SEO Forecasting – How to Estimate SEO Traffic & Revenue Growth. A Step-by-Step Guide

29min.

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SEO Forecasting – How to Estimate SEO Traffic & Revenue Growth. A Step-by-Step Guided-tags
26 April 2023
If you want to know how much profit an SEO campaign may bring you, I advise you to estimate your SEO traffic. Even though this process isn’t always 100% accurate, it’s still one of the best methods that help you set a new direction for your business. Find out what data needs to be included in your SEO estimations + how to read the values to increase the accuracy of your SEO forecast.

29min.

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Damian Hliwa has years of SEO experience. Before devising any SEO strategy, he always does SEO forecast because – he believes – that is the only way to help his Clients grow their online presence in a data-driven manner. Having done numerous estimations, Damian worked out a battle-tested estimation process, and that’s exactly what he shares in this practical guide.

Damian Hliwa
Damian Hliwa Senior SEO Specialist

Let me be clear right from the start – building an SEO forecast happens to be tricky. It doesn’t mean though that spending time on discovering your business opportunities through this process is unprosperous. Actually, if done correctly, it shows you ways to increase your organic traffic and revenue.

Without further ado, let’s see:

  • if it’s possible to get 100% accurate SEO estimations
  • what data do you need to create SEO estimation for your website
  • how to estimate SEO traffic growth
  • what external factors impact your SEO estimations + examples of the factors that are beyond your control
  • how to calculate the revenue growth for e-commerce and services

If you’re anything like me, you use Google Maps to check the estimated arrival time whenever you’re planning to go on a trip. Using the best information available at a given moment – in this case, the distance between the starting point and destination, time of departure, and live traffic conditions – the app estimates the result, which is the arrival time.

The same is with building SEO Forecast for your online business. You need to use SEO tools to gather the available information about a website’s performance over a selected period. When the data is neatly presented in charts and graphs, you’re able to start connecting the dots and try to estimate your organic traffic potential, for example.

However, there is a big BUT when it comes to SEO forecast. To help you understand what that is, let’s get back for a moment to the Google Maps analogy. How many times has it happened that you managed to reach your destination earlier than the app suggested? The weather conditions were perfect, there was no traffic on the road, so you went full Max Verstappen mode, thus arriving quicker. However, how many times has it happened that you arrived later than estimated?

Does it mean Google Maps estimations were wrong? Surprisingly, they were accurate because they were based on the information gathered at the time you were planning your trip.

That’s why it’s absolutely important to realize one thing:

Some completely uncontrollable factors may turn your estimations inside out.

For example, while planning your trip these could be unexpected weather disruptions, a car accident, or simply an unplanned stop at a gas station. None of these things can be foreseen by Google Maps, hence included in its estimations.

The same is with doing SEO forecasts. Despite the hard data gathered by analytical tools, there are plenty of uncontrollable factors that have a tremendous influence on the result you achieve in the future:

  • various Google algorithm updates (e.g. Core, Helpful Content)
  • your competitor’s marketing strategies
  • consumer behavior
  • search trends
  • economic situation/state of the market
  • geopolitics

and many, many more. Once there was even a huge fire breakout causing millions of websites to vanish from the internet. How on Earth can anyone foresee that? Luckily, such extreme cases occur rarely.

Estimation is an important element of selling SEO services. “What can I achieve by working with you?” is a common question asked by potential clients during the sales stage. There aren’t many SEO companies that can accurately estimate results based on traffic or visibility data, but increasingly more and more businesses demand it. This is especially true if we are talking directly to a business owner or someone who needs to convince their manager of the profitability of an SEO investment.

Not in all cases is it reasonable to carry out an estimation at such a stage. We have to remember that we do not yet know how the website will react to changes, we do not know exactly the competitive environment, and we do not know if the client will act on all the specific recommendations. Therefore, the estimate at the sales stage should be considered as a kind of initial forecasting.

The best time for verification and re-estimation is after 3-4 months of cooperation when we already know how the website reacts to SEO processes, how much commitment there is on the part of the client, and when we have carried out all the necessary analyses: audit of the website’s SEO condition, analysis of keyword potential or analysis of competitors’ actions.

Milena Fietko
Milena Fietko SEO Strategy Manager

That being said, you may be wondering now…

Is There Any Use Doing SEO Estimations

You bet, there is!

Running through all the available data helps you identify new opportunities for your business. This, in turn, reveals untapped growth areas and may inspire you to take up new initiatives, eventually outrunning your closest competitors. Also, creating SEO estimations enables you to prioritize some elements of your SEO strategy, especially for topics and keywords with lower competition.

The truth is that getting the most accurate values, numbers, and percentages about your website and keyword performance is just half the battle. Being able to see beyond what can be seen at first glance (i.e. the metrics) and connecting the dots helps you tremendously with making even more out of the SEO estimations.

To significantly improve the accuracy of SEO traffic estimations, you may need a bit more than just taking a look at your website’s current and historic data. To prepare the long-term SEO forecast, it’s advised to:

  • have wide and first-hand experience in SEO
  • be aware of your CMS’s abilities and limitations
  • regularly optimize websites for the given industry
  • take an active part in various SEO-related projects

All of this aids in extracting and correctly interpreting the key information to develop workable strategies that lead to traffic and revenue growth.

SEO Estimation: Data You Need to Analyze

SEO estimation is nothing like tea-leaf reading. To do it sensibly, you need to have the access to hard data. It also helps to have a good understanding of SEO. Only by combining these two elements will you be able to draw the right conclusions: spot trends, identify opportunities, and measure risks.

