marketing world is replete with tools that can provide in-depth insights into keyword performance, but choosing the right one is crucial for effective analysis.   

Are you focusing more on organic search, paid search, or both? Choose a tool that aligns with your primary objectives.  

Also consider how user-friendly and intuitive the tool is, especially if you’re not an SEO expert. More importantly, check if the tool integrates well with other software you use, like Google Analytics or your content management system.  

Here are some of the top tools and what they offer:  

  • SEMrush. It offers a dedicated ‘Keyword Gap’ tool that allows you to compare your keyword profile with up to five competitors. You can’t only see keywords you’re missing, but also the ones you share, along with detailed metrics like search volume and keyword difficulty.  
  • Ahrefs. Known for its robust backlink analysis, Ahrefs also provides excellent keyword research capabilities. Its ‘Content Gap’ feature lets you see the keywords your competitors rank for, but your site does not.   
  • Moz Pro. Its ‘Keyword Explorer’ and ‘Competitor Keyword Matrix’ are valuable for identifying keyword opportunities and gaps.   
  • SpyFu. It allows you to see the most lucrative keywords your competitors have been using for both organic and paid search. This tool is particularly useful if you want to understand your competitors’ paid advertising strategies.  
  • Web.com SEO Tool. Once you’ve identified the right keywords for your business, you can load them onto Web.com’s SEO Tool. This simple yet powerful SEO tool will then assess your website performance for the keywords you’re ranking for. You’ll then get a list of specific SEO actions you need to apply to effectively optimize your site. It’s like hiring an SEO specialist for less!

Conduct the keyword gap analysis  

After identifying your competitors and selecting the right analysis tools, the next step is to conduct the keyword gap analysis. Here’s a guide to help you through this process:  

  1. Compile your keyword data. Start by using your chosen tool to compile a list of keywords that you currently rank for. Do the same for each of your identified competitors. This will give you a comprehensive view of the keywords landscape in your niche.  
  1. Analyze competitors’ keywords. With the data collected, analyze the keywords that your competitors are ranking for. Pay attention to keywords with high search volumes and low competition, as these represent opportunities for quick wins.  
  1. Categorize keywords. Organize the keywords into categories based on intent (informational, navigational, transactional, etc.), Relevance to your business, and potential for conversion. This will help you prioritize which keywords to target first.  
  1. Identify overlaps and gaps. Look for overlaps where you and your competitors rank for the same keywords. Analyze how well you are performing in comparison. More importantly, identify the gaps as these are your opportunities.  
  1. Evaluate keyword difficulty. Use your analysis tool to evaluate the difficulty of ranking for each gap keyword. Some might be highly competitive, requiring more effort and resources to rank for.  
  1. Prioritize opportunities. Based on the potential traffic, relevance to your business, and keyword difficulty, prioritize the keywords. Focus on those that offer the best opportunity to improve your rankings with the least difficulty.  
  1. Develop a strategy. Based on your findings, develop a strategy to target these keywords. This might involve creating new content, optimizing existing content, or adjusting your paid search campaigns.  

Remember, keyword gap analysis is an ongoing process. Regularly repeating this analysis is crucial to staying ahead of your competition and continuously improving your online presence.  

Identify keyword gaps from “weak” and “missing” keywords  

‘Weak’ keywords are those that your website ranks for but not as strongly as your competitors. These are keywords where your website may appear on lower search engine results pages (SERPs).  

Analyze the ranking position and performance of these keywords. Are they gradually improving in rank, or are they stagnant?  

Evaluate the content associated with these weak keywords. Does it fully address the user’s intent? Is it as comprehensive and engaging as your competitors’ content?  

On the other hand, ‘missing’ keywords are those that your competitors rank for, but your website does not rank at all. These represent untapped opportunities.  

Review the list of missing keywords and evaluate their relevance to your business and potential to attract your target audience. Then, consider the search volume and competition for these keywords. High-volume, low-competition keywords are ideal targets.  

Now, this step is crucial. Cross-reference your weak and missing keywords with your existing content. Identify topics or areas that are underrepresented or not covered at all.  

For weak keywords, determine if existing content can be optimized. For missing keywords, plan new content that can target these terms.  

