Website SWOT Analysis: How to Gain an Advantage Online

Learn how to use a website SWOT analysis to improve your site's competitiveness by examining your brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

POST UPDATED:

May 20, 2024

Website SWOT Analysis

All of our brand audit clients have websites, and most of them have a search engine optimization strategy. Yet many are still struggling to improve their website's rankings and attract quality customers online.

Initially, clients assume a website improvement or revised SEO plan is necessary. But simply updating a website or its SEO strategy isn't the answer.

Competing online is much like running a race. The Internet is the track. Your competitors are the other runners. Being the fastest runner in the world isn't necessary to win the race—just outrun the other runners.

To be competitive, you must know your competition. That is where a website SWOT analysis comes in. Using the SWOT framework, companies can determine how to give their websites a competitive edge.

Read this post to learn how to conduct a website SWOT analysis to gain more online visibility.

Table of Contents

    An overview of website SWOT analysis: Purpose and relevance

    SWOT stands for:

    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Opportunities
    • Threats

    A SWOT analysis is most often used in strategic planning to assess a company's marketplace position. Organizations can also use it to determine whether a website aligns with its business objectives.

    Competitive analysis is part of the website SWOT process and reveals the strategies they use, their messaging, customer experience design, product features, and more. These findings help you identify the positive attributes and unique features that differentiate your brand, as well as negative characteristics to correct.

    The first step in a SWOT is to create a list of questions that will generate conversations among your internal teams.

    Here are some sample questions:

    • In what areas do competitors excel?
    • How does their content marketing strategy differ from ours?
    • What do competitor sites offer to the audience that we don't?

    The customer journey and user experience play a pivotal role in a website's ability to connect with the target audience. The findings from a website SWOT analysis should help your team improve both processes.

    To get the most from your SWOT, it may be helpful to partner with a conversion optimization consultant. These consultants can identify the granular details that affect performance, such as calls to action, ineffective design elements, or responsive design issues.

    You should also include customer feedback throughout the entire process. Customers can give companies different perspectives on performance and usability. As a result, you'll get a clearer picture of what it's like for users to interact with the website.

    What does a SWOT analysis look like?

    A SWOT analysis is usually a 2x2 matrix, divided into four quadrants: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This visual representation helps businesses identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats that hinder success.

    SWOT Analysis (Click to expand)

    Website SWOT analysis vs. a website audit

    Before I go on, I'd like to clarify the differences between a website SWOT analysis and a website audit.

    A website SWOT analysis can improve a site's competitiveness. It can also help you identify new market segments and opportunities to increase market share.

    A website audit dives deeper than a SWOT and includes intensive research and mapping of all site components, including technical issues. Possible audit coverage areas include:

    • Duplicate content
    • Primary keywords
    • Load speed
    • Backlink profile
    • Plugins and security issues
    • Website accessibility

    An audit provides a detailed review of deficiencies in customer-centric web design and technical performance. They are especially useful when different departments and multiple decision makers must be involved—i.e., management, web developers, and marketers.

    A comprehensive SWOT analysis of a website

    Before you begin, it's important to define goals for the SWOT. With clear goals, you can then decide the specific elements of website design to review. For example, a goal could be to assess the site's calls to action, explore new markets, or review shopping cart design. Other goals may be to assess the content marketing strategy, lead generation rates per page, and customer service ratings.

    To get an accurate assessment of a business website's performance, combine qualitative and quantitative metrics.

    Organizations will need website analytics data to perform the SWOT. Without access to this data, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to draw any meaningful conclusions or figure out how to improve. Examples of data include website visits, time on a single page, organic search rankings, bounce rates, and social media engagements.

    Be sure to rank the importance of each analysis goal on a priority scale from low to high. The significance of each goal is determined by its influence on the site's performance. Prioritizing SWOT goals makes it easier to identify the areas that will make the most impact on the company's digital strategy.

    Prioritizing your website SWOT analysis: An Example

    Let's imagine you're managing the website of a multinational software company offering a suite of productivity tools. Your SWOT analysis might uncover factors like these:

    Strengths

    • Established brand reputation
    • Large, loyal customer base

    Weaknesses

    • Complex navigation on help center pages
    • Outdated design on certain landing pages

    Opportunities

    • Expansion into emerging markets
    • Potential partnerships with complementary tech companies

    Threats

    • Rise of agile, cloud-based competitors
    • Increasing cybersecurity concerns

    Setting priorities after you complete your SWOT

    Consider both internal and external findings. Ask yourself, "How much will this aspect affect customer experience, market share, and long-term competitiveness?"

