PPC SWOT Analysis: Manage Campaigns Like a Business

SWOT - Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat

Managing a business requires a great deal of self-reflection, analysis, and strategic planning. Through that process a great deal of focus is placed on internal factors – financials, human resources, performance of the business versus goals, and much more.

But it doesn’t end there.

You also have to look at the outside world to understand all of the influences that are beyond your immediate control. Think of the economy, industry changes, or the emergence or growth of competitors.

PPC professionals also require a great deal of self-reflection, analysis, and strategic planning when managing campaigns. Audits are a large part of the job, from the sales process through regularly scheduled sanity checks. In business the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) is a powerful tool for working through all of these details. Why not for PPC, too?

Viewing a PPC audit through the lens of a SWOT analysis looks a bit like this:

Strength (Internal)

  • What are your top keywords, ads, and landing pages based on your KPIs?
  • What accounts, campaigns, and ad groups have achieved or exceed goal CTR, CVR, CPA, ROI, ROAS, margin, profit, etc.?
  • Keywords with Quality Score of 7 or greater?
  • Ad extension usage at 100 percent? Call Extensions in place if applicable?
  • Segmentation applied for geo-targeting (at campaign or location setting levels), search vs. display, keywords, remarketing audience targeting, etc.?
  • Search and display feature usage at 100 percent (when applicable)?
  • PLA/shopping campaigns and product feeds implemented correctly?
  • Strong negative keyword and excluded placement lists?
  • Mobile strategy in place with mobile preferred ads?

Weakness (Internal)

  • What are your lowest performing keywords, ads, and landing ages based on your KPIs?
  • Is there a lack of testing protocol for ads, landing pages, and Ad Extensions?
  • Are there only search campaigns? Search campaigns with display activated?
  • Lack of Ad Extensions altogether?
  • Weak or lack of negative keyword and excluded placement lists?
  • Keywords with quality score 6 or lower?
  • Obvious keywords or display targeting missing?
  • Poor segmentation for geo-targeting, search vs. display, keywords, remarketing audience targeting, etc.?
  • Lack of mobile strategy?
  • PLA/shopping campaigns targeting all products? Product feed errors?

Opportunity (External)

  • New features (e.g. Shopping Campaigns).
  • Applicable beta tests.
  • New channels (e.g. native, social, vertical based channels, display networks, etc.).
  • Growth of mobile usage.
  • New websites entering Google Display Network (e.g. Forbes.com).
  • Increase in search volume on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

Threat (External)

  • New features (e.g. Enhanced Campaigns).
  • New competitors.
  • Ad editorial policy changes.
  • New websites entering Google Display Network (e.g. Candy Crush mobile app).
  • Decrease in search volume on Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
  • Government or search engine changes in policies for privacy, cookie usage, etc.
  • Changes in SERP design resulting in fewer ad positions for search.
  • Increased CPC costs due to rising competition or changing search landscape.


This analysis will cover more territory than just performance and low-hanging fruit opportunities. A SWOT analysis will help you to understand opportunities inside and outside of your advertising accounts.

Ultimately, you’re forced to think critically about the entire PPC ecosystem and how your accounts fit into the bigger picture. The next step is to create task assignments and create if/then strategies based on your analysis.

Share with your client, your team, or for real brownie points – your boss. Rinse and repeat.

How do you approach PPC account audits? Do you feel a SWOT analysis would benefit your efforts?

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