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SOSTAC and SWOT Marketing Techniques in Search

This article looks at two marketing techniques and how they can be applied to Search Marketing. My techniques of choice are SOSTAC and SWOT.

I’m a big fan of using wider marketing techniques in Search. Reminding stakeholders that we do marketing and we’re not wizards!

Search Marketers SHOULD be involved in all aspects of company marketing. But the minute we start chatting about canonicalization or ‘robots,’ the room switches off.

SOSTAC (Situation, Objective, Strategy, Tactic, Action, Control)

The SOSTAC planning system is a marketing planning system created by marketing author PR Smith. More info:

Perfect for SEO. Let’s say this is a new campaign, and I’m an in-house SEO.

Situation Analysis

This is the benchmarking stage. Look at:

  • Current ranking for hero terms
  • Top keywords by revenue
  • Competitor analysis
  • Full SEO audit
  • Resources available (staff, tools, etc.)


Probably the most difficult stage as there are so many variables in SEO (we don’t know all ranking factors, algorithmic changes, competitor actions, penalties, lack of buy-in or understanding from management).

First off, define the type of SEO you want:

  • Traffic generated SEO
  • Sales generated SEO
  • SEO for branding
  • SEO for reputation management
  • Percentage increase in traffic
  • Percentage increase in sales
  • Increase in rankings

Then set your time frames but be prepared for setbacks, change of keyword focus, and budget moved in other directions.


So for exactly are we going to achieve our objective?

  • On-page changes – meta/ copy and resources needed e.g. interns
  • Link building methods e.g. bloggers, directories, PR
  • Social e.g. ease and encouragement of sharing
  • Involving other marketing – it’s important not to separate as if you have a bad product, you won’t rank high.


The fun part! Well, maybe not if you’re the person writing pages and pages of titles and descriptions.

Here’s the actual plan, so for example:

  • Keyword research for Google and Bing (3 days) – SEO Manager
  • New titles, descriptions, header tags, copy (1 month) – SEO Grad
  • Review and change interlinking (2 weeks) – SEO Manager
  • Start blogger outreach (start month 2 and ongoing) – SEO Manager and SEO Grad
  • etc. etc


The SEO has started. So now here’s where analytics, webmaster tools, etc come in. You may need to refresh the above or maybe switch to more competitive keywords etc.

Make sure you report your achievements to management. Even micro ones like site links, key bloggers linking to you, etc.

SWOT (Strengths/ Weaknesses/ Opportunities/ Threats)

SWOT is an analysis process that is simple but usefull framework for enalyzing your organization’s strength. More info:

Perfect for PPC. Let’s say we’re launching a new generic campaign, and I’m an in-house PPC.


Collate all strengths relevant to the campaign we want to launch:

  • Products and price in that category in comparison to similar brands
  • Organic ranking and stats can show how useful the landing page is
  • Historical CTR and Conversion Rate for the entire account. Similar campaigns run in the past and other similar campaigns
  • Brand position


Basically, the above in reverse:

  • How many competitors in the auction and CPC
  • Market share
  • etc


Look at:

  • Search volume and organic competitiveness of the keyword
  • CPC of longer tailed keywords and variations
  • An offer that no competitor has
  • Lack PPC competition for an exact match
  • Use of additional features, e.g., Google Plus, reviews, etc.
  • Other marketing techniques have been a success e.g., email.


What factors could hinder your campaign

  • Competitors who have new stock, direction, branding, etc.
  • Above the line, marketing gets your competitors more exposure, thus more clicks and increases your CPC
  • Landing pages changes without your consent
  • Negative sentiment – reviews, social media, etc.

Ultimately, Both SOSTAC and SWOT marketing techniques could include details of the marketing and communications mix, digital mix, etc.

These are needed as part of the process of producing an integrated digital marketing or multichannel marketing plan.

You can also use it to define the scope of a problem.


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