The good news is that top SEO tools are capable of analyzing a large number of metrics (e.g. data about organic activity, engagement, keyword positions) in real-time, which significantly increases the accuracy of the estimations.

There are numbers of factors determining whether an estimation will eventually prove to be true. First, we must be aware that we are living in very unstable times and that the economic situation is affecting practically every industry. Therefore, instead of taking estimations for granted, we should perceive them as a reasonable assumption that achieving such results is highly possible.

Secondly, the quality of the data we gather during the estimation process is also very important: it matters whether or not the data come from a single tool, and whether we have to exclude some data manually because including it in the estimation may not make sense business-wise.

Thirdly, we also have to deal with different estimating algorithms – there are many tools on the market that can help with SEO forecasting, but they cannot be trusted blindly. A good example is the publishing industry/online bookshops, where a large part of the generated traffic is often driven by very generic phrases, because they appear, for example, in the book blurb. The human factor is therefore essential to the estimation.

Milena Fietko
Milena Fietko SEO Strategy Manager

The Essentials of SEO Forecasting

At the core of digital marketing success lies the ability to anticipate and adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of search engines. SEO forecasting is the key to unlocking this ability, providing a gateway to understanding the intricate dynamics of organic traffic growth. By leveraging data and analytics, SEO forecasting offers a glimpse into the future performance of your website, shaping the way you approach keyword rankings, revenue generation, and overall SEO strategy.

Why is SEO forecasting so crucial? It’s simple. In the digital age, where competition is fierce and the rules of the game are constantly changing, staying ahead means not only knowing where you’ve been but also where you’re headed. Forecasting allows you to project SEO growth, analyze the impact of your SEO efforts, and align your business goals with the shifting sands of search engine algorithms. With the right SEO forecasting, you can create a roadmap to future organic traffic growth, ensuring that every step you take is informed and intentional.

Understanding SEO Forecasting

Peering into the future of your website’s traffic might seem like a daunting task, but with a solid grasp of forecasting SEO traffic, it becomes a manageable and insightful endeavor. At its heart, SEO forecasting is about making informed predictions based on historical website performance, current search trends, and advanced analytics that can estimate your future organic traffic growth. This informed speculation is not about wild guesses but about strategic planning and understanding the potential impact of the SEO efforts you’re deploying today.

One of the foundational elements of SEO forecasting is the analysis of historical data. By examining past performance trends, such as website traffic and keyword search volume, you’re able to establish a reliable baseline from which to project future growth. Such analytics are further enriched by incorporating current search trends and user behavior patterns, which can significantly influence your site’s visibility and future traffic. The key is to combine these multiple data points into a cohesive forecast that guides your SEO strategy forward.

Why SEO Forecasting Matters

Consider for a moment the strategic advantage of being able to forecast SEO traffic with precision. It’s a game-changer for any digital marketing campaign. SEO forecasting matters because it allows you to set realistic goals, plan strategically, and allocate resources efficiently. It’s the difference between shooting in the dark and aiming with a laser-focused sight on your target market. By predicting future organic traffic growth, you can carve out a competitive edge and ensure your SEO efforts are not in vain.

But it’s not just about outsmarting the competition. SEO forecasting facilitates clear communication with stakeholders, providing a data-driven rationale for the design and implementation of SEO strategies. It aids in the anticipation of competitor moves, ensuring that your SEO campaigns are not only effective but also responsive to the market’s current state. Regular forecasting is essential to aligning your SEO strategies with the dynamic digital landscape, adapting to changes, and steering your projects toward success.

The Impact of SEO Forecasting on Business Goals

The value of SEO forecasting extends beyond mere traffic numbers; it has a significant impact on overall business goals. By providing a way to set realistic SEO targets and schedule necessary adjustments to strategies, forecasting becomes an indispensable tool in the decision-making arsenal of any business. Whether your focus is on boosting sales, increasing visibility, or driving engagement, accurate SEO forecasts can align your digital marketing efforts with your long-term company objectives, ensuring that every move you make is strategic and results-driven.

Moreover, the insights gained from SEO forecasting can inform critical business decisions. Imagine having the ability to anticipate market shifts, adapt your SEO efforts proactively, and plan for future contingencies. By forecasting estimated organic traffic volume and keyword rankings, businesses can better anticipate sales conversions from incoming traffic, thereby enhancing their decision-making process and setting the stage for success.

Crafting Your SEO Forecasting Model

With a firm understanding of SEO forecasting’s essentials, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and craft your forecasting model. This is where goals, data, and strategy converge to form a comprehensive approach to predict your site’s future growth. Whether you’re looking to optimize budget utilization, prioritize work, or assess outcomes for specific keywords, clearly defining your goals at the outset of the forecasting process is crucial.

Once set, you can employ various methods, such as statistical models and manual analysis, to get a glimpse into the future performance of your website. One effective approach is the top-down model, which starts with analyzing the total addressable market to establish broad, comprehensive forecasts that can be more accurate than simply extrapolating from past performance.

Yet, it’s the inclusion of key metrics like keyword search volume that truly infuses your SEO forecasting with precision, as these data points have a significant influence on projected website performance and organic traffic.

Collecting and Analyzing Historical Website Data

The backbone of any SEO forecasting model is robust historical data. Pulling organic traffic data from tools like Google Analytics and Search Console for a period of 12-24 months provides invaluable insights into your past website performance. This historical website data lays the groundwork for understanding how your traffic has trended over time and establishes a baseline for future predictions. Once you have this data in hand, you can begin to identify patterns and trends that will inform your forecast.

