Free Ways to Forecast Your Search Campaign

How do you know how effective your search marketing can be? How do you justify beginning your search marketing investment? You could hire a consultant to answer such questions, but that’s not the skinflint way.

Everyone starts out not knowing how to convince themselves and others to embark on the effort and expense of search marketing. But you can use a simple spreadsheet to organize your thinking and make your estimates so you aren’t shooting completely in the dark. Download this spreadsheet to calculate your search marketing opportunity and follow along with the instructions below and those found in the spreadsheet macros, which are a shortened version of Chapter 7 from Search Engine Marketing, Inc.:

  • Customize the spreadsheet. The place to start is with your own information. The spreadsheet comes loaded with an example from the book, but you should change the information on the “Customize” tab to reflect your company and products. You can use Google’s market share in your country to calculate the overall search volume for the keywords in your campaign. You can calculate your return on a revenue basis by filling in your average transaction price, but if you’d prefer to measure profit, the spreadsheet won’t know the difference. Just fill in whatever return you’d like calculated for each conversion.
  • Project your new traffic. Switch to the “Keywords” tab and pick a subset of the keywords that you’ll eventually use—just enough to give you an idea of what traffic you can drive. Then fill in the number of monthly searches that Google’s Keyword Tool provides for each keyword.
  • Calculate your missed opportunities. Use your Web metrics system (such as Google Analytics or CoreMetrics) to tell you how many search referrals you already get to your site for each keyword.
  • Assess your traffic possibilities. Fill in your average organic or paid search ranking, along with your estimate of what ranking you can achieve. Chapter 7 of our book gets into the detail of how to make such estimates, but even taking a guess without reading the book can be helpful. Remember that even top results for popular keywords might draw only a few percentage points of search traffic share. The spreadsheet will calculate your added visits.
  • Assess your revenue possibilities. Switch to the “Revenue” tab and see your added projected revenue (or profit if you customized it that way) over a 12-month period. Even if you’ve been conservative in your estimates, you might still be astounded.

This methodology will never perfectly forecast your results. In fact, the best way to use it us to run a test, by starting small and keeping your effort and spending low. You can then fill into the spreadsheet actual referral and search share results to see how much your return is so far. Then you are on far safer ground to project those keywords you haven’t started on.

Skinflints are less likely to plunge in with paid search, because that costs money. To take your next step in organic search, find out how to get your pages indexed.

Want more tips to raise your Internet marketing success? Check out Search Engine Marketing, Inc., which contains a complete step-by-step program for successful search marketing for your business. For more ways to improve your overall Internet marketing, take a look at Do It Wrong Quickly, an indispensable guide to the new ways of marketing on the cheap.