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How to use the SEO Forecasting module to plan your SEO projects
How to use the SEO Forecasting module to plan your SEO projects

How to predict or forecast the success of your SEO project to justify a ROI or budget decision based ranking positions, traffic & other KPIs

Laurence O'Toole avatar
Written by Laurence O'Toole
Updated over a week ago

The Forecasting module provides traffic, value and conversion forecasts at keyword level, and can present a model showing how these factors would be affected by improved ranking performance, as either a static representation of ultimate potential, or a staggered, incremental view of how reaching this potential might look over time.

You can choose between these two views by selecting either the Cross Section or Over Time buttons just below the toolbar (#1, above).

Each view comes in two flavours—Simple or Advanced forecasting—which themselves are selectable from the small drop-down in the top-left of the forecasting control panel (#2, above).

First, we’ll look at the differences between the Simple and Advanced views under the Cross Section tab and then move on to the Over Time tab.

Cross Section: Simple Forecasting

You control the Simple forecast by operating the two sliders to the top right of the table (#3, above):

Ranking window of selected keywords.

Drag the two handles to select the range of ranking keywords. For example, if you have keywords currently ranking between 5 and 10 and you’d like to see their potential value at higher rankings, drag the handles to 5 and 10.

Image above: Adjust keyword rankings to produce a simple SEO forecast.

Forecast rankings

Drag this slider to the rank you’d like to see forecasts for if the keywords (in the range specified above) were to reach this position.

Next, click the Calculate Forecast button. The results are shown at keyword level in a table covering the bottom half of the table, with totals available in the Summary Area in the top right.

The table, like other tables within the platform, can be reordered in ascending or descending value for any column by clicking their headers.

The data presented is based on the current ranking configuration, which you can see (and change) in the top left of the filter bar. You can also filter the contents by tag group and/or a text search. Once you’ve set your filters, click the Calculate Forecast button again to update the results.


Just that; the keyword currently under scrutiny.

Search volume

The total number of searches per month for this keyword within the current ranking configuration.

Actual rank

If any of your pages are currently ranking for this keyword, its position will be shown here.

Forecast rank

The potential rank position used to generate the forecast, as set by you just now on the Proposed/Forecasted Rankings for Same Keywords slider.


Current (Estimated) and Forecast monthly results for the number of visits this keyword will generate at the current and proposed ranks based on its CTR at these ranks.

Media value

Current (Estimated) and Forecast monthly value totals of the above visits, based on their cost-per-click.

Conversion value

If you’ve assigned a Conversion Rate and Sale/Lead Value to the keyword, these will be used to calculate current (Estimated) and Forecast monthly conversion values.

Summary area

The summary area taking up the top-right portion of the page gives you a quick insight into the total values across all of your keywords (based on the current ranking configuration) for the current and forecast visits, media value, and conversions data shown on the table.

Green or red numbers here indicate whether there is an increase or decrease (respectively) between your current and potential rank positions.

Cross Section: Advanced Forecasting

Advanced Forecasting takes a different approach from Simple Forecasting in that takes into account how likely it is for a rank to be achieved. Jumping from ranking position 30 to position 5, for example, may be substantially easier than moving from 5 to 1.

It attempts to provide more realistic results by applying a model when generating forecasts.

This model can be customized if needed, and offers three scenarios: Low, Medium, and High, with Low offering fairly conservative expectations of achievable rank (the difference between your actual rank and forecast rank will be smaller), and High offering a best-case scenario given your current rank position (the forecast rank will be higher).

Select the Low, Medium or High master scenario from the drop-down menu in the top left of the table and click Calculate Forecast. The table will populate with the same estimated and forecast Visits, Media Value and Conversion Value columns as in simple mode, based on the current scenario.

You’ll notice that the Forecast Rank column now presents three possible outcomes, each reflecting potential rank based on the High, Medium or Low scenario.

Presently the other forecast values are all taking their cues from the master scenario, but you can manually override this for each keyword by setting it from the Keyword Scenario drop-down. As you move between these settings the appropriate forecast rank value will become highlighted and you’ll see the other forecast values update accordingly. The ‘Not Set’ option defers back to master scenario.

Summary area

In advanced mode, the summary area values will update after Calculate Forecast has been clicked, showing values based on the master scenario set in the Forecasting tab. If you’ve manually set the scenario for individual keywords on the table these settings won’t be reflected in the summary calculations.

Over Time: Simple Forecasting

The Over Time tab gives another layer of insight to your forecasts, allowing you to set a time span to achieve your desired rank and see how that might play out across various intervals throughout the life of the project.

The main controls are the same sliders as for the Simple Cross Section Forecast and work in exactly the same way, with the addition of the following controls:

Date targeted

Select the number of months and weeks you’d like to see forecast data for going forward. The table generated will display a column for each interval, along with its date (from the present day onwards).


