10 content gap analysis mistakes every SEO has made

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Every SEO will realise their content strategy isn’t measuring up to their performance goals at some point in their career. In fact, it will happen more than once, because the search landscape and user habits are constantly evolving. It’s an inevitable part of an SEO’s career – but the good news is there are strategic ways to stay on top of it. 

One of the main ways SEOs can work to ensure their content is performing at the desired level is to carry out a content gap analysis. This strategic process outlines potential missed opportunities within a website’s content strategy, and results in a clear roadmap of actions to take to remedy the situation. 

A content gap analysis process can take time to perfect, so if you haven’t done one in a while, be sure you aren’t making these 10 mistakes. 

1. Not defining your target audience 

It’s easy to tackle a content gap analysis by simply diving into a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs and starting to identify where you’re not maximising on keyword opportunities. However, while one goal of SEO is to get the traffic to the site, it won’t be valuable traffic if your visitors immediately drop off.  

Before you get into the analysis, take the time to ensure your target audience is well-defined. If you have never generated a buyer persona, now is the time to create one. Utilise data from existing shopper habits, browse your analytics data – or simply ask people what their pain points are. 

2. Using old target audience data 

Even if you have an audience in mind, you want to make sure the persona is up to date. It’s easy for enterprise brands to lose sight of who they really want to target, because audiences grow and evolve over time. If your team hands over a dusty old persona that hasn’t been reviewed in what feels like forever, now is the time to suggest working with Sales & Business Development to check it’s still up to date. 

After all, the point of a brand is to serve an audience, and if you’re serving an outdated persona that no longer reflects anyone, you’re essentially delivering content into an empty space.  

If it’s been years since you locked down a cohesive persona – get this done before you tackle anything else. 

3. Not researching competitors 

Every brand wants to be original and provide that USP that makes them stand out from the crowd. However, your competitors are competitors because they’re also successful. Don’t just rely on analytics data and keyword research to identify where your content opportunities lie – chances are, your competitors are ranking for content you never even thought of writing about, and the audience you want to target is lapping it up. 

In such a scenario, you want to collate as much useful data as possible from multiple competitors. Tackle it like a military operation and go through the information methodically. Search for a query you want to rank for and click on each of the top results in turn to find out what they’re doing. Dig into their site – find out what the ranking page links out to, consider their site architecture, look at their content format and reverse-engineer their content strategy. 

4. Neglecting the right content format 

Sometimes we can get so focused on a content strategy that we think really works, only to find that it isn’t resonating with our audience in the way we hoped. You may have filled in content gaps, but have you done so in the way that people expect to see it? This is when it can be a valuable exercise to see how competitors are producing similar content. Perhaps they have produced a video series where your version was text heavy. They could have generated infographics where you focused on stock images.   

Get proactive and map out where you need to change your format. Creating original video content may not be immediately possible, but generating infographics is doable – whether you get it done in-house or hire a freelancer. Look at each page through the eyes of your target audience – how would they want to view the content? If there are lots of statistics and figures to digest, a visual format may work better. If you’re creating ‘how-to’ content, a video tutorial alongside written instructions will serve multiple learning styles. 

5. Performing analysis without recent content audit data 

It happens more often than you may think – and you may even be guilty of doing it yourself. We think we’ve got a good handle on the content which sits on our site, so we begin using keyword research tools and performing competitor analysis to find the gaps we think our content has. However, not acting off recent content audit data is like performing a DIY project by ‘eyeballing’ the measurements – you’ve got a small chance of getting it exactly right, but it’s more likely the numbers will be off. 

Don’t rely on memory or instinct when you want to perform a content gap analysis. It’s wise to make sure you’ve got a data-led overview of how your current content climate is looking before you take any further steps. A content audit always comes before a content gap analysis, because it serves as the foundation for any further actions you want to take to improve your strategy. 

6. Contributing to intent mismatch by accident 

You want to make sure that your content is serving exactly what your audience is searching for. If you ensure your content ranks for a keyword, but a visitor clicks onto the page to discover it’s not what they’re looking for, they will just click off again – and your SEO efforts were fruitless. For example, if your user is looking for ‘best vacuum cleaners for pet hair’ but the SERP shows blogs about vacuum cleaner maintenance tips, they have been served informational results when they were seeking a transactional content type such as product reviews or a comparison table with links to purchase. 

