Forecasting 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 tabs just above the toolbar. Each view comes in two flavors—Simple or Advanced forecasting— which themselves are selectable by tabs from the small section in the top-left of the main panel. First we’ll look at the differences between the Simple and Advanced views in 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 in the top right of the main panel:
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.
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 main panel, 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 in the bottom left of the main panel, and also by hovering over the icon in the top right. To change configurations, hit the Filter button on the toolbar and select from the drop-down menu.
You can also filter the contents by tag group; select your tags and options from the left panel and click the Calculate Forecast button again to update the results.
Just that; the keyword currently under scrutiny.
The total number of searches per month for this keyword within the current ranking configuration.
If any of your pages are currently ranking for this keyword, its position will be shown here.
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.
Current (Estimated) and Forecast monthly value totals of the above visits, based on their cost-per-click.
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.
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,
An up/down/neutral status icon to the far right shows you the difference between you 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 main panel 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.
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:
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- colored 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:
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, the Export option is applicable to all four view variations, while the other three affect the low/medium/high scenarios available in the Advanced view:
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 Linkdex Default 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.
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.
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 Reports area
As mentioned, the Filter button 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.
The Add Task button gives you a quick shortcut for creating new tasks and assigning them to yourself or other team members.
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.
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 Linkdex, we’ve provided a downloadable spreadsheet template, which you can grab from 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 traffic and forecasting data for from sources like your Analytics history and Google AdWords help 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, link building services and other sources.
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’, ‘high conversion’, ‘informational’, and ‘long tail’. You can add as many extra numbered tag columns to the spreadsheet as you need.
Linkdex offers default ‘non- brand’ and ‘brand’ keyword click-though by position formulas. If you have CTR models of your own you can add these from Manage CTR in the Rankings section 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 them by clicking the Edit button for each tag from Manage Tags in Rankings.
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 Bulk Upload/Update Keywords option under the Action button in the toolbar of the main Keyword Rankings page. If there are any new keywords in the list we’ll then get the ranking data in 3-4 hours.