Using the ‘Performance’ report in Google Search Console, you can prepare a summary table of monthly organic traffic and calculate the average percentage change. This analysis of historical traffic data becomes the foundation from which you can forecast future organic traffic growth, applying observed trends to project what’s to come. It’s a meticulous process that requires attention to detail and a thorough understanding of your website’s historical performance.

Predictive Keyword Analysis

Predictive keyword analysis takes the insights from historical data to the next level by estimating the future organic performance of key terms. It’s a critical component of SEO forecasting that combines potential keyword rankings with average click-through rates to project future traffic. By identifying which keywords are likely to bring the most traffic, you can focus your SEO efforts where they will have the greatest impact.

Advanced tools offer the ability to:

  • Analyze keywords in clusters, providing a clear vision of projected search volumes and spotting new keyword opportunities
  • Calculate predicted traffic using monthly search volume and estimated click-through rates, creating a more nuanced forecast that accounts for seasonal variations and competitive dynamics
  • Position your website to capitalize on emerging search trends and behaviors

This forward-looking analysis is not just about predicting traffic; it’s about positioning your website to capitalize on emerging search trends and behaviors.

Incorporating Search Engine Changes

As the digital landscape is in a constant state of flux, your SEO forecasting model must be dynamic and adaptable. Incorporating search engine changes into your forecasts is crucial to maintaining their accuracy and relevance. Search trends, user interests, and, most importantly, search engine algorithm updates all have the power to shift the direction of your organic traffic significantly.

Regularly updating your forecasts to account for these changes ensures you stay on the right path. By staying informed of the latest search engine algorithm changes and market dynamics, you can revise your SEO strategies as needed, always keeping your forecasts aligned with the current state of play. This ongoing process of refinement helps you remain agile and responsive, reducing the risk of being blindsided by unexpected shifts in the SEO landscape.

That being said, let’s see what types of analytical data you need to gather first to later estimate the organic traffic growth rate that your website can generate over a given time span.

So, let’s see how to estimate SEO traffic and revenue growth.

First, you need to estimate the percentage of traffic growth that is possible for your website to generate over a given period. Only after having this goal set clearly, can you use the available data to calculate the possibility of achieving the estimated traffic growth.

#1 Web Traffic Report in Google Analytics

I suggest starting with Google Analytics, as this tool provides you with the most accurate information about your web traffic.

However, before I show you how to access accurate figures, let me draw your attention to two aspects.

ASPECT #1 At this point, you need to know how to bring together and make sense of the information you’re about to receive. You need to recognize the correlations and connections between the periods you select and the particular seasons (e.g. holiday, Christmas, winter). Even socio-economic issues have an impact on the demand for particular products in certain industries and types of business. You need to keep this in mind while doing SEO estimations for your website.

ASPECT #2 As strange as it may sound, sometimes a 50% increase may be larger than a 75% increase. Let me explain: If your website barely drove organic traffic, then seeing a 75% increase achieved over 6 months appears to be impressive. However, if from that moment you notice a 50% increase in web traffic, then it means your website actually generated more traffic than previously.

Wait, what?

Let’s assume your monthly traffic is 1,000. If it increases by 75% over 6 months, it means you have 750 more sessions.

Now, your monthly traffic is 1,750. If it increases by 50% over the next 6 months, it means that you actually have 875 more sessions.

Can you see now why sometimes 50% is more than 75%?

Having that settled, let’s see how to gather the data required to estimate SEO traffic for your website.

STEP 1 Log in to Google Analytics.

STEP 2 From the left-hand sidebar menu, select Acquisition  All Traffic  Source/Medium

google analytics acqusition source

IMPORTANT For now, we’re going to focus only on the organic traffic. At this stage, avoid applying any filters because this may give you an incomplete perception of this metric.

How can you tell the data isn’t sampled? Simply look at the shield icon shown at the top of the report:

data not filtered in google analytics  the shield is green – the report shows a complete set of data on traffic gathered by GA (that’s what you want)

data filtered in google analytics  the shield is yellow – the report shows sampled data (you don’t want that now)

STEP 3 Select google / organic

traffic source in google analytics

STEP 4 From the data menu (top right) set the Data Range. Select the last 12 months;

e.g. March 15, 2022 – March 15, 2023

google analytics traffic choose data range

STEP 5 Click Compare to checkbox and expand the date range to 12 months back;

e.g. March 14, 2021 – March 14, 2002

compare data in google analytics

Now, you’re able to compare the organic traffic from 24 months in total. The report lets you spot periodic fluctuations, such as search seasonality and seasonal trends.

STEP 6 Here’s when you start estimating SEO traffic.

Period-over-period comparison lets you identify growth and decline in your website traffic:

Whenever you notice web traffic growth, think about what marketing or SEO activities contributed to such a result. Whether you published a couple of insightful and keyword-optimized reports or fixed some major bugs, this is an unmistakable sign for you that those activities do work. What you should do is basically carry on with your strategy, as it clearly delivers you the desired results.

Whenever you notice web traffic decline, try to identify the causes. Naturally, the reasons for the sudden drop in organic traffic may vary: from new Google algorithm updates, through the increased number of dead backlinks, to simply your visitors founding your content outdated. Whatever the reason is, you need to find and counteract it.

Here’s another thing: If your website hasn’t been optimized for search engines, you might be pretty sure that once you make it easier to crawl, index, and navigate the organic traffic will increase significantly.

