An SEO SWOT Analysis: How to Gain a Competitive Edge
Search engine optimization (SEO) is key for driving traffic and leads to your website. But with ever-changing algorithms and best practices, it can be challenging to keep up. That’s why regularly conducting a SWOT analysis of your SEO strategy is critical.
What is an SEO SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This kind of analysis is a structured framework for evaluating your current SEO strategy. Specifically, it looks at:
What internal factors of your SEO are going well and giving you an edge? This could include high-quality content, good technical optimizations, etc. It’s important to identify your SEO strengths as a good start.
Where are there gaps in your SEO efforts? What needs improvement? Common issues include thin content, slow site speed, and poor link building. Identifying your SEO weaknesses will help you find ways to improve on them.
While looking at strengths and weaknesses are more internal aspects of your SEO strategy, looking for opportunities and threats takes more of an external view of what could affect your strategy.
What SEO opportunities exist that you can take advantage of? Is there room to expand into new keywords? Potential partnerships?
What external factors or competitors might negatively impact your future SEO and organic growth? How can you mitigate risks?
For example, many SEO professionals are worried about how Google’s new Search Generative Experience (SGE) will impact SEO. It’s possible that you could see this as an external threat to your company’s SEO.
Conducting this high-level analysis arms you with the knowledge of what’s working, what’s not, and how to focus your SEO resources more strategically.
Why You Should be Doing Regular SWOT Evaluations Of Your Strategy
Many businesses only look at their SEO when there are problems like drops in organic traffic and rankings. But by then, it’s too late. Issues have already happened and valuable time and money has been lost.
Doing quarterly analysis or at least twice a year helps you stay one step ahead in this fast-moving landscape. The specific benefits include:
Identifying Gaps Before They Become Issues
By uncovering weaknesses in your efforts early, you can address problems and improve your SEO before they severely impact performance. For example, catching thin blog content now allows time to bulk it up to avoid future ranking drops or penalties.
Optimizing to Maintain and Gain Competitive Advantage
Your competitors aren’t standing still when it comes to organic search marketing. Regular analysis highlights where they may be gaining an edge so you can act quickly via your own strengths and opportunities.
Inspiring SEO Innovation
Since search engine algorithms and best practices change often, so should your strategy. A SWOT analysis unlocks new keyword targets, content ideas, link-building approaches, and technical optimizations to pursue. Doing so ensures your SEO stays up-to-date and primed for search visibility.
Identifying Quick Wins to Build Momentum
The SWOT will reveal some fast, relatively easy SEO fixes you can make that will have an immediate positive impact. Early wins help build crucial momentum to fuel larger SEO initiatives down the road.
How to Conduct an SEO SWOT Analysis in 5 Steps
Now that you know the main benefits of performing an analysis, let’s walk through how to perform one in just a few simple steps:
Gather Key SEO Data
Start by pulling together analytics from your website, webmaster tools, rank trackers, and other sources. The specific metrics to have on hand include organic traffic trends, rankings fluctuations, top converting keywords, link and content indexes, page speed diagnostics, structured data usage, etc.
Looking at the hard numbers will give you an accurate picture of strengths vs. weaknesses.
Here are some of the key SEO data points you could look at and consider when conducting an analysis:
- Organic traffic trends – Track overall organic traffic as well as traffic for key pages and posts over time. Dips or spikes inform strengths/weaknesses.
- Review your keyword research – search patterns shift which means it’s important to review your keyword research to close any gaps that may exist in your strategy.
- Keyword rankings – Monitor top target keyword rankings in Google to optimize position further or improve poor rankings.
- Conversions – how many calls, contact forms, etc. are you getting from your website currently?
- Top converting keywords – Identify which terms drive most goal conversions to help inform priorities.
- Link indexes – Assess overall domain authority/trust flow links as well as site-wide backlinks gained/lost.
- Content indexes – Review content quality grades from tools like Moz and production rates to find gaps.
- Page speed diagnostics – Page load times and mobile friendliness have SEO impact, analyze for enhancements.
- Structured data usage – Scanner tools reveal if the markup is helping/hurting to fix errors.
- Local SEO data – For local sites, collect key GMB, Maps, and review metrics.
Analyzing these quantifiable SEO data points within your SWOT framework exposes the areas needing the most optimization attention. Let me know if you need any advice or help assembling relevant SEO analytics!
Research the Competitive Landscape
Next, investigate competitors ranking for your target terms by looking at their websites, content, backlinks, and any other publicly available info. Look for SEO edges they have that you may be lacking.
Pro tip: Use incognito browsing when researching to avoid personalized search results.
Brainstorm with Stakeholders
Get your team together to discuss strengths, weaknesses, competitive advantages/disadvantages, and any big algorithm updates on the horizon that could impact efforts. Marketing, content, IT and engineering staff should all provide input during the SWOT analysis.
Construct Your SWOT Matrix
With the research done, construct a grid with 4 quadrants for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Start populating each section with corresponding details uncovered during previous steps.
Having everything visualized in one place makes it easier to spot the most impactful areas to address.
Define Strategic Next Steps
With clear insights from your SWOT, wrap up the exercise by outlining tangible next steps for improving SEO performance. Turn weaknesses into strengths, threats into opportunities. Assign tasks to the appropriate team members and set deadlines.
Be sure to document takeaways so you can measure progress at the next analysis.
Move Your SEO Forward with Regular SWOTs
In the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of SEO, you can’t afford to stand still. Sites that don’t continually optimize slide backward. Performing quarterly SWOT analysis helps ensure consistent improvements to stay ahead.
And stepping back to think strategically about strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities uncovers new avenues for innovation as well. The fresh perspective pays dividends across all digital marketing efforts, not just SEO.
Ready to turn insights into positive ranking improvements? Reach out to schedule a professional SEO SWOT analysis. Our team brings an objective outside perspective along with the latest best practices. Let’s meet up to discuss how we can partner to take your organic search visibility to the next level!
Cliff Tillery, MBA is the Chief Operating Officer and SEO Director at Make It Loud which is a digital marketing firm located outside of Atlanta Georgia. More than 14 years ago, he started search engine optimization at this award-winning agency and has taught digital marketing skills to business owners at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center, and other groups.