Keyword Gap & Competitive Analysis: Ultimate Guide

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If you’re an SEO expert, keyword gap and competitive analysis must be your bread and butter. 

Keyword competitive analysis is a stellar way of identifying the keywords your competitors are ranking for but also spotting keyword opportunities you can tap into.

To perform content gap analysis, you need to analyze both your competitors’ and your own website content. This will help you discover more content ideas that’ll bring in more traffic, conversions, and satisfied customers. Simply put, if you’re looking for a shortcut to providing more value to your customers by jumping on more lucrative content opportunities, this is the way to go.

Think of it like this: If your competitors have done their research right, they’re probably ranking for keywords you’ve never even considered. Competitor gap analysis allows you to piggyback off their hard efforts by finding keywords or topics with traffic potential and planning your content around them. Reverse-engineering for the win!

In this article, we’ll explore:

Let’s jump right in!

What is a keyword gap analysis? 

Keyword gap analysis is the methodology of determining keywords that bring traffic to your competitors’ websites instead of yours. In other words, finding gaps you can fit in to earn your place in the rankings with keywords you’ve been overlooking. This information can help you adjust your SEO strategy to achieve organic search results tailored to your customers’ search queries. 

When identifying keyword gaps, it’s important to invest in keywords that are valuable, related to your business, high-volume in searches, and likely to convert. To get the big picture of your keyword gap analysis, compare more than two competitors. The keywords you choose should be the ones you can rank for or rank better. 

Why is keyword analysis important?

A keyword gap analysis is a crucial part of competition research. It sheds light on what top-ranking websites are doing right and what opportunities they are missing so that you can fit in the picture. Specifically, keyword gap analysis helps you:

Not bad, right? 

A keyword gap analysis is the perfect way of ranking for the right terms related to your products and target audience. Otherwise, it would be useless to rank for keywords your customers are not searching for. After all, the fastest way of beating your competition is by earning Google’s trust with relevant quality content.

Naturally, every SEO professional has their own way of performing SEO gap analysis. However, a competitor keyword analysis tool like Ahrefs can facilitate this process.

How to execute a competitor keyword analysis?

1. Check out which domains are ranking for similar searches.

Ahrefs offers an excellent feature that allows you to report the percentage of common keywords between your site and your competitors’ sites. You simply have to type your domain in the Site Explorer and view the Competing Domains under the relevant column.

So, for example, if our domain is, by typing it in the search bar and going to the Competing domains page, we get a list of competing domains sorted by percentage of common keywords. The intersection bar offers a visual representation of your most relevant competitors. 

Therefore, to determine a competitor’s relevance, you should be paying attention to both green and yellow; you want to have quite a share of common keywords but also a spare of unique competitor keywords you’re missing out on.

2. Identify keywords you’re not ranking for, but competitors are.

Ahref’s Content Gap report allows you to view the keywords for which at least one competing site is ranking, but you don’t. Fill in up to 10 competitor domains in the top section and your website domain underneath. Then, click on the Show Keywords button and get instant access to a keyword chart.

In our example, when pasting competing domains for in the top section, we get access to more than 9,492 keywords that is not ranking for, but other competitors do. The more analytical a website’s content is, the more long-tail their keywords will be. So, for example, we see generic keywords like “podcast”, “google podcast” but also more long-tail ones like “dslr microphone”. 

The neglected keywords represent relevant topics and subtopics that we failed to include in our content. To increase content rankings and comprehensiveness, you want to include as many of those as possible in your strategy.

You can then click on relevant keywords or go to Keyword Explorer to access all the essential SEO-related metrics to make informed decisions about which keywords are worth investing in. 

3. See the competitiveness of individual keywords.

Get instant keyphrase analysis on keyword difficulty, volume, traffic potential, and global volume.

Keyword Difficulty is a scale of 1-100 that estimates how hard it’ll be to rank in search engines’ top 10 results for any given keyword. This keyword comparison analyzer essentially makes its calculations by looking at the number of referring domains linking back to top-ranking pages. So, for example, when typing the keyword “dslr microphone” we get a Keyword Difficulty score of 6 along with an estimation of how many websites you’ll need to outrank for this keyword with relevant backlinks - in this case, 7. 

Best practice for startups: Prioritize targeting keywords which have a KD of between 0-20 to increase your chances of ranking fast without backlinks. This query here can potentially be very lucrative, as it’s a high-volume query that’s easy to rank for!

