To improve authority, organic visibility, traffic, and conversion, learn how to use the well-known SWOT framework to prioritize your SEO efforts.
Implementing an effective SEO (search engine optimization) strategy for most organizations entails collecting and analyzing large amounts of keywords, content, analytics, and competitive data from various sources.
The data must then be used by SEO professionals to prioritize keyword, content, structural, and/or linking tasks in order to address issues or build on existing organic search authority.
The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) framework is a well-known method of prioritization that lends itself well to helping focus attention and often maximize limited SEO and marketing resources. By definition, a SWOT analysis is intended to help identify factors that pose the greatest threat to growth.
The breakdown of organizational SEO priorities that follows presupposes that keyword research has already been completed and is being used for the website, SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), and competitive data—the cornerstone of a successful SWOT analysis. Often, keyword research alone is worthy of its own SWOT analysis.
The relative strength and authority of an organization for a topical group of keywords is one of the primary factors search engines consider when determining your organic search visibility. A great place to start focusing your attention is on the keywords for which the company already has some authority, or as some like to call “momentum” in the eyes of the search engines.
Why not capitalize on your existing authority since it is typically hard to acquire and takes time to establish? What content do I have that ranks well in the search engines—say, let’s in the top 20 results—for my main keyword groups? should be your first inquiry.
There are three ways to take advantage of identifying your areas of strength:
#1. Find opportunities to link to or from your best content by keeping an eye out for them. By linking to in-depth responses to your audience’s questions, you can strengthen your original piece of content while also drawing on the authority of the most authoritative piece.
#2. Full-page keyword, technical, and link audits should be performed on all web pages ranked between positions five and twenty to determine where improvements can be made to move them higher in the SERPs. This could include changing title tags, and headings, or updating links to more recent or relevant sources.
#3. Check to see if the “right” landing pages are ranking for the keywords you want to be found for. While it may appear that your homepage is ranking for several of your keywords, this is not ideal.
Searchers who arrive on your homepage looking for a specific result will have to click more times or conduct additional searches to get the precise response to their query.
Find the pages you have that answer questions, and concentrate on getting them to usurp the homepage’s current dominance.
If you find that there are no such pages, you should make them. Pay attention to the types and characteristics of your strongest content pieces as indicators of what content to create in the future.
For instance, by all means, make more videos if your existing ones are popular on YouTube and/or Google. You should publish and share more of the same if long-form blog posts frequently appear at the top of search results for your main keywords.
When it comes to SEO, recognizing and admitting our weaknesses early on can save us a lot of effort, time, money, and lost business.
#Content and Keywords
It’s important to let go of keyword groups that will take too much time and/or effort to establish authority for, even though there are undoubtedly some for which we feel we must be found. In general, a quick review of search engine results will reveal keywords that are out of reach based on the size, age, reputation, and quality of the content of your competitors.
In this situation, it may be necessary to consider other options (including paid) to increase visibility, traffic, and conversions or to look at more precise long-tail and intent-driven keyword alternatives. Until you can establish organic search authority, it is sometimes best to use complementary paid search tactics.
The quality of your own website and content from a technical/structural, keyword relevance, or depth perspective may be another area of weakness that you can more easily control. Conducting an SEO audit can help you identify areas of weakness.
The Core Web Vitals Report and Mobile-Friendly Test in Search Console and Google Lighthouse, two excellent free and paid tools, will provide a prioritized list of problems and/or errors found in the title and heading tags, internal and external links, website code, keyword usage/density, and a variety of mobile-friendly factors.
As previously stated, you should begin by focusing on and correcting any issues discovered on pages for which you already have some authority based on search engine results. In order to increase these pages’ chances of rising in the SERPs, optimization is a must. Based on website analytics data or strategic importance, you can move on to other priority web pages.
Backlinks (aka inbound links) obtained organically are still a search engine ranking factor because they speak to, and can improve, the authority of the site to which they link.
Many good third-party backlink tools, like site auditing, can reveal where you keep backlinks. These are especially useful for investigating the backlink sources of your most visible competitors.
To take advantage of their authority, you might want to get in touch when appropriate to request links from the same pertinent sources.
Opportunities abound in SEO for those who know how, where, and when to look. Moving from one opportunity to the next is what SEO is all about.
When optimization for one set of keywords or pieces of content is deemed successful, it’s time to move on to the next topic where authority can be established or reinforced.
#Content and Keywords
When you enter your website’s domain, the domains of your known competitors, or a specific list of keywords, various keyword research tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and others can find keyword and content opportunities or gaps.
The majority offer ranked lists of potentially valuable keywords based on anticipated monthly search volumes, organic traffic, and/or relative competition. To put it another way, which high-value keywords are your competitors ranking for but you are not?
