Content has always been at the core of search; Google’s purpose is to serve users with websites that can provide them with the information they are looking for. With this in mind, ensuring you have helpful, relevant content on your website is essential to both good rankings and positive user experience.

But how can you ensure that your content stands out? That you’re fulfilling the needs of your users? And that you’re doing a better job than your competitors?

One great way to make sure that your content is fresh and informative, and thus great for both users and search engines, is to identify where there are industry gaps. Figuring out where there are online content gaps in your field is an excellent way of finding new and useful topics to write about on your website. By becoming an online expert in your field, not only will you naturally boost your online presence, but you will also improve the quality of your website. This, in turn, should organically lead to you gaining more links from others with an interest in your sector, which should help to boost your position in the SERPs, gaining you more visitors. And, as your site will now be more useful, hopefully they will become repeat customers and maybe even turn into brand advocates.

So, how can you about identifying content gaps and turn them into higher rankings, links, and clicks?

 1) Research

First things first – research research research. You’re going to need to do some serious digging to find useful content gaps that you can reap real benefits from. The core places to start are the same as they always are – Analytics, Adwords, Webmaster tools etc. As with anything in SEO, you need to ensure that there is enough traffic out there to make something worth your while.

You’ll also need to do some thorough competitor research as well. There’s no point working on a really in-depth, well-rounded piece of expert content to find that a competitor has already tackled that topic, has loads of links directed to it, and ranks right at the top when you search for terms related to it.

To help yourself out, before you even start looking at stats and search queries, have a good look at your current website. Assess it from the point of view of a new user, and ask yourself what’s missing. What content would be useful? What areas could use further information and explanation? Where could you expand on current topics? Where could you add something brand new?

Make a list of everything you can think of and use it as a jumping-off point for your research. There’s no point going in blind and wasting time. By doing some proper thinking first, you can ensure that the ideas you pick based on the stats will be relevant to your business and your users, as well as beneficial in terms of traffic. It will also help you to stay focused and on-brand, preventing you from straying too far away from your core offering.

2) Analysis

This is where you sit down with all your ideas and all your statistics and figure out what to do with them. You need to decide which phrases and terms are going to be the most valuable to you and your business. Of course, traffic volume will be a part of this, but it isn’t the only factor. You need to make sure that the content gaps you’re looking to fill are relevant to your company and the services that you can offer to users. There’s no point luring people onto your website with some great content, but then being unable to further their journey with any of your offerings.

You’ll also want to make sure that you are going to be able to provide content that is unique, new and genuinely useful. Try entering the queries you intend to rank for into Google and checking the results that pop up. If all the relevant answers to the query already appear in the top 10 or 20 SERPs, you’re going to want to either re-think or discard your idea. Remember, the aim is to fill an unpopulated content gap – not to answer a question that’s already been done to death.

Once you have a finalised list of topics to cover you can move onto your final step…

3) Content Creation

This is, in some ways, the easiest part of the process. You’ve identified your list of content topics, you know all the relevant keywords and search queries, now all you have to do is get writing! Of course, things are never quite that simple.

Before you start writing anything, make sure you’ve sat down with your list and prioritised your content ideas. You’ll probably want to do this based on your traffic estimates and the estimated value of that traffic.

Once you start writing, remember to keep the pieces tight, informative, and focused on user-intent. This is crucial, as it is (hopefully) what will make your piece different and is how your work will be able to fill the current content gap.

Once you’re done (and you’ve triple checked everything) it’s time to publish and promote. Whether it’s useful tips and tricks, insider knowledge, a how-to guide, an infographic, an instructional video – whatever – make sure people know you’ve created it.

Then comes the tough bit. You have to wait. Hopefully, if you’ve succeeded in filling a genuine informational gap, you will be rewarded. First by users and their traffic, then by their sharing and organic link generation, and finally (with a bit of luck) by Google.

So there you go – that’s my guide on getting SEO benefits out of content gaps. What do you think? Do you think this is something Google is likely to reward? Do you have any tips for finding original angles on topics? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @SamanthaKHall

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