Strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, which initials form the name of this matrix. We are talking about the SWOT analysis, perhaps the best known tool of strategic planning of a project or in an enterprise towards the achievement of a predetermined goal, invented by the American economy Albert Humphrey between the ’60s and ’70s and still useful today to concentrate and direct professional efforts in the field of SEO and search marketing, as well.

What is the SWOT Analysis

In the field of strategic business planning, the acronym SWOT identifies the main intrinsic and extrinsic variables that must be evaluated before starting a project or making a decision in the path to achieving a goal.

With this technique, we can identify the strengths and weaknesses of our brand, but also the opportunities and threats that exist in the competitive market, and then assess the critical success factors that can enable us to achieve our goal.

Specifically, Strenghts and Weaknesses are internal factors, therefore linked to our company or brand and therefore related to the organization, its resources, processes and the people who make up the team. On the contrary, Opportunities and Threats are external factors, which derive from the market, the presence of competitors and the economy in general.

nti di forza e debolezza, opportunità e minacce; oppure, per usare l’inglese, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities e Threats, le cui iniziali formano il nome di questa matrice. Parliamo dell’analisi SWOT, forse il più noto uno strumento di pianificazione strategica di un progetto o in un’impresa verso il raggiungimento di un obiettivo prefissato, inventata dall’economica statunitense Albert Humphrey fra gli anni ’60 e ’70 e ancora oggi utile per concentrare e indirizzare al meglio gli sforzi professionali anche in ambito SEO e search marketing.

What is the SWOT analysis for

The “purpose” of a SWOT analysis is to provide qualitative data that captures the real conditions of a company within the context in which it operates.

The SWOT matrix can be used by any type of organization (business, non-profit, government agencies) and professionals to make strategic decisions, which therefore have a long-term impact on the way the same organization positions itself, produces, communicates, interacts with the outside and is structured.

More specifically, the SWOT model is crucial to assess the feasibility of a project and to implement a strategy that adequately takes into account factors within the organisation – starting with the so-called Unique Selling Proposition – and also external factors, such as opportunities related to market needs and to the specific historical moment.

Benefits of the SWOT Analysis

Thanks to this technique, we can evaluate the pros and cons, the possibilities and obstacles of every action that we intend to implement to achieve our objectives, and identify what are the most likely strategies to help our business grow and achieve its KPIs, with the awareness of our shortcomings and possible threats in the path, which therefore will not catch us unawares.

SWOT Analysis is an indispensable tool to focus the crucial points of your business and is the basis for developing an effective marketing plan. SWOT Analysis serves to evaluate the internal and external processes involved in our business model, in order to make decisions that take into account the objectives to be achieved and the context in which we will develop our project.

When well executed, then, this process allows us to plan an effective marketing strategy, based on mapping and analysis of the internal and external factors, positive or critical, of an organization; in addition, it allows us to have an updated picture on “health” of our brand or company, discovering what we do well, what is missing and what can be a risk or a threat (with the possibility of minimizing the negative consequences). Widening the picture, then, the SWOT analysis can also be applied to the analysis of competitors, so as to evaluate them in an objective and more conscious way to identify the best countermoves.

Basics of the SWOT matrix

The starting point of an analysis according to the principles established by Humphrey is the graphical representation of the 4 variables in a SWOT matrix or SWOT framework, a true and proper square divided into four sections that helps us to focus on the main highlights related to our project.

Generally, internal factors are reported in the upper left quadrant (on the left the strengths, on the right the weaknesses), while on the bottom external factors (on the left the opportunities, on the right the threats). The schematic subdivision in this way serves to give indications at a glance: on the left there are the positive aspects that can lead to the achievement of the objective, while on the right we find the main obstacles on our way.

Esempio di analisi SWOT - da wikipedia

In practice, thanks to this matrix we can immediately see what are the internal elements of the organization and the external ones, put in place with the factors that can help the achievement of the goal and with all the variables that can be harmful. In addition, according to the principles of this theory there are no weaknesses and threats that cannot be transformed into their opposites, and therefore into salient characteristics and opportunities, exploiting the strengths of the organization to connect them to opportunities.

How to do a SWOT analysis

From a practical point of view, SWOT analysis is carried out by filling in the four matrices and entering the characteristics of the organization, brand or site on which we concentrate our work; To get the information you can use objective tools that provide measurable metrics, but perhaps what matters most is the mindset, the approach to this technique and the understanding of what it can mean for the business.

For this reason, you can also involve all the staff and management in the work, to be able to find out what the real answers to the variables can be, and thus build a SWOT matrix customized and tailored to our needs.

That is, we can perform a sort of questionnaire in the company, asking those who work “in the field” to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the brand, but also the possible opportunities and threats that arise on the market and on the external context, and then proceed to collect and analyze the data.

Identifying the variables for the analysis

We can start from the precise identification of the strengths of the organization, that is the endogenous factors that generate a positive impact, such as brand awareness, technological skills, but also the perception of the brand and financial soundness.

The second step is that of opposite sign, that is the ability to identify the possible critical points of the organization, the weaknesses that arise from internal obstacles: among the main ones there are the lack of fame of the brand, a quantitatively or qualitatively limited proposal, lack of financial or technological resources, narrow client portfolio. It can be important, in this analysis, to understand and point out in which areas we are lacking and we can improve, but also what kind of perception others have of our offer.

