When you hear the phrase, “mind the gap” you likely first think of train passengers stepping onto the platform. But what if “mind the gap” also referred to your website’s content? It may seem like a stretch, but content creators need to be mindful of gaps just as train passengers do. Any break can pose a danger.
A content gap is generally seen as a relevant topic area that has yet to be addressed by your site. You can think of it as a gap in your current repertoire of information. While you may hit on the essentials, writing on topics that are specific to your industry is important to audiences. Here are three ways to identify content gaps that your online content needs to fill.
As a content developer, you’re quite familiar that the days can get away from you. There’s a certain keyword you need to write on, so you spend the day completing the task. This repeats day after day until you take a moment of pause to look up. This is when you may realize that all of your content is written for one of your target audiences, but not all of them.
The first way to identify gaps is to go back to your content goals. Everything you and your team writes and publishes should align with your north star. This is particularly true for growing businesses, who are needing to generate a lot of content upfront. Without a north star, you’re just writing individual pieces with no correlation or connection between them, yet alone a discovery pathway for audiences.
To align with your north star, it’s a good idea to catalog everything and undergo an audit using a content audit software. This is the practice of systematically categorizing and understanding all of the written content on your site. Conducting an audit is tedious, but it will be extremely beneficial as you look for gaps in your content. Moreover, an audit also helps with your overall strategy and the writing process, ensuring you’re filling in any and all gaps.
Data is everything. Without data, you don’t know what is performing well on your site and what is being overlooked or bypassed. While you can collect site data yourself, there are helpful tools that can identify how to create better content. These are generally described as content analytics tools, and there are dozens available to businesses and site writers.
The main benefit of using a content analytics tool is that they can track every page of your site. They can identify if audiences find the information useful or not. If users are quickly going back to the homepage every time they land on a FAQ page, you may need to update this page. These tools can also identify how pages are aligning with keywords and how search engines are ranking them.
Once you’ve gathered this information, you’ll have a better sense of how to optimize your content for your audience needs and for search. However, it’s worth noting that writing specifically for search isn’t always the best strategy. While you certainly want to rank high on SERPs, you don’t want your content to sound robotic. Write for your audience first, predicting and answering the questions they have and providing them with thorough information. Doing so will likely lead to higher search results and return audiences too.
Everybody has an opinion about something. That doesn’t make everybody right, but it can lead to interesting conversations online. Community discussions are a great source of information for content creators, and they are more abundant and available than ever. Readers who don’t want to write to a brand outright may feel more motivated to post something online. Sites like Reddit are built for facilitating discussions, but there are other places you can find discussions happening as well.
Social media is a prime place to look for content gaps. You can start by looking at your brand’s own handle and reading user comments. You may see a general theme or a question that keeps popping up about a particular subject matter. Going to your competitor’s social media pages is also a great way to score additional feedback. Again, take note of general themes and observations made by users and engage in the conversation if you’re looking for specific feedback.
Building a community platform is another avenue to receive constant feedback. These platforms have really gained traction since the pandemic, when the need for digital communities really took root. Branded community platforms are safe places for like-minded audiences to come together for the purpose of sharing information and likely receiving something in return. For instance, Athleta has built a community platform for their members to connect and participate in online forums and workout classes. The advantage of a community platform in terms of identifying content gaps is that you’re hearing from loyal customers continually.
There are always going to be topics that you need to write about. That’s the beauty of content creation — the job is never done! Be mindful of gaps, but don’t write on just anything. Rather, focus on topics that matter most to your core audiences. This will ensure that your content goals are met and your audiences are satisfied with the information you’re providing.