Search gap analysis

A benchmarking activity to review the effectiveness of search marketing.

It involves comparing the volume of search intent for different grouped keywords (How many people are searching) and then comparing this to the number of impressions and website visits a company achieves when looking to gain visibility in the search results (how many people are attracted to the website through paid and natural search).

Data sources include:

  • Google Keyword Planner – number of searches for different keywords (search volume opportunity)
  • Google Search Console or Search Analytics API – number of website visits for different keywords
  • Google Analytics or Google Analytics API – outcomes achieved on site

Consider an example, for a  product ‘Blue widgets’. Here there will be generic searches for the product ‘blue widgets’ and more specific searches with qualifiers for specific types of blue widgets or people looking for value. These are shown in the keyphrase group as Target keyphrases.

Considering organic or natural search only for ‘blue widgets’, we can then compare :

  • Search volume opportunity (monthly searches and impressions by searchers) at 27,100 (from Google Keyword Planner)
  • Actual Google natural search visits (from Google Analytics) at 500
  • Clickthrough rate in the SERPs from Google Search Console at 1.85%
  • Average position at 9.2
  • Gap – also the clickthrough rate, but here colour coded at 1.85%

Using this approach shows that thee business is performing exceptionally well for ‘cheap blue widgets’, attracting most searches to the site, but less well for the generic term for which more investment in Google Ads or further optimization might be required.

Our Smart Insights SEO gap analysis spreadsheet helps integrate these from different sources.

Note in Google Keyword Planner, the source of information on the number of sources, it’s no longer possible to give ‘exact’ figures for a given phrase, more general figures are given. The technique is still useful for showing the relative effectiveness of different terms.


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Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice
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About Smart Insights

Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. We’re a publisher and learning platform that helps our 150,000 active members in over 100 countries plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing activities by applying the actionable advice in our planning templates, guides and interactive e-learning tools.

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