SEO forecasting is a tactic to predict the future performance of an SEO campaign, such as traffic, conversions, and sales. Learn how to create SEO forecasts and the best tools to use for the job.

If your SEO reports focus solely on past performance, you’ll have a solid sense of the keyword rankings and organic search traffic you’ve already achieved.

But what about the results you’re likely to get next year, quarter, or month?

To plan for the future, you need SEO forecasting. In this article, we’ll cover why this process is so important and how to forecast SEO growth using the most popular tools.

What is SEO forecasting?

SEO forecasting is the process of predicting SEO results for a future time period. It involves estimating common SEO metrics like:

  • Search volume
  • Website traffic
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Return on investment (ROI)

To predict these metrics, SEO professionals use two types of data sources: First-party data reflects your historical performance, while third-party data factors in external trends.

Either way, developing an SEO forecast requires more than guesswork. SEO specialists do keyword research, review benchmarks, and check search trends to predict future traffic.

Below, we’ll discuss the most common methods for search traffic, ROI, and keyword forecasting. We’ll also cover the best tools for efficiently creating forecasting models.

How to forecast SEO performance

The right method for your purposes depends on your goals, metrics, and data. Here are four options to consider.

1. Estimate website performance

The simplest way to estimate SEO performance is to use historical website data to predict future outcomes. This option works if you need an estimate quickly and plan to maintain your existing SEO strategy.

To use this method, you need a website analytics tool like Google Analytics:

  1. Check your total organic search traffic from the past 12 months.
  2. Compare this number to your traffic from the year prior.
  3. Use the difference to predict traffic for the next year.

For example, say your website attracted 125,000 visitors from organic search over the past year. During the prior year, your site attracted 100,000 organic visitors.

That’s a 25% increase year over year (YoY). If you multiply the past year’s organic traffic by 125%, you can estimate you’ll attract more than 150,000 organic visitors in the next year.

Note that this option doesn’t factor in competitors, algorithms, or seasonality. While it works in a pinch, it isn’t the most nuanced option. It doesn’t reflect any strategic changes you may be considering, either.

2. Forecast keyword search volume

If your SEO strategy focuses on creating new content for a keyword cluster, historical traffic data won’t get you far. Instead, you need a method that provides search volume for a group of target keywords.

In this case, use an SEO tool (see recommendations below). Input your keywords to see the predicted search volume for each. Add up the search volume for all the keywords.

Then use a search analytics tool to find your website’s average CTR. Multiply this percentage by the estimated search volume to calculate your predicted website traffic.

For example, say you estimate 100,000 total search volume, and your average CTR is 10%. You can expect about 10,000 clicks from search.

You can take this calculation further by multiplying the predicted website traffic by your average conversion rate. This number tells you how many conversions you’ll likely get from this SEO strategy.

For example, say your average conversion rate is 5%. From 10,000 website visitors, you can expect 500 conversions.

3. Create an SEO forecasting model

If you want to factor in search trends and changes in user behavior due to seasonality, you’ll need a more complex forecasting model. The upside is that this method is one of the most accurate options. The downside is it’s the most technically complicated.

Although you can code your own model and build your own dashboard, you don’t have to. Instead, use these premade Google Sheets or Excel templates:

Make a copy of any of the SEO forecasting templates above to predict your SEO performance. Note that you may need to input data from either Google Analytics or one of the SEO tools below.

4. Use SEO tools to automate predictions

The fastest way to predict SEO performance is to use a tool that can automate the process. All you need to do is:

  • Choose target keywords to estimate search traffic
  • Decide on ranking goals and timelines
  • Input website metrics like CTR and conversion rate

In just a few minutes, you can view your custom SEO forecast. In some cases, you can even see the likelihood of achieving the predicted results to set expectations.

Top SEO forecasting tools

With the tools below, you can collect first- and third-party data for SEO forecasting.

Google Analytics


Google Analytics is a website analytics tool that tracks traffic from all sources, including organic search. It’s helpful for monitoring search traffic over time and comparing time periods.

With Google Analytics, you can also track user behaviors like conversions. As a result, you can rely on this tool for conversion rate and revenue data.

Google Search Console


Google Search Console is a search analytics tool that reports on how your website performs in Google search. It’s a free tool that integrates with many paid SEO tools below.

With this dashboard, you can see how many times your site appears on SERPs (impressions) and how many clicks it gets. As a result, Google Search Console is a reliable source for CTR.



SEOmonitor is an SEO forecasting tool that estimates SEO performance automatically. It helps predict traffic, set SEO goals, and plan a reliable strategy.



