How many times have you looked at your SEO forecast wondering how to make those predictions a reality?
You’ve created the keyword map. You’ve used the search volume data to plan out rankings and organic traffic changes. You can see all the opportunities to take your SEO efforts to the next level.
But, you have no idea how to conquer all of these opportunities.
You'll know how to do just that after reading this post.
You will learn how to use forecasting search data to boost your visibility in organic search and deliver a stronger search performance — which should lead to higher conversion rates, and other metric performance as well.
What is Forecasting in SEO?
What do we mean by “forecasting” in the realm of SEO?
Forecasting in SEO gives you an idea as to what your performance will be if your rankings increase. More specifically, it shows you your Traffic Potential, that is, the amount of traffic you’re estimated to bring in if all ranking keywords were in the first position.
It’s not a predictive look into the future.
In an industry as volatile as SEO, there’s little value in trying to project a trendline based on existing data too far in advance (not to mention your competitors constantly change their site elements, too, in an effort to rank better).
Our approach to forecasting is a forward looking cause-and-effect model rather than a predictive model based on past performance. You can create “what if” scenarios to see what the impact of your efforts would be.
(This same model can also be used to forecast performance if no changes were made — you would simply enter the increase in rankings as 0.)
With that in mind, let’s see how forecasting works to benefit SEO …
How Forecasting Improves SEO
Jordan Lowry shared his expertise with us in an earlier blog post:
Forecasting optimization opportunities allow you to organize your efforts, prioritize tasks, and quickly identify opportunities for improvements. Which will in turn yield a more successful site and richer SEO prosperity.
These are great benefits, and the good news is that there are even more!
With such data, you can also estimate what effect achieving even some of those projections would have on the organization. In doing so, you can uncover the value of working on the search visibility further.
An accurate SEO forecast could help you become more accountable. The company could use your predictions to measure SEO progress, after all. Many of these could become your goals for the months ahead.
And, forecast data can help you achieve even more.
Not only does it show your organization the “big picture” of SEO, it can also reveal the many quick wins you could do right now to boost your efforts!
Here are a few of those quick wins for success.
Recommended Reading: Using SEO Forecasting: How to Build an SEO Business Case
#1. Review Your Current Rate of Growth
SEOs and digital marketers face many questions like these regularly:
- “Is there any value in improving SEO at all?”
- “What’s the point in investing more money and time in this channel?"
- “Can we get any additional return from our SEO investment?”
Answering the above often proves beyond challenging. How do you demonstrate the value of spending more on SEO, after all?
Well, there is a way:
Use the forecast data to calculate your current rate of growth.
Let me explain.
The data you collected in the forecast allows you to correlate two critical factors:
- One, showing the natural seasonality of your target keywords. This data explains how your rankings and search visibility would have changed if you did nothing to influence it. It shows the scenario in which an organization invests no further resources into SEO.
- The other, an estimate of how both rankings and visibility would change if you took deliberate action to improve them. In doing so, this explains the effect of your work on the organization’s organic traffic. (Remember, the changes you make to your site should be to please the end user, not the algorithm.)
By comparing the difference, you can show beyond any doubt the effect SEO would have on your organization’s growth.
Here are the steps on how to do it.
First, review the seasonality. Analyze the last few years of your traffic and visibility data. You need to have a decent understanding of historical data before you can move forward. Look for regular changes in keyword rankings and traffic. You can use a tool like Google Analytics to analyze traffic performance, too.
Next, download the query + URL report for the same period. Make sure that it includes clicks and impressions data.
The next step: Use a rank tracker like Rank Intelligence to find current rankings for those terms.
Finally, go to Search Analytics and use your custom CTR to forecast your traffic and visibility opportunity.
Recommended Reading: How to Find Your True CTR in SEO (And What to Do With It)
#2. Expand Your Existing Content
If you followed our forecasting process, then you should have created a keyword map and combined it with visibility predictions.
Did you know that it can also help you identify missed opportunities to push content higher in its search visibility?
Let me explain.
You need to assess whether your content matches the right intent for the keyword. Users use search engines to satisfy a specific desire, after all. Some seek information and advice; others want to find a specific website, person, company, brand, and so on. Many turn to Google when they need to purchase something.
When content on a page matches the right search intent, its chances at ranking higher increase exponentially.
One way to assess the intent is by reviewing top pages currently ranking for the term. In doing so, however, you have to work off assumptions.
On the other hand, seoClarity’s Content Fusion can correlate multiple data sets about the keyword to establish why users use the phrase in Google. After you discover your target keyword via keyword research, load it into Content Fusion to see the user intent, SERP features, search volume, and more.
Not only does Content Fusion gather this key information, it also reveals what additional information you could use to enrich your blog posts or landing pages.
The AI-driven content optimizer reports on what semantic keywords you should include, as well as additional information that could make the content more relevant to the user’s needs.
Here’s a preview of what the semantic must-use keywords report looks like:
(Content Fusion report for the keyword "black dresses".)
These small updates can help your content secure a higher rank position. Semantic keywords reveal exactly what to write about. The other report tells you what information Google includes in SERPs for the keywords as well.
#3. Use Tags to Identify the Most Underserved Portions of the Site
In the previous section, you discovered how to increase individual pages' rankings and search visibility.
Sometimes, you may want to do the same with entire sections of your site. These could be specific category pages with associated product pages, or new product lines that you want to promote in organic search.
Here’s how to use the forecast data to do it.
First, to identify those sections, correlate your forecast with the company’s sales goals. This way, you’ll uncover website sections that require immediate attention, pages where your sales team wants more traffic, and those your forecast identified as the biggest opportunity.
Next, using the forecast data again, identify keywords relevant to those pages.
Then, tag those pages in your SEO platform to analyze their performance to date.
(Group your pages together to analyze their performance in aggregate.)
Lastly, expand those pages’ content, as per my advice above. You can also create new pages to target those keywords in SERPs.
(You can create a spreadsheet in Excel to show URL, keyword, and search volume to visualize opportunity. )
#4. Evaluate Internal and External Links
The last quick win is to use links to strengthen your biggest opportunities identified in the forecast.
Identify how many internal links point to those pages. Then, look for other pages that could send the much-valued link juice to those assets.
Here’s a helpful guide on how to do it: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Internal Link Analysis for SEO.
Second, look at your competitor’s backlinks.
Evaluate external links pointing to other pages ranking in SERPs for your keywords. Using our Backlinks feature in Research Grid, evaluate their link profile looking for backlinks that you could recreate to your content as well.
Recommended Reading: Link Profile Analysis: How to Maintain a Clean Backlink Profile
With this feature, you can analyze the backlink profile for any domain, sub-domain or URL. Here's an overview look at an ecommerce store's backlink profile.
(An overview look at the Backlinks feature within the seoClarity platform.)
SEO forecasting allows organic search marketers to uncover the biggest search opportunities, as well as predict the value of the work. To make it a reality, you must know how to act on the forecast data.
It’s my hope that after reading this post, you have a good idea of the quick wins you could achieve with your forecast and how it can impact your SEO strategy down the line.