Establishing a baseline and understanding historical trends helps forecast traffic trends and alerts you when traffic changes. Contributor Simon Heseltine lists steps you can take to predict incoming traffic and changes to your site.

Have you ever had this conversation with someone from upper management?

Boss: “If we implement your recommendations, how will this impact traffic?”

You: “It depends.”

Boss: “If we create a new content project, will it generate a lot of traffic?

You: “It depends.”

“It depends” is the typical response by a search engine optimization specialist (SEO) to questions about traffic projections and is a top response that infuriates management.

As any SEO knows, you can’t predict with any accuracy what a change will do to your traffic, since there are numerous external factors you have no control over.

But — you can give your boss an idea of incoming traffic while addressing and taking those external factors into account.

Let’s look at what we can and cannot control, the impact certain issues may have on traffic and how to predict incoming traffic to your site.

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.

Seasonality

Next, you need 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 some be consistency in seasonal trending from year to year. Read More…