Semrush is an SEO platform with keyword research and traffic analytics tools. With its keyword research tools, you can find estimated search volume for any keyword and build keyword clusters for your content strategy.

With its traffic analytics tools, you can check organic traffic for your website and the competition. Using competitor data, you can create a more nuanced SEO forecast.



Semrush is an SEO platform with keyword research and traffic analytics tools. With its keyword research tools, you can find estimated search volume for any keyword and build keyword clusters for your content strategy.

With its traffic analytics tools, you can check organic traffic for your website and the competition. Using competitor data, you can create a more nuanced SEO forecast.


hawksem organic traffic

Ahrefs is an SEO tool that provides search traffic and keyword data for any URL. You can use it to forecast SEO for your website or your competitors. As a result, Ahrefs is a good choice for brands that aim to outrank other sites in their niche.

With Ahrefs, you can go beyond keyword data alone. You can also research backlink profiles for competitors and discover opportunities for link building. These tactics can complement your on-page SEO and content marketing strategies.

SE Ranking


As an SEO tool, SE Ranking can help with keyword research, traffic analytics, and competitor research. But it can also estimate your SEO potential automatically.

All you have to do is set up an SE Ranking dashboard for your website and input your target keywords. Then provide your average conversion rate and average revenue per customer.

The tool automatically calculates your current traffic forecast and estimated income. It also provides an expected traffic volume assuming all your target keywords rank in the top 10 search results.

Why should you forecast SEO growth?

Forecasting is crucial for planning SEO strategy, allocating budgets, and maximizing the value (i.e., ROI) of your efforts. Estimating traffic and ROI is important for large organizations and marketing agencies, as well as smaller teams — especially if you’re scaling your efforts.

Plan a data-driven SEO strategy

No matter how great an SEO or content strategy is right now, it always has an expiration date. Ideally, you’ll revisit your strategy either quarterly (best case scenario) or annually (at a minimum) and make updates to keep it relevant and competitive.

Because SEO forecasts predict future search volume and traffic, they’re great for guiding your strategy. A well-researched forecast gives you a solid foundation for content-centric SEO — choosing the right SEO keywords to target and the best content to publish and promote.

After all, forecasting models use historical data and seasonal trends to predict future traffic. If your content marketing strategy relies on guesswork or random acts of content in the past, forecasting will be more helpful for planning a data-driven strategy.

“As an ecommerce company, we look at historical SEO data to analyze trends, such as traffic, CTR, and installs of our app that are directly referred to by our blog. We look through data on Ahrefs, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Amplitude to see annual trends,” shares Natalia Dávila Merlo, Content Marketing Manager at Ling.

“This allows us to create content strategies, such as updating seasonal posts each year or producing more content related to certain languages during popular travel times.”

Secure a competitive edge

SEO doesn’t happen in isolation. External factors like search trends, algorithm updates, and competitor activities all affect SEO performance.

If you aren’t making an effort to predict SEO results, rest assured your competitors likely are. That means they could gain traction and outrank your site in search.

SEO forecasting is key to maintaining or creating a competitive edge over other brands in your space. With the right model, you can get the data you need to stay ahead.

“The days of simple, straightforward SEO strategies and approaches are pretty much over, which is why things like SEO forecasting play a huge role in the decision-making process for optimizing search performance, content creation, and link-building efforts,” explains Tom Golubovich, Head of Marketing at Ninja Transfers.

“When it comes to ensuring a long-term competitive advantage in organic search, SEO forecasting is not just helpful but necessary to stay on top of trends and capitalize on them.”

Anticipate revenue and ROI

Predicting future search traffic is only the beginning of what SEO forecasting can help you accomplish. Many models also estimate revenue from SEO so you can calculate ROI.

If your team is measured on revenue, having the ability to predict what your efforts will generate is crucial. With this data, you can also develop more realistic plans for other channels (e.g., pay-per-click) to ensure your team reaches mission-critical goals.

“Without forecasting, it’s impossible to know whether you’re on track or lagging behind your targets — because the targets themselves don’t exist. If you can’t connect the SEO initiatives you’re pitching to potential gains in clicks from search and revenue, you’ll have a hard time winning and retaining clients,” shares Josh Gallant, Founder & SEO Consultant at Backstage SEO.

Gallant recommends building keyword-level forecasts and translating them to page or cluster estimates.

“We use keyword-specific search volume, difficulty, current average position, expected CTR, and average dollar value per visit to estimate the potential clicks and value of those clicks for any initiative. This way, when we pitch a recommendation, we can directly connect it to a clear potential return.”

