Blending art and science is one of the ways digital marketing is done.
Before you change your on-page content or restructure your website, you need to know what works and where you can grow.
Search forecasting can be used here.
What Is Search Forecasting?
Predicting what your organic traffic will look like is called search forecasting.
Hard data is the first thing goodseo strategies begin with. Best guesses and assumptions should not be used to shape your next move.
Predicting what search traffic will look like for your business is possible with the data you have.
Key details that should be kept in mind when working on organic traffic predictions.
Focus On The Right Metrics
It's the beginning of any search engine strategy that's important.
You might think that you know what search phrases will work best for your business, but it is best to look at the actual data instead.
There are a lot of metrics that you could look at.
Regardless of the industry you work in or the type of content you produce, your research should include data or evidence.
- Estimated search volume.
- Keyword difficulty.
- Your business’s current ranking position and the URL for that ranking for relevant keywords.
- Search intent.
- Click-through-rate (CTR) estimates.
- Intel on the type and quality of content ranking in your desired position.
- Related queries and your relative ranking position.
Predicts won't be as accurate if you can't find data for some of this.
If you want to know if your traffic goals match real user behavior in search results, you should look at search volume data.
You can use the rest of the metrics to come up with more realistic predictions.
They give you important insight into how competitive certain phrases are, where you stack up among the current players in search engine results pages, and where there is an opportunity for additional improvement.
Use Tools To Help You
There is only so much that your own site tracking can tell you, and you are not expected to magic your data.
It's a good place to begin.
GSC will give you business-specific historical data to give you a good benchmark to work from.
If you are trying to rank for local results, the search volume is dependent on where a search is actually being made from.
There will be differences between the numbers pulled from GSC and Semrush.
Averages will suffice for you to make a reasonably confident prediction once you have everything in a spreadsheet.
Some questionable accuracy can be found in the search engine'sKeyword Planner.
Take this data with a grain of salt because it is often exaggerated due to combined estimates.
If you capture rankings as another data point of organic search return on investment, you can calculate ad savings.
Don’t Forget About Competitors
Competitive analysis should be included in your overall traffic prediction.
If you want to be on the first page, look at who is already there.
Plug competitor URLs into the tool to see what they are ranking for and what they are not. You can combine this data with your own research to find opportunities.
Knowing the difficulty of the word can be useful.
If competitors are ranking for phrases that have a good volume but low difficulty, there is a chance for you to produce better, more helpful content and move above them in the search results.
If you can move up from page two to page one, you will change some of your predictions.
If some related queries have content updates or development opportunities, this is a good time to check them out.
Do your competitors still use a singlekeyword-per-page strategy? You would be shocked.
This could be the place where you can make up some ground.
Look At Seasonality And Trend Data
Understanding the seasonal pattern of both your business and yourKeywords is a must if you want to work on a year-long or fixed-length campaign.
When it comes to seasonal traffic, one of the most important things to remember is that your business's busiest time of the year doesn't always equal high search volume.
You will often have weeks, even months, of lead time because customers don't buy straight away.
If you work in a certain industry, you may already work on this kind of schedule. Retail is an example of this, as fashion weeks in early fall are already introducing spring/summer lines.
You should start planning for the holiday season no later than July for most businesses.
If you don't know what your search-to-sale lead time looks like, you won't be able to predict search traffic and your content strategy will be affected.
Rolling out holiday gift guides in November is not realistic because good search engine rankings are not enough to make big sales in the first week.
If you want to do that, paid advertising is a better choice.
It is possible to get an overall estimate of when search volume will start to pick up for seasonal queries with the help of some tools.
You can use this data to map out how far ahead of search you need to be in order to get more traffic.
Not Everything Is Predictable
There are other unpredictable factors that need to be accounted for on a smaller scale.
Other marketing efforts can have a positive or negative effect on your search predictions.
Even without a lot of marketing, products can go viral on social media.
Search demand can increase in ways that you weren't prepared for.
When you run those searches through the tools, they won't be able to account for the unexpected increase in traffic.
It's almost impossible to plan for a similar product if you make one for a viral product.
Take this into account when you find yourself in those situations and reallocate your resources accordingly.
Why Is Search Forecasting Important?
If the conditions stay as predicted, you have a rough idea of what will happen.
It gives you the ability to allocate resources, budget and set internal benchmarks. If rankings are captured to increased revenue, this can cover everything.
If your growth goals are set once or twice a year, it's important to know this information ahead of time.
You have the power to ask for a revised goal or more resources if estimates don't match expectations.
There needs to be a warning here.
Changes in user behavior and search trends, wide-scale algorithm updates, a new website design, and even another round of "unprecedented times" will all affect what search results look like.
It's nearly impossible to plan for or predict the impact of those.
Investing time into forecasting is still worthwhile.
Data scientists don't have to predict search traffic.
If you have the right tools and approaches, you can get a good idea of what you can expect to see in the coming months.
Predicting your organic search traffic is a way to make more informed decisions.
You just have to look for opportunities.
With solid data to back you up, you will have a good benchmark to work from to build a strategically sound search marketing plan.
There's more resources.
The image is from the eamesBot/shutterstock.