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Mind the gap - why you can’t succeed without content gap analysis

The phrase, “Mind the Gap” was made famous by the conductors of “the Tube” better known as the London Underground. It’s issued as a reminder to those who ride the subway to be wary of the gap between the train and the platform. Failing to do this can result in injury and/or humiliation (Do you really want to become the next viral online meme? No, I didn’t think so).

Consider this article as a reminder to you to be wary of the gaps in your content. Unlike the subway, spotting content gaps isn’t that easy, which is why you need to conduct periodical content gap analysis. Failure to do so will most likely not result in injury but your pride may take a serious hit. You might be embarrassed to find gaps you were previously oblivious to in your existing content and content strategy. So how do you conduct a content gap?

What is content gap analysis?

Before we discuss how to conduct a content gap analysis, let’s take a step back and discuss what that actually means. A content gap analysis is as straightforward and sophisticated as it sounds. It’s the process of mapping out your audience’s journey: their primary questions, goals, concerns, etc. and then measuring it against your current content library for holes.

A full content gap analysis goes beyond analyzing keyword rankings. It takes into account all of your content, even pieces that are not on your website:

  • Site pages
  • Blog posts
  • Landing pages
  • Ebooks, whitepapers, and other long form content
  • Social media posts

It is imperative to gauge how well you are employing each of these content platforms to find the true gaps and execute the best strategy for filling them in.

Site search analytics are often overlooked by marketing teams when thinking of ways to shape and optimize online content. In this article, we’re going to dig into how search data can be leveraged to audit your existing content library and crafting a bulletproof content strategy.

Keyword Rankings

The analytics taken from search originate from the highest authority: your audience. Your visitors are literally telling you what they want and how important it is to them. These insights are crucial to the creation of relevant content. The key metrics to look at are:

Most used search terms

This metric is fairly obvious because it tells you exactly what people are looking for on your site. Through these statistics you’ll understand what is important to your visitors. For example, if you’re a marketer at a University you can see what classes, administrative items, events are most searched for, which could directly inform you what content types need to be promoted, refreshed, created or removed from your library or strategy.

Keywords that yield no results

Just as “Most used search terms” is a good metric to track, “Keywords that yield no results” is also important. Its an indicator that you’re missing content that is highly sought after. This can be due to a few factors:

  • This highly sought after content just may not exist on your site. This is an automatic red flag. You should immediately close those content gaps since you aren’t coming close to fulfilling your audience’s needs and, by extension, are delivering a poor experience.
  • Another reason for a zero result return is that you may not have appropriate synonyms set up on your site search. Funnelback’s Synonyms feature uses the defined synonyms to expand or modify the user’s query terms behind the scenes. This allows an administrator to use synonyms for additional query modification beyond the thesaurus-like definition of a synonym.
  • Bigrams also have an effect on keywords that yield no results. For example, if someone searches “foot ball” instead of “football”, may get no results even though you have a section on your site related to the topic. Funnelback’s Stemming feature allows you to navigate this issue. Stemming is the process of reducing words to a common stem and allowing the search to match different variants of the word based on the common word stem.

Ineffective Searches

Ineffective searches are instances where the user was presented results to their query but did not click on any of them. It is probably a good indication that the results delivered were not was the user was looking for. This happens for two reasons:

  • Your site search is failing you
  • You do not have enough enough relevant content in that particular area.

For example, imagine that people are your website are searching for “data-driven content strategy” and none of the results are being clicked, then you know that either the content is poor, or the relevant results aren’t being delivered properly. This can be especially relevant to searches taking place on a help center.

By examining the keywords that yield no results, we can spot content gaps and immediately determine what content areas of the site to fortify.

It’s also a good idea to seed these keywords by infusing them into new website content so that its found more easily in the future and provides a positive impact on SEO rankings.

Search Origins

When analyzing site search metrics, it’s important to not only view them individually, but to also take a collective view of the data. You may notice patterns you would have been oblivious to if you hadn’t cross reference the information. Gaining complete context around search queries makes for stronger decisions in your content strategy. Search Origins tell you where a user was when they conducted a search.

If your “most used search terms” have “search origination pages” where the information they are looking for should be housed, you instantly know your UX is poor or you have some serious content gaps to cover up.

For example, if students (or prospective students), are on a university website searching for “Pell Grants” and the searches originate from the Financial Aid page, then that content needs to be added to that page. In the case that it already exists on the page, you should re-examine it’s placement and move it so it is easier to find and access.

Combining Google Analytics with your Funnelback search data can also expose some fascinating insights.

“Time after search” and “Search Exits” will tell you how valuable your content is to your audience. Since you can tie this data back to a specific keyword or phrase, you have a clear view of what you visitors are looking for instead of having to guess how well your content is performing (or underperforming) by seeing if the query was accompanied by a long site session or a quick exit.

Predictive Content Strategy

Search analytics can provide more than just insights into the behavior on your website, it can leveraged to create strategic insights that guide your marketing and business strategy. By nature, Search Analytics tend to be predictive and they can help you prepare for upcoming events in your market that may not be so evident.

By analyzing trends in keyword searches over time, you can begin to forecast your audience’s behavior. To identify how audiences are behaving online, you can use a mix of site search data and website analytics. Site search analytics will add more depth, context and specificity to the analysis.

Take for example the pumpkin spice craze in 2018. If it seems that #PumpkinSpice season starts earlier each year, its because it does. It’s also bigger than ever, in terms of search volume.

Beyond the number of searches and increased timing, we can also see that the term “pumpkin spice” emerges across various communication types: press releases, transcripts, etc. There is also a new range of product offerings from General Mills, KIND snacks and even Jello.

From fashion to finance, search data is being used to construction trend predictions. Using this information, understanding when these trends will begin and how long they will last, can help any organization become proactive.

With this data, you can better prepare for these search surges by creating relevant content, shaping messaging, understanding where the gaps are in the existing content and filling them in time to capitalize on the trend.

For example, if you see an uptick in searches for “Fall Film Festival”, you’ll know that this event is important to you audience and that content production should move in this direction as well. The key is to find the keywords with the highest potential for a return, as well as finding the content gaps and filling them. By fusing search insights with website analytics, marketers can dramatically optimize their wider online and offline strategy to drive greater ROIs.

Powerful site search

Search is becoming an extremely valuable tool by influencing more data-driven strategic decisions. The truth is most site search providers are only focused on half of the equation: delivering relevant results to visitors. In order to get the maximum value of search, your site search provider should deliver actionable analytics. Without it, organizations are missing out on priceless data that can be leveraged to improve the user experience, enhance information discovery and craft a bulletproof content strategy.

Slowly but surely, marketers and IT pros are beginning to understand the strategic value of site search. Learn how you can harness the power of a smarter search by scheduling time to speak with one of our experts today.

Find out more about content gap analysis
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