What Is SEO Data Forecasting
and How to Do It Right
In the modern world of ecommerce, content is king. A good SEO strategy goes hand in hand with good content for a successful online business. Changing customer behaviors, seasonal changes, and more can all affect how traffic is driven to your site.
This means your SEO strategy needs to change in-line with these behaviors to be truly effective. To plan out an SEO marketing strategy that accounts for these factors, you’ll need to use your SEO data, and forecast.
SEO forecasting can be complicated. You’ll either need some skill in data analysis or some third-party assistance. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to explain the what, why, and how of SEO forecasting.
SEO Forecasting Explained
SEO forecasting is similar to sales or revenue forecasts. You’ll use your existing SEO data; traffic volume, click-through rate, and average value. You’ll then use this data to predict future trends.
Analyzing how your SEO values have changed over time can give you insight into how these patterns will change in the future. For example, most online retailers see a large increase in traffic around the holiday period. This is a simple example of a predictable seasonal trend.
The data you’ll need for analysis includes:
- Current traffic volume
- Search volume
- Page rankings
- Search to conversion rates
- Average order volumes
- Click-through rates
You’ll need to look at this data over a period of time to analyze trends. You'll also need to account for external factors that have affected traffic to avoid inaccurate predictions.
For example, recent lockdowns have driven higher global traffic for online retail, as well as the call queue of online calling services. It would be dangerous to predict this rapid growth will continue at the same levels in the future, though.
You can see from the above examples the importance of being prepared for seasonal changes in traffic. It lets you optimize your content delivery and SEO strategy accordingly. SEO forecasting can lead to more direct benefits too.
Optimizing SEO for your site will see your page ranking higher on SERPs. No matter what kind of online business you run, Google will dominate organic search traffic and site referrals.
They account for around 90% of all traffic from online search results. This means that knowing how your pages perform on Google and optimizing around their metrics is essential. Analyzing your historic performance can highlight areas for improvement and opportunities for growth.
Knowing how traffic will change over time lets your marketing team better direct their efforts. In times of high traffic, you can have optimized content ready to go. During slow periods, you can focus your marketing efforts elsewhere.
Use your historic data to optimize your content strategy going forward. As SEO is improved, page rankings develop and more organic traffic will be driven your way.
When we say conversions, we mean the number of users who visit your site that make purchases. Who converts most often, how much do they spend, how does SEO affect this behavior? This is all information you can get from the data used for SEO forecasting.
When well optimized, relevant content is driving SEO upward you’ll see more conversions from organic traffic. You’re basically helping to ensure that people with an existing interest in your product can find you. That’s only going to increase conversions and sales over time.
How to Forecast SEO Trends
The first step in forecasting is data gathering. Look at the SEO data for previous years. Identify both your busiest and slowest periods. Compare this across a period of years to extract any trends in the data.
Remember, analyzing a longer period of time will help you separate temporary and recurring changes. It will also throw in more random variables, though. Make sure you combine this with good operating knowledge. The internal and external factors that have affected your business are also important.
We previously used the extreme example of lockdowns affecting traffic for retailers and internet phone providers. Other external factors will also play a part. Google is such a force for driving traffic that any change to its algorithm will cause a ripple effect.
Even uncontrollable factors like big news stories about your industry can change traffic conditions. Everything from changing buying habits to extended bad weather can have an effect.
To properly benefit from SEO forecasting, you'll need the help of a data analyst. If you don’t have these kinds of skills readily available, there are several SaaS SEO companies that can assist you.
What Tools To Use
You’ve probably dealt with software solutions before. Power dialers for your sales team, etc. Automated software tools are essential for saving time in data analysis. Fortunately, there are abundant options for SEO forecasting.
For anyone new to SEO forecasting it’s a good idea to start off with Google’s software tools. They’re among the most accessible and user-friendly.
You’ll need to use a combination of software to effectively forecast, though. Google Analytics, Google Ads, and Google Search Console can all work together to provide most of the first-party data that you need.
You can use this data in combination with Google Data Studio to produce graphical reports and predictions. This can be highly useful for creating reports and graphs you can easily share with your colleagues.
SEO doesn’t happen in a vacuum though. What you’re doing, your competitors can and will do too. For larger-scale organizations, there are some more advanced tools. These can also give comparative competitor data along with your forecasts.
One of the most accurate forecasting tools available is Ahrefs Traffic Site Forecast. This tool allows you to predict future traffic and traffic value for both you and your competition. You can also make custom predictions like how traffic will be affected by a website update.
The only downside of Ahrefs tool is that you’ll need to have some coding and scripting knowledge to get the most out of it. There are plenty of guides available with pre-written scripts for beginners.
For an all-in-one platform solution, the two main options are seoClarity and Brightedge. Both platforms come with a full range of forecasting tools. They also both produce results that are easy to interpret even if you’re not a business intelligence expert.
These platforms can also offer suggestions on areas for SEO improvement. seoClarity is slightly more ROI-focused. Brightedge offers extensive integration with existing apps like retail analytics software.
These AI-driven options allow you to supply the data and let the program do the work. Both platforms are targeting the higher volume end of the market. So, expect significant subscription fees for their professional suites.
Making Use of the Data
Now you’ve got all the information your SEO forecasting can provide. But we still need to know how to use it to improve SEO and your wider marketing strategy.
A common use of SEO forecasting data is revenue predictions. You can look at predicted traffic versus average order value to estimate revenue growth through online sales. The variance in the SEO data allows you to look at best and worst-case scenarios and plan accordingly.
You can also gain a much better understanding of your ROI on your SEO efforts. This is something that can be quite difficult to quantify without comparative SEO data.
It’s important that you are able to analyze the data and take the correct actions for your business. Forecasting might show that your most popular keyword topic will lose interest next year.
What if this keyword relates to your most popular product or a high revenue item? You can’t just drop your efforts and move on to the next one. You might even need to redouble your SEO efforts around that keyword to prevent a steep revenue drop.
Use your SEO forecasts along with your digital marketing tools, retail data, and customer data. Remember that it is just another tool in your data analysis capabilities.
You need to keep in mind that forecasts are only as good as the data that feeds them. Any forecast will have a degree of inaccuracy. AI software can’t predict the future any more than we can.
SEO forecasting can only give you a guide for potential. It’s important that the results of SEO forecasts are always viewed with this in mind. Incorporate other indicators of future growth like customer experience analytics.
Good data analysis will drive your business forward. Blindly following the predictions of historic data won’t. It’s vital that your business understands the difference.
Jenna Bunnell - Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Dialpad
Jenna Bunnell is the Senior Manager for Content Marketing at Dialpad, an AI-incorporated cloud based phone system that provides valuable call details for business owners and sales representatives. She is driven and passionate about communicating a brand’s design sensibility and visualizing how content can be presented in creative and comprehensive ways. Check out her LinkedIn profile.