Outperforming the Competition: Using SWOT Analysis in SEO

Google has come a long way since the advent of its PageRank algorithm.

The fundamentals of PageRank still exist.

However, the good ol’ days of assigning numerical weights to sites based off the number of nodes (or links) pointing to it is a thing of the past.

It’s since grown into a much more complicated mathematical formula.

As a result, SEO marketing experts need to look beyond the myopic strategy of only building links.

swot analysis - PageRank formula
Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/

By now, most SEO experts know that Google loves to readjust the 200 ranking factors that determine its own search results.

So much so that, according to Moz, Google emphatically reconfigures those factors up to 600 times per year.

With increasingly competitive SERPs comprised of constant PageRank tweaks, multifaceted featured snippets, and mobile first indexing, one question probably comes to mind:

“How can I ensure my site remains competitive?”

swot analysis - google search
Image source: https://gfycat.com/

That’s where we can help.

In this article, we’ll be providing insight into creating an SEO marketing strategy that truly works.

We’ll discuss the importance of SWOT analysis for SEO.

This entails defining SWOT analysis, discussing its purpose, exploring SWOT opportunities, and explaining how SEO and SWOT marketing are interconnected.

swot analysis - SEO marketing

What is SWOT Analysis?

One of the best sources for formulating SEO marketing strategies comes from basic marketing principles rooted in academic research.

You’re likely auditing your current SEO strategy in preparation for Q1 2019.

If that’s the case, you should start with a SWOT analysis.

SWOT is a dynamic framework used for strategic planning that examines internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats – thus the name, SWOT!

Essentially, a business SWOT analysis determines what your organization can and cannot do based on factors both internal and external.

This can assist with strategic planning, goal-setting, and visualizing new opportunities.

Similarly, you can do a SWOT competitor analysis to investigate potential weaknesses of others in your industry.

swot analysis - framework

What Does a Business SWOT Analysis for SEO Take Into Account?

Visually, a SWOT framework consists of a simple matrix.

The top row examines strengths and weaknesses, which are internal factors.

The bottom row examines opportunities and threats, which are external factors.

A good example of an external factor that would impact your business’ SEO would be a Google algorithm update.

Keep in mind that determining your external factors often requires a bit more time and secondary research.

While business SWOT analysis tends to be more applicable for overall strategic planning.

We’ll be specifically using it here as an audit to help maximize your ROI on SEO.

Back to Basics: Applying SWOT to Your SEO Marketing

To effectively use SWOT analysis as an SEO marketing tool, you should begin by getting a holistic overview of your company’s product positioning and current strategic objectives.

Creating a brief case study on your company can go a long way, since it shows how each of your channels plays a part in your broader marketing mix.

Keep your current marketing objectives in mind.

And then, dive into the internal factors from an SEO perspective.

swot analysis - crush can GIF
Image source: https://giphy.com/

How to Evaluate Your SEO Marketing Strengths and Weaknesses

Addressing the strengths and weaknesses of your SEO marketing strategy should involve evaluating your brand’s:

  • Technical site health
  • Content strategy
  • Keyword rankings
  • Link building initiatives

But don’t be afraid to step outside the box and include things like your sites user experience, check-out process, video content, and any featured snippets that appear in search results.

Consider This:

We’ve outlined a few example questions of both strengths and weaknesses for you to ask yourself during the evaluation process:

1) Is your site leveraging tools to improve page speed, such as browser caching and accelerated mobile pages (AMP Pages)?

AMP is an open source project backed by Google to improve page speed and user experience.

Google backed data found that AMP can lead to 10% increase in site traffic and up to a 2X increase in time spent on page.

swot analysis - amp
Image source: https://blog.squarespace.com/

2) Does your site feature any Schema Data Markup?

Schema Data Markup is microdata that helps bring context to the content on your site.

swot analysis - schema data markup
Image source: https://searchengineland.com/

Adding the relevant JSON-LD markup can result in rich snippets appearing on results pages, which can ultimately improve your CTR.

3) What content has the highest bounce rate?

Content with high bounce rates can be seen as a weakness.

It’s well known that reducing your bounce rate can help improve conversions.

4) Do I have a clear and influential call to action on my product and landing pages?

swot analysis - evaluation

How to Evaluate Your SEO Opportunities and Threats

In accordance with the SWOT analysis procedure, it’s time to take a closer look at your opportunities and threats.

Remember, these should be external to your business.

However, more often than not, SWOT opportunities tend to be an extension of your strengths and weaknesses.

So, I suggest taking the time to flesh out opportunities from the weaknesses you’ve already identified.

Consider This:

Here are a few example questions relating to both opportunities and threats to ask yourself:

1) Do all the pages on my site have unique title tags, meta descriptions, and H1 headers?

If not, this is the perfect time to add more keyword focus to your pages and improve site health.

While seizing the opportunity to create a unique meta description is essential, remember that it won’t always be displayed.

Regardless of this fact, Matt Cutts of Google confirmed that it’s always better to leave meta descriptions blank rather than to have duplicates on your site.

2)  What content on my site is linked to the most?

Remember discussing Google’s PageRank algorithm earlier?

Well, PageRank value is earned when another site links to yours.

So, whichever page on your domain the backlink is pointing to is the one that receives PageRank.

Using internal linking to spread PageRank from the content that’s linked to the most can be a great way to spread this value throughout your site.

Make sure to check the links to your site section of Google Search Console to see what content is being linked to the most often.

swot analysis - competitor analysis
Image: https://giphy.com/

3) What does your competitors content look like?

Spying isn’t always bad.

Understanding what your competitors do well and what you think they can improve upon is a great way to orient your own content strategy.

And this is where a competitor SWOT analysis can really come into play.

Competitors that use more interesting visuals within their content –  such as gifs and videos – or use original research to support their blog posts have a better chance of beating you on the SERPs.

4) Are you reaching your maximum PPC potential, or can your competitors target your branded search terms?

Branded search is becoming an increasingly important organic ranking factor.

Thus, make sure your competitors aren’t crowding out your branded PPC ads and stealing traffic in paid search.

If they are, this can reduce the chances of users seeing your brand.

It can even potentially cause your traffic to dip.

swot analysis - maximize seo

Exploiting SWOT Business Opportunities to Maximize Your SEO

The last stage of your SWOT analysis should be identifying a plan of action.

Moreover, your SEO SWOT analysis should help you capitalize on your strengths, address any weaknesses and opportunities, and defend against potential threats.

Your best course of action might be to start identifying what opportunities will take the most amount of time.

Items such as improving internal linking or expanding your guest posting efforts may be time-consuming but also the most worthwhile.

Or, your main takeaway could be that you want to make the most of your strengths.

You may prefer to maintain existing keyword rankings using tools like SERPclix or by expanding the backlink profile of your highest performing pages.

Using SWOT analysis as an SEO marketing tool can be an extremely effective in maximizing your ROM.

And with the right plan of action for your business, you’ll be on your way to improving your site’s organic visibility in no time.


Author bio: Armand Ghersin is a marketing junkie and experienced SEO account manager at Taktical Digital. He primarily focuses on link building, technical SEO solutions, and sustainable growth marketing for his clients in the software, legal, and insurance spaces.

swot analysis - Armand headshot

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