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How to Forecast Organic Traffic

Determining the return on search engine optimization can be a bit challenging. With the consideration of so many variables, it’s almost impossible to forecast what will happen with your SEO efforts confidently. Remember that forecasting SEO isn’t going to be a simple process. However, if you want to know the direction your website is heading to, having a stable forecast will have a long way to go in terms of closing a deal.

Here’s everything you need to know about SEO forecasting and the steps on how to forecast organic traffic effectively.

SEO Forecasting Explained

When we say forecasting, it’s a method of predicting the future based on the past and present data. It’s also an essential part of your business strategy when it comes to predicting organic traffic for your SEO strategy.

Moreover, forecasting helps businesses evaluate where they are in their SEO campaigns and

predict where they may be going in several key areas. If you get to forecast your organic traffic, you can be able to look at past, present, and current trends, and have an accurate picture of your business’ potential through data and market trends. That way, you can be able to set and meet your business objectives.

When it comes to an organic traffic forecast, you need to take some crucial factors into account. These factors include:

  • Historical trends
  • Growth
  • Seasonality
  • Events

If you want to have an in-depth understanding of forecasting organic traffic from your SEO campaign, look for providers who can offer your business with training and standard operating procedures on digital processes like SEO forecasting.

Steps To Forecasting Organic Traffic

Again, forecasting organic traffic is challenging but entirely beneficial. However, with proper statistical methods and data, you can perform some reasonable predictions to identify the potential value of SEO for your business. Below are the steps to forecasting organic traffic and make the online search platform a bit more reliable.

  1. Evaluate your current situation

To get started with SEO forecasting, you need to ask what data points you should access and collect your data accordingly. In such a case, you’ll probably want to take into account the current organic traffic as well as historical traffic data, ranking data, seasonal changes in search volume, conversion rates from organic search, and many more. By assessing and reviewing these data points, you can establish a good picture of what should be the commercial value of an increase in traffic.

  1. Obtain your historical data

In order for you to obtain a forecast that you can depend on, you should have your monthly traffic data for at least two years. If you get your historical data, you can reveal some seasonal trends. Remember, having one year of data may make it difficult for you to figure out which trends are affected by website improvements, seasonality, and other events.

To get your data correctly, you can use Google Analytics by simply going to the Channels report, clicking organic search, choosing the desired date range, and exporting the data.

  1. Calculate base trend

When making your forecast, it’s a good idea to calculate the base trend before adding other factors in it. A base forecast is typically the use of the mean for every data point. To calculate the base trend, you can find the formula in Excel. All you need to do is to supply all relevant data, and Excel will do the computation for you. Depending on the data you’ve given, your base forecast may be the portion where you start building an accurate prediction or where you stop.

  1. Identify potential causes of improvements and growth

Of course, you need to have growth. In addition to your historical data, you also have to forecast how much improvement and growth you’ll want to see after your proposed activity. However, it’s important to note that being too aspiring can give a high risk to the reliability of your forecast; hence, you should be sensible about that fact. To calculate potential improvements in organic traffic, you should think about the following steps:

  • Know what the development schedule looks like and when your recommendations should be implemented. If you’re unable to identify gaps in the calendar, then you may not see any improvement soon.
  • Determine whether the website has suffered from any algorithm updates. This is very important to be part of your forecast, so you’ll know how long you want to see any related issues to be resolved.
  • Figure out how competitive the industry you’re working in is. If you’re looking at how fast you can expect to see growth, then the competitiveness of search results should be considered.
  • Plan out your marketing schedule by knowing when you’ll expect to obtain new links and the number of links you’re hoping to achieve than your competitors.
  • Assess your current ranking data by determining where your business can really get to in a 12-month period.
  • Link the increase in ranking position in terms of organic traffic increase on the basis of the average click-through rates (CTRs).
  • Measure the time of the above increases based on a suitable point right after you implement your recommendations or publish your content pieces.

If you’re forecasting growth in traffic after implementing your SEO strategy, it’s clear to say that failure to enforce these changes will probably have a negative impact on your forecasted growth.

  1. Apply seasonal trends

The next step when it comes to forecasting organic traffic is the incorporation of seasonality by creating seasonal indices for every month of the year. A seasonal index indicates the month’s expected value in relation to the average expected value. In other words, it’s the comparison of each month’s organic traffic and the average monthly traffic.

To compute these seasonal indices, you need to use adjusted historical data as the best solution to reflect the seasonality of the website’s traffic.

  1. Estimate the impact of events on your organic traffic

In addition to seasonal trends, you should also think about your significant events coming up as part of your forecast. Thus, it’s helpful that you look for ways to estimate their considerable impact on your organic traffic. The events that you may be talking about can be anything like a yearly sale, a planned feature on a media site, or content being pushed out.

To estimate the impact of events, you have to identify the expected increase in organic traffic through the events you’ve planned. This means going through your historical data once again. Here, you should know what happens when you have a sale, and the potential change in traffic the moment you launch a big piece of content. Once you have this kind of estimate, the next thing to do is to add it to the following months when the event will happen.

