Whilst we don’t have Mystic Meg sat in the office, we do have some of the smartest technology at our fingertips, as well as some really clever people.
We’ve been predicting performance for over 14 years, so we’ve learnt a thing or two and we love to share our wisdom; because we’re nice like that.
Here are some top tips when you’re looking at creating accurate predictions.
Make sure you understand where you’re at right now, today. Are you really well established or a start-up? You can’t predict performance unless you have a solid baseline. Use analytics and ideally setup and configure some custom goals, reports and dashboards so you fully understand how your site is currently performing and how each channel contributes to overall site performance.
Do thorough keyword research and fully understand the keyword landscape. You need to build out your keyword strategy, analyse the competition, and set a realistic roadmap and targets.
It’s all about identifying potential. How much are you missing out on? What additional traffic can you expect if you improve your visibility? Then based on your current conversion rates and average order value you can build the business case as to what additional sales and revenue you could make with an effective strategy in place.
Many industries need to account for seasonality, so we look at the seasonal trend and available traffic for your group of target keywords over the past few years to spot any fluctuations in search demand month-to-month.
We also look at year-to-year trends in search demand for your specific set of target keywords, as this can also influence the prediction.
Google has been encrypting organic searches since 2013. This means that, in analytics, most of your organic traffic is labelled as (not-provided).
We want to establish your brand and non-brand split. Real SEO is about improving your generic non-brand visibility, not brand, which is effectively just lazy direct traffic, as people are just typing your brand name and close variations into their browser.
For example, above the line activity, like print, radio, TV, out of home, may drive a large surge in brand searches, so you want to account for that and understand what’s driven it.
Due to the above, we want to uncover your (not provided) traffic in analytics to fully understand your organic traffic segment. You can achieve this by mapping together landing page data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
This is where is gets really clever, as the common denominator between the two profiles are your landing pages. We want to redistribute your organic traffic from analytics back to the keywords that generated it, which also shows us how many conversions or sales each keyword generates.
This enables you to get a proper handle on what keywords you currently rank for, what are your current average positions for those keywords, what is the available search demand for each keyword, what your current click-through rates are and how much traffic share you are currently getting.
Do you have any upcoming changes planned? Maybe a big website restructuring? Or any new product or service launches?
Always factor them in wherever possible when forecasting traffic and always re-forecast after any significant change.
Stay up to date with industry news and react accordingly to Google Algorithm updates so as to ensure your site is abiding by Google Guidelines. You don’t want any issues to affect your predictions. You know what they say, prevention is better than cure.
You never know precisely what the competition are going to do next, nor do you know if an ambitious new competitor is going to enter your niche. We advise consistently keeping an eye on the competitive landscape and using insights to gauge what impact they’re having on your traffic. Always think ahead and don’t fall behind.
When delivering overall search performance, it’s important to ensure that SEM & SEO are aligned, with the only focus on increasing total traffic to your site. This involves multiple forms of testing and sharing of insights/data to deliver against core KPI’s.
Looking at the relationship between paid and organic is vital to ensure success.
To summarise, establish your baseline and understand historical trends, as well as where you’re at right now. Using all of the tips above will help you to forecast future traffic trends and predict incoming traffic. Do things right, build a solid business case and remain agile when re-forecasting based on changes.