How To Estimate Keyword Traffic & Website Earnings

By Spencer Haws |

I'm an analytical guy by nature.  I probably spend way more time than I'd like to admit punching numbers on my calculator trying to find the answer to “what if!”  I dream about “what if” when my new business ideas hit the big time. Even before the first word is written I'm thinking about how to calculate traffic and earnings to guess how much my site could be worth eventually.

And then I dream.

I dream about how much they would cost, how much money I can get in return, or how much it costs to get a new customer. 

Does that make me a nerd? 

Maybe so, but my analytical skills have come in handy as I plan out my niche website strategies.  I have covered some of this material in the past.

But today I wanted to discuss in detail how you can calculate how much traffic and earnings to expect for a keyword or an entire website before its built. 

So bust out your calculators and adjust your pocket protectors, we are about to get nerdy up in here!

These are calculations that will work with both small niche websites or larger authority type websites (like the one for my new authority site project here). I will give an example of a small niche website keyword.

And then I will walk through the calculations of my new authority site.  

Overall, I will be calculating the earnings based on Google Adsense. However, with some minor adjustments you should be able to calculate your earnings for any type of monetization strategy even including Amazon, Clickbank, CPA offers, or other methods. 

The first thing you need to do is find a keyword that you are considering building a website based on.

I discussed 15 Ways to Brainstorm for Keyword Ideas right here.  You can then use a keyword research tool to expand your keyword list. 

How To Estimate Keyword Traffic

Estimating keyword traffic is easier now than it has ever been, but there's no science to get it exact every time.

For example, my website ranks for the keyword “best niche markets.”

Long Tail Pro estimates that this term gets about 30 searches per month:

long tail pro search traffic

But the article that ranks for this term is the 2nd highest traffic article on my website.

In the last week, it had 1,406 pageviews.

google analytics search traffic

What's up with the big discrepancy? Is Long Tail Pro just flat out wrong?

No. The difference is because my article on best niche markets is ranking for more than just “best niche market.” In fact, it's ranking for a whole slew of terms.

That article has almost 1,000 different keywords bringing in organic traffic!

Long Tail Pro isn't wrong. It's just that when I wrote an article about “best niche markets,” that article included other keywords. It wasn't forced, it was natural. Things just worked out that way.

We can draw two conclusions from this finding:

  1. It is easier than ever to estimate keyword traffic. Just plug it into a keyword research tool of your choosing. You can even use free ones.
  2. Keyword traffic doesn't matter. If you write excellent articles, you'll rank for more than one keyword. You might even rank for enough keywords to get 1,406 visits per week 🙂

You can estimate traffic with a tool if you want to. But I wouldn't worry about it.

Even on my Niche Site Project 4, I don't concern myself with how many searches per month a keyword gets. 

It's better to write incredible content and worry about the results later.

How To Estimate Website Earnings

So you have your target keywords. Now how much can you earn with those?

We can boil this down to one metric: Your revenue per thousand visitors (RPM)

Ads tend to have a pretty low RPM. In the old days of just Adsense, I could get about $2-$4 RPM.

So if I wanted to make $2,000 per month, I had to have a monster 100,000 visitors from organic search per month!

The bar has been lowered quite a bit in recent times. Now there are networks that place ads for you and run a sort of permanent split test on your site. Mediavine is one popular network for ad management (check out my Mediavine review).

Ezoic is another option and better suited to smaller websites (check out my employee Brady's Ezoic review).

My Niche Site Project 4 used Ezoic and I'm at about $17 RPM. That's pretty monstrous and will vary depending on your niche.

To estimate another website's earnings or your future earnings, I would place my ad revenue at about $5 RPM. If you go higher, that's awesome! But $5 will be about right for a lot of people.

Your much higher earnings will almost always come from your affiliate earnings. Posts that are buying guides or product reviews tend to convert well.

When someone is searching “best dog harness for hiking,” that person has credit card in hand and ready to buy.

I've seen affiliate earnings for these types of posts get into the $40-$60 RPM. That's a lot higher than ads.

The downside to affiliate earning is that it's tough to monetize all of your articles. Outside of your review or buying guide articles, your affiliate earnings trend pretty close to a whopping $0.

I recommend putting ads on your info pages, writing some affiliate articles, and then testing ads on your affiliate articles.

To estimate a website's earnings, try to find their balance between info content and affiliate content.

Estimate affiliate earnings at a low $20 RPM and ads at a low $5 RPM.

Then it's just a matter of estimating the traffic and doing your math.

Once you have several sites you will be able to adjust your CPM calculator accordingly based on actual numbers.

How Much Traffic Does A Website Need To Make Money?

In theory a website can make money off of one visitor who buys your product, clicks an ad, or follows your recommendation.

In practice, you're going to need pretty significant traffic. Let's use the numbers we talked about above to give us a rough estimate.

Let's say that you publish nothing but affiliate articles and get 1,000 visitors to your site each month.

If you are earning on the low end, you'll be making about $20 per month. On the high end, you're looking at maybe $60 per month.

That's nothing to write home about.

And the numbers are even less if you're publishing anything that isn't affiliate content. If you have a mix of affiliate and and info content, you might be pulling about $13 per month.

Sites don't tend to make much money until you get into the five-digits-per-month traffic mark. If you're publishing a lot of affiliate content, you could be making a few hundred bucks per month with 10,000 visits per month.

