A 5-Step Formula to Forecast Your SEO Success (FREE Template)

Lauren Oliver


February 16, 2023 (Updated: January 24, 2024)

CopyPress and Search Engine Journal webinar on forecasting SEO success

Launching a content marketing campaign isn’t exactly a walk in the park. From selecting the best SEO tactics and keywords to finding the most effective ways to allocate your budget, making these decisions becomes challenging when we can’t see the end results immediately. Fortunately, there’s a better way to forecast your SEO campaigns so you can get an idea of the potential returns you’ll get from your efforts.

During yesterday’s webinar with Search Engine Journal, our Director of Content Analysis, Jeremy Rivera, presented this five-step formula for predicting your SEO success—complete with a template for you to use. So grab your copy and review our guide to get started.

Copy SEO Forecast Template for Google Sheets

Copy SEO Forecast Template for Excel

And if you weren’t able to tune into the event head to Search Engine Journal for the replay.

Understanding SEO Forecasting

Before diving into the steps of the process, it’s important to understand what sets SEO forecasting apart from traditional sales and marketing forecasting. In the broadest sense, all forecasting should generate predictions about the revenue your business or agency could earn from its operations. The goal of forecasting SEO campaign results is the same: to predict the potential ROI of your efforts. And this goal is critical if you’re looking to justify allocating your budget to content marketing and SEO strategies.

SEO forecasting uses first- and third-party data to predict the amount of potential traffic you can drive to your brand site using SEO strategies. What’s more, you can use your forecast to predict the value this traffic has for your bottom line. You’ll use traffic volume, search results, and sales and marketing data to create a rough picture of what your business stands to earn in the future.

You can’t make predictions if you don’t have some background data for context, though. You’ll need past performance stats before you can calculate potential traffic volume. Using platforms like Google Search Console and Google Analytics, gather past performance data, say, from the past year or six months. Then, multiply the search volume, organic click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, sales rate, and price per sale to estimate potential results over the next period.

The formula: Search Volume * Organic CTR x Conversion Rate * Sales Rate * $ Per Sale

Why Think About the Return on Investment?

SEO might seem like a take-it-or-leave-it strategy, and you might not even think about its potential impact on your business’s ROI. But the truth is, SEO can have extremely positive results that generate sales and revenue:

Justifying the Budget (And Improving Your Pitch!)

If you’re planning a marketing budget, and content strategies are on your list, forecasting the results of your SEO campaigns help justify your budget. One of the most common questions we get at CopyPress is how we justify that budget. Imagine walking into a meeting with a potential client and sharing a projection of their next year’s revenue—just from a long-term SEO campaign. The data from your forecast is invaluable for strengthening pitches like these and showing key players the outcomes of a data-driven SEO strategy.

Oftentimes, you’ll see one or two folks managing content marketing for a company. Or, you’re outsourcing and partnering with an agency and you need to convince the powers that be, convince your clients, and likely convince yourself that the investment in content marketing and keyword research is going to yield results. SEO forecasting helps you do this.

Gathering Vital Business Insights

Think of SEO data as business intelligence (BI). Before online marketing and the data accessibility we have now, businesses had to put in a lot of work to find out what level of interest there was for their products and services. Luckily, we live in an age where Google isn’t just providing search but also providing search data through its API. This allows us to know how many people each month search for a given keyword or phrase.

With all the SEO tools out there, forecasting becomes much easier because of the ability to aggregate and correlate all the data. And this data can give you the best picture of your market landscape before even diving into your projection.

Predicting SEO Success: The 5-Step Process

The five-step process for forecasting SEO Success.

If you haven’t yet, get your copy of the SEO forecasting template. Then, follow the five-step process:

1. Identify Your “Keyword Universe”

Your “keyword universe” is the collection of keywords and phrases people use to describe and search for your brand, product, or service. Aside from the keyword tools, it’s important to tap into the wealth of knowledge that your client-facing teams and actual customers have. Go beyond the jargon and industry terminology, break out from your internal teams, and actually talk to your clients and customers.

And as you dig in with your keyword tools, assess your current site performance and identify the top keywords and queries your pages show up for over the past 12 months. This’ll give you a picture of the top terms people are searching for that relate to your business.

Save time and identify your most valuable keyword opportunities with our free content analysis tool.

2. Gather Traffic and Search Volume Data

Once you have your most valuable keywords, get into your keyword tools and find the average monthly search volume for each key phrase. Cost-per-click (CPC) data is also useful here, but keep in mind it’s effective only for getting a rough estimate of what someone is willing to pay when users click on the results for that search term. While the CPC data gives you an idea of the market value of a term, it won’t reflect your business’s unique outlook.

Search volume also fluctuates for seasonal keywords and phrases. Think of terms like “winter coats for women.” Search volume for something like this would be low during the spring and summer seasons versus during the fall and winter when people are ready to buy. Find your organic CTR for these terms and multiply this by the average search volume to get the potential traffic volume.

3. Find Your Conversion Rate

The first thing to think about is what counts as a conversion for your brand. An eCommerce brand, for example, has a completely different idea of conversions than a lead-generating website. For retail, conversions typically equal a sale. For lead generation, like content marketing, it might be clicks, form submissions, or content downloads. Whatever specific action you’re getting website visitors to take is what counts as the conversion. And the percentage of website visitors that convert is your conversion rate.

4. Consider How Conversions Turn Into Sales

It’s crucial to look at how conversions turn into sales for your business because not every lead becomes a sale. To understand your sales closing rate, find the percentage of leads your site generates that actually convert to paying customers. Another factor to consider here is the lifetime value of your keywords. How much revenue does your brand earn when visitors interested in these keywords make a purchase? Is it a one-time purchase or do customers come back?

Then, determine how much customers spend on each purchase. When you have your search volume, organic CTR, conversion rate, sales closing rate, and price per sale, multiply the numbers to forecast the potential results of your SEO campaign.

5. Determine a Reasonable Forecast Outcome

Once you make your calculation, you’re going to get a nice range of numbers to play with. It’s important to remember at this point that these are merely predictions based on the data you use. Take these potentials at face value and look at them as several outcomes versus just one.

You’ll also want to consider the variability of your metrics. Search volume is general, organic CTR data might not match your CTR, or your sales might be better or worse. The important thing is that you determine the most reasonable outcomes for your specific situation. Then, you can tailor your expectations based on what your site performance is now, what your calculations say, and what you should realistically aim for.

Whether you’re managing your SEO campaigns entirely on your own or you’re working with a team, use this process and template to make forecasting easier and effective for your business. For even more insight into your brand’s SEO potential, reach out to the team at CopyPress. We’ll help analyze your content and develop an action plan that can boost reach, increase traffic, and generate more conversions for your business or agency.

Forecasting Step Action/Detail
1 Your “Keyword Universe”: Collection of keywords and phrases people use to describe and search for your brand, product, or service.
2 Traffic and Search Volume Data: Average monthly search volume for each key phrase, cost-per-click (CPC) data, organic click-through rate (CTR), potential traffic volume.
3 Conversion Rate: Percentage of website visitors that convert, specific action that counts as a conversion.
4 Conversions Turn into Sales: Percentage of leads that convert to paying customers, lifetime value of your keywords, revenue earned when visitors make a purchase, price per sale.
5 Reasonable Forecast Outcome: Predicted outcomes based on data used, consider the variability of metrics, determine the most reasonable outcomes for your specific situation.

Author Image - Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver

Content Manager at CopyPress

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