Similar to the Weaknesses listed above, part of this analysis should take into account the amount of work necessary to establish authority in relation to the potential return on doing so.
Is this a chance worth seizing? Running a reverse website audit on competitors’ websites is a more manual process for identifying keyword and content opportunities.
Alternatively, spend some time simply reviewing the primary pages of your top competitors, paying special attention to the keywords used in title tags, headings, and internal link anchor text. These are probably the key phrases that are most important to them.
Be cautious, though, as this tactic relies on the assumption that the competition has done their own keyword research and has been using SEO best practices, which isn’t always the case.
Concentrating on competitors who rank well for your primary keywords should help you identify those who are intentionally optimizing for search.
#Refreshing the Content
A refresh of top-performing or complementary content is another opportunity within a web presence. Find older content that is ranking for target keywords or supporting other main content pages by first scanning the SERPs or a preferred keyword tool.
Review the content after that to see if there are any areas where text, images, internal or external links, or any other elements, could be updated. By creating and including images or videos, there might be a chance to improve the piece.
Last but not least, re-share this content through the appropriate channels and perhaps think about finding new outlets — a piece of content that was previously well-liked will probably perform well again. An excellent opportunity to establish authority exists in existing content, often with little more than a little extra work.
Finding backlinks has long-term benefits, despite being a typically labor-intensive process. Finding relevant, reputable websites or domains from which to obtain high-quality inbound links is ideal.
You can start your search for inbound links using a number of sources: As the websites found here are, by definition, regarded as “relevant” and “authoritative” by the search engines, they are a natural place to begin your backlink research.
Those sites that rank higher than yours are of particular interest because they presumably have more authority on which you can rely. Search for any non-competitive backlinking opportunities, such as directories, association listings, or articles and blog posts where you might be able to add to, get mentioned in, or leave a comment.
The second-best tool for backlink research is the Google Search Console Links Report, which lists the domains that Google thinks are linking to your content. You can use this page to verify the quality and accuracy of the links you already have, as well as to see if there are any other opportunities to obtain additional links from these same domains.
In Google Analytics, referral sources are external sites that send you traffic but may or may not provide an organic search boost. Examine these domains/sites on a regular basis for additional linking opportunities.
As mentioned in the Weaknesses section, several third-party backlink tools can be used to identify potential backlink sources with links to your competitors.
The value of each current and potential source may even be ranked and prioritized by some, which can significantly reduce the amount of time needed.
There are numerous factors that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, can jeopardize organic authority in the eyes of search engines and should be given top priority to prevent potentially damaging penalties.
The most common content threat is duplicate content, which, as the name implies, is content repurposed on a website without proper attribution to the original source.
By referencing the source content in the headers of the pages that contain the duplicate content, you must include “rel” canonical tags to prevent being penalized for using this kind of content.
Or, put another way, it’s acceptable to have some duplicate content on a website, provided the original source is acknowledged.
While relevant, high-quality backlinks can increase your authority, irrelevant, low-quality inbound links from questionable websites (especially those that are a part of paid link schemes) can be detrimental over time and may even result in a manual penalty. A possible loss of organic visibility and traffic is a danger in this situation.
Additionally, recovering from a manual penalty is a difficult and prolonged process. Simply put, you should never pay for backlinks and make sure any backlinks you acquire were not acquired on your behalf by a third party, such as a marketing agency.
Therefore, you should regularly check the Google Search Console Links report or other backlink reporting sources for dubious domains or those you don’t recognize as relevant.
Every online competitor who creates their own content poses a threat to your authority. There is always a chance for new, aggressive, or unidentified competitors to enter the market, even if you continue to have strong organic visibility and traffic in comparison to your “known” competitors.
Numerous of the SEO tools mentioned above offer competitor discovery tools to help you quickly find websites that frequently show up in the search results for your main keywords.
There are frequent competitors here that you have never considered. You’ll naturally want to keep an eye on these competitors and employ the strategies outlined above to see what you can learn from them.
There is even an algorithm by Google to identify freshness. Search engines love and reward new, pertinent content.
As a result, you should keep an eye on the search engine results for new entrants who may challenge your authority and position over time.
The best way to deal with this threat is to continue the update and publish your own thorough content, as this will give search engines less cause to doubt your authority.
Putting The SWOT To Work
The in-depth SWOT outputs will map prioritized actions to protect and/or improve online authority, visibility, and the ensuing traffic, leads, and revenue.
Depending on the level of industry competition and competitor activity, proactive search marketers should carry out these analyses at least twice a year, if not more frequently.
In order to advance your organization’s primary SEO objectives, a well-structured SWOT analysis can offer a valuable roadmap for where, when, and how frequently action must be taken or content must be created and shared.