How to Perform Gap Analysis for SEO Content

gap analysis for SEO

gap analysis for SEOChances are you’re familiar with SEO (aka search engine optimization) and how it is used. Likewise, you are no doubt keen to continually improve and expand your use of SEO in your content and on your website to further increase your audience and exposure. One such way is through performing a gap analysis for SEO content.

What is gap analysis for SEO

Your first question in response to this may well be “What on earth is gap analysis of SEO?” It’s not a bad question, given that not everyone has heard of it or know the technique by this name. In general, gap analysis is when you assess what steps you need to take as a business to move the company and its output towards the desired state. It can sometimes also be called ‘need-gap analysis’, ‘needs analysis’ or ‘needs assessment’.

Generally, putting together a gap analysis requires you to list the key characteristics of the business in its current situation (for example, performance levels, attributes, etc). This is followed by a list of factors needed in order to achieve any future objectives, followed by an identification of all the gaps that exist. It is about reflecting on who you are as a company and what you want to become. The end result of a gap analysis is a plan for closing the gaps.

When it comes to your SEO-optimized content, performing a gap analysis is useful for :

  • Ascertaining what you’re currently doing and the results of those efforts
  • Establishing your objectives and metrics for your content, such as visits, time on site, etc.
  • Creating a plan for closing the gap in your SEO. In essence, the “what is” versus the “what we would like to be”.

The role of keywords in gap analysis for SEO

The first thing to consider in performing a gap analysis for SEO is your keywords. Keywords (actually keyword phrases such as “gap analysis for SEO”, which is the keyword for this post) determine when your content shows up in a user’s search, hence they are a critical first step in improving SEO.

Using appropriate, frequently searched keywords in your content, meta descriptions, titles, etc, improves traffic both in terms of quantity, but also quality, as it drives the “right” users to your site. Also, look for low competition in the keywords used, as well as using a variety of related, high-performing keywords across your site.

The first step in gap analysis for SEO is to list the keywords you currently use within your content. Next up, make a list of these and prioritize the words and phrases in order of importance or value to your business. This isn’t just about how much they get searched for or how high they rank in search volumes, but also how relevant they are to what you do.gap analysis in SEO

Once you have done this, the next step is to establish future objectives.

  • What keywords do you want to start including more frequently or making more of an effort with?
  • What are you hoping to do as a business overall and how do you want your content to drive users towards this?
  • What are you looking to communicate with your customers?
  • How do you hope to draw new customers in through organic SEO-led traffic?

It’s then about bridging the gap. For example, what phrases do prospective customers use when searching for your products or services? You can find the search terms customers use to land on your website, although Google Analytics doesn’t provide much help for this anymore. I recommend clients use a small Adwords campaign where information regarding keywords is readily available. This helps identify where the gaps are between these words and the ones on your current list. Next, think about how to drive customers toward using your chosen keywords, such as including them in offsite messaging.

Perhaps the solution is to reach out to prospects through a different set of keywords. Type the keywords that match your future objectives into Google  and see what results come up. Do these match up with your business and/or goals? It’s then time to find ways of bridging these gaps in order for your SEO to have the best results.

SEO analysis

If you’re producing SEO-ready content, chances are you’ve got some kind of analytics running on your website – either as an internal software solution or via Google Analytics. If you have WordPress, you may also be using Yoast SEO, which provides its own set of information about how well your SEO is performing.

yoast SEO
Image courtesy of Yoast SEO Plugin

Perform a gap analysis on the analytics on your website to further assess how you can improve. To start with, it’s about making a note of the results you’re currently getting and how well content is performing.

  • Which pieces of content perform better than others?
  • What keyword phrases are common to best performers?
  • What aspects of the content caused them to outperform other content?

It’s also about identifying what search terms people use, how much traffic lands on your site organically through search platforms, how long visitors stay on your site as a result, what conversion rates this has, etc. You may find this type of analysis is best done as a numerical spreadsheet in order to compare all the information most accurately.

Next up is  identifying your future objectives and essentially putting targets in place. What do you hope for your analytics to look like in one month, six months, one years time? No doubt you hope to improve your performance, but you may also want to change the direction too. For example, if you’re finding that the people who land on your site aren’t actually staying you need to explore what’s causing the high bounce rate. Is the content not what they expected or is it too low-value to warrant a longer visit?

It is important to be realistic with your future objectives; while gap analysis for SEO helps improve future content (and, with much effort, you can re-write past content with your new SEO plan in mind) there are still many factors you can’t dictate. There is no definitive way of knowing how a search engine will respond to your content and read it. There’s also no absolute given that consumers will use particular keywords or search in a certain way. It is just about making educated guesses based on the information in front of you, working on the most authentic scenario and being responsive to change – for example, knowing how the introduction of voice recognition technology changes the types of words and phrases people use when searching, and therefore how your SEO should change.

Once you’ve implemented your objectives, it’s time to bridge the gap and establish quantitative goals based on where your analytics are now. For example, you may want to increase the number of people landing on your site through organic searches – but the gap may be that at the moment, it’s coming largely from social media. This is a key identifier that you need to work further on your SEO, possibly by looking at your Yoast results, to heighten its chances.

While a gap analysis for SEO may seem like a time-consuming or complex task, it isn’t in reality – and the rewards you receive more than compensate for the time it takes to complete a gap analysis for SEO. It’s a great way for finding the gaps in your work and fixing them to minimize their impact and effect. Have a go and see how you get on…

gap analysis for SEO
Anna May Trogstad is Content Delivery Manager and Outreach Executive at Copify, the global premium blog writing service. See more about what the Copify team have to share and say on Twitter.

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