How To Estimate of Potential Organic Traffic & SEO ROI

What would ya say ya do here?

Updated: 3/19/2019

Why You Should Change Your Keyword Research Focus From Volume To Revenue

The truth is that when you’re keyword volume data and ranking data, regardless of whether it comes from search console or a rank tracking provider, is ultimately an egocentric & meaningless metric unless you can actually tie it to revenue.

That’s why they are paying you as an agency/freelancer or paying your salary as an in-house marketer, to make money.

So why don’t we include revenue projections when we talk about SEO? Because it can seem pretty daunting! Don’t worry though, here is a step by step on how to connect that keyword research data to the revenue of the site in question.

[slideshare id=94780524&doc=howtomappotentialrevenuefromyourorganickeywords-180423174444]

How To Create Segmented Organic Keyword Forecast

  • Create a keyword forcast/index for each major UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
  • Create a keyword forcast/index for each major UNIQUE TOPICAL CONNECTION

Use a Keyword Tool to get the total monthly volume.

Use Semantic Structure To Break Out And Expand Your Keywords

Here’s a thought exercise that can help you really come up with the most relevant approach to keywords for your target service or product page.

Create a new Spreadsheet to capture thee outcome!

Imagine the ONE core phrase that defines the object. 

Then add on your modifiers, your prefixes, suffixes.

Then add other modifiers like location, for whom it’s intended 

Let’s use the idea of a tool that tracks rankings. What the tool does is tracking. Then we think about modifiers that come after that like software, service, tool. Then add on prefixes that narrow the scope like SERP, Rank and Ranking. Throw some additional modifers like Best, Website and site and you will get a decent mashup of keywords. 


Create an Estimate of What % of Organic Traffic You Could Capture

An Estimated 35% percent goes to #1 ranking, but you’re UNLIKELY to rank #1 for EVERY keyword. So how do you gauge a realistic picture? First you need to have more detail about CTR on SERPs based on position.


Google Click-Through Rates in 2017 by Ranking Position

Position 48.98%
Position 59.21%
Position 66.73%
Position 77.61%
Position 86.92%
Position 95.52%
Position 107.95%


Remember clicks are not conversions!

  • Multiply that organic traffic by your site’s average Organic Conversion rate to get Estimated leads.
    • # of “True Conversions”/# of Sessions

Remember “leads” are not sales

  • Multiply your est. leads by your estimated Close rate for leads
    • *Only for lead/sale based businesses, eCommerce can skip this step
  • Multiply the number of leads by the average Revenue per new client/sale
    • Estimate your revenue per month from 1 new client
    • Multiply by average client lifespan

BOOM! A reasonable SEO revenue projection

Even More Resources On Predicting Organic Conversions


Predicting traffic is hard. There are so many moving parts. You, your competitors, Google (and other engines!) and their algos. It can be hard, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Predicting traffic can help you secure resource but it can also mess you up, if your predictions are wildly wrong. Work with data you have.

Use GSC, use Analytics, use SEO tools where you can to help. Conversion predictions come from that data. If you know that x% of your traffic converts, you’re on your way. Better, if you know x% of traffic to specific pages convert, you can be even more accurate. And INTENT is vital.

A search for “Bike shops in Cambridge” is me exploring. “Buy bike Cambridge” is me looking to part with money. Group your keywords accordingly.

If you’re predicting that keywords without purchase intent are going to convert into revenue, you’re going to come unstuck. For them, a ‘conversion’ may be a newsletter sign-up or even just picking up your cookie, so you can remarket to them later.

Andrew Cock-Starkey of Optimisey

Can an SEO Tool Estimate Your SEO ROI Potential?

I was just wondering earlier if it’d be possible for a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to take my list of keywords and give me a ~guestimate of just how much traffic you could reasonably expect from them.

But even more than that, can I estimate how many leads and REVENUE that would mean?

After all if Gary Vaynerchuck says I need to “figure out how that business makes money in the next six minutes.”[1] then I should get to it, right?

Here’s A Google Spreadsheet That Estimates Organic Traffic Potential

So here’s what I did:

I have created a spreadsheet populated with real data for an example client with some simple formulas that you can duplicate and then adjust & apply to your own keyword list.

** I created this for some client research but realized it might be cool to put it out there for others to utilize the idea.

Industry, Brand & Product Topic Keywords

You may find it useful to dig into your keywords based on the brands your eCommerce store sells. You can also look at all of the topical keywords people search about a particular product or service or it may be better to try and focus on keywords about the industry itself you want to rank for online.

I made three individual sheets for these different verticals of keywords to dig into. Enjoy!