This is also the point when you can start applying to networks like Ezoic or Mediavine to boost your ad revenue. Email marketing also starts to be more and more effective at this stage, so you're opening up new traffic sources and new ways of monetizing.

I would say that a site would need about 100,000 visits per month before it got to the point where you could start writing home about your site's total revenue.

You would need to mix your info content, affiliate content, and use email marketing. But at 100,000 views per month, you could make somewhere in the range of $2,000-$4,000 per month.

Example Keyword and the Formula

Anyway, the primary information you need before you can start calculating is the Exact Match, Local volume Monthly searches, and the Cost Per Click.  So, for my example, lets use the keyword “Water Pumps.”  This keyword gets 6,600 Local Exact match searches and has a CPC of $1.61.

I have gone over how to calculate earnings in detail in this post: Search Volume and CPC Criteria of a Winning Keyword. 

But I wanted to discuss some deeper nuances that I skipped over in that post. 

The formula that I used in my previous post to calculate how much earnings you will receive is simply this:

Earnings = Estimated Search Volume x Adsense CTR x Adsense CPC

However, the formula is actually more complicated than that because we need to first calculate the actual search volume coming to our website.  

Then to calculate for our entire website, we need to figure out additional search volume received from other planned keywords AND unexpected long tail keywords.   We also need to jump through some hoops to figure out the Adsense CTR and the Adsense CPC.

So, the REAL formula to use is my updated formula shown here:

Estimated Earnings = (Keyword Search Volume x Google Position Factor) x  Visitor CTR x (Adwords Tool CPC x 30%) x Multiplier for Long Tail Keywords

How to Calculate Estimated Search Volume

The initial problem is that we don't know exactly how much organic traffic to expect for our keyword.  We know that “Water Pumps” gets 6,600 searches each month. But we obviously can't expect to get every last visitor for that keyword. 

So, how much can we expect? 

Again, I have covered this before, but here is a graph that shows a general breakdown of how much traffic the top 10 sites in Google based on position can expect. 

This is data provided by Aaron Wall at (originally from some AOL leaked data) to determine search volume:

calculate traffic and earnings traffic pie chart

So, if you are ranked #1 in Google you can expect to get approximately 42.13%.  In addition, I don't really agree with the other positions. This data is just based on the first website that a visitor clicks on. 

So, yes, maybe only 11.90% of searchers click on result #2 for their very first click. But you and I both know that when we search for a keyword, we often click 2, 3, or even more of the results! 

So, the actual % of people going to the lower ranked sites is actually MUCH greater. 

In fact, I have not noticed a huge difference in traffic between being ranked 1, 2, or 3 for a keyword. 

Obviously this can really depend on a number of factors.  I have seen this time and again with my niche websites. Basically I get essentially the same amount of traffic being ranked in any of the top 3 positions. 

I also see about the same for positions 4, 5, and 6 – lets say 20%. 

Then for the bottom 7, 8, 9 and 10 its probably closer to 5 to 10% of the monthly search volume of the keyword.

So, if we rank #1, #2, or #3 for “Water Pumps,” we can expect about 2,781 visitors per month (42.13% x 6600) for that keyword.  If you think you can only rank at the bottom of the 1st page, you should only expect about 330 to 660 visitors per month.

How to Calculate Adsense CTR

The Adsense CTR needs some explaining.  The CTR shown in your Adsense account is actually based on the number of Pageviews NOT visitors

We have just calculated how many visitors we are expecting to our website. Which is a completely different number from pageviews. 

Honestly, there is no way to know the exact click through rate until the site is up, but I usually just use 10% of VISITORS. Not pageviews, but visitors.

Hope that makes sense.  So, for ease of use, I just calculate that 5 to 10% of visitors will click an ad. 

Obviously your CTR could be significantly lower or higher than what you calculate here. This is just a rough estimate.

So continuing on with our “Water Pumps” example, if we rank #1 we are expecting 2,781 visitors for that keyword.  We are then estimating that 10% of those visitors will click an Adsense ad – or 278 clicks per month. 

Sweet we are getting close here! 

Now we just need to figure out how much we are getting paid per click.

How to Calculate the Adsense CPC

The Google Adwords Keyword Tool shows the CPC based on how much advertisers are willing to pay to be listed on search results.  Advertisers will pay less to be listed on your website. 

I usually use a factor of around 30%.  So, for our keyword “Water Pumps” with a CPC of $1.61 I would estimate closer to getting paid $0.48 per click. 

Also, this number could fluctuate heavily as advertisers stop bidding on this keyword, new advertisers enter the market, or they change their bids for other reasons. Like seasonal pricing hitting the holiday season.

So, after my long winded explanations, we can finally calculate the estimated earnings for the keyword “Water Pumps.” 

We figured that we could expect around 278 clicks per month with an actual payout of about $0.48 per click. That gives us: $133.44. 

So, if we rank in the top 3 spots of Google, we can expect to make around $133.44 for this keyword.

Calculating for Long Tail Keywords

You also have to realize that you are likely to get more traffic for a niche website than from just your primary keyword.  You will get long tail keywords traffic! 

For a small niche website this might only be 10 or 20% additional traffic to your site, although it could be much more.

Some of my niche sites get up to 50% of their traffic from long tail keywords. 

