SEO Gap Analysis — Whiteboard Friday

Catrina P. Smith

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Ranking on Google is not ranking in a vacuum. Ranking is outranking your competitors. When you’ve got very limited space on the first page of the SERPs, you need to be doing better than your competitors. 

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Lidia Infante shows you her recommended strategies for successful SEO gap analysis. 

whiteboard outlining how to conduct competitive seo gap analysis

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a new edition of Whiteboard Fridays. My name is Lidia Infante, and I’m the Senior SEO Manager at sanity.io. Today, I’m going to be talking to you about SEO gap analysis, and yes, I know it’s a very unsexy topic, but bear with me because it’s worth it.

SEO gap analysis takes us to the first principles of what we do in SEO because ranking on Google is not ranking in a vacuum. Ranking is outranking your competitors. You’ve got a very limited space on the first page of the SERPs, and you need to be doing better than your competitors to be able to rank there. That means, then, you need to know what your competitors are doing and how you’re going to do it better.

Identify competitors

But first of all, you need to know who your competitors are, who they are really. We’re going to be speaking about competitor identification in a different Whiteboard Friday, so be sure to check it out.

Benchmark

Once you have your set of competitors ready, you’re going to proceed to benchmark yourself against them, and we’re going to be doing this across the three pillars of SEO. 

So we’re going to be looking at content, we’re going to be looking at links, and we’re going to be looking at tech SEO. We’re going to look at how our competitors perform from each of those and how we compare.

Content

So when it comes to content, the very first thing that we want to look at is at the estimated traffic by type that our competitors and we have. So when I’m talking about traffic by type, what I mean is like: Are they getting branded traffic versus unbranded traffic, product traffic, editorial traffic? It’s going to be very different depending on the vertical that you’re in, so adapt it to make it yours. We’re also going to be looking at the number of editorial URLs that they have and how much traffic these editorial URLs are getting each on average. And lastly, we’re going to be looking at the number of keywords that they’re ranking for. We’re not going to be looking at all of the keywords. We’re going to be aiming for the range of 1 to 30. Again, you can make this yours. You know your market better, and you know what’s relevant, but that should narrow the entire pool to stuff that’s a little more relevant to your competitors.

Links

Then, we’re going to be looking at links. We’re going to begin with link gap analysis. That is we’re going to look at how many links your competitors have and how many referring domains are pointing to your competitors. Then, we’re going to use this to measure link growth. We’re going to look at how many links your competitors had 6 months ago or 12 months ago if your market is a little slower, and we’re going to get a percentage of growth out of that. That’s going to indicate to you whether your search market is very aggressive with link building and you need to make an effort to keep up or it’s a little bit more relaxed. Then, we’re going to be looking at branded search. So how many people are looking for your competitors’ brands versus how many people are looking for your brand? That’s going to indicate the level of brand awareness that you have within your target audience in comparison to your competitors.

And we’re going to take it one step further, and we’re going to be looking again at branded traffic. There should be a very, very correlated relation between branded search and branded traffic. If you’re first for branded search, you should be first for branded traffic and so on. But if there isn’t, it might be an indicator that you don’t have content within your site that’s responding to the users’ queries about your brand. So that’s definitely a very quick win that you could action right now.

Technical SEO

Lastly, we’re going to be looking at tech SEO, and this is incredibly difficult to measure because the requirements in tech SEO vary from website to website, from vertical to vertical. I am personally in the SaaS market, so my requirements for tech SEO is essentially make it readable and make sure that JavaScript is not blocking anything, classic crawling and rendering issues, and that’s about it. But if you’re in e-commerce, you’re likely dealing with faceted navigation. You’re dealing with filter management, and it’s a little bit more demanding. So the best way that I have found to measure tech SEO changes and performance is Core Web Vital scores. We’re going to go on the Chrome UX Report on Data Studio, and we’re going to look at the main three Core Web vitals, grab the percentage of good URLs according to Google, and then we’re going to average them out into one score. Then we’re going to be looking at page speed. You can do this with PageSpeed Insights, and we’re going to be looking at the scores for mobile versus desktop. I don’t average these out because I think they provide really useful information of what issues your industry is running into when it comes to mobile usability. And then lastly, we’re going to do some manual checks. Take a look at the robots.txt, take a look at the sitemap, how they manage canonicalization, and that’s going to inform you better on how you could outperform your competitors.

And if this seems very complicated, don’t worry. I have provided a free template for you so that you can make it yours.

Thank you so much for watching my Whiteboard Friday. My name is Lidia Infante, and you can find me on Twitter @LidiaInfanteM. You can find me on my website at lidia-infante.com and see you soon.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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