Tips on using keyword gap analysis for improving content strategy  

Utilizing the insights gained from keyword gap analysis can significantly enhance your content strategy. By understanding where your content stands in comparison to your competitors, you can make informed decisions to improve its effectiveness. Here are some tips on how to do this:  

  • Target underutilized keywords. Use the analysis to find high-value keywords that are underutilized by your competitors. Incorporate these into your content to capture traffic that may be overlooked by others in your industry.  
  • Optimize existing content. For ‘weak’ keywords where you’re being outranked, optimize your existing content. Update it with more relevant, in-depth information, and ensure it aligns closely with user intent.  
  • Fill content gaps. Identify topics and keywords that your competitors cover but you don’t. Create new, quality content on these subjects to fill these gaps. This can be in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, or infographics.  
  • Improve user experience. Analyze the top-ranking pages of your competitors. Note how they structure their content, the kind of multimedia used, and the overall user experience. Use these insights to enhance the readability and engagement of your content.  
  • Content diversification. If your competitors focus heavily on certain types of content (like blog posts), consider diversifying with other formats like videos, podcasts, or webinars. This can appeal to a broader audience and cater to different content consumption preferences.  
  • Enhance internal linking. Use your analysis to improve internal linking within your site. Link related content together using appropriate keywords, which can help in improving the SEO value of your pages.  
  • Monitor trending topics. Keep an eye on trending topics or emerging keywords in your industry. Be agile in producing content that aligns with these trends to stay relevant and engaging.  
  • Leverage long-tail keywords. Don’t just focus on high-volume keywords; include long-tail keywords in your content strategy. These often have lower competition and can attract highly targeted traffic.  
  • Regularly update content. The digital landscape is always evolving. Regularly update your content to keep it current and relevant, incorporating new keywords and information as they emerge.  
  • Analyze content performance. Continuously track how your content performs. Use analytics to understand what works and what doesn’t and adjust your strategy accordingly.  

Creating a target keywords list   

After conducting a thorough keyword gap analysis, the next step is to create a strategic keyword list. This list will serve as a guide for your SEO and content efforts. Let’s first outline how to create this list and then provide a sample list as an example:  

  • Start by compiling all the keywords identified in your gap analysis. Include both ‘weak’ and ‘missing’ keywords, as well as any low-competition, high-potential keywords you’ve discovered.  
  • Organize your keywords into categories for easier management. Categories could be based on user intent (informational, transactional, navigational), topic, product type, or any other relevant grouping.  
  • Rank the keywords within each category based on factors like search volume, relevance to your business, keyword difficulty, and potential for conversion. Focus on keywords most likely to drive traffic and align with your business goals.  
  • Include long-tail keywords in your list. These are usually more specific, less competitive, and have a higher conversion rate.  
  • Understand and note the user’s search intent for each keyword. This will guide how you use these keywords in your content.  
  • Note how your competitors are using these keywords, especially those where they have a strong ranking. This can provide insights into how you might effectively use them.  

Assuming you’re in the organic coffee business, here’s a simplified example of what part of your keyword list might look like after a gap analysis:  

Informational Keywords:  

  • “Benefits of organic coffee” (Weak)  
  • “Is organic coffee better?” (Missing)  
  • “Organic coffee vs regular” (Low Competition)  

Transactional Keywords:  

  • “Buy organic coffee online” (Weak)  
  • “Organic coffee beans bulk purchase” (Missing)  
  • “Best price for organic coffee” (Low Competition)  

Navigational Keywords:  

  • “BrandName organic coffee” (Weak)  
  • “BrandName coffee store locations” (Missing)  

Long-Tail Keywords:  

  • “Fair trade organic coffee brands in USA” (Missing)  
  • “Organic arabica coffee beans online” (Low Competition)  
  • “Health benefits of drinking organic coffee daily” (Missing)  

Local Keywords:  

  • “Organic coffee shops near me” (Weak)  
  • “Local organic coffee roasters in [City Name]” (Missing)  

As you work with your own list, continuously refine it based on performance data and evolving market trends.  

Consistent keyword audits are key  

Keyword gap analysis is a game-changer for your SEO game. Get ahead by regularly spotting those golden keyword opportunities and making them work for your content and SEO strategies. But if you need expert help on your SEO, don’t hesitate to let experts do the optimization for you so you can focus on running your business.  

Speaking of strong foundations, don’t forget the importance of a solid hosting provider for your website. Partnering with someone reliable like Web.com helps give your online space the boost it needs to succeed online. 

  • Faith Lisondra

    Faith is a Content Marketing Editor at Web.com. With a decade of content writing expertise, she enjoys staying abreast of the ever-evolving landscape of content and its dynamic relationship with marketing and SEO. Faith started her writing journey during the cringe-worthy era of 2010 Tumblr, but don’t bother asking for her blog URL.

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