Realistically, there’s no way to predict organic traffic.
Google’s algorithm is complex – even the engineers don’t know how sites will perform.
However, we can build estimates based on the data we have available.
David and I hacked together a tool that runs growth models using on your website’s SEO data.
This post is Part 1 in our series about projecting organic traffic.
Please refer to Part 2 on how to calculate ROI after.
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In this post, I’ll be covering how we use this tool to forecast a website’s organic traffic from an SEO campaign.
Who is this for?
- SEO agencies. I like to use this as a pitch tool for our agency SEO proposals. It’s a great way to show how your services will impact their traffic and top line.
- Marketing teams. Looking at the viability of investing in SEO internally for your company.
- SEO nerds (like us). Just for fun 😆
How we calculate organic traffic growth
We supercharged a Google Sheets file to be a data aggregator and analysis tool.
The Google Sheets file pulls in SEO data from 2 sources:
- Google Analytics – using SuperMetrics, the tool imports your last 12 months of organic traffic data. We can use this data to understand past performance and build “top down” forecasts.
- SEMrush – uses 3 of your SEO competitors keyword rankings to understand the “gaps” with your website. We can use this data to understand market cap and build “bottom up” forecasts.Note – we built the tool to pull from SEMrush API (if you have it) or using manual CSV exports.
After the tool runs a series of formulas, it syncs with a Google Data Studio template to visualize the data.
To project the organic traffic, we borrowed a few forecasting models from the finance world:
- Top down forecasting – takes a broad trend (like top line revenue growth) and builds a forward forecast based on that trend.
- Bottom-up forecasting (aka ‘sum of the parts’) – takes a look at the trend of each individual component, and then sum them up to forecast how the whole entity will move.
David goes into detail on the specifics of the forecasting models and how the Google Sheets file calculates them in the video below.
Breaking down the organic growth projections
We built 4 models based on different scenarios…
1. Business As Usual … aka “doing nothing”
This growth rate represents your website’s current organic growth pace [yearly], with no changes to your SEO strategy. It’s calculated by pulling your past organic traffic performance (Google Analytics) and projecting it forward over the next 12 months.
This growth rate can be used to understand how your website will perform over the next year by doing nothing (in regards to SEO) and whether or not you need to invest in SEO.
2. Improve Existing Keywords … aka doing “traditional SEO” to increase current positions
This figure is built on the assumption that doing “traditional SEO” will improve your existing keyword rankings by X% over the next year. Traditional SEO means tactics like on-page enhancements, link-building + technical fixes (NO content creation).
We built in the ability to input a growth assumption (x%), which should be based off your past experience performing SEO (i.e. your average growth rate from past campaigns).
This growth rate can be used to understand how an SEO campaign might impact organic traffic over the next year.
3. New Keyword Growth…aka potential addressable market (competitor analysis)
This growth rate is built using keywords currently owned by your competitors (where you have no visibility). These keywords could potentially be captured by creating additional content for your website around these keyword gaps. The tool pulls in SEMrush rankings data for up to 3 competitor sites, and forecasts the traffic increase from matching their current position within the next 12 months.
This growth rate can be used to understand the potential for your website’s growth.
4. Existing + New Keyword Growth…aka your organic traffic potential
This figure represents the full picture if you embark on an aggressive SEO campaign. That means you do “traditional SEO” to improve existing keyword rankings AND go after new keywords (aka create new pages / content on your site). This is your website’s wholistic organic traffic potential.
This growth rate can be used to understand the FULL potential for your website’s growth.
Traffic summary dashboard
A simple summary of all the growth projections, presented in 1 slide. The page automatically pulls through each growth rate from the individual page.
This data alone is valuable – the ability to project the results from an SEO campaign is an insanely valuable pitch tool.
However, I like to push it one step further by using this data to project the return on investment (ROI) from an SEO campaign.
That post + process + template can be found here.
Still haven’t grabbed the tool yet? Hit that big yellow button below.