Some get much less – so unfortunately, none of this is an exact science! However, for a larger authority website, you should be able to expect MUCH more traffic based on those long tail keywords.

So, if we expect to get 20% more traffic from other keywords in our “Water Pumps” example, then we would take $133.44 x 1.20, which is $160.13.  So, if we get 20% additional traffic from long tail keywords, we can expect our niche website on “Water Pumps” to make about $160.13 per month! 

This calculation takes a long time to explain, but in practice takes less than 30 seconds to figure out for each keyword!

If we were adding lots of articles we could obviously double or triple the earnings that the “water pumps” niche website is bringing in.

At a certain point increasing your average revenue from Adsense earnings or affiliate sales off a site comes from getting a few more wins ranking your articles in Google's results.

My Calculations for My Authority Site

Now that you understand my thinking behind how to project earnings for a site, I wanted to do some quick calculations for my niche authority site project.  So again, I will be using this formula. 

But this time I will essentially be doing it twice. Once for my primary keyword, and once for my long tail keywords. 

I will do it twice simply because I plan to have a massive amount of content so it makes sense to calculate the long tail keywords separately.

Estimated Earnings = (Keyword Search Volume x Google Position Factor) x  Visitor CTR x (Adwords Tool CPC x 30%) x Multiplier for Long Tail Keywords

First, my primary keyword gets approximately 14,800 searches per month.  It has a CPC of $8.04.  I am hoping to rank in the top 3 of course. But lets just calculate the projections based on getting to the middle of the page.

Or a Google Position factor of 20% as discussed above for middle of the front page search results.

So, now I am going to quickly use the above formula.

14,800 x 20% = 2960

Visitor CTR estimated at 10% – So, 2960 visitors x 10% CTR = 296 clicks per month

The CPC is $8.04 – So, 8.04 x 30% = $2.41 .  However, as I discussed in my article here on calculating earnings, I usually cap my expected per click earnings at $1. 

Yes, you can earn more, but it would be extremely rare to average $2.41 per click. 

So, I will implement my cap of an expected CPC at $1 to stay on the conservative side.

So, that gives me a projected earnings of $296 per month just for that keyword.

However, the long tail keywords will bring in MUCH more traffic.  I expect to create 200 pages of content all targeting a new keyword that gets between 200 to 500 searches per month. 

So, lets take an average search volume of 350 searches per month on those long tails.

So, 350 x 200 articles = 70,000.  If I rank the middle of the road, that's 20% of that, or 14,000 visitors.  However, I also expect ADDITIONAL long tail traffic on keywords that I wasn't targeting. 

In fact, I expect to receive just as much traffic from these untargeted keywords as I do from my targeted keywords. 

So, that would be 28,000 visitors per month if I double the traffic.

So, 28,000 x 10% CTR = 2,800 clicks.  At $1 average per click, that's $2,800 earnings per month from long tail traffic.  So, $296 from my primary keyword and $2,800 from long tail traffic is $3,096 estimated earnings per month. 

And honestly I think this is a VERY low estimate.  If I didn't cap my earnings at $1 per click and instead used the $2.41 per click then I am looking at a $6,192 per month website.  And obviously it could fluctuate largely up or down based on traffic and ranking position. 

As well as seasonal variances.

If I was ranking at the top of Google, we could double the traffic estimate to 43% – which would give me a number over $12,000 per month.

Anyway, I think its better to stay on the conservative side and estimate the site has good potential to earn about $3,000 per month.  I know it has potential to do more than that, but this lower $3k is a good estimate of what I should be looking for.

As you can see, this is not an exact science. Not even close. 

There are just too many unknowns to be able to reliably predict how much a website is going to make you before you even built it. 

However, these calculations CAN give you a ballpark figure of how much money you can make off your website traffic. And I think that's important.  You need to know if you are looking at earning a potential $30 a month or a potential $3,000 per month.

So, I hope that my formula and calculation examples made sense!  I was somehow able to ramble on for over 3,000 words here. All just to show a relatively simple calculation.

Your Thoughts on How to Calculate Traffic & Earnings

Anyway, I would be very interested in hearing your comments below.  Please let me know what you think of this formula to calculate traffic and earnings expectations.

Is it accurate?  How would you change it?  Do you do something similar to project the potential earnings of your websites?

SEO | 98 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

Yes! I Love to Learn

You may also like

View all




Some kind of.. fill in the blank equation where we can plug in the numbers for our own site would be mighty convenient, as you said, it took A LOT of words to explain this, so it would be helpful for us to ballpark our own sites with something like

___(cpc)*___(page views) + x other keywords… or whatever.

Just a thought. 🙂


Hey Sean – yep it took a while to explain – oh well. I’m not sure I understand what you are looking for. I did provide the formula – which really is just fill in the blanks as it is. Do you mean you want an online calculator or something? Not sure what you are getting at.


You did. That somehow didn’t register. (And btw, I wasn’t complaining about post length or anything).

Carry on!


CTR of 10% .. mmmm most posts seem to reckon you do well to get 2% so even allowing for a bit of leeway that seems high .. Will read in more depth later


Yep, you need to read it first 🙂 . Once you read it you will understand what this 10% CTR means – I explain this in detail.


Ok, I see where you get the 10% from now but I have to say I’m doubtful if 1 in 10 people click the ads .. even before I really was even aware of what they were I probably only clicked 2 or 3 in my life!

