Minding the Content Gap: How to Further Resonate With Your Customers
Anyone who has even a modicum of experience within the world of online marketing is well aware that client engagement is one of the most important metrics to address. Whether referring to brand awareness, sales or new product promotions, it pays to target the right people at the right times.
Unfortunately, many businesses fall far short of the mark; resulting in mediocre profits and a great deal of confused consternation. One of the reasons why this could occur is sometimes the result of a situation known as a “content gap”. What exactly is a content gap? How can you determine if one exists within your current marketing campaign? Perhaps most importantly, what steps can you take to close this gap in order to maximise your efforts? As both novices and seasoned professionals are sometimes uncertain how these questions should be answered, it is prudent to take a closer look.
The Definition of a Content Gap
A content gap is defined as a situation when online competitors are superseding your efforts to cater to the needs of the end user. In other words, you are missing out on valuable opportunities to interact and engage with a potential client base. This is frequently the result of higher SERP (search engine results page) rankings; typically due to keywords or key phrases that you have not yet employed (or that are not appropriate for the material in question).
A content gap can also occur during instances when a certain subject does not offer enough information to the end user to satisfy their demands. This may be a new subject or product that has not yet been analysed enough to provide customers with a sufficient level of information. A common example of this scenario is when a recent smartphone iteration has just entered into the marketplace. While many users are curious to learn more about its benefits and drawbacks, relatively few portals are capable of addressing such desires. To put it simply, a content gap can also represent a disparity between digital supply and demand.
Why Are Content Gaps Becoming Increasingly Important?
One of the reasons why massive entities such as Amazon and eBay enjoyed an unfettered level of success in the halcyon days of the Internet arose from the simple fact that competition was scant. This enabled them to capitalise upon a virtually limitless marketplace. Of course, we are all aware that times have changed. We now interact with a digital domain that gives birth to thousands of retail-oriented websites on a daily basis. This is just as challenging for multinational corporations as it is for small- to medium-sized enterprises.
The irony is that the critical importance of content gaps is only now being fully realised. According to the Content Marketing Institute, less than half of all businesses state that their efforts to bridge these gaps have been effective. It is therefore important to identify what steps can be taken to address these issues so that you can enjoy a larger and more stable customer base. This is why it is a good idea to take a look at some of the reasons why your current content might not be hitting the mark. We can then closely examine a process known as a content gap analysis in order to provide you with a clear road map to success.
Dealing with the Proverbial Elephant in the Room
One of the most common circumstances that can create a content gap arises from failing to properly identify your audience. This subject has been mentioned within other Textbroker blogs and yet, its pivotal role cannot be stressed enough. You need to be able to understand who you are trying to reach if you ever expect your marketing strategy to resonate with your market. According to SocialToaster, here are some core metrics to examine:
- What issues or problems is your business attempting to address?
- What syntax, grammar and language will appeal most to the readers?
- Is there any type of content that is preferred more than the others (based upon metrics such as page rankings)?
- Are there any stumbling blocks which prevent visitors from converting into customers?
While this is just the tip of the iceberg, let’s always remember that churning out content which does not reverberate with the reader is akin to paddling upstream; you will get nowhere quickly.
The Potential Issues with Evergreen Content
The term “evergreen” has become one of those catch-all phrases which the majority of content marketing gurus will utilise when touting the best writing practices. There is a great deal of truth to such an observation. After all, evergreen material will often augment inbound traffic and establish your brand identity over time. Such a strategy is likewise advantageous if you happen to be on a limited budget, as frequent updates may not be required. This is why this approach is viewed as one of the most effective online SEO strategies. However, there a few downsides attributed to evergreen content.
The main issue is that this very same information will often become outdated and as a result, it is not as relevant as more up-to-date information. The inevitable result is a content gap; a disparity between what you are promoting and what appeals to the end user. Poignancy is another point to quickly mention. While the notion of content that lasts forever might appear to represent the digital “holy grail”, the fact of the matter is that stagnant material loses its ability to engage with the reader in question. Furthermore, your website will likely suffer in terms of search engine rankings as a result. This presents a lucrative opportunity for competitors to convert customers that might have otherwise remained loyal.
Failing to Define Your Ultimate Expectations
Another major reason why content gaps will occur involves unclear sales and/or marketing goals. This will often result in substandard material or so-called “cookie-cutter” posts. Today’s readers are highly intuitive and they will clearly see through such generic approaches. Another impact of this nebulous approach is that the correct keywords are often lacking. As a result, it can be difficult to assess the quality of your content if it is not resonating with the correct audience. This mistake is akin to attempting to land an aeroplane while being uncertain as to whether or not the gear is down. It is therefore clear that a greater level of insight and clarity is required. This is when the power of a content gap analysis comes into play.
An Overview of a Content Gap Analysis
According to Searchmetrics, a content gap analysis is an examination of how your current content is performing in relation to how you would like it to perform. A useful analogy could be determining how far you have already driven as opposed to the number of miles still required to arrive at a specific destination. Keep in mind that the ultimate intention of this analysis is to provide you with ways to optimise existing content as well as to offer guidance in regards to creating new material. Ideally, both strategies should be employed if you wish to achieve the most favourable results.
What Does Such an Analysis Involve?
We can break a typical content gap analysis down into two main categories. The first involves a basic overview of how your current website is performing. Some common metrics which are measured will include:
- The amount of traffic your website is receiving.
- Your current search engine ranking.
- An analysis of keywords in terms of relevance and popularity.
You will then need to scratch far below the digital surface in order to better appreciate how your own content may be lacking. This step is critical if you hope to measure your performance against the closest competitors. Some variables that normally fall into this section include:
- Which pages are the most popular as well as those that receive little inbound traffic.
