Forecasting for SEO – #MancSEO Mini Conference

Neil Walker

Neil is Chief Technical Officer at Just Search where he is responsible for a team of 26 technicians, content editors and link builders, to develop technologies and delivery of the company’s products. He is a leading SEO strategist and regularly speaks at internet marketing events throughout the UK and Europe, including Ad:tech.


Neil explained how you go about forecasting SEO through the using predictions gained by gauging the potential traffic, revenue etc available. The following headings describe how these predictions can be made.

First Page Click-Through-Rates

Previous research showed that organic listings had click-through-rates of around 70-75% and paid listings had around 25-30%. However when Google brought the sponsored listings closer to the organic results, there was around a 14% increase in click-through-rates for the paid listings.
Therefore Neil reckons the organic listings have click-through-rates of around 65%.

Top 2 positions gain the majority of traffic, but length of search term can also influence CTRs- research has shown that a 5 word search term gains a higher CTR than a 2 word search term for listings in position 1.

Predicted CTR for positions 2-10 = 4%

Conversion Rates

Long tail keywords convert better.
Through Neil’s research, the average conversion rate of a website is 2.9%

Predicting Traffic Levels

Select potential keywords to target through using tools such as the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
With these keywords, you can predict the potential traffic levels available.

Predicting Timescales

Hardest thing to predict, how long will it take to get to first page?
Increased links over a shorter period of time seems to result in gaining rankings quicker.
Once a website ages over a couple of years old, this can also increase the time it takes to gain rankings.

Potential Income

Need to establish profit margins and average order values to gauge whether investing in SEO is going to be worthwhile.

Forecasting Process

First page CTR
Conversion rate
Potential keywords and traffic
Predicted timescales
Investment required
Average order value
Average gross profit

Should be able to forecast “we’ll be making X a month from by month Y.”

SEO is long term, it may take 9 months to gain rankings but once the hard work is done, that return comes through and will continue to do so. (Obviously need to continue SEO work)

Example of a 2 year forecast shows a steep curve for first few months, then the line evens out and continues


Use tools such as Google Analytics, install E-Commerce tracking, telephone tracking tools and also track CTRs in Google Webmaster Tools.

Real Data

Analysing the real data – actual traffic, transactions, revenue, profit – compare this with the predicted traffic to analyse.

Invest more for top 2 positions?

There is 23 times more traffic to be gained from top 2 positions compared to positions 10-5 so
the massive increase in potential traffic to be gained through positions 1-2 can justify extra costs.

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5 thoughts on “Forecasting for SEO – #MancSEO Mini Conference”

  1. Dave Dewar says:

    Thanks. This is really useful as I didn’t take down notes!

  2. Neil Walker says:

    Cheers for the right up guys, I don’t think I got to meet either of you 🙁 anyway full post is now up at hope to catch you guys next time, cheers Neil

    • Attacat Ben says:

      Hi Neil,nThanks for that. Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up next time – had to grab a flight back up to Edinburgh after the conference…

  3. Tim Barlow says:

    Interesting observation about older websites being harder to rank in certain circumstances. Can see the logic in that.nnThe big unanswered question though is estimating search volume. This was inaccurate before Google’s keyword tool changed, but now is simply impossible. Still, impossible challenges are always fun!n

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