How to build SEO business cases and do SEO forecasting

From my point of view, creating forecasts in SEO is one of the most challenging things to do. The lack of data in both Google Search Console, as well as Google Analytics, forces the user to channel a great amount of creativity and ability to adapt. Starting off, the first question would be: why would you start forecasting your SEO traffic and turnover?

Working in SEO requires making a lot of assumptions and relying on insufficient data. Time and experience has shown that there is quite a large margin of error that can arise during forecasting. Let’s take a look into the process of creating a forecast.

Google Search Console

We always start our SEO forecasting journey in Google Search Console. First, we make an export of all Google Search Console data of the last 12 months.  After that, we like to first filter out branded traffic, so we delete all the lines that have branded queries. Branded search terms tend to have a higher CTR than non-branded searches have. So if your focus is on increasing positions for non branded searches, it is better to leave them out, to get an honest, more accurate average CTR, based on current positions. The next step is aggregating your queries by position. By doing this, you will get an average CTR based on position. It should look like the image below. We can use these average CTRs to calculate what keyword rankings are able to bring to the overall performance.

Google Analytics

The next step is getting some basic data from Google Analytics. We need the organic turnover over the last 12 months, the conversion rate on organic traffic and the total number of organic visitors. Here you can use a bit of creativity, because you can approach this in several different ways. For example, tracking SEO turnover on landing page level and using that data for a landing page specific calculation. 

We prefer a more generic approach though. We calculate the number of visitors and divide them by organic turnover. By doing this, you will calculate how much revenue an organic visitor brings for the company. This approach provides a general outcome which, in our opinion, is as accurate as you’re going to get.

Third party keyword data / or Google search console data 

The last part focuses on honing in on, and defining your ambitions/goals. We would like to encourage you to do this on a keyword level. For example: build a group of keywords that you want to focus on for the next year. Create a document with the keywords, the current position and the position where you want them to be at in the next 12 months. Additionally, get from your GSC file how much traffic you have got on that keyword in the last 12 months. To sketch the potential you can again go multiple ways. You can use the last 12 months’ views from GSC. On the other hand, you can also add the previous 12 months search volume from a third party tool like Ahrefs, SeRanking or SemRush. Your document should have approximately the same lay-out as the one below; 

The last step is to multiply the potential volume with the session value and you will know how much traffic and turnover there is to get. And here you go, try it out and create a great forecasting business case yourself.

Dennis Akkerman is CEO of Seeders Group. He has built up the company from one, small office in the Netherlands, to an international marketing agency with offices across the globe. Dennis specializes in link building, SEO, SEA, Digital PR & leadership.