Competitor SWOT analysis (for new Websites)

The competitor SWOT analysis will show you where you can compete and win. 

And this is especially important for new websites and struggling websites with no visitors. 

You need to stop guessing and act on data. 

Albert S. Humphrey is credited for developing the SWOT analysis technique while working for the Stanford Research Institute, SRI International

SWOT – not just for Fortune 500 companies

SWOT analysis is a simple yet powerful tool to map the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of an organisation, business or website.

You use SWOT analysis to formulate strategies on how to compete and run your business.

And face it, in most industries there is no such thing as “business that is given to you”. 

Business needs to be earned. And to earn the business you need to be better than your competitors in serving the needs and wants of your visitors and customers. 

After all, your competitors are trying to win that same visitor or customer.

Competitor SWOT analysis helps you learn where to compete to stand the best chance of succeeding.

First we will look closer at the SWOT analysis or matrix and how it is formulated. 

We will also address how changing the perspective can identify new factors you need to manage.

Finally we will apply a competitor SWOT analysis to keyword research to learn where a new website could compete in a given niche. 

Understanding the SWOT analysis 

SWOT analysis is used in the early stages of any project or process.

The idea is to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to help the organisation compete. 

Competitor SWOT analysis matrix

It is key to perform the analysis from an outside-in perspective. 

We can group the 4 factors of the SWOT matrix in two groups.

Strengths and Weaknesses are Internal factors that you own and can control.

Opportunities and Threats are on the other hand external factors that you are subject to but have no control over.

SWOT matrix with Internal and External factors

We can then take the analysis one step further and group the factors as Positive or Negative.

Strengths and Opportunities are Positive factors that can be helpful in reaching our goals.

Weaknesses and Threats are Negative factors that can create friction and prevent us from reaching our objectives.

SWOT with Positive (helpful) and Negative (hurtful) factors added

The final SWOT Matrix

Complete SWOT analysis presented as a matrix

Now that we understand the different components and factors of the SWOT matrix we will present it in the more customary matrix format.

Reading from left to right and from top to bottom you can quickly identify how the SWOT analysis technique helps create a full picture of your competitive landscape.

Now that you are done with the theory it is time to apply what we have learnt.

Next we look at what a competitor SWOT analysis could look like if done in real life.

SWOT analysis from a different perspective

A competitor SWOT analysis is often performed by looking at yourself and using the competition as a benchmark.

You end up in a “what we do well compared to the competition” type perspective.

What I am suggesting here today is the opposite. 

Analyse one of your competitors and use yourself or the industry as the benchmark.

When you perform the competitor SWOT analysis from your competitors perspective you will identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a new light.

From competitor perspectiveYou need to
Competitor strengthdefend and maintain your position
Competitor weaknessbe aggressive and grow
Competitor opportunitiesstay alert and monitor
Competitor threatsevaluate your position

You could of course choose to do much more than to “defend and maintain your position” where your competitors are strong.

And in a perfect world you have unlimited time and resources to do everything we want.

But if you have to prioritise you will find that using a competitor perspective will help you identify where you will get the most return on investment (ROI).

Sample competitor SWOT analysis from competitor perspective

Performing a SWOT on your competition starts by answering questions that can be painful to ask. 

Keep the questions objective and apply an outside-in perspective. You do not want a SWOT process where you or other team participants feel a need to defend actions or maybe a lack thereof. 

This is an example of what some of the questions could look like. 

Your competitor’s Strengths

  • Why are customers buying from your competitor?
  • What do they have that you want?
  • What do they do better than you?
  • What is your competitor known for?
  • Does your competitor have unique products or services?
  • What is it that your competitor does best in the industry?

Your competitor’s Weaknesses

  • What complaints do you hear or read about your competitor?
  • What do you have that your competitor would want?
  • Does your competitor lack presence in some segments of the market?
  • Do they have problems with lead generation, pre-sales, sales, logistics, support or something else?

Your competitor’s Opportunities

  • Are there segments in the market where they are not present?
  • Do they have holes in their product or service portfolio?
  • Are there segments in the market where they are weak?
  • Are there obvious / clear / easy solutions to some of their problems?

Your competitor’s Threats

  • Are there regulatory changes that will affect your competitor?
  • Is your competitor a forward thinking force in the industry?
  • Are they heavily reliant on sales of standardised low margin products or services?
  • Are they digitally transformed or stuck in the old way of thinking?
  • Are they expanding too fast?

Using the SWOT matrix as a guideline

The SWOT matrix or analysis is simple to use and will help you to stay focused and relevant.

You can apply the basis of the SWOT competitor analysis to almost any problem you face. 

All 4 factors may not be relevant in all scenarios. Still, using SWOT and an outside-in perspective will keep you structured in your approach.