    Assign a priority score

    For larger companies, a more nuanced scale might be helpful:

    • 5 = Mission-critical
    • 4 = High strategic impact
    • 3 = Moderate impact
    • 2 = Incremental improvement
    • 1 = Maintenance level

    Analyze and rank

    This is how your prioritization may develop:

    • Top Priority (4-5):
      • Rise of agile competitors (threat)—Requires a strategic response to stay ahead.
      • Complex help center navigation (weakness)—Friction in support causes customer churn.
      • Expansion into emerging markets (opportunity)—Huge potential for growth.
    • Moderate Priority (3):
      • Potential partnerships (opportunity)—Could expand reach and product offerings.
      • Outdated landing page design (weakness)—Impacts conversion rates on key pages.
      • Increasing cybersecurity concerns (threat)—Proactive security enhances brand trust.
    • Low Priority (1-2):
      • Established reputation (strength)—Already in a sound position.
      • Large, loyal customer base (strength)—Focus on retention and upselling.

    The Benefits of this approach

    Setting priorities offers a clear roadmap for budget allocation and resource assignment. Teams can tackle the most impactful items for the business, making the most of a website revamp.

    Involve stakeholders from across departments (marketing, IT, customer support) for a multi-faceted view of priorities. Large companies might conduct a SWOT analysis for individual product lines or specific markets to take even more focused action.

    Adjust priorities when things change. Flexibility lets businesses outpace rivals and boosts their chances of success. Clear priorities help businesses focus, make smart choices, and stay efficient. It also lets people from different departments weigh in and work together towards shared goals.

    Website SWOT analysis: Internal and external factors

    Several factors affect a website. You can control some of them. Elements the brand can control in the internal environment typically include design and user experience, content strategy, and marketing campaigns. External environment relates to circumstances that are out of the company's control. The most common external influences are:

    • Competitor activity
    • Consumer behavior
    • Political factors
    • Global economic trends
    • Technological advancement
    • New entrants

    Analyzing both internal and external factors can help companies identify impactful changes. They will also discover the factors they can't change and develop a plan to mitigate them.

    Internal vs. External Website SWOT Factors
    Internal vs. External Website SWOT Factors

    Strengths (S)

    To identify a website's strengths, explore what the company can leverage to gain a competitive advantage. Examples of strengths might include brand image, innovative services, well-known products, exceptional customer service, and sound financial standing.

    The website should communicate the positive aspects of the brand. For example, an established brand may attract potential customers because it is trustworthy. Effective online marketing campaigns focused on the trust component could increase the quality of the website's organic traffic.

    An innovative product line gives the website wider appeal among customers and niche markets. A sound financial standing gives the brand an opportunity to invest in customer engagement campaigns that competitors cannot afford.

    Most businesses are aware of their strengths. But, in our experience, companies always overlook some positives. So, don't assume you know what your brand does well. Examine your values, messaging, products, and marketing to leave no stone unturned.

    Weaknesses (W)

    Most companies have a difficult time identifying their weaknesses. We've found that the perception businesses have of their brand, products, or services does not align with the market's perception. The same is true for websites.

    Your website has about one-tenth (1/10) of a second to make an impression. At that point, users will decide what they think of it. So, it's imperative to develop a website that grabs the audience's attention right away.

    This is easier said than done.

    Often, companies create websites based on the marketing team's preferences or the latest design trends. But just because the color red is popular right now doesn't mean you should plaster red all over your website.

    To identify your website's weaknesses, evaluate its user interface, navigation structure, quality of content, design features. Combined, these elements determine if visitors can easily access and interact with the site.

    Also, be sure to review page layout to discover those that aren't engaging users or that might be too complex. Responsive design features should be in place to accommodate different devices (i.e. mobile phone usability, search engine ranking, and visibility).

    These components can either make or break a website's performance.

    To confirm your findings, review user behavior analytics to identify performance issues. Look for low bounce rates or significant drop-offs at specific points of the customer journey. The metrics may uncover flaws in the website's design or other elements that require modification.

    Conversion Optimization Consulting

    Consulting services for emerging or established companies that want to increase ROI on their digital marketing plan.

    Opportunities (O)

    To take advantage of opportunities, a company must have a deep understanding of the market environment. Analyzing innovative products, technology trends, customer needs, and competitors provides clues for the next steps you need to take.

    As you study the market, make a list of potential opportunities. In time, these may help you figure out how to improve competitive positioning. It's also possible to find opportunities to create additional revenue streams. You may implement new technologies and design trends to provide users with a better experience.

    Positive changes can also come from exploring social factors. Improved outcomes can result from adopting new engagement methods, understanding customer needs, and enhancing content strategy.

    Threats (T)

    External threats can affect every aspect of a company's operations. Some examples include economic downturns, government regulations, and changing consumer trends. Technological advances or world events, such as natural disasters, are other potential threats. Knowing how to plan for and respond to these external forces is essential for any business strategy.