Volume shows how many times the keyword you typed gets searched in a month. For example, “dslr microphone” gets 36,000 searches per month in the US. You can change the Country if you want insights into the search volume in specific countries.

The Clicks metric shows how many clicks happen on the search results pages for your keyword; “dslr microphone” gets 32,000 clicks monthly. You can even get a Cost per click estimation of the average price a click will cost in paid advertising for your specific keyword; “dslr microphone” has a $0.50 CPC.

A website can rank for hundreds of keywords and get traffic from all of them. Traffic Potential shows the sum of traffic that the number 1 website gets from a specific keyword. So, for example, “dslr microphone” gets a traffic potential of 10,000 for, which appears to be the #1 top ranking website.

Last but not least, Global volume sums up all the searches that your target keyword gathers from all countries in a month. For example, “dslr microphone” receives more than 45,000 global searches per month. So, if your business is global, this metric can really come at hand.

4. Get insights on the top-ranking pages.

Ahrefs’ SERP overview lets you in on important SEO metrics for the top search results for your target keyword. So, you get insights on backlinks, domains, traffic, number of keywords, top keywords, and their volume. 

These metrics allow you to view the top-ranking pages for your keyword and understand why they are ranking so high and what it will take to outrank them. Simply by looking at the traffic of the top-ranking pages, you get a taste of how much traffic potential there is for your topic.

5. See the different keywords a page ranks for.

To dig a little deeper, you can use the Organic Keywords report on Ahrefs, which works as a keyword competition analyzer for specific web pages that bring traffic to your competitors. It will allow you to make a search term comparison and prioritize the keyword gaps you should be investing in first.

The Organic Keywords report shows you keywords for domains, subdomains, URLs, or subfolders. You can even use specific filters to narrow down the results. For example, you can use a Country filter to see results in almost any other country that’s not included in the list or use a Volume and a Keyword Filter to spot promising keyword opportunities instantly.

6. Save new keywords to custom collections.

After getting the Organic Keyword insights and spotting keyword gap opportunities, it’s time to make some keyword lists to group relevant keywords together. This will immensely contribute to your keyword mapping process by letting you group keywords that answer the same question based on search intent.

Ideally, you want at least 5 keywords in each collection, all of them tackling different sides of the same topic. This will help you later assign those lists to specific landing pages and decide the content forms where each keyword will be used.

7. See which keywords you can further optimize your content for.

A keyword gap analysis is not only used to track new keywords but also spot low-hanging traffic opportunities for which your website is already ranking. How so? Let’s take a look.

Using Ahrefs’ Organic Keyword report we explored previously or the Search Console, we will enter our domain name and let the tool do its magic. We instantly get access to a keyword chart, and with a few filters, it’s easy to discover high-volume keywords for which our website is ranking in positions 3-7. The goal here is to improve rankings for said keywords at least by 1-2 spots. And the only way to do that is by putting in place a complete content gap analysis template to map our strategy.

To find long-tail keywords similar to the ones you’re already ranking for, you can also use a tool like SEO Scout. SEO Scout uses machine learning to find query permutations around the same keyword topics. For instance, here are the different topics you can target around the keyword “dslr camera”.

Best practices on acing keyword opportunities

A competitor gap analysis can pinpoint gaps in your keyword strategy as well as your competitors’ strategy. It offers a holistic approach around your customers’ questions and way of thinking that otherwise will be hard to discover. You can create new touchpoints with customers by listing low-hanging keyword opportunities while getting actionable insights into their behaviors.

Furthermore, a keyword gap analysis highlights new opportunities and sheds light on your competitors’ strategies. Finally, by creating relevant keyword lists, you get to have your own source of topic seeds that you can later expand on with the right content.

Here are some best practices when conducting a keyword gap analysis:

- keywords unique to your competitors that you’re not currently targeting

- keywords you’re currently sharing with your competitors 

- new keywords that neither of you is targeting. 

Including long-tail keywords is another valuable tactic to specialize your content and stand out.

Your ultimate keyword gap analysis checklist

A keyword gap analysis is necessary for complete competitor research that should be executed frequently. Moreover, it’s the best way to penetrate the consumers’ minds and discover new untouched topics.

However, competitive keyword analysis might be tricky without the right tools to aid your SEO editing process. Tools like Ahrefs can help you create keyword collections and assign them to different landing pages and content forms. The goal is to always speak to your target audience’s needs while fulfilling the SEO requirements that could make or break your rankings.

Here is your keyword gap analysis checklist:

By following this keyword competition analysis checklist, you’re on the right path to SEO success!

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