However, if your website has already been optimized, there is little chance that further complementary optimizations would significantly boost your organic traffic. You will definitely notice some improvement, yet the results won’t be as spectacular as in the previous scenario.

SEO SPECIALIST’S TIP

Imagine you’re about to check your website’s organic traffic. You go through all the above stages and – to your surprise – see that the report lacks data, just like in the screenshot below:

google analytics graph with lacking data

This scenario happened to one of my Clients. He migrated his website successfully but forgot about one thing – adding the analytics tracking. As a result, for a few months, Google Analytics wasn’t able to collect the data for him.

There are two solutions to this problem.

Solution #1 You may think to yourself “Oh, too bad. I’ll estimate the SEO traffic basing my assumptions on what I have (i.e. incomplete data).”

Solution #2 You may access the missing data on Ahrefs or SEMrush. Although the information may slightly deviate from the actual traffic number, it’s still far better than having no data at all. When comparing the information from Ahrefs or SEMrush to the information gathered by Google Analytics, you’re able to make reasonable assumptions.

This is the information I managed to retrieve for the above Client:

graph showing missing data

#2 Organic Reach Report in SEMrush

The organic reach report is the next thing that helps you estimate SEO traffic growth. To access this data, you may use either SEMrush or Ahrefs. I’ll use the former to walk you through the process.

Before showing you where you can find the information to identify the potential for optimization, let me draw your attention to 2 things:

#1 The very first thing that you need to eyeball is the visibility growth, especially the keywords that made it to the top 10 since these are the positions that drive most of your organic traffic.

#2 Look for some seasonal trends, check how your website reacted to Google algorithm updates (note: SEMrush marks those dates in the charts), and examine keyword ranking.

Again, you need to turn your analytical thinking on because sometimes high visibility doesn’t translate into increased revenue.

EXAMPLE Imagine you run an e-commerce store. Your organic reach report shows that your online store visibility is at a satisfactory level, but somehow the sale doesn’t reflect that at all. After taking a closer look, it appears that it’s your company blog that generates the visibility, not the product pages (the ones that are supposed to generate sales).

Here is the possible explanation: After making a search and clicking on the organic search result that matches their intent, the users are taken to your company blog. Since the blog posts don’t feature any CTAs or internal linking, the users simply exit your website after finishing reading the post. They aren’t encouraged to explore your offer.

Conclusion: In this case, high visibility translates neither into a high conversion rate nor high revenue.

Having this in mind, let’s learn how to verify if your web traffic is valuable. To do it, check two things: organic reach (aka visibility) and keyword positions.

STEP 1 Open SEMrush.

STEP 2 From the left sidebar, click SEO → Organic Research.

organic reach report in semrush

This report shows you the number of keywords in the top 3, top 4-10, top 11-20, and so on.

STEP 3 Like we did this earlier when analyzing the web traffic report in Google Analytics, I suggest selecting the 2-year date range.

organic reach report choose data range semrush

STEP 4 Let’s inspect your website visibility. Go to SEMrush Domain Overview dashboard.

how to estimate seo traffic in semrush

Again, I recommend selecting 2 or more years since the last 2-3 years stirred things up a bit, didn’t they?

Such a report gives you a few critical insights. For example, if you notice valuable keywords making it to the top 10-20, you can make their position ber by carrying on with your on-site strategy. Those phrases, in turn, will affect positively the general keywords, which will eventually promote further growth.

While doing SEO estimations for your website, I also advise you to take a look at the keyword difficulty (KD) scale. In general, SEO tools show how competitive a particular keyword is, and it depends on factors such as popularity, cost per click (CPC), and search volume.

What I want to say: If the difficulty scale of particular keywords is high, you know it would be pretty tough to get your website to show up for those phrases. On the other hand, if you work in a not-so-competitive industry, you will be able to strengthen your keyword positions investing relatively less money.

Okay, once you get the hard data concerning your website performance, it’s time to dig deeper.

Keywords and visibility are one thing. Your SEO estimation process must also take heed of the general trends within your industry and the target country. Also, mind the ever-changing consumer behavior.

Undeniably, 2020 and 2021 were exceptionally favorable to e-commerce. Because of the restrictions, most store owners moved their business online as this was the place their customers were shopping. This so-called period of prosperity ended a few months ago, which is something you should take into consideration while doing SEO estimations for your website. Naturally, there are other industry indicators and social-economic factors that have a direct impact on consumer behavior.

How will you know what has changed recently, or what the current trends are? You can find the most up-to-date data both on Statista and Baymard Institute. I’d also recommend you check IRP Commerce which is an e-commerce platform providing trading data in real-time.

EXAMPLE Your online store may be literally top-notch: 100% optimized for search engines, full of captivating content, and irresistible CTAs. However, you won’t get any sales if your target prospects can’t afford to buy from you or simply when your items are no longer popular.

This is what happened to Kitchen & Home Appliances market. During the pandemic, people used to buy new furniture and utensils more than they had done before 2020. Now, when most people returned to their regular offices and the inflation rate is constantly going up, customers are less likely to replace their working home appliances with new ones.

Besides, sometimes what appears to be a fall isn’t actually a fall, but more of a trend coming to an end. Do you remember a sudden hype for beauty products enriched with charcoal that was on a few years back? The market for charcoal-infused products boomed suddenly, thrived for a few months, and then slumped as quickly as it picked up.

That’s why doing market research helps you make better SEO estimations.

Based on our experience, the estimation efficiency is around 68-92%. Why such a discrepancy? It’s due to many variables and uncontrollable factors: the quality of the analytical data, the algorithms, changes in the search engine, competitors’ activities, and stability of a given market.

