By Pat Ahern published April 4, 2019

How to Find and Fill a Content Gap for SEO and UX

In marketing, developing ideas and creating content can’t be accomplished successfully without deliberately incorporating both user and SEO experience.

From finding the topics where you can craft in-demand content to optimizing your finished article, you need a detailed process. Here’s how our agency does it.

Use data to find your topic angles

Why rely solely on your gut and your team’s familiarity with your industry for content topics when you can use data to make informed choices?

One of our favorite content development approaches to drive results is to use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool. Plug in your website and your two biggest competitors’ sites and the Content Gap tool will reveal a list of search queries where your competitors rank well and your site doesn’t rank.

.@Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool indicates where your site doesn’t rank well for search query, says @PatAhern1. #tools‏ Click To Tweet

Within this data, you also can learn:

  • Where your competitors rank for a given query
  • How many people search for that query each month
  • How difficult it would be for you to rank for that query

With this information, we prioritize each content gap opportunity based on its keyword score (calculated through the keyword analysis tool). The score is based on monthly search volume and competition for the query.

We brainstorm for articles based on queries with the highest keyword score.

Write to stand above the noise

Most writers jump into the writing process and look back once they complete their article.

We start by asking ourselves: “Who is our target reader?” In other words, what type of person are we writing this article for? For example, what constitutes a “great” article for a chief marketing officer likely is not the same for a marketing coordinator. While each may search using the same keywords, their different roles indicate they likely are not seeking the same angle for that content.

We then outline the most essential items to cover in the article based on the target audience. To accomplish this, we:

  • Use our experience
  • Research the topic through outside sources
  • Read articles on variants of our content theme ranking well on Google
  • Look at the comments section of the SERP-found articles to identify questions or content requests that haven’t been met
TIP: Use comments on #content in first page of SERP to identify new topics, says @PatAhern1. ‏ Click To Tweet

For example, we found the following comment in Brian Dean’s Ecommerce SEO: The Definitive Guide:

(To Brian’s credit, he chimed in with a short response to each of these three statements.) We could add each one into an element of a blog post.

We also scour Quora for popular questions and answers related to our topic theme. We focus on answers that have the most upvotes to search for trends in great answers to Quora questions.

We incorporate those points into our outline as well.

The final step is to consider search intent. We look at the content outline and ask, “If I typed this phrase into Google and found this article, would I be satisfied?”

Unless the answer is clearly “yes,” we go back to the outline and identify what else we need to add.

With the detailed outline, we create the new content.

TIP: Aim for over 2,000 words in each article if you want it to rank for a highly competitive query. (The average first-page result is 1,890 words, according to Backlinko research.)

Aim for 2,000+ words in each #blog post to rank for a highly competitive query, says @PatAhern1. ‏ Click To Tweet

Optimize for UX and SEO

With your draft complete, the next step is to edit your article. Our team breaks editing into two core components: (1) readability and (2) semantic search optimization.

Focus on content readability

Ignoring content readability is the most common oversight we see. Why does it matter? Look at the two paragraphs below. Which would you rather read?

Ignoring #content readability is the most common oversight we see, says @PatAhern1. #writingtips ‏ Click To Tweet

Click to enlarge

You most likely answered the paragraph on the right, as the left one is begging to be ignored. And both paragraphs have the same text – readability, in this case, was only based on a visual perception.

How do you improve readability? Think visually, grammatically, and thoughtfully. Here are a few of our favorite tricks:

  • Ensure that paragraphs aren’t more than two to three sentences.
  • Add a line break between paragraphs.
  • Reduce the length of your sentences. Use the Hemingway App to break down complex sentences.
  • Simplify your language – you’re not writing to impress your readers with your vocabulary.
  • Incorporate screenshots, videos, and images to break up text.
  • Make sure it’s grammatically correct. A tool like Grammarly can help. (It also can calculate a readability score so you can understand the grade level required for a reader to clearly understand your content.)
Use #tools like @HemingwayApp & @Grammarly to improve the readability of #content. @PatAhern1 #writingtips Click To Tweet

We aim for a middle-school grade level on our blog. However, more academic fields might aim for a higher grade.

Optimize for semantic search

In 2013, Google rolled out its Hummingbird algorithm and forever changed SEO. At a basic level, it introduced the concept of semantic search – understanding the relationships between words – to decide which results to display.

How do you do that? Our team focuses on term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF for short). The calculation identifies the frequency of words appearing in a small cluster of content versus a larger cluster of content. Words appearing a lot in a small grouping that rarely appear in a larger cluster of content would be more semantically relevant to the content in the smaller cluster.

The TF-IDF scoring helps you ensure that you cover the most correlated topics within your theme. It’s also something you can do even if you don’t have a degree in mathematics.

We use Clearscope to ensure that we hit the essential points of the theme we’re writing about. For those looking for a most cost-effective approach, SEMRush’s Writing Assistant serves a similar function.

Once you’ve accounted for TF-IDF and readability optimizations, plug your article into an editing tool (we use Grammarly) to catch any spelling or grammatical mistakes.

The final step is to handle basic on-page SEO optimizations:

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is there anything that I miss? Leave a comment.

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Learn how other content marketers get their work done – and find great success – this September at Content Marketing World. Register today using code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Pat Ahern

Pat Ahern is a partner at Junto, a Denver-based content marketing and web development agency that is powered by top-vetted freelancers from around the world. Outside of work, Pat loves rock climbing, traveling, craft beers, and coffee. You can learn more about him by visiting his personal website. Follow him on Twitter @PatAhern1.

Other posts by Pat Ahern

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