Also your extras for long tail keywords I feel are probably very high

“So, 350 x 200 articles = 70,000”

That kinda presumes that every one of these pages will get on the first page of google which is unlikely .. Still useful though and I think I’ll rejig more conservatively for my own purposes and if I get anywhere near $3k a month I’ll be sending you some honeycomb 🙂


Ritsos – I have 200 websites, so I can tell you that 1 in 10 people clicking ads is pretty conservative! Remember if each visitor views 3 pages, this is only a 3.33% CTR in Adsense (which is pretty low).

Also, you are misunderstanding what this 70,000 is – this is NOT how many visitors I am expecting – this is simply the cumulative search volume of the 200 keywords I am targeting. In the very next sentence I explain that you need to multiple this by 20% (for my Google Ranking factor) to get 14,000. This 14,000 is the amount of visitors I am expecting. Again this is a really low number for having 200 articles. Anyway, I knew it would be confusing – I guess I shouldn’t try to blog about math formulas…my bad!


What a great analysis Spencer. Are you a match guy. BTW I love math but when I was in college. Now I forgot how to do calculations 😉
but you did that math for us. You are very optimistic in your business and that is very good thing.

Couple of questions if you like to answer:
1) What are your plans to make money from this site (I mean niche pursuits) Are you looking to put Adsense on this?
2) Do you have any post detailing on how to grow your niche site once you are done with keyword and domain.

Thanks again for your detailed analysis. That makes me very curious about niche sites.


1. I won’t be putting adsense on this site. You guys like free information right 🙂
2. I will be doing posts on this subject in the future: see the Niche Website Hub here: for planned future posts.


I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to data analysis and have been using a similar formula to yours for a couple years now. I can say I concur one hundred percent with your numbers.

Ritsos: I think you’re reading the WRONG posts man! If I got a measly 2% CTR I would definitely have to go get a “REAL” job again…..I’m upset if I get less than 15%.


Awesome – I’m glad that you can agree with the formula that I am using!


Errrrr I think you lost me at “bust out your calculators”. I need to go for a lie down.

Let me know when the excel spreasheet with the formula has been created so that I only have to tap in the figures in order to get the answer. I know there has to be someone out there who has created this already. Am I right??

Tiptopcat 🙂


I’m sure there are some spreadsheets somewhere or even online caluclators that do something similar – but I don’t know where they are! Sorry, to put you to sleep 🙂

Tiptopcat @ The PLR Boutique

Oh bless you – YOU didn’t put me to sleep. All those numbers that you were throwing about kept slapping me up side the head and it kinda hurt.

My brain just can’t deal. LoL

Tiptopcat 🙂


Lol 🙂


Spencer, I sent you a spreadsheet. 🙂


Hi Spencer,

I was hoping you would talk about some of these issues because I’ve been curious. On July 25th SEOmoz highlighted a study claiming that click through rates have been pushed much lower than previous studies suggest.

This seemed too low to me, though. Is that just for high-competition searches with lots of AdWords space integrated search results do you think?

How do their figures compare with what you are seeing on your niche sites?


I haven’t read that study yet. But I would probably generally agree that visitor CTR to natural listings is probably down due to Google taking over more space on with Adwords, Places listings, shopping results, picture results, video results, etc. However, this only applies to certain keywords. I have not noticed any decline in traffic. So, it really depends on what the search keyword is.

Matthew N

Here’s the study Spencer.. to me the numbers are a lot more realistic than the SEObook ones.

(ps loved the podcast you did with onlineincomelab)

Matthew N

Link disappeared. Seomoz blog. “Mission imposSERPble”


Thanks for sharing Matt! Not sure why the link disappeared (it did so automatically). However, I have bookmarked it and will dig in a bit deeper. From what I saw looks like a great study with VERY different results from the SEObook info I showed. Glad you liked the podcast…maybe I should do more?

Paula Mooney

I love the explanation process and I hope you do average a lot more than $1 per click.

It’s so cool when I see clicks coming in at $2 or more a click sometimes. But then others are less, around .34 — but every bit really adds up.

I’m inspired anew.


Yep, I always love the high paying clicks! Hopefully I can average more than $1, but its nearly impossible to predict. Glad to inspire!


Spencer how do you manage to increase your CTR?


Aldo, I have a post planned for that here:

Stephen Dailey

Hey Spencer,

I am new to the game and only have a couple of websites making money right now and even though this formula doesn’t come close to what I am making (probably because adsense CPC is low but I make money with Amazon product sales), it is still nice to have some sort of system to establish a baseline and if I find that it needs to be tweaked for my needs then I can do so going forward.

So I will put this away for my next round of keyword research and see how close it is with the next round of sites I put up. Obviously my few websites are not a big enough pool to guage the effectiveness of the formula.

Thanks for the great post Spencer.

-Stephen Dailey


When you say the formula isnt even close, are you making more or less than it predicts? Overall, this is just a formula that can give you an idea. Obviously, there are so many variables, which you can change based on “what if” that its only as valuable as your personal predictions as well.

Stephen Dailey

I am making a lot more than what it predicts but its only 2 web sites I have tested this on and like I mentioned, the CPC is low for adwords but I am directing people to Amazon for product sales where 7.5% of the item cost is obviously much higher than an adword click in the niches I was able to test.

