SEO is a powerful tool for generating consistent, game-changing revenue, and for attracting high-quality organic leads. But your brand’s SEO efforts don’t happen in a vacuum, and in order to achieve transformative results, you need to understand how to navigate the landscape you’re operating in. 

That means instead of just charging “full speed ahead” with a strategy, you need to analyze your competitors, dissect what they’ve done to earn good marks in organic search, and identify the cracks in their strategy, to determine where you can gain a footing. This process is called a competitive gap analysis, and it’s one of the most valuable ways of starting any SEO engagement.

In this post, we’ll explain exactly what a competitive gap analysis is, pull back the RevenueZen curtain to share our exact strategy, and will provide you with a free template so you can conduct your own competitive gap analysis. 

Understanding the Competitive Gap Analysis

Here at RevenueZen, we’re firm believers in the power of the competitive gap analysis, and the role it should play in your SEO strategy. What exactly is a competitive gap analysis? It’s a laser-focused assessment which determines who your real competitors are, and what their SEO and content marketing strategy is like. 

While it might seem clear to you who your competitors are, the data might surprise you. And once you understand your real SEO competitors, you can craft a powerhouse campaign that’s positioned to outperform theirs. 

A successful competitive gap analysis should ultimately show you:

  • What your competitors are currently doing (are far as SEO and content marketing are concerned).
  • What’s working well for them.
  • What’s not working well for them.
  • What they’re not doing (that you can take advantage of).

Personally, I think that competitive gap analysis is one of the most exciting things we do for our partners. But it can also be one of the most challenging things to discuss, because for some folks, it can initially be a bit painful to peel back all of the layers of what your competitors are doing. 

I’ve worked with clients who have felt outpaced by their competitors after the analysis, for example. But instead of being disheartened by these revelations, I see them as an incredibly valuable opportunity. We get to actually see what type of content your competitors are creating, and dive into the minutia of their strategy. 

And the best part? We get to put this information to work in our strategy, to ensure we’re creating content that’s not only right for your brand, but content that pushes out the competition. 

Benefits of a Competitive Gap Analysis

A competitive gap analysis is key to a winning SEO strategy that blows your competitors out of the water. When properly executed, the benefits of a competitive gap analysis include:

1. Helps you reverse-engineer the good (and not so good) strategies

A well-executed competitor analysis operates like a juicy tell-all memoir, in that it allows you to see what’s under the hood of your competitors’ SEO campaigns. This information isn’t just nice to know: it allows you to work backwards from successful strategies, and determine why certain things are leading to good results for your competitors. 

The other upside to this? You can also quickly see what strategies aren’t worth your effort. 

2. Can reduce the time in your research process

SEO campaigns require plenty of research, but when you start with a competitive gap analysis, you have a treasure trove of data as a starting point. For example, you’ll know which keywords are essential (by seeing commonalities among your competitors), what your link building strategy should look like, and will help you understand how you can differentiate yourself from other brands in your space. Instead of leaving things up to guesswork, you’ll have concrete answers and tactical roadmaps at your disposal. 

Think about it like this: instead of spending hours and hours of time trying to think of potential keywords to target, you can get a quick sense of which are the most lucrative ones, which are within striking distance, and which might be an uphill battle, simply by looking at your competitors. 

3. Helps your brand position itself strategically 

In the world of SEO, it’s important to create content that is technically accurate, helpful to your audience, and that is engaging and readable. But it also needs to check certain boxes when it comes to execution in order for it to achieve specific goals (such as increased brand awareness or more high-quality leads). For example, if you’re only targeting highly competitive short tail keywords, without understanding how to help your content climb in the ranks, you’ll be hard-pressed to make any significant moves.

Keep in mind that less than 1% of searchers get to the second page of Google search results – and most just stay within the top few results. It’s important to navigate all of the factors that influence how your content performs. That includes understanding the ecosystem of your competition. 

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Hallmarks of a Winning Competitive Gap Analysis

An all-star competitive gap analysis is part of what we offer our clients. But if you’re eager to take on a competitive gap analysis on your own, or integrate it into your marketing strategy, that’s also an excellent decision. That’s why we have this free competitive gap analysis template for you to use, so you can take better control of your SEO strategy and outcomes.

And if you are looking to do competition analysis on your own, it’s important to understand how to properly execute it.

With that in mind, here are some of the steps that you (or your partner marketing agency) should take to ensure a successful competitive gap analysis. 

1. Analyze competitor content (and look for trends)

When dissecting your competitors, it’s important to start by diving into their specific pieces of content, to understand what exactly they’re creating, and to look for trends.

Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • What kind of content assets have they created? 
  • What kind of resources do they have? 
  • What are the pieces of content that co-occur between all competitors?

This information is excellent for understanding what your competitors’ strategy is like, but also for shaping your own.

2. … and dive into their website structure

It’s not just content alone that plays a role in how content ranks. That’s why you also need to understand your competitors’ website structure, which plays a huge role in SEO performance, user engagement, and conversion rate.

Some of the things we look for? Primary navigation, URL structure, and anchor text, for example.

3. Identify keywords captured by competitors

When it comes to SEO, keywords are like the golden ticket: they can unlock rankings, and help your customers find you. If you’re just getting started in SEO, it means that your brand is operating in a landscape where your competitors have already captured certain keywords. This means that if you Google a keyword, your competitor will come up as a top hit.

While this might seem disheartening, know that this does not mean an SEO effort is in vain. How can you approach a keyword that’s already captured? First, you can see how your competitor captured it, and with what type of content. Then, you can use it as a data-informed starting point and seek to emulate it, or you can look for a “gap” where you can enter the scene.

3. Make a list of target backlinks

Backlinks play a large role in the authority of a website, which ultimately is a determining factor in how content ranks. And quite frankly, ranking without backlinks is nearly impossible, with data showing that pages with the highest number of total backlinks usually rank best in Google. But you don’t want just any backlinks: you want high-quality ones which will help move the needle on your authority. 

To do this, you can look at competitor backlinks. This can help you understand where you might be able to get high-quality backlinks from (because these properties already have shown interest in your industry). You can also use this intel to go after targets they don’t have. 

Every good SEO effort starts with a competitive analysis

You can have the best-laid SEO strategy, rich with top-tier content that’s well written, and yet, your efforts can still fall flat. That’s because you have to take the landscape as a whole into consideration, and can’t just create your strategy in a silo. That’s where a competitive gap analysis comes into play.

If you’re ready to maximize the success of your SEO strategy, then we should talk. We’re RevenueZen, a B2B SEO agency that helps ambitious brands break their previous record of organic-sourced revenue growth in 16 months, and yes, we specialize in conducting revealing competitive analysis for our partners. We’ll dissect the anatomy of your competition, and use these critical insights to inform your SEO strategy.

Book a call today to get started.