5 Advanced Tactics in Under 10 Minutes

Keyword gap analysis identifies valuable keywords that your competitors rank highly for, but you do not. It can include both organic and paid keywords.

Manually performing this keyword gap analysis is challenging, as you might compare thousands of keywords across several domains.

However, with the Semrush Keyword Gap tool, you can tailor your competitive analysis to:

  • Identify the unique keywords your competitor is ranking for that you are not.
  • Use subdomain, subfolder, and URL-level analysis to extract the highest value keyword targets.
  • Filter by SERP data – position, difficulty, search intent, and more – in order prioritize the best opportunities

In this guide, you’ll discover 5 advanced tactics to quickly uncover your most valuable keyword gaps, and lay the foundation for a winning SEO campaign.

Disclaimer: This article does contain affiliate links. If you purchase a tool through one of my links I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links are followed by (aff) in this article. Thanks for the support!

The typical approach to keyword gap analysis

Analyzing keyword gaps usually involves:

  1. Entering one or more competitor domains into a keyword research tool.
  2. Sifting through all the keywords they rank for.
  3. Cherry-picking the ones you think are the best options.

While this method can work, it’s incredibly time-consuming wading through all the low-value opportunities, especially across several competitors, when you have limited time.

In this guide, we’re going to walk through several advanced ways of performing competitor keyword gap analysis so you can cut through all the noise and quickly extract the most valuable opportunities that directly align with your business and site monetization model.

5 advanced keyword gap analysis strategies

The keyword gap analysis strategies below are designed to help you quickly extract the most valuable new keyword opportunities for your business.

Step-by-step tactics to uncover high-value keyword opportunities.

Use subfolder keyword gap analysis to find high-value opportunities

Analyzing your competitors’ keywords at the subfolder level is one of the fastest ways to find new high-value keywords.

Depending on your business model, you’ll want to target different search intent. For example:

  • AdSense sites like Healthline prioritize high-volume informational keywords.
  • Affiliate websites like Wirecutter prioritize investigational keywords.
  • Ecommerce stores like Beardbrand prioritize transactional keywords.

Let’s take a closer look at what this looks like for a couple of different business types:

1. Local business

Dolman Law Group lists all its services in its website’s “/legal-services/” subfolder. Their competitor Fellerman Law can use subfolder gap analysis to find keywords they’re missing out on.

In the Semrush Keyword Gap analysis tool (aff):

  • Enter your root domain – e.g. https://www.fellermanlaw.com/
  • Enter your competitor’s subfolder – e.g. https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/
  • Click the green “Compare” button
5 Advanced Tactics in Under 10 Minutes

Scroll down and select “Competitors in the Top 20” so that you only get the top-ranking service keywords for which your competitors are ranking.

First, you can view missing keywords to check all the high-value terms your competitor ranks for, but you don’t:

These are all potential high-value, commercial intent, service keywords you could target for your site.

Next, you can check weak keywords to see all the keywords where you rank lower than your competitor:

These could be opportunities to analyze competitor on-page and SERP data to see if you can optimize and improve the rankings on existing higher-value keywords on your site.

Ecommerce business

Zeus Beard and Beardbrand are competitors in the beard grooming ecommerce space, but they house their products in different subfolders:

https://www.zeusbeard.com/collections/ vs. https://www.beardbrand.com/products/

Using Semrush (aff), we can run a keyword gap analysis of these subfolders.

  • Enter your subfolder – e.g. https://www.zeusbeard.com/collections/
  • Enter your competitor’s subfolder – e.g. https://www.beardbrand.com/products/
  • Click the green “Compare” button

Add a filter to select “Competitors in the Top 20” so that you only get your competitors’ top-ranking, high-value keywords.

First, check the missing keywords to see which high-value terms your competitor ranks for, but you don’t:

In this example, Zeus Beard could target 295 high-value keywords that Beardbrand ranks for, but it doesn’t.

Next, check the weak keywords to identify all the keywords where you rank lower than your competitor:

In this example, Zeus Beard has a potential 59 keywords where they could analyze the SERPs to see if they could optimize and improve the rankings on its existing high-value keywords.

Tip: Filter the Weak keywords by positions 5-15 to surface your “quick-win” existing keyword opportunities.

Use modifiers to filter high-value keyword gaps

The first tactic works fine when you have a logical subfolder structure to analyze.

But many sites don’t use subfolders and instead house key pages on the root domain. As a result, you’ll need to use advanced filters to find the best opportunities in the gap analysis.