What would be beneficial to me is to be able to compare my CTR rates to other Amazon sites to see if I need to improve. Well I always need to improve but you know what I mean.


Nothing like a consistent way of measuring something. I’m not even getting the 2% CTR 🙁

Great post Spencer.



Thanks Jade. Sorry to hear about the low CTR. Unfortunately some niches tend to get extremely low CTRs and other get much higher. So, it may just be that your site is in a low CTR niche. Or even the type of keyword can lower your CTR. Meaning, for some keywords people are looking for a certain thing and are not in the mood to click ads. For other keywords, people are much more likely to click adds. Even if these keywords are in the same niche – so CTRs can be very keyword dependent as well as layout and site structure dependent.



You lost me at 200 articles each receiving 350 visitors per article per month…..that is extremely ambitious especially since you think middle of the road would be conservative.

Middle of the road is approx 5% of the traffic….so

For example, if Google says each keyword gets 600 searches roughly per month…..according to your formula if your in the middle you get 30 people clicking to your site through 200 articles…roughly…..I see only 6,000 visitors and with a click through rate of 10% thats 600 clicks and by your numbers you multiply by 2 to get 1200 clicks per month from additional non-targeted keywords….Did you make a mistake?



Bill – its hard because its all written down, if we could sit over lunch this would have been much easier to explain.

To clarify, I was NOT predicting to get 350 visitors per month for all 200 articles. I said for each article I am targeting a keyword that gets 350 searches per month. I then took a middle of the road (as I explained it) position of 20% of that traffic. So 350 x 20% is 70 visitors per month. Or about 2 hits per day, per articles (seem reasonable right?). So 70 x 200 articles is the 14,000 that I listed in the blog. Anyway, I don’t think I made a mistake (I don’t think), although our predictions may be different.

And I can tell you that I already have a niche site in this same niche that gets WAY less traffic than I am predicting here that makes me over $3k per month. So, I know the estimate is pretty conservative.

Justin | AdSense Flippers

Hey Spencer,

I totally follow your logic. You’re saying that, on average, your secondary articles get 350 searches per month. You’re stating you’ll get 20% of that traffic, or 70 visits per month from each of those secondary pages.

That’s where I think it’s a bit off. What percentage of your secondary pages are you expecting to be on the first page? 100% of them? Wouldn’t a more realistic figure be less than that? I would think you might be at 1/2 of that or 35 visits per month based on the keyword phrase you’re targeting for each of those secondary phrases.

Now…that being said…you also have to account for all of the long-tail traffic and unknown keywords that those 200 articles will receive. While you may only get 35 visitors per month based on the main keyword for those secondary pages, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume you’ll get another 35 visitors from long-tails on those pages. Now…what will the CPC value be for those long-tails? Who knows, right? Still…overall I think it’s a very fair estimate.


I agree, not all of my pages will be on the first page for my chosen keyword BUT they probably will be (as you suggested) for other long tail keywords. So, its really an impossible task to predict how much traffic you get. Overall, I think my estimates of getting 30 to 40k visitors per month on a 200 page website is not far fetched at all. In fact, I would say the traffic potential for a site that large is much greater. (I have sites with less than 50 pages that get around 15k or more visitors per month).


Great Information!

I wonder how you calculate affiliate income. It´d be great if you can tell us what is your Visitors CTR for affiliates.

How can we use this formula for affiliates?

Also Looking forward to read more about conversion improvement.

Thanks Spencer!


Its hard to say exactly how many visitors would click on your affiliate link. However, depending on the type of site and how it was laid out – you would think that closer to 20% of your visitors would click your affiliate links. However, you also then have to add in your conversion ratio. How many people that actually click your affiliate link then go on to purchase an item. Depending on the market you are in or what you are selling will help determine this. But it will probably be anywhere from 0.5% to 10%. I think a 1% to 2% conversion ratio is probably pretty standard.


Hey Spencer,

I’ve been following your posts for a while now and really like your blogging and writing style… your analysis is really appreciated, don’t be put off if some people find it a bit hard to follow. I started implementing some of your ideas just a few weeks back on some of my websites and they’ve started earning consistently… (wee amounts,yes, but consistently).. thanks!


Hey Gene – that’s awesome to hear! I’m glad that some of the advice I have shared is paying off for you!


Another great post Spencer!

But should not be taken into account, in all your numbers, the amount of really new visitors (I mean: potential Ad-clickers)?

What I see is that, being an “Authority Site”, most of your visitors won’t be new visitors (<=50%?), so they won't be "searching" for your keywords anymore (at least they won't land on your site via Google search).

Just writing my thoughts… How do you see it?

Stephen Dailey


But if 250 people are searching for a keyword monthly, that he is ranked #1 for, won’t it hold true that 42% of those searchers will click his url, so the repeat visitors would just be previous searchers that like his site and maybe have it bookmarked but the number of searches per month don’t go down just because some people like his site and go there directly.

Just my thoughts. I don’t think people coming there directly because they like the information will affect the number of searches per month and the number of clicks he gets on a url will be a percentage of the number of searchers based on his position in the SERPS and any visitors that bypass search and go there directly will simply increase his direct traffic numbers.


yep, Stephen, i partially agree with you, his site will get more visitors but (almost) the same number of clicks.