- How much time visitors spend on individual pages.
- Website bounce rates.
- Social media actions such as likes, shares and comments.
Assuming that these areas have been analysed, you should be able to address three paramount concerns:
- Highlighting content that does not require any changes.
- Any content that might need to be modified.
- Identifying material that is irrelevant and should be scrapped altogether.
You can then begin to assess the performance of your closest competitors in order to more effectively determine any changes that need to be made. Some typical factors that should be examined when looking at your competition include:
- What keywords are they employing?
- Which words are associated with the highest SERP rankings?
- Are certain articles or posts more popular than others?
- Which pages are paired with the greatest number of backlinks?
You can then perform a side-by-side comparison of their content with your own performance. This is a much better way to obtain a greater degree of clarity than by simply employing instinct or “gut feelings”. After all, the chances are high that there is much more to be examined than meets to eye.
Mind the Gap: The Role of SEO
Now that we have addressed some of the primary metrics that should be analysed when reviewing your performance in relation to that of your closest competitors, we need to take a look at the SEO side of a potential content gap. Let’s highlight a generic example in order to see how this process should take place.
For the sake of argument, we will imagine that you are involved with accounting and payrolls services. It just so happens that your competitors ar listed within the first SERP while you need to scroll to the fourth page before coming across your site. What went wrong? There are several issues which could be present. The most obvious (and common) is that you have not utilised the appropriate keywords within your text. This can normally be rectified by using tools such as Google AdWords in order to better appreciate which phrases should be employed. Still, there are other strategies to leverage.
Another important mistake that will often result in a content gap involves failing to target specific industries or niche markets when embedding keywords within the text and associated HTML. If we refer back to the accounting example mentioned earlier, examples of this approach can include:
- “Accounting services and hairdressers”
- “Accounting for small businesses”
- “Bookkeeping for export firms”
- “SME accounting in London”
Of course, the exact syntax will ultimately depend upon which markets you are targeting. If more specified keywords are not leveraged, you could very well be missing out on lucrative opportunities that will be quickly gobbled up by your competitors.
A final SEO concern involves embedding locally relevant SEO within your content (such as in the final example mentioned above). Google looks favourably upon this approach and it is likely to enhance your current rankings. Another pivotal takeaway point is that locally driven search engine optimisation will help to provide your website with a more relevant edge when nearby consumers happen to be looking for a specific product or service. Once again, this enables you to close the content gap…one post at a time.
Avoiding Digital Drudgery
If you have begun to feel that content gap analyses are somewhat challenging, do not be ashamed. The process itself can actually be quite confusing. This is the main reason why the majority of experts recommend avoiding manual techniques in favour of automated tools. The goods news is that there are a host of platforms at your disposal and many of these have been designed to be used by those with a minimal amount of experience. A handful of the most well-known and transparent include:
While these and other providers will require some type of payment in order to access their in-depth utilities, the majority also offer free analyses so that you can better understand their functionality as well as the unique amenities associated with each portal.
Interpreting the Results (Efficiently)
Assuming that you have employed the previous tips and suggestions, you will now need to interpret the associated findings. In order to present this next step in a less daunting light, we will use the term “SEO audit”. After all, this is the ultimate intention of any type of content analysis. Many experts recommend using a spreadsheet in order to better collate and appreciate the current strengths and weaknesses of your website. Here are some useful tips when performing such an audit:
- Place each section of content within the left-hand column of the spreadsheet.
- In the following column, note the intention of each page (such as product promotions or to drive engagement).
- Then, list the keywords associated with the specific page.
- Rate the pages based off of the analytical results from one to five.
This is a much more concise way to better understand any changes that need to be made. Please note that you can also include the performance of any competitors within this very same layout (in the same one-to-five scale).
You will then be able to rectify any weaknesses that may be present as well as to better leverage those pages which might be performing consistently. A content gap analysis can be ultimately distilled down into a single intention: to provide you with the means and insight required to match the performance of your competitors.
Discovering the cause of an illness and engineering a cure are two entirely different matters. The same holds true when referring to enacting much-needed content updates.
This is one of the very same stumbling blocks which may be encountered after you have interpreted the results of a content gap analysis. Furthermore, the chances are high that you simply do not have the time to enact such changes when the time is right. This is why outsourcing such solutions to professionals is often the most logical solution.
Content curation specialists are well aware of the challenges associated with these marketing gaps. Whether you require new material or you instead hope to remain one step ahead of your competitors, the writers at Textbroker are on your side. Not only will you be able to implement obvious steps such as using the most appropriate keywords to drive inbound traffic, but the material will be created in such a manner as to resonate with the end user. Let’s never forget that quality content is both organically appealing and technically effective. Textbroker has the innate ability to cater to both sides of the spectrum.
An Ongoing Process
Much like any other SEO-related tasks, minding the content gap should never represent a one-off undertaking. The needs of customers will inevitably change from time to time. An competitor worth his or her digital “salt” will likewise update their material in order to keep abreast of the latest trends. If you happen to fall behind in such matters, you will ultimately find yourself floating in the flotsam and jetsam of virtual anonymity.
Have you been less than satisfied with the current performance of your website and do you suspect that a content gap may exist? Whether you require new material or you are simply not sure where to turn, the writers at Textbroker will keep you one step ahead of the curve.
About our authorRon first arrived in Barcelona, Spain in 2007. Although initially pursuing a career in wealth management and finance, he learned that the content writing community provided the highest level of personal satisfaction while still being able to personally help clients. He has been a full-time professional writer since 2011. Some of his other interests include martial arts and bodybuilding.