SWOT analysis is a term often used in the economy. The acronym refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats and is a perfect tool for assessing your position on the market. It tells us where we stand compared to the competition and how we can build our brand in the future.
We can also use this analysis for digital marketing and, specifically, search engine optimization. The concept is great for assessing the quality and volume of our organic traffic, as well as keyword and content opportunities. We can also use it to analyze link-building processes and the impact of new algorithms on our business.
But not to get ahead of ourselves, let’s first explain the SEO SWOT analysis concept and what all these words stand for. Enjoy!
What does SWOT stand for?
As mentioned, the term refers to Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Companies commonly perform this analysis before getting into a business as a way of assessing their viability in a certain market.
Based on the traditional economic classification, Strengths and Weaknesses are considered internal factors, while Opportunities and Threats are external. For example, internal factors might refer to your business processes, technology, and employees, while external refer to suppliers and competition.
However, due to the specific nature of SEO, there’s a lot of intermingling between the two. Everything you do is affected by external Google algorithms, so all these categories might be considered external factors (as they’re beyond our control). The field has its nuances, so we’ll take a look at all these elements from a slightly different angle.
Strength is a term that depicts the inherent advantages that a brand has over its competitors. It might refer to permanent benefits, such as brand name and authority, or it might refer to temporary advantages, like current placement within search engine results pages.
Here are a few examples of what Strength might entail:
- Enormous industry expertise and recognition.
- Well-established business before creating a website.
- Running several successful marketing campaigns besides SEO campaigns.
- Fantastic website branding.
- Lots of powerful links from relevant industry sites.
- High SERP placement for certain money keywords.
- Great relationships with news outlets and influencers.
- Large marketing budget.
When talking about SEO Strengths, we’re also referring to real-world business reputation and authority on top of your optimization strengths. Although these are indirect perks, which are more important for acquiring links and building partnerships, they’re crucial for improving your placements in search engines.
Keep in mind that assessing Strengths in SEO is a bit different than assessing Strengths in the traditional SWOT analysis. Most notably, these advantages are often temporary and beyond our control. For example, even if you have a few powerful links pointing to your blog, that doesn’t mean they’re permanent.
This is one of the reasons why SEO analysis is much more unpredictable than traditional SWOT.
By proxy, SEO Weaknesses refer to everything that you’re lacking as a company and as a website. In other words, these are all the things that might stifle your business and SEO efforts. Here are a few good examples of what Weakness might refer to:
- Not having fresh and relevant content.
- Struggling to rank money keywords.
- Struggling to acquire high-quality links.
- Low estimated monthly search volumes.
- Experiencing too many on-site errors.
- Using techniques that go against Google’s quality guidelines.
- Little to no recognition within the industry.
- Not being able to convert leads.
The only good thing about SEO Weaknesses is that you can affect most of these issues. In the end, that’s the whole point of search engine optimization. For example, if you have duplicate content and other on-page errors, you can easily clean them up during an SEO audit.
Ideally, you should have as few flaws as possible or be able to resolve them quickly. Generally speaking, most of your Weaknesses might turn into Strengths through continuous investment in SEO. Regardless, they’re important factors to keep in mind before establishing a web company.
SEO Opportunities analyze activities that would allow us to easily develop our business. For the most part, it focuses on our ability to acquire quality links and rank lucrative target keywords. However, it might also refer to our overall ability to penetrate a specific market. As such, Opportunities are a crucial growth category for our SEO strategy.
In a nutshell, this category shows us where we can catch our competition off-guard and outperform them. Generally speaking, having more Strengths usually opens more Opportunities for a company. However, a company might also discover Opportunities that have nothing to do with its budget or good reputation.
Here are a few things this phrase might refer to:
- Ability to find high-value keywords.
- Ease of getting quality links at a low price.
- Having better products or technology compared to the competition.
- Ability to outsource work and get the same quality services as competition at a lower price.
- Proactive marketing policies and fast adoption of technology.
If cultivated properly, Opportunities might grow into Strengths. A company’s ability to discover Opportunities increases with the quality of the SEO team or by using better software. So, having several keyword research tools and AI content writers is always a good investment.
Sometimes, market Opportunities appear by themselves if you have a well-established business. So, while the focus of our article is SEO, we can’t forget that having a strong brand also helps our marketing efforts.
Threats mostly refer to outside factors that might endanger us in the near future. Aside from the Threat from the competition, it might also show how changes to the algorithm might affect our website marketing. Furthermore, it might also tell us whether or not we’re susceptible to outside Black Hat attacks and other security dangers.
Here are a few examples of that:
- The direction in which search engines are going with their algorithms.
- Development of new technologies that we don’t have money for or can’t implement.
- Size and strength of other competitors.
- Inability to acquire quality links at a reasonable cost.
- Inability to acquire traffic from other sources.
- Susceptibility to negative campaigns.
In many cases, external SEO Threats aren’t something you can control. This is especially true when we talk about competition and algorithms. So, when assessing the viability of a project, this is the category you should pay special attention to.
Even if there are numerous Opportunities ahead of you, this is something that can completely ruin your marketing plans.
When to do a SWOT analysis?
Entrepreneurs usually perform traditional SWOT analysis before starting a business or a new project. However, we can do it before any business activity to see whether or not we can achieve our goals. SWOT analysis is sometimes done mid-project when the situation on the market has significantly changed.
In terms of SEO, SWOT provides the best results if you do it before hiring a digital marketing team. The analysis shows you if it’s worthwhile investing in this promotional activity and how much of the market you can acquire.
Due to its complexity, the process might also be useful for other marketing promotions. Specifically, it might point to certain website errors and branding deficiencies. Even if you decide not to invest in SEO, it’s still a process that can provide valuable insights about the current state of your online business.
How to perform SEO SWOT analysis?
The standard competitor analysis is a very extensive process. First, you need to find your direct competitors on the market, and then, you have to analyze their products and business policies. The entire process is extensive and might require several employees to execute.
Luckily, SEO SWOT analysis isn’t that comprehensive, and almost any digital marketing expert can do it with the right tools. This is especially true if you’ve been working within the industry for a while and are acquainted with the biggest websites.
Anyway, here are a few tips that will help you do this analysis:
1. Start with technical SEO
Ideally, you should start by checking your own site. Make sure you do not have any major errors that would come back to haunt you later on during the project. See if your web pages are properly indexed by the crawlers and if the website provides the best possible user experience.
2. Perform competitive analysis
Given that the whole process revolves around your business opponents, it’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of who they are. You can easily do this by using several powerful SaaS.
You can also analyze competitors based on their products and reviews. For example, you can google products like yours and discover all resellers. You can do the same thing for local SEO.
3. Analyze users
Aside from checking competitors, you should learn more about your ideal customers. You can do this by using Google Analytics and Google Trends. Although analyzing demographics isn’t as important for SWOT, it can still provide some valuable insights before committing to an SEO campaign.
4. Read SEO blogs
Search engines’ algorithms are among the biggest outside Threats. Small changes to these platforms can completely ruin your site, especially if you are using shady optimization tactics. So, we suggest that you continuously read the biggest SEO blogs. Ideally, you should implement the best practices as soon as there’s a noticeable algorithmic change.
5. Extensive provider analysis
Having the right SEO provider can become a major Strength for your brand. In the end, these companies can generate some major Opportunities for your website by finding cheap links and easy-to-rank keywords.
On the flip side, if you’re not able to find a reliable SEO agency, perhaps it’s better not to invest in optimization in the first place. The great thing is that you can get excellent results from your marketing campaigns if you have a good provider in your corner.