SWOT analysis – A Formal Approach to SEO Strategy

Completing a SWOT analysis might seem a little old-school, but an SEO SWOT exercise will help get your online strategy in order. The SWOT process is as relevant for SEO as it is any other part of your business.

Whether you’re putting together your first SEO strategy or want to make a wholesale review of everything you’ve been doing, a SWOT analysis is going to help you plan. Here, we’re going to go through:

  • What an SEO SWOT analysis is
  • The process for completing an SEO SWOT analysis
  • Which people you need to bring in for the project
  • How to use the results from your analysis

What exactly is an SEO SWOT analysis?

First, let’s cover what SWOT actually means. It stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors, whilst opportunities and threats are about external issues. Similarly, strengths and opportunities can be helpful, whereas weaknesses and threats are potentially harmful.

How does this apply to search engine optimisation (SEO) for your website? SEO is a constant process rather than an end result to achieve. There will always be other sites competing for the same keywords and algorithm updates changing the areas where you need to have your SEO efforts focused.

By completing periodic SEO SWOT analyses, you will be able to assess where you are and where you need to be heading. A six-monthly or yearly analysis exercise will inform your next strategic plan for your website and, over time, show what processes work and which ones haven’t been so successful.

What’s the process for completing an SEO SWOT analysis?

The process of an SEO SWOT analysis is reasonably straight forward. Setting up a project for it would be prudent. Although the questions and outcomes are reasonably simple, pulling the data together will take time and skill. We’ll cover who would need to be on the team for an SEO SWOT analysis a little later.

You need to ask yourself questions about each of the four elements of your analysis. Here are some SEO SWOT example questions. Bear in mind, these might need to be adapted depending on your strategic goals and website targets.

SEO Strengths

  • Which keywords do you rank highly for?
  • What content elements drive traffic and help your rankings?
  • What is the best asset on your website?
  • What’s your key differentiator in your market?
  • Where does your organic traffic come from?
  • Which page speed elements do you perform well on?
  • Which channels get engagements and click-throughs?

SEO Weaknesses

  • Where do you need to make improvements to your site?
  • What are the strengths of your competitors?
  • Which content elements are doing badly or performing worse than expected?
  • Where are your content or post failures?
  • Does your business have the right skills to complete SEO tasks?
  • Is your budget big enough to achieve what you want?
  • How well and quickly does your page load?
  • What are your social channel metrics?

SEO Opportunities

  • Which content can you make that will have a big impact on your audience?
  • Where are the opportunities to optimise your site’s page speeds?
  • Is there scope to expand on what you do well?
  • Are there quick wins sitting in your “weaknesses”?
  • Where can you source new backlink opportunities?
  • Which channels have you not explored yet?

SEO Threats

  • Who are your competitors and what are their strengths?
  • Where are new competitors seeing good SEO results?
  • What’s the gap between you and your competitors and is it growing or shrinking?
  • Are there market or regulatory changes on the horizon?
  • How will a change to the algorithms affect current practices?

You can use these questions as your SEO SWOT template, leading you to assess all areas of your site and your current strategy. More areas will come to light as you work through these questions, take them as a starting point rather than an absolute.

Where do I find the information for my SEO SWOT analysis?

There are myriad tools that you can use to analyse your website in terms of SEO. It’s important to hone in on the metrics that are important for you, whether that’s your domain authority (DA) or your position on the search engine results pages (SERPs). In the long run, seeing the clicks convert to sales and an increase in your bottom line is the goal.

To look for the keywords that you rank for, where organic traffic comes from, what position your page comes in at on Google, etc Google Search Console or a package like SISTRIX is useful.

For backend analysis of how fast your page loads and how it measures up to Google’s expectations, you can use Google Page Speed Insights.

Who should I bring in on my SEO SWOT analysis?

SEO covers a range of business processes. It’s not a purely content-led strategy, nor is it all about getting the backend right. You need to work across the whole range of SEO metrics to get your website pulling in engaged users.

When you create your SEO SWOT analysis project team, bring in:

  • Marketing – they are going to be the ones using the analysis to design a plan and can check out your market and competitors
  • Web development – this department is in charge of load speeds and will know where your site is at and what it can achieve
  • Copywriting – even if this role falls under marketing, a copywriter knows how to use keywords in practice so will have useful insight
  • HR – if there are skills gaps or areas where people need to be redeployed, having HR in on the process will be helpful

How do I use the results of my SEO SWOT analysis?

Completing an SEO SWOT analysis is one step in the process of putting together your SEO strategy. Your strategy should be aiming to:

  • Preserve and build on your strengths
  • Work towards rectifying your weaknesses
  • Take advantage of the opportunities that you have
  • Proactively work to combat any threats

Each action in your SEO strategy should link in to one or more of the points noted in your SEO SWOT analysis.

Designing and monitoring KPIs can be another function of your analysis. Use the outcomes to set measures for the next quarter, six months, or year. Once the next SWOT project is complete you can analyse if weaknesses have been neutralised or turned into strengths or if you’ve taken advantage of all the opportunities you targeted.

Conclusion

Looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in any part of your business is always a beneficial exercise. When you complete an SEO SWOT analysis, you’re going to be able to inform the future shape and scope of your SEO activities. You’ll understand if the on-page or technical elements are in need of improvement and investment, for example.

The process for an SEO SWOT analysis is about asking questions to explore your business. There will be a team of people needed to gather the information. Once everything has been elucidated, you produce a report that goes on to inform your marketing and web development teams of where to work.

Undertaking an SEO SWOT analysis takes your strategy back to basics. You will figure out the great things you’ve already achieved and where your next wins lie. All of this activity will eventually see more clicks and conversions on your site.

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