  1. Predict the impact of your SEO efforts

This step may be a tricky one, which is why what you need to do to perform it better is to rely on your knowledge and experience as a business owner or online marketer. In such a scenario, you have to estimate the impact of your SEO efforts every month. For instance, you can start the year with strategies like optimizing content and meta titles, which basically don’t need the developers’ time and expertise. Then, you may foresee that this approach will boost the organic traffic by a small percentage in the following month and so on.

When predicting the impact of your SEO plan, you may need to consider a couple of scenarios like the ones provided in the aggressive and conservative forecast. An aggressive forecast comes in when you’ve got to use all the resources, and all recommended changes are being executed according to the schedule. A conservative forecast, on the other hand, comes in when not everything runs as seamlessly as expected but all significant changes have been undertaken.

  1. Forecast accuracy

So you’ve finally made your predictions at this stage. It is then crucial to remember that forecasting organic traffic is a continuous cycle, thereby you have to identify the extent of your predictions’ accuracy. To measure your forecast accuracy and find out if your current forecasting model is useful, you may probably need to use a formula to link your forecast to the actual results.

Always bear in mind that accuracy is of great importance if you see your site’s organic traffic as a stable source of revenue for your business. It’s essential to bear in mind that unattainable expectations, which affect the accuracy of your forecast, can break your company. The more you have unattainable expectations in your forecast, the higher the possibility of losing potential revenue. 

Benefits of Forecasting Organic Search

Indeed, statistical forecasting is a vital tool in all types of businesses to foresee future events and help you in planning and preparation. Given such fact, predicting organic traffic and aligning the results to your return on investment (ROI) is also of great significance. However, the ability to forecast the future should always be as accurate as the data available would allow.

When your business is on the verge of growth and success, it always makes sense to predict the future. Thus, below are a number of benefits that forecasting your site’s organic traffic can give you and your company:

  1. Offers value to your company’s strategies and internal processes

Forecasting allows you to plan better for the future of your SEO campaigns and your overall digital marketing strategies. With your forecast, you can be able to set goals and apply them to your strategy and other internal projects.

  1. Creates accountability for your people

By forecasting, you can continually establish goals based on the projections and track performance. It also helps you determine whether you’ve achieved your goals in improving your site’s organic traffic. The more you set your goals and monitor your site’s performance, the more you create a better sense of accountability for your team.

  1. Enables you to find the root of inaccuracies in your projections

With forecasting, you can be able to teach your team about the inefficiencies of your SEO plan. And the more accurate your forecast is, the more you can dive into looking for the causes of inaccuracies in your strategies and projections.

  1. Allows you to increase ROI

The fact that you can monitor your site’s performance and improve inefficacies in the strategies and processes through forecasting means having a greater opportunity to increase the return on investment. By predicting, every resource and time spent for a strategy that doesn’t produce positive results can be reallocated to those strategies that prove to be a good source of organic traffic. In turn, you’ll be able to boost your ROI in the long run.

  1. Helps keep customers happy

In order to keep your customers happy, you need to be aware of the products or services they want. By forecasting your organic search, you can predict the most in-demand products through your site, thus helping you provide enough products to fulfill customers’ orders.

SEO forecasting also gives you an idea about what urges your target audience to visit your site. This is particularly true if they visit your website to find a specific product or service. The more you forecast your organic traffic, the more you foresee the extent of demand for your products or services.

  1. Keeps your business looking ahead

Forecasting encourages your business to look forward to your future and where it’s headed to. This will ultimately allow you to predict the changing SEO and other digital marketing trends, and keep you up in the competition.

Any business, for instance, should keep looking ahead or else they won’t be able to meet the demand and surpass their competitors. Take note that the more you give your rivals a slight advantage, the more it adversely impacts your business.


Since SEO is a long game, forecasting optimization opportunities like organic traffic will really make a lot of sense. It also enables you to stay on track of your efforts, determine opportunities for growth and improvement, and, more importantly, prioritize tasks. Although forecasting requires a bit more work, following the tips above can provide a better view of the long-term benefits of your SEO plan to your business.

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About Lilach Bullock

Hi, I’m Lilach, a serial entrepreneur! I’ve spent the last 2 decades starting, building, running, and selling businesses in a range of niches. I’ve also used all that knowledge to help hundreds of business owners level up and scale their businesses beyond their beliefs and expectations.

I’ve written content for authority publications like Forbes, Huffington Post, Inc, Twitter, Social Media Examiner and 100’s other publications and my proudest achievement, won a Global Women Champions Award for outstanding contributions and leadership in business.

My biggest passion is sharing knowledge and actionable information with other business owners. I created this website to share my favorite tools, resources, events, tips, and tricks with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small business owners, and startups. Digital marketing knowledge should be accessible to all, so browse through and feel free to get in touch if you can’t find what you’re looking for!


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