A search demand gap analysis is an essential part of a search engine marketing audit to check how well your search engine optimisation and/or pay-per-click marketing is working for your company. It will show you the commercial opportunity available from search engine marketing and compare your current performance against this opportunity, so showing sales growth potential. It’s often completed as part of a quarterly or annual review, but due to seasonal fluctuations in search volumes and changes in Google’s ranking approaches and competitor activity it should also be completed more regularly; we suggest monthly.

Here’s an example of a gap analysis. As, you can see it’s based around the main strategic high volume generic for a particular market, in this case related to LCD TVs.

Benefits of a gap analysis

A gap analysis will show you where you are underperforming for particular keyphrases or products and you can then set goals and then brief an agency or colleagues to take actions to improve performance in these areas.

A gap analysis also has the benefit that it enables you to compare performance of your search engine optimisation and pay per click marketing. Since these channels are often treated separately, it helps bring these together in an integrated way to compare their relative performance. For example, in the example above where bounce rates are relatively high or market share is relatively low the cells are shaded in red.

What is a search marketing gap analysis?

A gap analysis is a comparison of the potential visits, leads or sales from searchers arriving on the site against what the company is actually achieving. It should focus on high volume phrases which are typically two to three keyword phrases including brand searches. However, a form of the analysis can also be completed for longer ‘long-tail’ keyphrases made up of more than 4 keywords.

What should you measure for a search gap analysis?

As for the review of the performance of all traffic sources, the main measures you need to look at are traffic volume, quality and cost:

  • Traffic volume – measured through the number of actual visits from paid and natural search. Actual visits are then compared with potential visits
  • Traffic quality – measured by bounce rate, lower if the quality is good. Also measured by conversion rate to lead or sale, higher is better.
  • Traffic value – The value generated through sales or leads can be compared against the cost of search marketing. The revenue per visit can be calculated for each keyphrase and for pay per click can be compared to visitor acquisition costs – amount bid.

These measures are all available from your web analytics system such as Google Analytics from which data is extracted for the analysis.

You should also measure the percentage traffic gap which can be calculated by comparing the number of visits against demand indicated by a keyword research tool. We recommend using the Google Keyword Tool to review demand in a single country. It’s best to select the exact match reporting although it can be worthwhile to select phrase match for a different form of long-tail review.

About the author

Dr Dave Chaffey is Insights Director at ClickThrough Marketing. As Insights Director he’s responsible for the quality of analysis and reporting used to review and improve the performance of clients’ natural and paid search campaigns. He’s also involved in consulting on digital and search strategy for ClickThrough’s clients through analytics-based audits typically using Google Analytics for which he holds the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ).

You can also read his advice on best practice and updates on the latest developments in digital marketing at his Smart Insights Digital Marketing advice site. Dave is a recognised expert in digital marketing, listed in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing. Dave is author of five best-selling business books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice and eMarketing eXcellence (with PR Smith). He is also author of the Econsultancy best practice guides to Search Engine Optimisation, Paid Search Marketing, Web site design and Managing Digital Channels. Dave also contributed the foreword to ClickThrough’s first two search engine marketing books.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.