When setting up an SEO strategy, one important step is translating the SEO goals, namely keyword ranks or Visibility, into business metrics. 

SEOmonitor's Business Case Builder offers the unprecedented ability to predict the traffic and conversion results that can be obtained by reaching certain SEO goals. It works with estimations, but as the great statistician George Box put it, "while all models are wrong, some of them are at least useful". The applicability of our forecast comes from painting a picture of how achieving specific SEO goals could impact the business. This makes the business case tangible. 

By anticipating the additional organic traffic and revenue resulted once certain SEO goals are reached, it will help you not only set up a solid strategy but also translate it into figures any budget owner can work with.

This article gives you some insights into the forecasting algorithm behind the award-winning Business Case Builder (BCB).

The purpose of the BCB is to predict how the non-brand organic traffic of a website will grow if specific SEO goals are reached. Therefore, the brand/non-brand segmentation represents one of its foundations.

1. The orange chart

One of the unknown factors in the equation is the basis of the calculation: what would the non-brand organic traffic look like, if the Visibility remains unchanged, or, in other words, without any significant change occurring to the rankings in the following period. That is represented by the orange chart:

To obtain that chart, the algorithm extrapolates the current non-brand organic traffic on the seasonality (with vertical grey bars) of the non-brand keywords that generate it. This would be the expected non-brand organic traffic, if the Visibility stays "flat" for the next 12 months.

2. The green chart

The other unknown element is the expected traffic, if the SEO goals are met at the end of the selected period, represented by the green chart. 

First, you have to select goals for certain keyword groups, from the sidebar on the left:

Each group can have an SEO goal set to an average rank of Top 3, Top 5 or Top 10. Once the goals are selected and you click the "Update forecast" button, the algorithm will proceed to calculate the shape of the green chart, namely the expected non-brand traffic for the selected future period.

Goals are set at the group level, but the calculation is done at the keyword level. For each keyword in the selected groups, the platform will calculate the difference in click-through rate (CTR) between its current position and the targeted position (Top 3/5/10). For example, if the target is Top 3, the expected new CTR will be the average between the CTR of positions 1, 2 and 3. It is noteworthy that the CTR assigned to each rank is not the same for every keyword, but it depends on some keyword attributes, like if it is a branded one or not.

The CTR difference, expressed as a percentage, is then multiplied by the keyword's search volume*, and the resulting figure represents the expected additional traffic the keyword will generate once the goal is reached, at the end of the forecasted period. This number is placed at the end of the green chart.

In between the start and the end points of the forecast, the algorithm constructs the additional monthly traffic by taking into account keywords' seasonality and the SEO goal completion curve. This curve can be exponential, linear or set manually. An exponential curve is set by default, because results of SEO efforts are usually visible with some delay, after which they accelerate. The linear curve is more optimistic, and the manually set curve should be used when you know for sure that some events will strongly boost SEO performance (like the launching of a new website, with better on-site SEO).

The area between the orange and the green charts represents the estimated additional non-brand organic traffic of the SEO campaign.

Interpreting and using the forecast

Below the graph, you will see the monthly traffic milestones with no change in Visibility, next to those with the Visibility improved by reaching the selected SEO goals:

The figures on the right side translate the SEO forecast into a business case:

The additional visits combine with the conversion data pulled from Analytics, to produce figures that are easy to understand by any budget owner. The AdWords comparison can also prove useful in showing the value of the SEO services compared to a familiar marketing channel.

The conversion value and rate can be manually edited, if a certain growth is estimated.

Once satisfied with a certain business case, you can set it as a target. This way, you will see an On target indicator in the bottom left corner, showing you where you stand daily, compared to the forecast. The percentage compares the organic traffic from the past 30 days with the figure projected in the forecast for the same period.

Besides the obvious advantages in managing SEO projects, the forecasting feature is also particularly useful for digital agencies in helping them sell SEO campaigns. The experience of our agency-clients shows a radical improvement of their SEO contract closing rates, especially with the multiple forecast scenarios.

*If a keyword is tracked in more groups, its growth will only be calculated once, according to the highest among set goals, so that its search volume won't be duplicated. The search volumes are highly reliable, as they are always fresh and duplicate-proof because of the the aggregation of close variations under one main keyword.

Here's a short video explaining the forecasting algorithm:

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