Estimations will never be 100% effective. It’s worth realizing that estimation is just a tool, so it will not generate traffic growth on its own. “No work, no results” – the estimation for SEO activities optimistically assume that all recommendations will be implemented and that we will not be blocked in implementing changes and executing SEO strategies.

Milena Fietko
Milena Fietko SEO Strategy Manager

SEO Estimation: Your Budget

So far, you’ve analyzed and included in SEO estimation the following:

  • Keyword position
  • Website visibility / organic reach
  • Search and seasonal trends
  • Customer behavior
  • Industry indicators

Your next box to check is your budget.

When it comes to SEO, the amount of money you can afford to invest equals the time during which search engine optimization can be carried out. It defines how much time and resources can be devoted to content creation, technical SEO, work of a developer team, off-site process, and all that jazz. Obviously, the bigger the budget, the better the results.

Since you need to cover the cost of acquiring backlinks, content creation (no matter if you hire an in-house copywriter or find a freelancer), and an SEO specialist, partnering with an SEO agency may actually turn out to be a more profitable solution.

Understanding how much SEO work is required to improve your website ranks in search results, you get a rough estimate of how much you need to invest to eventually notice your ultimate goal, which is revenue growth.

After collecting all the necessary pieces of information and having a basic understanding of SEO, you’re able to forecast the real visibility growth rate for your website.

To make your calculations even more accurate, you may want to take a look at the analytical reports once again.

Navigating Challenges in SEO Forecasting

Even with the most advanced tools and methodologies at your disposal, SEO forecasting can present its share of challenges. The complexity of search engine algorithms, the variability of data, and the unpredictability of long-term trends all add layers of difficulty to the forecasting process. Understanding these challenges is the first step in navigating them, allowing you to refine your forecasts and maintain their relevance in a complex digital ecosystem.

However, these challenges should not deter you. Instead, they should be seen as opportunities to deepen your understanding of SEO and enhance your forecasting skills. By acknowledging the inherent complexities and uncertainties, you can approach SEO forecasting with a mindset geared towards continuous learning and improvement, ensuring that your strategies remain robust and responsive to the ever-changing nature of organic search.

Dealing with Algorithmic Complexity

Algorithmic complexity is one of the most formidable challenges in SEO forecasting. Search engines frequently update their algorithms, often in ways that can drastically affect website rankings. To deal with this, it’s essential to blend the art of SEO forecasting with the science of predictive analytics. This means being agile enough to adapt your strategies in response to algorithmic changes, ensuring that your forecasts remain as accurate as possible given the available data.

Maintaining forecast accuracy also requires considering factors such as external events, which can significantly influence online behaviors and, by extension, SEO performance. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic showcased the profound impact such events can have on search trends.

Additionally, it’s important to recognize that historical website data may not always be a perfect predictor of future performance, given the myriad of factors like competition and strategic shifts that can influence outcomes.

Accounting for External Factors

Beyond algorithmic changes, external factors such as market shifts, economic conditions, and regulatory changes can all influence the effectiveness of your SEO forecasting. The dynamic nature of search behavior means that keywords that were once popular may lose relevance, requiring you to adjust your forecasts and strategies accordingly. This is particularly crucial for seasonal SEO projections that must take into account not just the peak periods but also the subsequent stabilization phases.

It’s essential to periodically refresh SEO forecasts to accurately represent these shifts. This means staying attuned to the broader environment in which your website operates, from economic trends to the competitive landscape. By doing so, you can ensure your forecasts remain relevant and that your SEO strategies are primed to capitalize on the opportunities presented by an ever-changing market.

Ensuring Data Integrity

The credibility of your SEO forecasting hinges on the integrity of your data. Significant variations between forecasted and actual numbers can signal the need to reassess your data’s reliability. Such discrepancies may reveal specific areas requiring optimization to bridge the gap between prediction and reality. When inconsistencies arise, a second review of the data and forecasting methods is warranted to maintain the accuracy and integrity of your forecasts.

Ensuring data accuracy is not just a best practice; it’s a critical component of creating reliable and actionable forecasts. Regular tracking and analysis of metrics serve as a litmus test for your forecasting’s precision. By continually revising your forecasts in light of new data, you can maintain the trustworthiness of your projections and the confidence in your SEO strategies.

Maximizing the Value of SEO Forecasting

Maximizing the value of your SEO forecasting involves:

  • A commitment to high-quality data
  • A consideration of multiple factors
  • The employment of various tools
  • The regular updating of forecasts

This multifaceted approach ensures that your predictions are not only accurate but also actionable, providing you with the insights needed to make informed decisions about your SEO strategy.

Effective communication of strategies and budgets derived from SEO forecasts also plays a pivotal role in managing expectations, both for management and clients. Setting realistic output expectations in terms of rankings, traffic, or conversions is essential to fully leverage the advantages of SEO forecasting. By doing so, you can ensure that your stakeholders understand the value of your efforts and the tangible benefits they can bring to the business.

Enhancing Traffic Growth Predictions

To enhance traffic growth predictions, it’s advantageous to utilize a Total Addressable Market (TAM)-based forecast. This approach reduces the impact of short-term market fluctuations and focuses on the overall potential audience, providing a more stable and long-term perspective. With such forecasts, you can set reference points that allow for the comparison of actual results with predicted traffic growth, providing a measurable standard for success.

The process of comparing forecasted outcomes with actual performance metrics is a critical exercise for any SEO professional. It provides valuable insights that inform decisions about future SEO actions and strategies. By continuously refining forecasts using these insights, you can improve their accuracy over time, ensuring that your traffic predictions become increasingly reliable and beneficial for your business.

