We’ve all heard it before – content is king.
Although this notion has been beaten to death within the SEO industry, it still rings true. Just ask Matt Cutts:
Great content can be especially useful in regards to link building. There are definitely ways to build links without content, but having content worth linking to can certainly make things easier.
If you don’t already have linkworthy content, it can be very difficult to generate content ideas that will be successful in garnering links. Great content goes unshared all the time and it’s extremely hard to get the links that content deserves without deliberate effort. However, by creating the types of content that are proven to be successful in your niche, it makes things easier when trying to build those links.
One strategy you can employ to spawn some content ideas that will likely be successful is by creating unique content. To create content that is truly unique, look for content gaps within your niche. A content gap is an important topic/subject in your niche that is currently not covered and/or addressed by any adequate content. Content gaps provide great link building opportunities as they present a void you can fill with content and use to build links.
There are a number of different techniques when trying to identify content gaps within your niche.
Utilize your Target Audience
One of the best places to start when trying to identify content gaps within your niche is with your target audience. After all, these are the people you want following the links to your site.
One option is to identify buyer persona pain points. Obviously, this requires that you have fully developed buyer personas.
Consider the different pain points (problems/challenges your buyer personas struggle with) that are currently going unnoticed/unresolved and construct content around how to alleviate these pain points. Ideally, this content would involve your product/service, brand message, or brand philosophy.
For example, some pain points our buyer personas face at P1P include:
- Abiding by Google’s vague guidelines
- Determining where link building fits into their marketing plan
- Dispelling the misinformation around link building and SEO
Another option is to flat out ask your audience questions about content.
- Ask them what their pain points are
- Ask them what they are interested in
- Ask them what they want to know more about
Sometimes, simply asking questions can lead to the discovery of a content gap no one realized existed.
Leverage Relationships with Peers
Another group you can consult for help with finding content gaps is your peers.
Much like with your audience, you can ask your peers questions too. Conduct a brainstorming session/discussion with peers on various topic ideas. Get feedback from your peers to uncover new and different angles where gaps may exist.
You can also talk to peers about content gaps you have found and gauge interest, as sometimes content gaps exist for a reason (i.e. no interest).
Perhaps open it up to all of your peers and conduct an industry survey to find trends or common themes. For example, Moz conducted this survey focused on the digital marketing industry.
Research within your industry to see if the trends you found from your survey have been covered, or if content gaps exist due to lack of coverage. Depending on the industry, the survey itself could fill a content gap.
Check the Competition
Another great way to locate places where content gaps exist is by looking at your competition.
Running backlink reports on your major competitors will provide you with the information necessary to spot these content gaps. Look for pieces of content your competitors created that garnered a lot of links.
Is any of this content outdated? If so, a content gap exists. Could you create something similar, but higher quality? If so, a content gap exists. These are great opportunities to fill content gaps with your own content and reap the rewards (links) as you already know this kind of content has been popular in your niche.
Monitor/Engage in Community Discussion
Finally, a great way to discover where content gaps exist is by monitoring and engaging in discussions among the various communities within your niche. There are a variety of platforms where you can find these communities – social media, blogs, forums, etc.
Finding the communities most relevant to your niche is imperative, as these are the communities comprised of your target audience.
Simply monitoring these communities and forums can give you an idea of where content gaps exist. You can identify the aforementioned buyer persona pain points by merely listening to the discussion.
However, actually interacting within these communities can also be useful for finding content gaps. These forums and communities offer a great opportunity to engage with your audience and ask questions directly.
Another way to keep tabs on what is trending within your industry and niche is by using the tool BuzzSumo.
BuzzSumo will allow you to see what types of content are being shared the most within your niche. This can be extremely useful in identifying content gaps as you can take something that is popular and apply your own unique spin.
For example, take a popular topic and discuss it from a different perspective, an opposing position to a popular stance, or take a popular blog post and create an infographic around it. BuzzSumo makes it easy to spot popular content, which will make it easier to see where content gaps may reside.
BuzzSumo also makes it easy to quickly search and see if a popular piece of content already exists based on your concept or idea.
Ensure your Content Ideas are Unique
Finally, after you have generated some ideas to fill potential content gaps in your niche, you need to check to make sure no one has filled those gaps already.
During the process of trying to find potential content gaps and generating content ideas, it can be easy to forget to check if they have been done before.
Along with BuzzSumo, another option is to use advanced search modifiers. Using these modifiers, you can really drill down and focus your search to only show results within your industry for your proposed topic. This makes it easy to find any content similar or related to the idea you have in mind. Some quick examples include:
- “concept” “concept” “concept”
- “concept” “concept” -”concept”
- “concept” “concept” year..year
- site:example.com “concept” “concept”
- “concept” “concept” -site:example.com
Ensuring your content ideas are actually unique before you invest time and effort into creating them will prevent you from wasting your resources.
Content creation is hard and there is no real guarantee that anything you create will be successful. However, identifying potential content gaps can make idea generation easier and increase your chances for success by filling a need within your niche.
Here are some useful techniques to help you identify content gaps:
- Utilize your audience – recognize buyer persona pain points and ask your audience questions
- Leverage relationships with peers – ask your peers for their opinions or conduct an industry survey
- Check the competition – Find what your competition has done successfully and update or improve on it
- Monitor/Engage in Community Discussion – Watch what’s being discussed in the various communities within your niche and/or engage with your audience via these platforms
- Use BuzzSumo - Track industry trends/popular content and research if your concept has been done already