How to Estimate the Total Available Organic Search Traffic for a Website
By Sam Nemzer
Whether you’re expanding an existing business into a new market, bringing out a new product range, or building a brand new website from scratch, a key question you’ll need to answer is how much organic search traffic is reasonable to expect, and what the ceiling on that number might be. It’s also useful for an established site to know how close to the ceiling you are. In this post, I outline a process for coming to a reasonable estimate for that number.
How we do it
This is all an estimate, while it tries to be as rigorous as possible there are a lot of unknowns that could cause the estimate to be off in either direction. The intention is to get a ballpark estimate in order to set expectations and give an indication of the level of investment that should be devoted to a site.
In order to work out how much organic traffic we can get, we need four things:
1. A list of keywords we can reasonably expect to rank for
In order to gather this list of keywords, a level of keyword research is required. There are many resources available online for keyword research, including the Keyword Research module on DistilledU. In order to get the most accurate estimates, we want to aim for as wide as possible a set of keywords that are actually relevant to the site we’re proposing.
The intention of this methodology is focussed on the core non-branded keywords a site could rank for, e.g. the names of products and services offered by your website. Branded keywords should be considered separately, as they are much more prone to changes in search volume for a new brand being launched.
Tangential or unrelated keywords (that might be the subject of a blog or resources page) are generally better considered separately, as there’s often an unbounded number of these. My recommendation would be that when deciding on content to create, to run this process at a smaller scale over those particular keywords to estimate the organic traffic available for a piece of content.
Below is a scaled-down example list of keywords that we could put together for a site selling colourful knitwear. In reality, your keyword list should probably run to hundreds or thousands of keywords.
2. Search volume for each keyword in our list
There are many SEO tools available to get search volume data from. At Distilled we like to use Ahrefs, but any SEO tool will have this data available. Google Keyword Planner also gives ranges of keyword volume for free, although that data tends to be grouped into ranges. For the purposes of this exercise, you can take the midpoint of those ranges.
No keyword volume source, including Google, will be completely accurate, and they will generally give a monthly average not taking into account seasonal fluctuations. You should also be aware of keyword volumes for close …read more
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