SVM can be used for classification (distinguishing between several groups or classes) and regression (obtaining a mathematical model to predict something). They can be applied to both linear and non linear problems.
Until 2006 they were the best general purpose algorithm for machine learning. I was trying to find a paper that compared many implementations of the most known algorithms: svm, neural nets, trees, etc. I couldn't find it sorry (you will have to believe me, bad thing). In the paper the algorithm that got the best performance was svm, with the library libsvm.
In 2006 Hinton came up with deep learning and neural nets. He improved the current state of the art by at least 30%, which is a huge advancement. However deep learning only get good performance for huge training sets. If you have a small training set I would suggest to use svm.
Furthermore you can find here a useful infographic about when to use different machine learning algorithms by scikit-learn. However, to the best of my knowledge there is no agreement among the scientific community about if a problem has X,Y and Z features then it's better to use svm. I would suggest to try different methods. Also, please don't forget that svm or neural nets is just a method to compute a model. It is very important as well the features you use.