We are always being reminded that great content is the number one key to improved SEO, a successful website, better conversions, improved business revenue and probably a host of other things including a long and happy life and the end of third world hunger. This is all well and good, but it is sometimes easier to talk about good content than to nail down exactly what it is and how to get more of it.
A basic content inventory audit will give you a thorough understanding of your site’s content, and some basic work on Google Analytics or similar will tell you more about what works well and what needs improvement. These are great in assessing what you have got, but how do you go about identifying the content that you should have that is currently absent?
This is where you can step in with a keyword performance audit. The idea is simple enough – take a look at the top competitors in a particular niche to see where they are scoring big and you are not. The concept is as old as the hills, but the methodology is very much in the 21st century, thanks to some neat Sistrix software that is very popular in the SEO community.
Identify The Competition
The first step is to “know thy enemy,” which is not always as easy as it sounds. The good news is that the software can help here – simply type in your own website, click “competitors” and there they are.
Of course, some sites like Wikipedia and Amazon will probably appear, but after weeding them out, you will be able to identify three or four top competitors.
Exporting Keyword Data
Next, for each competitor, you can enter their website into the domain field, then under the “competitors” tab click “compare keywords” and enter your own domain. It is important to do it this way round, as the objective is to see how you compare with the competitor's top keywords rather than vice versa.
It is then a matter of rinse and repeat for each competitor, in each case exporting the data into Excel for you to analyse later.
This is where the fun begins for anyone who loves playing in Excel. The idea is to combine all the data we have just harvested into one spreadsheet so that we have a list of all the keywords in column A, followed by the rankings from each website. This can be a little fiddly as the exports are in .csv format, delimited with semicolons, but with a little care, should not create any real problem.
The final step is to pull the search volume for the various terms using Google Keyword Planner. Add a filter to your table and sort the keywords alphabetically, just to make sure that everything matches up.
The Final Analysis
Now you have all the data at your fingertips to perform that all-important gap analysis. Initially, it is a good idea to filter your own rankings for blanks and then sort by the highest volume to see the biggest areas where you are missing out entirely.
Of course, there will be certain terms that are inappropriate, such as competitor brands, but you will soon be inundated with information on just where the gaps are in your content strategy and how to beat your competitors at their own game.
If you do not wish to use premium software, you can perform this task manually with the help of a spreadsheet too. Tools such as Screaming Frog or A1 Website Analyzer can be used to crawl yours and your competitors’ sites, which will deliver a list of page titles and descriptions in a spreadsheet. From here you can manually tick off pages that cover specific keyword combinations, which will highlight gaps in your content. It is of course far more time consuming but it’s totally free.
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com