Budget for marketing and SEO efforts

Estimating revenue is necessary to make a case for your SEO team’s budget. An SEO ROI forecast can convince stakeholders to allocate more money for content marketing and distribution.

For example, say your estimates show search volume will increase significantly for a few important keywords to your business that are likely to generate conversions. But currently, your team lacks the budget to produce content related to this keyword strategy.

By showing ROI data to decision makers, you have a higher chance of getting the data you need. As a result, you can scale your SEO and content marketing efforts as necessary.

What to do before creating an SEO forecast

Before diving into SEO estimates, you need a plan. Get clear on goals, metrics, and data to get maximum value from your forecast.

Clarify your goals

What do you want to learn from the forecast? For example, do you need to know:

  • How a certain page or keyword cluster is likely to perform in search?
  • The volume of traffic your blog is likely to generate?
  • How much revenue your site is likely to drive?

There are several methods for estimating SEO performance. Your goals will influence the best method to use.

Know your metrics

Next, confirm your current SEO metrics. You’ll use them to benchmark and calculate future SEO results.

For example, HawkSEM’s SEO team typically starts with these metrics:

  • Total search volume for the keywords that matter to your business. That includes the topics, services, and products that fall under your brand’s expertise. If you need a forecast for a specific keyword cluster, calculate the search volume instead.
  • CTR of your organic search traffic. In other words, how often do potential customers click to your website from search engine results pages (CTR)?
  • Conversion rate for your website or particular landing pages or product pages. For example,, how often do prospects complete a conversion action on your website?
  • Average order value (AOV) or customer lifetime value (LTV). AOV refers to the value of a typical order, while LTV refers to the value of a customer over the entire relationship.

Collect first-party data and third-party data

Whether you’re forecasting SEO traffic, ROI, or any other metric, you’ll usually need access to first- and third-party data.

  • For first-party data, check search and website analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
  • For third-party data, you’ll need an SEO tool like Semrush, Ahrefs, SE Ranking, or SEO Monitor.

We’ll cover these tools below.

What to do after developing an SEO forecast

Now you know how to forecast SEO traffic. The next step is taking action based on this data.

In some cases, you may be able to translate your forecast into an SEO strategy. In other cases, you may need to make a case for additional budget, based on estimated results.

So how do you implement the strategy and realize the forecast?

When hiring an SEO expert, executing the strategy can be relatively straightforward. HawkSEM’s SEO team worked with many clients to create new content and update existing content to target traffic growth, build a backlink portfolio, and boost revenue.

For example, by using HawkSEM’s SEO services for HVAC companies, NorthStock increased conversions by 53% and improved revenue to a similar degree.

Our team’s work doesn’t stop with SEO principles like producing content and monitoring search engine results page (SERP) rankings. At HawkSEM, SEO tracking is an essential component.

That’s why we developed ConversionIQ (CIQ). This proprietary tool tracks every step of the buyer’s journey. It reveals which aspects of an SEO campaign work so we know where to double down and where to trim the fat.

Over time, CIQ data allows us to optimize toward a higher ROI YoY. Yet SEO data is just one aspect of our conversion tracking capabilities.

With CIQ, we can learn more about your brand’s target audience and how they navigate the buyer’s journey. Then we can take the data and apply it to other marketing channels, such as PPC or paid social media. From there, we can further scale while still maintaining profitability.

How accurate is SEO forecasting?

Here’s the thing about efforts to forecast SEO potential. Any estimate of future search volume, organic traffic, or SEO value can never be 100% correct.

Why? Even with in-depth research and modeling, SEO performance isn’t something anyone can predict 100%. After all, SEO specialists can’t see the future.

However, forecasting can give an idea of the outcomes you’ll likely achieve by targeting specific keywords. That’s why we recommend using this process to plan and strategize — and then pay close attention to the results of your strategy each month.

If these processes sound complex, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. When you want a data-driven strategy and a reliable SEO forecast, agency partners like HawkSEM can help.

The takeaway

SEO forecasting helps estimate future performance, plan effective strategies, and even predict revenue and ROI. At HawkSEM, we consider it essential for our digital marketing clients.

To learn more about our SEO strategy services, request a free consultation with our experienced team and discover how we can help you reach SEO and revenue goals.

Anna Sonnenberg

Anna Sonnenberg

Anna Sonnenberg is a writer for B2B SaaS companies. She specializes in product-led and strategic content for marketing technology, sales automation, and productivity tools.