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Is it possible to predict the impact of SEO strategies on traffic?
If you’ve ever asked how a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy that has been recommended to you will impact your traffic and been met with a vague response, you’re not alone. There are, of course, many variables with every strategic decision and approach that make it impossible to answer those kinds of questions with pinpoint accuracy. However, it is possible to provide a ballpark estimation that takes external influences into account.
Establishing your baseline
This is a critical first step because it ensures that everyone on your team knows how much traffic you’re attracting and precisely where it is coming from. It’s important here that everyone is utilising the same data and interpreting it in the same way. A shared dashboard often works well to ensure everyone is on the same page and that your stats can be accessed easily by everyone who needs them.
Accounting for seasonality
Seasonality is likely to have some impact on your traffic. Referring to data from the last five years, you should aim to analyse your traffic trends on a month by month basis. You should be able to identify a level of consistency across your seasonal traffic trends from year to year.
If, for example, you sell beach towels, you might see your sales peak during June and July each year, whereas a business specialising in Christmas clothing will likely see sales peak in the run up to the holiday season. Take an average of your sales trends across key periods and remove any anomalies, such as uncharacteristically low figures which stemmed from hosting or no-indexing issues.
Annual trends and accurate forecasting
Keeping an eye on your year on year growth is advisable for a variety of reasons. If you know that your typical yearly growth is 5 percent without the implementation of any significant growth strategies, you will have a much clearer idea of the growth figures you should be aiming to match and then surpass with your SEO efforts.
Utilising past project performance data
If you know that there are specific projects that you will be implementing soon, they should always be taken into consideration when forecasting traffic. Data from past projects will help you to predict what your growth pattern might look like, but you should aim to generate both a best-case scenario and a most-likely outcome. This will provide you with a good range of data that you can then use to inform your traffic projection.
Considering changes to search engine algorithms
Updates to search algorithms are launched regularly because search engines are constantly striving to improve the quality of the results delivered to users. If you are knowingly pursuing strategies that go against webmaster guidelines, you might expect your traffic to be negatively impacted at some point. It is important to note, however, that algorithm updates might also affect your traffic unexpectedly if refinements are made to how search engines present data.
Although SEO traffic projections always come with an element of uncertainty, establishing both an understanding of your baseline traffic and past traffic trends will ensure that you are in the best position to both outline what you can expect to achieve and recognise when strategies are not performing as well as expected.