Establishing a baseline and understanding historical trends can help forecast traffic trends and alerts you when traffic changes. You are able to predict incoming traffic and changes to your site. Any SEO knows you can’t know with any accuracy what a change will do to your traffic. There are numerous external factors that you have no control over.
You are still able to give your boss an idea of incoming traffic while addressing and taking those external factors into account. It’s important to take a look at what you can and cannot control.
The Typical Response
It is important to not have the typical “it depends” response when referring to SEO traffic levels. This kind of response often infuriates management because it doesn’t get them anywhere with figuring out their SEO traffic levels. SEO traffic levels are ideal when it comes to online business websites as well as other interactive sites.
The Importance of Baselining
The first step is to establish your baseline by establishing where your traffic is coming from and how much you’re getting. Be sure everyone is using the same data and is looking at it in the same manner. Ideally, have a dashboard that’s shared by all, so everyone who needs to can look at the numbers whenever they want.
The Impact of Seasonality
It is important to look at the impact that seasonality has upon your traffic numbers. Look at how your traffic has trended month over month over the last three to five years. There should be some consistency in seasonal trending from year to year.
For instance, say you have a cold weather product and perhaps sales peaked from December to February and then dip from May to August. A retail product may peak over the holiday season and dip for the rest of the year. Average trends over the data periods, and remove any outliers such as your typical lower number for one month.
Next, be sure to look at how traffic to your site has been growing year to year over the last few years. If your typical growth is 5 percent year to year, that’s what you should most likely expect as a baseline growth. Look at your history to see what projects were done over the years to get an idea of the impact they may have held, above and beyond the baseline trending.
Now you have expected based on both annual and seasonal trending. They are the numbers you should work to hit unless you have a major project come alone.
Obviously, no one can predict the future, but if you have projects in the wings and some you want to implement, you should take them into account when forecasting traffic.
Based on past project performance, you should have an idea how long it would take them to generate traffic once a project was implemented and what the growth pattern should look like. When adding upcoming projects to the baseline traffic model, think about a best-case scenario and an expected scenario. These two scenarios give you a range you can use to project traffic numbers.
It is not unlikely for those traffic numbers could still be suffixed with “it depends,” as there are a number of factors you have no control over that can adversely impact the actual numbers, like internal staffing changed and economic impacts.
Another key point about forecasting project traffic: If you have an idea of which projects brought in the most traffic, you will have a good idea which projects you want to implement in the future or drop from planning schedule. There is no use in repeating poor performance.
Search Engine Algorithm Updates
Search engines change their algorithms constantly in their continuing effort to improve search results. These changes may negatively impact your traffic. If you’re doing something against their webmaster guidelines, then you may expect this to happen, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes the search engines change how they present data in order to improve user experience, which may impact how your pages are displayed, ranked, and clicked on.
If your web pages are negatively impacted by search engine update, all you can do is examine what’s changed and see if there’s a way to recover the traffic you’ve lost.
Your competitors can change their sites at any time and try to copy your SEO efforts by optimizing for the same keywords or creating similar content. This can have a negative effect on your traffic stream.
This is a primary reason why an SEO can never stand still. You must keep an eye on your best competitors, as well as your site and traffic, to identify opportunities or changes early one. It is best to be proactive rather than reactive.
It is not uncommon to make mistakes, mistakes happen to all of us. When something is missed in the quality assurance process, changed in an update or a third-party tool malfunctions, traffic has the potential to drop. This is another reason why proactively monitoring all elements of a site is very important.
There will always be an element of “it depends” when projecting SEO traffic levels, that’s a given. Establishing a baseline and understanding historical traffic trends will give you an idea of what to expect and alert you when traffic levels fall.
The Importance of Traffic Levels
Search engine traffic refers to the visitors who arrive at a website by clicking search results leading to that particular website. Using Web analytics program, a website’s overall search engine traffic can be segmented to show the percentage of search engine traffic for individual Web pages or site sections.
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