It would be cumbersome to attempt to display forecasts for media value, conversions and visits across a range of dates all on the same table, so to simplify things, in ‘Over Time’ mode, only one of these metrics is shown at a time. You can use the menu here to select which one the table displays.

The table itself has the familiar Keyword, Search Volume, Actual Ranks and Forecast Rank columns, with remainder taken up with the selected number of date increments (the next 12 months, or 5 weeks, or whatever you’ve chosen).

With each consecutive date, you’ll see the value of the selected metric increase based on our estimation of how close to your target rank you’ll be by that point in time.

From the point at which this rank is achieved onwards there will be no change and the Keyword row will be block-coloured in green for an instant at-a-glance guide to how soon you’re likely to reach this goal.

Over Time: Advanced Forecasting

Advanced Forecasting has all the same scenario controls and functionality that it has in the Cross Section mode.

You can set a Low, Medium or High master scenario and override this manually for individual keywords to see on-the-fly updates in the table.

The table behaves as above, showing the projected impact of an incrementally improving rank upon the selected metric over the selected time span.

Time span selection is as follows:

Date targeted

Use the pop-out calendar to set a specific end date for the forecast.

Date display mode

Select Months or Weeks to break the table down into the appropriate intervals.



The Action button contains the following options:

Set keyword scenario

From here you can manually override the master scenario in bulk for any keywords in the table with their selection box ticked.

Clear keyword scenarios

This clears manual scenario overrides on any selected keywords.

Manage Click through rates

Takes you to the Manage CTRs settings page.


Opens the settings page for Tags, where you can add, delete, or edit tags, as well as get an overview of all of your tags in use throughout your project and which kinds of assets they’re applied to.


This opens the Manage the Forecast Model window where you can select between our default model for calculating low, medium, and high expectation scenarios, or provide your own. With the ‘Default’ option selected you’ll be able to see the default settings for Target Rank in each scenario. If you wish to edit these values, select Custom.


Gives you the option to export the current forecast in Excel or CSV format. Once exported, the spreadsheet will be available to download from the Exports area.

Filter Bar

Ranking configuration

Gives you the option to switch to a different ranking configuration. Once you’ve set it, you’ll need to click the Calculate Forecast button again to update the results.


Click here to change the domain used to generate the forecast.


You can filter the table down to display keywords containing text entered into the Search field. A drop-down menu to the left lets you modify your search to either include or exclude the search term, or to match only the exact phrase. Again, you’ll need to click the Calculate Forecast button to see any changes.


Filters the table to display results for keywords falling into the selected tag groups.

Using Forecasting to its full potential

As powerful a tool as Forecasting is, it’s only as good as the information you can feed it. Before you start to use this feature, we recommend spending some time to ensure your data is as robust as possible.

To save you manually entering masses of data directly into Authoritas, we’ve provided a downloadable spreadsheet template, which you can download within the app. Go to Processes > Imports and click ‘Keywords’ from the drop down list to reveal a link to the template, or, you can also download it from our website here.

The template contains some sample entries which you can replace with your own data. For forecasting purposes, the main inputs are as follows:


Add the keywords you want from sources like your Analytics history and AdWords data, going back as far as you can, ideally 12 months or more.

Any duplicates will be automatically merged with your existing keywords without losing any ranking data. Other fields will be updated with the new data.

Country search volume/CPC

For higher data accuracy, use standard keyword planner data or add custom search volume/CPC data based on your AdWords campaigns and other sources. If you do not add search volume data then we will go and collect fresh search volume data for you from AdWords – this of course may take a few minutes depending upon the number of keywords imported.


The better your tag taxonomy the better the analysis we can provide. In addition to the usual broad keyword groups (‘credit cards’, for example), think about using classifications like ‘brand’, ‘non-brand’, ‘high conversion’, ‘research’, ‘transactional’ and ‘long tail’. You can add as many extra numbered tag columns to the spreadsheet as you need.

CTR config

Authoritas offers ‘brand’ and ‘non-brand’ keyword click-through by position formulas. If you have CTR models of your own you can add these from the Manage CTR settings page and apply them at keyword level here.

Tag conversion & value

Tags can have a conversion rate (%) and monetary (sale/lead) value assigned. Keywords with tags that have this data will be able to have conversion forecasts calculated. The template doesn’t include a field for these metrics, but you can add them by clicking the Edit button for each tag from the Tags page in Settings.

Mapped page

Add the page you think should rank for individual keywords. This simple piece of information drives lots of other insights offered by the platform, such as a page’s potential value, and warnings when the wrong page is ranking.

Once you’re done, you can upload the data via the Import page under Processes (see image above). If there are any new keywords in the list, we’ll then prioritise getting fresh ranking data – this usually takes less than an hour.

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