It is perhaps more difficult to analyze the external factors of opportunities and threats, because they are not influenced and influenced directly by our brand and are therefore of more unpredictable control. In any case, opportunities are all factors that can allow an organization to secure a single position in the market and to overcome competitors, gaining visibility, customers and turnover. They are obviously linked to strengths, and indeed one of the aspects to be studied is just how to turn the Strenghts into Opportunities.

Finally, we can study the threats, or all the external aspects that can negatively affect our results, from competitors to trends that are unfavorable to us, such as possible changes in consumer choices or problems in the supply chain. Again, it is important to try to understand how our Weaknesses can expose us to Threats, and thus hinder our growth and achievement of goals.

SWOT Analysis and SEO, how to exploit the matrix

If these are valid tips for every type of organization and brand, it is long time that more specific variants have been studied to apply the SWOT method also to SEO and search marketing, as we can see for example in this article of Search Engine Land.

This approach allows to understand where we are currently regarding the optimization of the website and the improvement of its visibility on search engines, and can be implemented by analyzing precisely the presence on the Web of our project, identifying priority areas from keywords, content and editorial plan, technical perspectives, links and competitors.

Esempio di matrice per la SWOT Analysis

A complete SWOT analysis for the SEO provides a roadmap against which activities can be systematically addressed, helps to reduce the chances of failure – since it allows us to discover what we still lack and to identify potential dangers that would otherwise catch us unawares – and it gives us a way to plan a strategy that differentiates us from competitors and has more chance of success in the reference market.

Obviously, the SWOT analysis is not “fixed” over time, and the one applied to the SEO makes no difference and should be updated on a quarterly or half-yearly basis along with the organic metrics against which we measure the success of campaigns.

Questions about the SEO SWOT Analysis

Trying to provide some more practical insights, among the SWOT SEO analysis examples there are often categories of questions to answer to form the matrix.

These are issues that help us understand the status and positioning of our business in the market – and if we fail to answer some of those questions, we have implicitly found one or more weaknesses.

  1. Detecting the SEO strengths

Strengths are an internal factor and are generally the easiest thing to detail in the SWOT matrix. Declining the questions for the SEO, we can ask ourselves among other things:

  • For which keywords are we ranking well at the moment?
  • Which contents are well-ranked at the moment?
  • What are our digital resources?
  • What is our best asset?
  • What makes us better than competitors?
  • What drives organic traffic the most?
  • What are the best links?
  • Which previous SEO tactic or intervention had the best results?
  1. Discovering our SEO weaknesses

We know it, by now, the SWOT analysis weaknesses are an internal matter, too, but determining them is not easy: we need objectivity and honesty in the analysis of the site and brand, but also the ability to research the critical areas that could cause “threats” on the market. To facilitate this work, we may ask ourselves, for example:

  • Which areas need improvement?
  • What do our competitors do better than us (commercially speaking)?
  • Where the competitors are stronger than us (from an SEO point of view)?
  • How far behind we are compared to the competition? In which areas?
  • What content is currently generating little to no traffic?
  • Which SEO tactics previously failed to provide added value?
  • Do we have the necessary SEO skills within the team?
  • Do we have the budget to achieve our SEO goals?
  1. Defining our SEO opportunities

In the SWOT analysis, opportunities arise from strengths and weaknesses, and therefore from areas that strengthen and from areas to be explored instead and on which to invest to avoid that turn into negative aspects. On the SEO front, we can answer questions such as:

  • Which kind of content to produce would have a significant impact?
  • Which aspects of the site could be optimized to improve results?
  • hich areas of the site that work well could be expanded to achieve even better performances?
  • What weaknesses could be easily solved?
  • Which link sources do we still have to tap into?
  • Are there any changes to the search engine results that we can exploit?
  1. Analyzing SEO threats

Lastly, the Threats, are the most difficult element to investigate because they are based on the understanding of our own weaknesses and of the strengths of our competitors. In terms of search marketing, this also implies a critical assessment of the continuous change of search engines, their algorithms and therefore of Serps, which inevitably generate an impact on our site. To shed light on these menacing aspects, we may ask ourselves, for instance:

  • Which competitors are strong where we are weak and lacking?
  • Are newer and less experienced competitors improving their SEO?
  • Is the gap between us and our competitors growing?
  • Are there new startups that are accumulating market shares aggressively?
  • Are SERPs changing in a way that impacts our business? Are there any new features, more paid ads or other trends that may have negative effects on the ranking achieved?

Gathering data in order to improve the strategy

We tried to explain what a SWOT analysis is and how to apply this method also to the SEO: now we have the data on some central elements for our activity and we just have to get to work to develop a strategy that can address and solve, on one hand, the problems we have identified and, on the other hand, exploit the opportunities available. That is, an effective strategy to improve the authoritativeness of the site, increase the organic visibility of the pages and get more traffic and income.

Often, in fact, the most difficult element of an SEO campaign is knowing where to concentrate your efforts, while instead a SWOT analysis can help us to understand precisely the areas where it is most useful (or necessary) quickly and easily direct our efforts to obtain the greatest impact out of it.