I just thought (when posting my previous comment) in the search trends, where some keywords have a decreasing rate. What do you think this means?


Exactly. The search volume calculated will be new visitors every month. If I have returning visitors, this will just be additional traffic, AND additional earnings.


And… what do we do with searching trends ?

Stephen Dailey


Im too new to speak on declining search trends or even to know that it exists. I can say for the terms I am #1 for on my few websites, my traffic is consistently slightly above 42% of the monthly searches actually click through to my sites. And the numbers haven’t declined in 8 months.

I’m sure lots of niche’s experience fluctuations based on seasons, events etc but I don’t know what you mean by some terms will have decreasing rate. By the same token, some terms will have an increasing rate. I don’t see how having an authority site makes less people search for that term in any significant manner, thus decreasing the monthly searches. But I can definitely learn something new if this issimply something I don’t know yet.


Stephen, thanks for your comment.

Maybe the following it´s not the best example, but if my keyword is “product 1.0 review” What happens when “product 2.0” becomes public?

I think the searches for my keyword will tend to decrease. That´s what came to my mind when i wrote the first comment. Of course i have no proofs!

In any case, there´s nothing “written in stone” and, of course, your experience and comments are invaluable for us.

Let´s see what happens in the future…

Stephen Dailey


I guess in the case of a keyword being specific to a version of a product or something like “best hammocks 2011” then the monthly search volume will decrease as the year tuens or the newer version comes out. But I have to believe most people go after general terms or understand that they need to plan ahead if their term is tied to something that can change with time.

As for my experience, I don’t have enough yet to offer anyone but the newest noobs any sort of help, but it was kind of you to say. What I need to do now is let loose and go hog wild building niche sites in the shortest span of time possible, then maybe I will have something valuable to offer.


I agree with Stephen here. The trends or fluctuation in search volume could be seasonal depending on the keyword or some keywords really do have a shelf life such as you mentioned for product 1.0 vs product 2.0. “Iphone 2.0” probably doesn’t get searched for very much anymore. I tend to avoid keywords with a short life cycle.


Another great article for the hub page, Spencer!

Another nerd checking in here who understands the formula, perhaps because I use a similar one as well! I like the idea of staying on the conservative side so I

Although I haven’t used a long tail multiplier, that’s a great addition!

Thanks, Spencer!


Awesome – good to have a fellow nerd around! Glad to hear that you are using a similar formula…


Great Analysis Spencer!!

I would like to know from your experience (With 200 niche sites u own) whether this estimation holds good on an average or you make more than the estimated calculations…I know estimations might go wrong at times,I just want to know how good this hold on the whole by taking all your niche websites you have and the experience you gained out of it :)Let us know 🙂


Overall, I think its a good estimation. I will have to go through some of my top sites and see how this formula predicts earnings vs what I am actually earnings. Overall, I think its on the conservative side for some sites – I make more than this calculation shows.

However, for other sites I don’t rank as well in Google as I estimated, so the earnings are lower. So, it helps you get a ball park figure.

Joe Magnotti


What about adding this calculation to Long Tail Pro? Or at least giving us the option to add our own calculation if we think we can improve on yours?

Market Samurai does this using a very simplified (and therefore very incorrect) stat called SEOV. Adding a custom stat calculation to LTP would distinguish you from Market Samurai. I bet people would be very interested, I know I would!


Justin | AdSense Flippers

Love that idea, Joe. What he could do is make this calculation “standard” with LTP, but then allow each person to adjust/improve based on their own numbers and findings.

This gives a GREAT comparison between keywords you’re trying to decide on using.


I agree – we have some ideas to make everything customizable…


Hey Joe – I have been talking with my programmer about adding a calculation such as this one you will be happy to hear! Granted, Long Tail Pro is still technically still in beta – so I won’t be adding any of these features right away. But sales have been quite good – which means I plan on investing heavily in some of the *bonus* features. So, it may take a few months, but I have some really unique ideas, including these types of calculations, that I think you guys will love.

Tom Ewer

Hey Spencer,

Great post and great video too – I found it all very straightforward 🙂

I like how you have integrated an estimate for longtail keyword traffic – I haven’t seen this done before and it is of great interest to me, as I am building an authority site.

How do you go about finding long tail keywords to target?

All the best,



Great to hear Tom! I personally use Long Tail Pro at This is my software tool. You can also use the Google Adwords Keyword tool. I enter related keywords as my seed keywords and then view the results with lower search volume (usually less than 1000) as my secondary or long tail keywords to target. In addition, you will gets lots of traffic from long tail keywords that you never would have known you would get traffic from.

Tom Ewer

Great stuff – thanks Spencer.


Formula is very easy to understand and I will apply it on my website very soon. I don’t know how much to thank you. Excellent Work!!!!!!!!!!!


Thanks Emile!!


dear spencer,
I like this site, because it gives a lot of new breakthrough for me, but you can pair the google translator because I am from Indonesia and is still not quite able to reach out too in a foreign language, thank you.


Great suggestion yufik. I will look into this and try to add it. I should have thought of this sooner, so thanks for pointing it out!


Great, Great Spencer…. This kind of calculation never came in my mind…Really great post here, you can even guess if the keyword is worth or not.

Question out of the topic:

Do you think is worth have a niche site we only 2-3 articles or is better post more articles(post/pages)????

