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Using SEO Forecasting to Choose the Best PPC Keywords

Last updated on August 5, 2021
7 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • How to use SEO forecasting to make informed, proactive, data-driven decisions.
  • Using Keyword Planner's forecast tool to see how your ads might perform using different keywords.
  • Identify keywords with the most potential & better predict patterns to decide where to spend your resources.

Skill Level


Your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) strategy should not be reactive — for example, you don’t want to wait until your ads perform poorly before adjusting them. Enter: SEO forecasting. SEO forecasting uses existing data to find patterns and predict things like traffic and clicks for certain keywords, allowing you to decide where to focus your efforts to achieve success. 

SEO forecasting can benefit your business in a number of ways. 

  • Estimate ROI: Before you dedicate time and money to any major SEO or SEM campaigns, especially pay-per-click ads, you want to know how it will ultimately benefit your company, such as how it may increase conversions. 
  • Understand Potential for Growth: This is one of the most important factors to help you decide what to prioritize. For example, by understanding keyword search volume, you can get an idea of the estimated traffic you could get by targeting certain keywords in your Google Ads. 
  • Find New Opportunities: Forecasting can help you identify new keywords, geographical areas, or audiences your business could target and how to best reach them. 

Information You Need for SEO Forecasting

Forecasting of any kind of not a perfect science, but if you prepare yourself with the right data, you can feel confident in your predictions. 

  • Historical Data: The best way to predict the future is to understand the past. Look back at your historical data (using a tool like Google Analytics) to gather data points such as monthly traffic and conversions. Be sure to analyze at least a years’ worth of data to get a full picture. 
  • Seasonality: Especially in our industry, seasonality plays a big role in searches, traffic, and conversions. Look back at the past few years to see exactly when your traffic begins to spike for your busy season and when it starts to wind down. Also consider any events that could impact searches for activities in your area, like a summer festival or a major holiday that draws crowds to your city. 

screwdriver and wrench iconHow to Use the Google Keyword Planner Forecast Tool

Keyword Planner is one of the most useful tools for SEO forecasting because it gives you an idea of which keywords will be trending in the future and which ones you should target. Drawing on historical search data, Google estimates how your ads might perform depending on how much you spend on certain keywords. The tool takes into account your bid and budget as well as market changes and seasonality.

Depending on your goals, you can use the forecast tool to reallocate your ad budget, see projections for individual keywords you want to target, view your estimated performance, and more. 

To start, head to the Google Ads Keyword Planner. You may be familiar with the “Discover new keywords” option already, but for forecasting purposes, click on “Get search volume and forecasts.” 

screenshot of keyword planner forecast option

Next, enter the keywords you want to target, separating each query with a comma. If you already have a spreadsheet with your keywords, you can upload this instead. 

screenshot of google keyword planner forecast keyword input

To make the data even more relevant to your PPC plan, click on “Add conversion metrics” to add your existing metrics. The tool will generate a graph and data chart with forecasts for the keywords you entered.

On the Forecasts tab, you’ll see useful data for the keywords, including: 

  • Clicks
  • Cost
  • Impressions
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Average cost-per-click (CPC)

(Need a refresher on these metrics? Review the terminology on our introductory guide to PPC marketing.)

You can use this information to decide which keywords to prioritize and how to allocate your ad budget. Keep in mind that Google estimates this data using the ad spend you entered, so the data can change based on your budget. 

If you need buy-in from your team to invest resources in PPC ads or other SEO/SEM efforts, you can download or share your forecast and make your case for what you think is the best course of action. As you start to implement your recommendations, you can measure the performance against the forecast. 

Data always leads to smarter decisions, and as you can see, it’s easy to get the forecast you need using Google Ads Keyword Planner, which is one of our top free SEO tools

Ready to apply your forecast data to your ad campaigns? Check out our checklists for creating new ads or optimizing existing ones

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