SWOT competitor analysis when starting a new website

If you have no visitors to your website you are probably making at least one of the following mistakes:

  1. You write what you want to write about and not what is being searched for
  2. You choose topics where you cannot compete

Getting visitors to a brand new website takes time. You need to publish epic content, be patient and work hard. 

But you also need to work smart.

So let’s look at how you can you make sure that you write about topics 

  1. that people are searching for and
  2. where you can compete

SWOT competitor analysis and keyword research

When you perform a SWOT analysis you look at your competitors using yourself or the industry as a benchmark.

But using the industry as a benchmark will give you very little guidance if you are just starting out.

So how can you use the SWOT matrix to find keywords where you can compete?

I will assume you have already read the articles on how to identify a niche where you can compete.

In this fictitious example I will use the niche “ragdoll cats” and the search term “ragdoll cat care tips” for the competitor SWOT analysis.

I will use the Web-based keyword research tool from Keysearch to perform the analysis.

Keysearch offers a free monthly trial with a limited number of searches. And should you decide to use the service I have found that the Starter package at $17 per month is enough for most website owners' needs.

1. Evaluating competitor strength in your niche

Starting a brand new website you have no Domain Authority (DA). And as your website is new you probably have no external links to your domain.

Domain Authority (DA) is measured on a scale from 1-100. You can read more about DA in this article but for reference DA 30 is good, DA 50 is great and everything above 50 is very strong.

External links help build your website’s authority. Think of external links as votes from other websites that your content has value. Search engines see relevant and natural external links to your website as a sign of value and authority. 

When evaluating your competitors strength you need to confirm that your niche have websites that receive organic traffic from search engines despite having a low DA and a low number of external links

You login to Keysearch and search for “ragdoll cat care tips”.

The search result gives you the top 10 websites ranking for the search term on the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Looking at the search results you can quickly identify that DA values (domain authority) range from a low 12 to a very high 93.

You also note that several of the websites have 50 or less external links to their websites for this search phrase.

Using Keysearch to identify competitors
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Conclusion: The initial screening shows that there are competitors in your niche with low DA and a low number of external links.

2. Evaluating competitor weakness

Next you move on to select one competitor to analyze.

Needless to say, you should repeat this step for all relevant competitors but in this article we will focus on one competitor to illustrate the process.

You need to decide on one competitor with a low DA and not too many external links.  

For this article you select the website with a DA of 12 and 50 external links. 

Still in Keysearch you click Competitive Analysis > URL Metrics.

In the search box you enter the domain name and click “Search”.

Evaluating URL metrics for weaknesses
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The URL Metrics search shows that the competitor is ranking for 2337 keywords and receives 85068 visits.

You can also see that the website has 121 links to the domain.

This is promising but you need more information.

Conclusion: You have identified a competitor website with a DA of 12 and 121 external links to their domain that is receiving over 85000 visitors. 

3. Evaluating opportunity

You now have a potential competitor that you should be able to compete with.

But what are you competing for?

How can you be sure that this competitor receives visitors for relevant keywords?

Next you click Competitive Analysis > Organic Keywords

You enter the domain name in the search box and click “Search”. And do make sure you select “Entire Domain” if it is not preselected.

SWOT - Opportunities with competitor keywords ranking as number 1
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You can now see if there is a real opportunity. The result of the search shows that there are several number 1 positions with good traffic numbers. 

There are 2327 keywords in total and they are all relevant to your niche.

Conclusion: There is an opportunity to compete for keywords that are relevant, searched for and that do generate visitors.

4. Evaluating competitor threats

You are almost there but there is still one hurdle for you to cross.

In this final step you need to look at the competitor and evaluate their real life authority and credentials.

In our example you could for example think twice if the authors of the competitor website are veterinarians or registered breeders of ragdolls.

You may ask yourself why you would not do this check earlier? 

And the answer is simply that the result of this final step does not have to be a showstopper.

But needless to say you should always keep credentials and authority in mind especially for E-A-T and YMYL type niches (point 3) and topics.

Conclusion: Given that you feel you can match or compete with the credentials of the competitor website you now have a list of 2327 potential keywords that you could compete and rank for.

SUMMARY:

The purpose of this article is to stress the importance of applying a sound framework when you make decisions.

And the SWOT matrix or analysis is a simple to use and extremely versatile tool for decision making.

You have now seen how you can use a SWOT competitor analysis to find where you could compete in your chosen niche.

Using a competitor SWOT analysis you now have a list of potential keywords that are relevant, searched for and where you can compete. Even as a brand new website owner.

Now you need to focus on producing epic content to offer the visitor a superior user experience.

Meet the author: Serial entrepreneur and travel industry expert with more than 20 years working experience from web development, Wordpress and the travel industry. Mattias is a big fan of Open Source and will show you how to build and manage a website using Wordpress and a bit of optional PHP for the true enthusiast. Mattias identifies with self-starters and entrepreneurs and also shares ideas on how to monetize a website.