For example, let’s say you are trying to grow an affiliate website in the coffee niche, like Coffee or Bust. Then you could analyze a top competitor in the space, such as Home Grounds.

Since we know mid-funnel keywords with modifiers like “best” are most valuable for affiliate sites, we can use filters to quickly uncover those opportunities.

In the Semrush Keyword Gap tool (aff):

  • Enter your root domain – e.g. https://coffeeorbust.com/
  • Enter your competitor’s root domain – e.g. https://www.homegrounds.co/
  • Click the green “Compare” button

Next, add some modifiers:

  • Keyword includes “best”
  • Volume: 100+

Now check the missing keywords:

Here Coffee or Bust could target 753 commercial intent keywords that Home Grounds ranks for, but they don’t.

If you’re a brand new site, or the list of keyword opportunities is still massive, you can also apply a KD (keyword difficulty) filter to only identify low competition or easy keywords.

For example, apply a filter for keywords with KD less than 29:

Scroll down and check the missing keywords:

Then, simply hit the “+” icon next to any missing keywords you want to add to your master list of keyword opportunities.

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Use gap analysis to identify where you might need paid aircover

The third tactic is where you can analyze your keywords that rank outside the top 3 organic positions, and you do NOT currently bid on them in paid search.

The idea is that you can bid on the high-value keywords that are not at the top of page one until the organic positions improve – i.e. you provide paid aircover while your organic results grow.

For example, we can compare Semrush paid and organic product keywords.

In the Semrush Keyword Gap tool:

  • Enter your paid root domain – e.g. https://www.semrush.com/
  • Enter your organic product subfolder – e.g. https://www.semrush.com/features/
  • Click the green “Compare” button

Next, you can add filters to only show organic keywords in the top 20 positions with commercial or transactional intent:

Scroll down to the missing keywords:

You can see a list of keywords that Semrush is already ranking in positions 3-20, but not bidding on.

You could select the highest intent ones, like…

… and bid on them until you hit the top 3, or position #1 organically.

Use organic vs paid gap analysis to find money keyword opportunities

The following strategy is another quick way to uncover a shortlist of the highest value money keyword gaps.

This tactic highlights keywords your competitors are bidding on (most likely higher intent) that you are missing in your organic strategy. You can enter up to 4 competitors at a time to scale this strategy.

In the Semrush Keyword Gap tool (aff):

  • Enter your organic root domain – e.g. https://www.copper.com/
  • Enter your competitor’s paid root domain – e.g. https://www.pipedrive.com/
  • Click the green “Compare” button

Next, filter for commercial or transactional intent:

Now, scroll down to the missing keywords report. In this example, Copper has a potential 203 high-value keywords to target, including “best crm”, “best crm software”…

… “insurance crm software”…

… and “crm for commercial real estate”…

Simply hit the “+” icon next to any missing keywords you want to add to your master list of keyword opportunities.

Expand your keyword footprint with URL-level gap analysis

In the final keyword gap strategy, you compare the URL of one of your pages/posts against a higher ranking competitor for an important topic to see if there are any secondary keywords that they rank for, but you don’t.

You’re looking for keywords that you could use to optimize your page. For example, maybe you can sprinkle some secondary keywords in the body copy and subheaders or even add a new section or subsection, like an FAQ, to target a specific term more effectively.

In the Semrush Keyword Gap tool:

  • Enter your URL – e.g. https://www.beardbrand.com/blogs/urbanbeardsman/beard-styles
  • Enter your competitor’s URL – e.g. https://www.fashionbeans.com/article/mens-beard-styles-guide/
  • Click the green “Compare” button

Filter the competitor keywords by top 20 positions to find the most relevant opportunities. (note: Anything outside that range may require a dedicated article.) Then scroll down to the missing keywords results:

Analyze your URL to see which secondary keywords you can include in your content. Then hit the “+” icon to add any missing keywords to your master list of keyword opportunities.

Organize your keyword lists

As you analyze keyword gaps, remember to add any new opportunities to a relevant keyword list in Semrush (aff). You can organize lists by topics, intent, product categories, etc. so that when it comes to the content production phase, it’s easy to find the most valuable or relevant opportunities to start on.

For example, for the local law firm subfolder keyword gap analysis, you could add any legal service keyword opportunities to a “Service Keywords” list:

Start filling your keyword gaps

These advanced competitor keyword gap analysis strategies can save you tons of time compared to the typical approach.

Plus, with the Semrush advanced filtering options, it’s much faster and easier to find the best opportunities instead of wading through countless irrelevant or low-value keywords.

Let us know how you get on with these 5 advanced keyword gap analysis tactics in the comments below.

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