Boosting Conversion Through Forecasting

Boosting conversions is a primary goal for many SEO campaigns, and forecasting plays a critical role in achieving this. By calculating the number of expected conversions using predicted website traffic and average conversion rates, you gain a quantitative measure of anticipated user actions. This enables you to tailor your SEO efforts to not just drive traffic but to convert that traffic into valuable actions, whether they be sales, sign-ups, or other forms of engagement.

Measuring ROI by the intent stage through SEO forecasting allows businesses to determine the profitability of different stages in the buying process. This strategic allocation of resources, informed by average conversion rates, aids in identifying opportunities for optimization across various user interactions. By focusing on conversions as a fundamental aspect of SEO forecasting, you can better understand the potential returns on SEO investments and make more informed decisions about where to invest your efforts for the greatest impact.

Elevating SEO Investment Returns

SEO forecasting not only informs you about potential traffic but also provides insights into the likely returns on your SEO investments. Understanding the value of organic traffic in relation to the cost of paid traffic can help businesses make more strategic investment decisions. By consolidating estimates of traffic, leads, and sales, and comparing forecasted performance with investment costs, you can assess the ROI from SEO campaigns, ensuring profitability even in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

SEO Estimation: How to Forecast Organic Traffic Growth Using Visibility Growth Metrics

Having an estimated visibility growth rate, we may take one step further and see how it may translate to organic traffic growth. To do that correctly, we’re going to need a new set of data.

Sadly, it takes a bit more computing and familiarity with SEO estimations than just doing simple math. What I’m trying to say is that if you estimated a 25% growth in visibility, multiplying your current organic reach metric by 1,25% will give you a rather distorted picture of what you can achieve.

So, first, you need to…

Check Keyword Performance

Here we need to find the keywords that we’re going to work on a bit later. Since we aim to estimate the organic trafficwe need to exclude branded keywords. For now, we need to eliminate the sessions that are generated by customers who already know your brand and type it into the search engine whenever they want to go to your website.

STEP 1 Open SEMrush.

STEP 2 From the left sidebar, select SEO → Organic Research.

estimate seo traffic in semrush

STEP 3 Now we need to exclude the branded keywords. To do so, click Advanced filters to see a menu with four variables. Select respectively: Exclude, Keyword, Containing, and type your brand name in the last box. Click Apply.

semrush estimate seo traffic

STEP 4 At this stage I also suggest excluding keywords that made it to the top 3 because this may distort our perspective while analyzing the results. Click on Positions and define the Custom range, which is 4-100.

semrush how to estimate seo traffic

STEP 5 To make the analysis easier, export the results to Excel.

semrush seo traffic estimation

This is how your report on keyword positions looks:

keyword positions in excel

Actually, there is another crucial thing that the report generated by SEMrush helps us notice – seasonal keywords. Why does it matter? Think of snow shovels. Demand for this absolutely indispensable snow-scooping-and-throwing tool increases during the winter, right? That’s why we shouldn’t include such keywords in our SEO estimations for the summer months.

The Excel worksheet provides you with the seasonal keyword information – see column M.

The information on seasonal keywords should also be analyzed while doing SEO estimations.

Multiply SERP Position CTR by the Search Volume

Now, we can try to estimate how our forecasted visibility growth may affect organic website traffic. To do this, use:

  • the visibility growth percentage that you estimated in the previous stage,
  • information on your keyword performance (the SEMrush report), and
  • Organic CTR study done by Senuto explaining the dependence of the keyword position on CTR.

This is the formula:

CTR for a given Organic Position x Search Volume = estimated Organic Traffic growth

Having all the essential data collected, you can calculate how the estimated visibility growth may affect organic traffic growth.

Analyse Content Gap

If you have enough resources, you may also try doing a content gap analysis. In short, content gap analysis helps you discover the topics and keywords that absolutely should be included in your web content strategy. To put it differently, it lets you find the “holes” in your web content.

We’ve already explained in great detail how to do content gap analysis, so please make sure to check the article for the step-by-step manual. Now let’s focus on what to do with the findings.

STEP 1 Identify the competitors. To do so, open SEMrush. From the left sidebar choose Organic Research → Competitors.

serush how to find competitors

STEP 2 Now our task is to collect the information on keywords, following the same steps from the Check keyword performance section. Remember to exclude your competitor’s branded keywords.

semrush competitor organic research

STEP 3 Export your findings to the Excel worksheet.

semrush competitor organic research data

STEP 6 Here again Excel helps you do the math for you. Using the exported data, you get the estimations on organic web traffic growth.

STEP 7 Vet the keywords for their difficulty and seasonality, to later do the math and see how much organic traffic they may generate when taking a certain position in SERP.

STEP 8 Select the most profitable keywords and include them in your content creation to narrow the content gap.

How often should an SEO estimation be run? This question is a common one among clients. Usually, the estimation is first done before the SEO process starts. Later, after 3-4 months, it should be verified and modified if needed. It is also a good idea to check if we are ‘on track’ on a quarterly basis – monthly fluctuations are unavoidable, so doing so every 3 months makes the most sense here. Then, after a full year of collaboration, the SEO strategy should be reviewed to make new estimations for the following year.

Milena Fietko
Milena Fietko SEO Strategy Manager

SEO Estimation: E-commerce vs Services

No matter if you sell items online or offer services, the process ofestimating SEO traffic for both types of businesses is pretty much the same. The main difference lies in the number of keywords used for the forecasting: an e-commerce store owner has more keywords to optimize their website for than a service provider.

