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Why to Worry About Content Gaps (and How to Close Them)

One thousand, three hundred and eighty-eight.

That’s how many blogs are written every minute of every day, according to MarketingProfs.

Whether or not that figure is accurate, it’s hard to deny that brands produce a lot of content. When we use the word “content” from an on-site perspective, it doesn’t have to be something creative like a blog – it could be a new landing page, copy for a category page, or myriad other things. On average, 36% of total marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing. It stands to reason that this proportion will be higher when all content is taken into account.

How much do we spend on content marketing?

But if we’re putting all this time and effort into creating content, wouldn’t it be good to know where we should be focusing our efforts? Shouldn’t we have a clear picture of what we’re currently missing, and the opportunities that exist around these gaps?

 

Why Content Gaps are a Problem

The answer to each of those rhetorical questions is “yes”. But despite this, an unsettling number of brands don’t have a content marketing strategy. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute claims only around two in five B2B and B2C marketers have a documented strategy in place.

How many marketers have a documented content marketing strategy?

If you’re in the majority of brands that lack a documented strategy, you could be leaving gaping holes in your onsite content. At best, that means there are opportunities in your market that you aren’t currently exploiting. At worst, gaps in content show that your competitors are doing something that you’re not, which could be costing you money.

In the rest of this article, we’re going to concentrate on making sure your biggest rivals aren’t stealing a march on you through content.

Content gaps can cost you money

How to do a Content Gap Audit on Ahrefs

Thanks to the good folks at Ahrefs, a content gap audit doesn’t have to involve endless spreadsheets and hours of aimless clicking. Instead, you can use the aptly named Content Gap tool (nestling in the Organic Search menu in the left sidebar) to compare your domain against up to ten competitor sites:

How to carry out a content gap audit with Ahrefs

Now, let’s show you the Content Gap tool in action. In honour of the Great British summer, we’ve decided to take a look at outdoor clothing brands, so suspend your disbelief for the remainder of this blog and pretend you work for Blacks (unless you already work for Blacks, in which case carry on as normal).

Here, you’ll see we’re comparing Blacks against three rival brands – Trespass, Go Outdoors and Cotswold Outdoor:

Auditing competitors with Ahrefs

Click the enticing “Show Keywords” button and you’ll be presented with a list of terms you don’t currently rank for, but for which your competitors are ranking in the top ten. Of course, the majority of results are going to be fairly unhelpful – there’ll be lots of brand keywords and, in the case of ecommerce sites, potentially thousands of products. As such, it’s wise to be a bit selective.

In this example, we’re focusing on long-tail terms to weed out most of the brand mentions, so we’ve filtered the list to include only phrases with between three and six words.

Now it’s time to examine those tasty results. You’ll want to spend some time doing a bit of scrolling – the highest-volume terms (at the top of the list) are most likely to be brand terms, and therefore (probably) not particularly relevant. But it shouldn’t take you long to identify an opportunity that’s worthy of further investigation, like this…

Finding content opportunities with a content gap audit

Out of context this doesn’t tell us much, so let’s do some digging. The next step is to look at the SERP for that term. Incidentally it turns out that Go Outdoors has also managed to bag the featured snippet, despite not ranking at number one:

Featured snippet

Here’s the ranking article in all its glory. It’s arguably not the most visually spectacular piece of content in history, but it’s clearly well structured (it wouldn’t have won the featured snippet otherwise) and provides exactly what you’d expect from the headline. What’s more, it’s an excellent example of evergreen content – unless people stop walking or the Peak District ceases to exist, people are going to be searching for this term.

You can do a bit more digging, too. By running the article URL through Ahrefs, we can find a full list of keywords it ranks for (an impressive 597 in the UK) and the number of referring domains. This gives you a good idea of what you’ll need to do to rank for an article on this subject:

Analysing organic keywords and backlinks with Ahrefs

Now, put yourself in the shoes (or sturdy walking boots) of the digital marketing team at Blacks. Does this sort of content fit in with your brand? Will your audience be interested? Can you do it better than Go Outdoors? Is it in line with your current content production, or a million miles away? If the latter, should you consider a change of direction?

After 15-20 minutes of scrolling, you should have compiled a shortlist of potential content ideas to take forward. Ours has revealed plenty of opportunities, including:

  • new forest walks
  • peak district camping
  • what to take to a festival
  • best family tent
  • waterfalls in uk
  • what to take camping
  • campsites in snowdonia

 

What to do with the Results

Hopefully, at the end of this process you should have amassed a solid bank of content ideas that are on-brand and worthy of pursuing.

However, don’t fall into the trap of taking these results in isolation. Treat them as themes. To continue the Blacks motif, there’s an apparent opportunity to create evergreen destination and advice-based content for walkers and campers. If you decide to push forward with this approach, it should be part of a concerted strategy, not just a few one-off blogs about spelunking in the Outer Hebrides.

 

TL;DR

Here’s our process for carrying out a content gap audit using Ahrefs:

  1. Identify competitors to target (ideally three to five)
  2. Filter results to exclude brand terms (unless you’re trying to rank for brand terms)
  3. Get scrolling!
  4. When you identify an opportunity, check out the SERP for that term. Can you do it better?
  5. Use Ahrefs to find the terms that page is ranking for, and its link profile
  6. Collate your results to discover wider themes that will feed into your content strategy

Need some help developing your content strategy? Get in touch with us today!

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