My sites are all 2-3 articles and I’m making a bit over $200 dollars for the second time (jun/jul)
I’d like to improve it.




I have sites that have only 1 post on them that are profitable. But its perhaps “better” to have more content so that you can target and rank for additional keywords for additional traffic and income.

If you think there are additional keywords that you could target, then I would advise adding content – do a quick cost/benefit analysis to see if the cost of adding content is worth the potential profits.


Being a bit of a nerd; do you use a formula when selecting keywords, ie to determine if they are worth using or not .. Are some factors more important than others and if so which ?… for example this morning I came across a LTK which had zero in the titles and only 1 or 2 in the url … however, the page rankings and backlinks were high .. given a decent local search and cpc would you be inclined to go for this keyword or would the rankings/backlinks put you off?


As you explained above that you will be creating a blog post on every long tail keyword. And you selected 100 long tail keywords for your new niche website that means you will be creating 100 posts on 100 long tail keywords.

Can i ask if the top ranking sites in google have around 100 backlinks per long tail keyword, then you need atleast 100 backlinks to outrank them.

And that much amount of backlinks would be massive if counted in total for the entire niche website.

So how would you deal with it.


Love your work!
This is a great post and video to clearly explain the concepts and calculations. Really appreciate the effort you go to.


Hey Spencer,

I followed along great and the formula made perfect sense. I’m going to try my hand at this fairly soon and hopefully I can make some money. Thanks for the information and inspiration!



Awesome, glad it made sense! Best of luck Stefan!


This profit calculation has been on my note pad for a long time (I hammer away at the calculator just like you :P)

It makes me much more confident in this formula which I thought I was the only one using 🙂

Thanks for making the post Spencer!


Awesome! Thanks for sharing Victor!


Hey Spencer,

Excellent post. So are you quite happy to go after keywords with low search volume (I think you mentioned 200-500 exact) for authority sites?

I am just trying to compare the numbers with say a micro site where you may even need upto 3000 searches to generate decent revenues.


Yes, I am happy with this lower search volume for my secondary keywords. My primary keyword will still get around 15k searches.


Great post Spencer! I’ll definitely be using this formula when building a new site.

You mentioned many times on this blog that you focus on the Local Search numbers. Is there a reason that you don’t value the Global Search numbers? Do global users not click Adsense ads very often?


Thanks for another insightful post Spencer!

My first niche site has been up for just over a month now and is ranked # 60 in google without me doing much back linking for it. This months focus is to build up some more links and hopefully hit the front page next month.

As this is my first site it’s going to be interesting to see how well I’ve chosen my keyword and how much work it takes to get into the top 10. It’s going to be a great learning experience!


Best of luck!



Spent most of the day going through both of the sites. I have a question about your long tail keyword posts. Will you be link building for each individual post to get your ranking for the long tails or just link building for the primary keyword url?

Thanks. I love the community here. The posts are great and the feadback is wonderful.


Most of the individual posts will not get links built to them, but some of them will. The ones that appear to have more traffic potential will get some links.



Awesome post. Just ran across your blog around a week ago and have been reading your insights (also picked up long tail pro via your WSO).

My question is this:
building out some of my niche properties in the past (I used to be heavy into writing articles for directories, but now moving toward my own sites), I noticed some disparity with the Google keyword tool. It seems that you put a good bit of trust in the Google keyword tool… have you found that your formula for calculating projecting revenue & your actual earnings have been fairly similar. Love the theory!



The Google keyword tool is not perfect; however, its the best traffic predictor tool out there. Overall, I have found it to be reasonably accurate and to produce good results based on my formula. Thanks for picking up Long Tail Pro Matt!


Hi there,
Great article, but you mention building 200 pages for one website there. That would take me 2 months or cost at least $1000 (on fiverr). How do you create your content???


I pay for content on I could never write that many articles – I almost never write content for my sites now. So, yes its an investment of money. Not everyone could do it unless that start out small and grow like I did.


Wow, if I could replicate those projected figures I would be rich. I have recently switched 1 site to predominantly adsense as the affiliate links were making very few sales for the traffic – at up to 500 page views a day for sometimes 0 sales per month. now making around £40 -£50 a month with a ctr of 2%. Perhaps you could be so kind as to take a look and let me know how I’ve managed to create such a failure of a website as this whole internet thing seems like a tragic and crippling waste of time at the moment. Viewing your figures compared to mine is soul destroying!

Any help much appreciated . . . . . . . . . . .


It should be motivating, not “soul destroying”! At least you are making some money now that you have switched over to adsense…congrats!


I’m really into that as well, so i spent the most of the day yesterday pulling data for my sites and comparing with data from GKT, CPC and so on.

I pulled data for my 12 top earning sites for the last 30 days, so there is enough data to have statistically correct averages.

Fact 1: Their ACTUAL adsense CPC is 49% from the GKT Approximate CPC.
That’s the average for the 12 sites. The actual CPC varied from 7% to 100%. What i noticed is that regardless the keyword has GKT approximate CPC of 50 cents or 6 dollars, you still make up to 50 cents per click on average.
So the high paying keywords got low actual % and the really low paying ones got 100%

So while this can’t be really reliable, most of the time the actual earnings are 30-60% of the predicted ones, or 49% on average.