The information required for the estimation process in both cases is the same.

Additionally, in the e-commerce case, you may also try to do the revenue growth estimation. To do it, you need to analyze data gathered for at least 12 months. However, this process is a bit more complicated than it may seem to be at first glance.

You simply shouldn’t expect to do the following thing:

  1. take the current organic traffic value and CTR value to
  2. estimate the percentage of the SEO traffic growth
  3. and get the exact same percentage to estimate the revenue growth.

There are way more factors that need to be analyzed while forecasting the increase in revenue. First and foremost, you need to include your business plans in the equation. Are you planning a price rise? Are you going to introduce new products to your regular offer? Even the average order value often varies, which should also be taken into consideration while doing SEO revenue growth estimation.

Last but not least, you absolutely need to carry on improving your website UX. Whether or not your customers find it easy to shop in your online store has a direct impact on the conversion rate. That’s why staying in touch with a professional who keeps optimizing your website, so it follows the latest UX trends may also contribute to your revenue growth.

That being said, let’s check what types of estimations you may want to prepare.

Scenario #1 Business As Usual

This is the easiest type of estimation you can do. It comes down to doing a simple mathematical calculation of what is highly probable to happen if we introduce zero changes to our current SEO strategy. Simply put, this estimation is based on a current web traffic trend.

This is what may happen:

how to estimate seo traffic

Scenario #2 Estimation Based on Higher Keyword Positions

Once you select the keywords to optimize your website for, you may estimate how your SEO efforts may translate to organic traffic growth.

The below graph shows you an exemplary estimation based on the formula you already know: SERP position CTR multiplied by the Search Volume.

estimate seo traffic graph

Scenario #3 Estimation Based on the Implemented Keyword & Content Gap Findings

I hate to break it to you, but it takes time to see the first outcomes of implementing the new keywords (the ones discovered during content and keyword gap analysis) in your content strategy. And by “takes time” I mean it may literally take you months to see the first positive results.

Therefore, when creating estimations, I advise you not to foresee linear growth even if you plan to optimize your website for those new keywords in the nearest future.

Naturally, in this case, you can again make use of our formula: SERP position CTR multiplied by the Search Volume. But this time, don’t forget to include both:

  • the higher position of the keywords that are already used on your website, and
  • position of new keywords discovered during keyword and content gap analysis.

SEO Estimation: Is 25% Estimated Organic Traffic Growth Something to Celebrate for?

Do you remember when we were talking that 50% sometimes means more than 75%? Things are similar here.

Take a small local business, for example, whose website has never been optimized for search engines. The number of visitors coming to this website from unpaid sources is pretty low – let’s assume, the monthly organic traffic value is 100. When we start working on such a website, making it more search engine friendly, we’re able to generate impressive growth, exceeding 100% of the current value.

On the other hand, the difficulty level of boosting organic traffic for a big company that has been optimizing its website for some time is completely different. The growth percentage will be by no means larger when compared to the results achieved with a small local business – especially if it has just opened.

Let’s compare those two scenarios. If the small local business notices an increase in organic traffic from 100 to 300 sessions per month, that is as much as 300% organic traffic growth. If the big company notices the analogous increase from 3,000 to 3,300, the organic traffic growth equals 10%.

It is impossible to estimate a single growth value for each and every website. If the traffic is very low, a 100-200% growth won’t be hard to achieve., However, if the traffic generates 10,000 monthly sessions, and we assume that we achieve the mentioned 100-200%growth in 3 months, then… well… let’s face it – it is practically impossible. This is why each case needs to be considered separately, and sometimes it is a bit like fortune-telling, especially when the budget is low and when we have no clue how involved a client is going to be.

Milena Fietko
Milena Fietko SEO Strategy Manager

You need to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a universal value stating that an increase by X% in organic traffic is “good”, but everything below that value is “bad”. It depends on where you’re starting with.

SEO Estimation: Why the Estimated Growth is Never Linear

This will be probably the last piece of advice I’m going to give you today:

Don’t expect your SEO estimates to grow by a constant amount each month.

It’s more probable that throughout the first month of doing SEO for your website, you’ll be building a b foundation that will eventually bear fruit, but not just right from day 1.

Therefore, if you presume that your annual growth value is 25%, you shouldn’t expect that each month the increase would be one-twelfth of what you estimated. My advice would be: Expect a very little increase during the first months as search engine optimization is a rather slow process. More often than not, the first satisfying results are noted after 4-6 months since the introduction of the major changes to the website.

Finally, when talking about building estimations for e-commerce stores, the growth of the most important indicator, which is revenue, will be even more spread out in time.

First, you need to improve the visibility → then, you work on driving more organic traffic → to later focus on increasing the conversion rate → and finally generating sales from your offer.

Keep this in mind while doing SEO estimations for your business.

Woah, that was a massive amount of knowledge, wasn’t it? Let’s wrap up the key aspects of how to estimate SEO traffic and revenue growth for your business.

How to Estimate SEO Traffic – The Takeaway

The very first thing that you need to bear in your mind is that estimation is more of a forecasting, not something that should be always taken for granted. Although it derives from the best information available at a given time, there are still too many uncontrollable aspects that make mess your estimations up.

Still, it doesn’t mean that building SEO estimations is a waste of time, as they offer you plenty of benefits. This process helps you evaluate the costs and return of the investment in SEO and promoting your brand across the Internet. It allows you to find, select and pursue the most favorable opportunities that give you a leg-up over your competitors.