    For websites, external threats come from outside influences that a brand may not always be aware of or prepared for. Websites are vulnerable to a myriad of issues, ranging from fraudulent activity, viruses, or cyberattacks like identity theft and data mining.

    Changes in search engine algorithms pose another threat because they can cause significant losses in website traffic. The recent Google core update is one example. These events can diminish revenue and damage a brand's reputation (i.e. negative reviews online).

    Web hosting servers pose another potential problem. When servers go offline, it interrupts website service, which often leads to lost traffic and customers.

    Legal action regarding copyright infringement or privacy violations could have far-reaching implications. Preparing for external threats shows a company's commitment to competitiveness despite cybercriminals, unexpected events, and technology changes.

    Develop a plan to manage these problems and any others that arise. Prepared companies recover quicker from inevitable challenges.

    SWOT Analysis template example
    Website SWOT Analysis template example

    How to populate SWOT quadrants and create an action plan

    Populating the SWOT's four quadrants illustrates how a website can leverage its capabilities and value. It also shows the company what it must do to protect areas of vulnerability.

    To complete the analysis grid, list each finding under its appropriate category. Include any related data or information as an attachment. Teams or individuals can refer to this information as they carry out the tasks after assigning action steps. Examples of this data are competitive benchmarks, consumer research, and customer feedback on your product or service.

    Next, assess your team's skill set and capabilities to make sure you have the personnel to execute all the tasks. Consider any gaps that need to be filled and areas where existing staff may need additional training or support tools.

    Finally, list any potential services or partners that may help support growth objectives or provide the technology improvements required. CRM software integrations, design platforms, or conversion rate optimization consultants are examples.

    Do you need a conversion optimization consultant?

    Click the button below to learn more.

    Website SWOT analysis: Problems to avoid and how to manage them

    Many companies run into problems during a website SWOT analysis. We'll look at these key issues and show how to make better, more informed decisions.

    Insufficient understanding of target audience

    Many businesses don't fully understand their target audience. They either generalize who their audience is or use outdated profiles, leading to a SWOT analysis that misses what their actual visitors need and do. This can lead to strategies that don't solve user problems or missing chances to engage them.

    Solution: Enhance your knowledge of your current audience and segment it to make your analysis and actions more precise.

    Overlooking competitor websites

    A frequent error is failing to examine competitor websites. Many businesses focus only on their own strengths and weaknesses, forgetting to compare themselves to their competitors. This approach can affect the accuracy of a SWOT analysis, making companies miss potential threats and opportunities.

    Solution: Perform a comprehensive analysis of direct and indirect competitors. Look for trends, gaps, and unique features that could shape your strategy.

    Ignoring technical SEO and performance issues

    Technical SEO and website performance often get overlooked in SWOT analyses. Slow loading, mobile issues, and weak SEO can damage user experience and online visibility. Not dealing with these issues can lead to less traffic and engagement.

    Solution: Include technical audits in your SWOT analysis to spot and fix these problems. Focus on making your site mobile-friendly, faster, and follow SEO best practices as the core of your strategy.

    Lack of actionable insights

    Companies often create SWOT analyses full of data but lacking in actionable insights. Without clear steps to take, the analysis is just theory, not a useful tool for improvement.

    Solution: For every point in your SWOT analysis, develop specific and measurable actions. Make sure these actions match your overall business goals to help your website succeed.

    Not updating the SWOT analysis regularly

    The digital world evolves constantly, yet businesses often fail to assess their SWOT analysis regularly. This mistake can make them miss out on new market trends, tech developments, or changes in what customers want.

    Solution: Think of your website's SWOT analysis as something that needs regular check-ups. It is important to plan to review and update it often to stay updated with the latest changes. This will keep your strategy sharp and effective.

    By avoiding these mistakes, businesses can really boost how well their website SWOT analysis works. This careful approach doesn't just highlight what needs fixing; it also shows new chances to stand out online, helping build a stronger, competitive edge.

    The Brand Auditors: Website SWOT Analysis Expertise

    Most businesses rely on guesswork to improve their websites. Focusing on design trends and individual preferences can inhibit website performance. The Brand Auditors can provide organizations with the expertise they need to take their online presence to the next level.

    Click the button below to find out how The Brand Auditors can help you with website SWOT analysis.

    Chris Fulmer PCM-Brand Auditors

    Chris Fulmer, PCM®

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

    Chris has over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing. He has designed strategies across various industries, such as technology, B2B services, and healthcare. His expertise includes brand positioning, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development.

    Click to learn more about Chris

    Are you ready to find out how a brand audit can transform your business?

    Our brand audit process is a comprehensive analysis designed to help companies optimize performance.

    • Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
    • Reduce marketing expenses.
    • Strengthen brand positioning to become more competitive.

    We guarantee satisfaction or get your money back! Schedule a discovery call with a brand auditor to find out more.

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