Now is the time to cross-reference your marketing funnel with your keyword research. Here is a basic guideline:  

Keyword  Funnel stage  Content type 
How to, guide, tips, examples, troubleshoot  Awareness  Blogs, ebooks, infographics, video 
Tools, best, top, comparison, reviews  Consideration  Case studies, whitepapers, podcasts, newsletters 
Buy, coupon, pricing, sale, near me  Decision  Comparisons, customer reviews, pricing pages, FAQs 

7. Not tracking results 

 Let’s say your content gap analysis has resulted in the finding that you aren’t serving enough content with a transactional intent, and there’s a great keyword opportunity in your niche. You action this finding by creating more content for this funnel stage – such as optimised FAQs and product comparisons. You also work with Sales & Marketing to generate more customer reviews so that your site aligns more strongly with EEAT guidelines. 

It’s not enough to act on the changes, then leave it and hope for the best. What you’re effectively doing is trying something new, so you want to check that it’s working and make adjustments if it isn’t. If your goal with these changes is to improve conversions, then set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics or your alternative tracking tool, then see if you’re getting an uptick in conversions once the changes roll out. Remain proactive and be ready to troubleshoot and adjust if you don’t get the results you’re looking for. 

8. Doing it once, then leaving it 

‘We don’t need a content gap analysis, we did one last year’. This is a sentence you should always challenge, because there is no such thing as ‘too many’ content gap analyses. Your content is a living, breathing organism that needs to be constantly maintained to serve your audience’s needs. In other words, it’s not enough to do one content gap analysis and then leave it for good. 

Your keyword opportunities will change over time as search habits evolve. Your competitor’s tactics will change. Your sales numbers will fluctuate or go through dry spells. When these changes take place, you want to ensure your content is able to adapt accordingly and continue to serve the target audience which is looking for you in the search results. 

9. Thinking in the short term 

A content gap analysis should be a structured task you perform, but that doesn’t mean you should just tick the basic boxes, then walk away. You want to ensure that your analysis considers the long term and will continue to perform as far into the future as possible. For example, you want to go beyond just searching the most popular topics your audience associates with your brand.  

While your main target audience may be regularly finding your content in this way right now, you could be missing out on untapped – yet still relevant – low-hanging fruit. By optimising for less obvious topics, you’re creating a more robust content strategy that is more likely to withstand hits such as competitors ranking more highly for your most contested queries. You can rest assured that your audience is being funnelled in through your low-hanging fruit while you optimise again for your higher volume keywords. 

10. Not using a consistent methodology 

Process is, if anything, more important than the actual performance of an analysis. You want to make sure that the methodology you use for your content gap analysis is both thorough and consistent. This is because you will benefit from a more efficient workflow, no risk of missing information, easy follow-up and internal alignment between stakeholders. 

You don’t want your analysis process to contain unnecessary actions that waste time or repeat steps you’ve already taken. A content gap analysis should be strategic and structured, where you establish clear goals and a roadmap for achieving them. 

Book a Free Acquisitions Workshop

We can give you a comprehensive overview of how your SEO content strategy is currently performing, along with expert advice and a tailored action plan to improve your results. 

Our workshops are tailored to your company, and include bespoke advice created by experienced humans – making them higher value than data which has simply been pulled from an SEO tool.

If you’d like help with your SEO content strategy, then grab one of our Free Acquisitions Workshops today – but hurry, because we only have a few slots left.


Imogen Groome

Content Lead

Imogen is the SEO Content Lead at Skittle Digital. Imogen has worked in SEO since 2016. She helped to define SEO strategy at Metro.co.uk before guiding the newsroom at The Sun Online as SEO Editor. She has more than 5 years’ experience in scaling content strategies that drive revenue for brands through organic search channels. In her spare time, Imogen writes books, watches poor-quality reality TV and hangs out with her cats.

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