I’m curious with what data set you got your 30% actual CPC

Fact 2: 61% of the traffic for those same 12 sites comes for the main keyword.
Some of them have additional articles targeting secondary keywords, some haven’t. But even the ones with just one article still get over 20-30% from long tails.
When you add 5-20% from other SEs. You can assume that most of the time you will make about double what you would get from #1 at google

Fact 3: I haven’t got a site targeting a keyword with commercial intent where i get 50% or even close of the monthly searches for the #1 spot.

Infact on one of my most solid #1 positions i have only 12% CTR for the first spot on google!
I have shopping results right below my spot and then the other 9 results.

On other one i have only 7% CTR for the #1 spot, i have image listings right above me though

So even if you beat image,video,shopping or other google integrated results, the thumbs still take away a massive amount of your traffic.

for searches like “product name review” i tend to get 40-50% of the traffic when on #1 place, but the searches for that phrase compared to just “product name” are so much less.

And that’s my biggest problem at the moment, i get only a fraction from what i thought i would get for #1 spot, (i was estimating 40-50%) not to mention if i’m below, and most of the sites are making quite not enough.

So i also would like to ask how you get that high CTR (if it’s measured correctly) for searches with commercial intent when you have images, video and shopping results all over the place and not to forget the 3 adwords ads on top of the organic listings and the 5 on the right? 🙂


Great stats! Most of the keywords that I target don’t have shopping, images, or video results – so I don’t really have any experience here to comment. I can simply say that I am not doing anything other than ranking #1 for a keyword and I can reliably expect to get 40 to 50% of the traffic. Perhaps you need to write better and more compelling titles or meta descriptions (the description people actually see on Google).


sory i still dont understand about it (Adwords Tool CPC x 30%)

as far as i know, we will get 68% of cpc so the formula should be (Adwords Tool CPC x 68%)

am i missing something??



Yes, you are missing something :). The adwords tool shows what advertisers pay to be listed on – NOT your site (which is the content network). They bid less to be on the content network typically – which is why I give a factor of 30%. That also takes into account the 68% google cut that you mentioned above. Its not an exact ratio, just an conservative estimate.


Hi Spencer,

Thanks for your wonderful post. Just hope that my comment will not be so late that it gets ignored or rejected!

I have read the post a few times and finally understand it. So you are expecting the 200 posts, which target 200 different keyword, would be ALL ranking in the middle of the page for their corresponding keyword. I just want to know why. After all, though they are long-tail keywords with very low competition, you are not doing any backlinking for them.

Okay. And if it is so easy to rank high in those long-tail keyword, why don’t we build a site with a rank with very low competition and write lots of articles around it? I mean why do you have to choose the medium competitive keyword as your main keyword? It only contributes a little in terms of earning according to your formula! And it is much faster to rank for long tail kw as well!


No, I don’t expect to rank on the first page for all of them. However, there will be searches that you can never predict that you will get. The extremely long tail keyword searches will come because of the large volume of articles that I will have. And to answer you other question, go for it! Yes, you can build a site that targets all low competition keywords – nothing wrong with that. However, if you target a mid level keyword with a good amount of search volume, that 1 keyword alone can increase income by $2k/mth or more sometimes. In addition you can rank well for lots of related keywords. Either method is fine though.


Thanks for your detailed answer Spencer!

Domingo V.

before all, thanks for your insight in the subject and the input provided by alll your commenters too!!! i have learned a lot of new info.

the original post was over a year ago, can you please give us an update on your 200 page project and if you met your expectations according to your formula?

have you seen any important changes to the way adsense works since you wrote the article?

and for the love of free info, if you are not planning on using adsense for that project, what would you use or recommend to look at as other options.

thanks again,


virtual assistant

I almost never comment, however i did a few searching and wound up here How to Calculate Projected Traffic and Earnings for
a Niche Website | Niche Pursuits. And I actually do have some questions for you if you tend not to mind.

Could it be simply me or does it look like a few of
the remarks look as if they are coming from brain dead folks?
😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I’d like to keep up with anything new you have to post. Could you make a list of the complete urls of your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

John J. Ziemba


What an AWESOME job of explaining CTR & content. I really like your “nerdy” approach and explanations. They may be wordy and the videos a bit long, but so what? You SURE as heck get your point clearly transmitted to us! I’ll take your style any day.

I’ve been playing catch up on your site nd have learned more about the internet marketing business from you, than I have from anyone else, including a paid service I onc esubscribed to. And I plan to soon incorporate your teachings in my own business startign with a new site. I have a few sites now that need work. Some are mistakes. But the next one wil be a winner.. I didn’t understand half of what I thought I did before coming across your site. Thx again!

Great job, buddy. Keep it up.Thx again!

Spencer Haws

Thank you John for the kind words! Glad that my videos/blog are able to help you out. Thanks!


Congratulations – the calculation makes a lot of sense and I finally understood how to do it


Hey Spencer, great explanation of how to calculate potential revenue which I have not seen anywhere else before. It explains a lot about a site I once owned which was trying to rank for the keywords “how to speak english” – mighty difficult task for such a strong keyword set.

Tarun Kumar Singh

Dear Spencer Haws;

I have just estimated earnings my blog named “sitenol “. I found that for me maximum paying keywords PPC is 3-8 $.
Is it good for me. I am getting traffic of 30-50 with 20 decent articles. Please suggest.. Thanks in advance.

Recent Posts

View all