Go here to get the sheet/s

Here Are My Assumptions About Clicks

I was watching an Ahrefs video on keyword research and he shared their assumption about SERP click behavior: They estimate 50% of est. traffic volume per keyword flows to the top 3 ranking domains. I really forget what they sourced that from…maybe they can comment on the post with their source… ANYWHO!

So I took that assumption a little further and estimated:

  • #1 would get about half of overall volume so that’s 25% of traffic
  • #2-3 would get about half each of that half so that’s 15% of traffic
  • #3-10 would get 50% of traffic divided by the 7 rankings
  • #11 and below can assume 0 traffic

My Assumption About a REASONABLE expectation

No. You don’t get to rank #1 across the board. It’s NOT reasonable to expect out of most SEO campaigns.


So let’s paint a rosy, but maybe reasonable picture:

Let’s say that 25% of your keywords get to #1, 50 are #2-3 and 25% are #3-6

If you are more of a pessimist, or the client isn’t offering that much budget or it’s a rough neighborhood for competition then revise those down on the spreadsheet.

  • For 25 Nashville dentist keywords the estimate volume was: 2,540 per month
  • Using my assumptions above I estimate a reasonable ownage of the SERP would net: 458 Organic sessions per month, not including BRAND or LONGTAIL keywords.
  • Multiply that organic traffic by your site’s Organic Conversion rate (if you don’t have access to Google Analytics or have goals configured then you can assume between 2.5% and 5%) to get your est. # of leads. 22 Leads
  • Multiply your est. leads by your estimated Close rate on leads (differs wildly for every niche, I just used 50% arbitrarily) 11 clients
  • Multiply the number of leads by the average Revenue per new client/sale (I assumed $1000) and BOOM You have the estimated organic revenue increase from a “REASONABLE” result of an SEO campaign.  $11,000
    • You need to keep in mind that some of your revenue from those clients might be upfront and some of it might be recurring or monthly revenue. If you have monthly recurring revenue from your clients, then you should take the needed time to figure out your “churn rate” to come up with an idea of how long you usually keep your customers.

      “When you’re figuring out your churn rate, especially at an early stage in your business, the process of acquisition should be taken into account. I.e. Your friends, family or close business referrals are going to have a different shelf life compared to clients you’ve won on your own merits, so to speak” – Chris Sipe of Gigamunch, an international meal delivery service startup based in Nashville.


A Conversation About Predicting Revenue For Organic Search Efforts

Eric Enge: The fun part of the question “how can we predict the revenue outcome of an organic SEO campaign” is that the presumption is that we have useful data on organic search volumes for the keywords. Generally speaking we do not. Even when we get data from Google Keyword Planner, it’s hard to tell where the overlaps are, and where the quoted numbers relate to broad match, phrase match, and exact match versions of the input key phrase.

There is a reason that Searchmetrics talks about “Search Visibility” and Brightedge speaks about “Share of Voice”. Real revenue projections? Forget about it!

 Mats Tolander: While I don’t particularly disagree with Eric there are situations where it may be fruitful to take a stab at creating a model based on available data (actual traffic, estimated search volume, rankings, and projected clickthru rates based on rankings, as well as an estimate of what the average click is worth.

If we attach dollar-value A to a keyword based on actual revenue and known traffic, we can estimate a projected ROI on quadrupling traffic by moving up from say number 6 to number 2.

Examples range from simple site wide assessments based on sales or advertising revenue divided by organic search sessions, to very granular models at query and page (product) level, taking all the things into consideration, depending on client or campaign need.

Eric Enge: Mats is right, but so am I. There are business contexts where relying on search volume data you get from keyword tools to forecast Revenue / ROI is still worth doing, simply because the business needs some perspective on what the potential return might be. It just remains critical to let the business stakeholder know the limitations of the calculations being performed.

5 Replies to “How To Estimate of Potential Organic Traffic & SEO ROI”

  1. Cool idea! Have you compared estimates to reported organic traffic form GA? I would assume that #1 gets closer to 80%, and that of that 80%, I would estimate somewhere around 30% of those visits to the #1 result will also visit #2 at the very least.

  2. “I was watching an Ahrefs video on keyword research and he shared their assumption about SERP click behavior: They estimate 50% of est. traffic volume per keyword flows to the top 3 ranking domains. I really forget what they sourced that from…maybe they can comment on the post with their source… ANYWHO!”

    Hey Jeremy!

    You see, this 50% is not a constant number. It may vary across the different keywords. The number of clicks is not just an assumption. We can model it thanks to the clickstream data we’re processing.

    The same data helped us find that a featured snippet, for example, only gets ~8.6% of clicks (surprisingly).

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