Also, SEO estimation lets you get an idea of how much revenue you’re going to generate after implementing a customized SEO strategy.

To make your estimations the most accurate, you need to take into account and analyze the following factors:

  1. Hard data – thorough keyword research, CTR, organic reach, seasonality, and content gap analysis are just some of the factors you need to analyze to understand where you are, and where you can actually go with your business strategy. Don’t forget to examine the queries that drive traffic to your site for seasonal fluctuations or trends. Once you have the hard data, you need to confront it with…
  2. Experience in SEO + analytical thinking – percentages, values, and numbers alone aren’t enough to help you increase the accuracy of your SEO traffic estimations. You also need to switch on your analytical thinking to see patterns, relationships, and connections. Later, when you localize the most obvious dependent variables and start developing a workable SEO strategy to attract more customers, you may also think about…
  3. Economic indicators – world events have a massive impact on businesses. Take Covid or rampant inflation, for example. The former helped online businesses thrive, whereas the latter caused a drastic sales decrease. While building SEO estimation for your business, you need to be aware of what is happening globally at a given time. Depending on the situation, you may either maximize the profits or reduce the possible loss. You should also be aware of…
  4. Google algorithm updates – whether or not we like it, Google will carry on with improving the search experience for its users by introducing changes to its algorithms. Nobody outside Google is able to foresee when and what is going to be considered the next main ranking factors. That’s why you absolutely need to stay up-to-date with new Google releases and react quickly to any unexpected drops in rankings. If necessary, you may even try to revamp your SEO strategy if a Google update causes your website traffic to vanish overnight. Finally, you also need to think about…
  5. Uncontrollable external factors – do you remember when a container ship got stuck in Suez Canal back in March 2021, blocking the waterway for almost a week? Thousands of merchants had to cope with the supply chain failure and… the negative reviews posted by angry customers who didn’t receive their products on time. Would you have included such a contingency in your SEO estimation if you had done it in January 2021? Not to mention the terrible OVHcloud fire I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Millions of websites went off in a snap. Could you foresee that? Anything can happen, that’s why sometimes your SEO estimations may be turned upside down by some factors that are completely out of your control.

That’s all I wanted to share with you. I truly hope I managed to help you realize the importance of creating SEO estimations for your website. I also hope you’ll reap the full benefits of your future SEO organic traffic forecast.

In case you still need some help with setting a direction for your SEO strategylet us know. We will log in to our SEO tools and use our hands-on experience to provide you with the most accurate organic traffic and revenue growth estimations for your business.

Author
Damian Hliwa - Delante
Author
Damian Hliwa

Senior SEO Specialist

Over the several years of his career in SEO, Damian has gone through many positions. They start from internship, through team leader to head of SEO. During these years, his main specialization has been and still remains SEO and technical audits, but he is no stranger to linkbuilding or content campaigns. After hours, a filmmaker and photographer as a so-called one-man-army, a lover of good coffee brewed with all kinds of methods, Polish mountains and cycling.

Author
Milena Fietko
Author
Milena Fietko

SEO Strategy Manager

She specializes in industries that require an out-of-the-box approach to the process, or cover topics that others would not. She has been working at Delante since 2016. Privately, she loves dancing to Caribbean rhythms.

Author
Damian Hliwa - Delante
Author
Damian Hliwa

Senior SEO Specialist

Over the several years of his career in SEO, Damian has gone through many positions. They start from internship, through team leader to head of SEO. During these years, his main specialization has been and still remains SEO and technical audits, but he is no stranger to linkbuilding or content campaigns. After hours, a filmmaker and photographer as a so-called one-man-army, a lover of good coffee brewed with all kinds of methods, Polish mountains and cycling.

Author
Milena Fietko
Author
Milena Fietko

SEO Strategy Manager

She specializes in industries that require an out-of-the-box approach to the process, or cover topics that others would not. She has been working at Delante since 2016. Privately, she loves dancing to Caribbean rhythms.

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FAQ

What are the benefits of SEO estimations?

Running through all the available analytical data helps you identify new opportunities for your business. This, in turn, reveals untapped growth areas and may inspire you to take up new initiatives, eventually outrunning your closest competitors.

Also, creating SEO estimations enables you to prioritize some elements of your SEO strategy, especially for topics and keywords with lower competition.

What should I take into consideration while estimating SEO traffic for my website?

  1. Focus on the analytical data (e.g. do keyword research, CTR, organic reach, seasonality, and content gap analysis).
  2. Turn on your analytical thinking to spot patterns, relationships, and connections.
  3. Take into account the socio-economic issues as they impact the demand for particular products in certain industries.
  4. Think about what is uncontrollable; e.g. Google algorithm updates, or major word/local events because such unexpected factors may have a tremendous impact on your business growth.

How can I estimate SEO traffic growth?

To estimate your potential SEO traffic growth, you may try using the following formula:

CTR for a given Organic Position x Search Volume = estimated Organic Traffic growth

What SEO tools do I need to estimate SEO traffic growth?

Basically, you need just two SEO tools: Google Analytics and SEMrush or Ahrefs. Excel may also come in handy because it helps you filter and arrange collected data into groups, which significantly facilitates drawing the right conclusions.

Even though analytical thinking and knowledge of SEO aren’t necessarily SEO tools per se, having those helps you tremendously while estimating SEO traffic for your website.

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Award - Deloitte 2021 Award - European eCommerce Awards 2022 Award - European Search Awards 2022 Award - Global Agency Awards 2022 Award - IPMA Award - US Search Awards 2021

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