Many Internet marketers and webmasters believe that SEO and Analytics are two completely separate subjects. Are they right, or is there an inextricable link between the two?
The overall aim of any website is to generate traffic, which is a threefold responsibility.
SEO experts usually have the sole ambition of creating traffic by various means, whereas those specialising in Analytics concentrate more on what visitors are doing once they arrive at a website.
Major search engines want visitors to have a great user experience, rank good sites accordingly, and hope that users are happy with the web pages served to them. Google has its own criteria for this. Here are the three most important statistics to observe.
Source of Traffic
One of the first statistics that analysts will observe is the source of traffic to the site (in Google Analytics this is accessed from: Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic).
From this it is possible to determine exactly which sources are generating traffic, meaning SEO strategies can be adjusted accordingly.
Naturally, Google prefers most traffic to come from naturally-sourced organic searches, because this proves that a site is 'doing its job'.
Bounce rate is determined by the number of single-page visits that result in visitors immediately navigating away. Webmasters always aim for a low bounce rate (Access this in Google Analytics from Overview > Bounce Rate).
Google has a unique way of determining bounce rate, especially with the current emphasis that is being placed on Local Search.
For example, a user looking for a particular service provider in his local area would expect first to view products, then check out prices and finally look into the business itself (possibly by viewing an 'About Us' page).
For the purposes of Google's algorithm, it assumes that a bounce from any page is a failure, and that it has served up unsuitable content or that the site itself is not as portrayed, at which point it will lose ranking. This is an issue that SEO professionals must take on board in order to optimise sites primarily to promote organic search.
Time Spent on Site
Known within Google Analytics as 'Average Visit Duration' (Overview > Time On Site), this determines the amount of time visitors spend on-site and their activity during that period.
Some sites may have a low visit duration purely because they are the type of site that provides a quick answer to a direct question. Others, for example those providing a service such as plumbing or building, should expect far more time to be spent on their site, and if that is not happening, something is very wrong and may well need addressing from an SEO perspective.
The roles of Analytics, and that of SEO, have equal importance. The former is there to establish the way the site is currently performing, the latter to address any deficits and find a way to fill the gaps.