The Google Analytics Usually has the following 3 main metrics for Traffic Sources:
· Direct Traffic
· Referral Traffic
· Traffic From Search Engines
Usually when the SEO discusses the site performance with the client the no. of visits from the search engines are the focus factor as that is the key parameter on which the SEO campaign focuses on. But, keeping in mind the holistic nature of SEO it is very important that all the above 3 metrics should be monitored and all these three metrics should show an increasing trend.
Every source of traffic has got its own significance and shows a mark made for presence in that niche.
in the website URL in the browser and visiting the site.
Direct Traffic comes from people who already are familiar with the brand, know about your site, are regular visitors to your site, have come to know about your site through WOM or as a result of some real world advertisement campaign where you promoted the URL of your website.
An increase in the direct traffic over a period of time implies a good improvement in the WOM and brand awareness. Usually people do not bother about monitoring this metric and hence miss out on this aspect of web presence and web visibility.
If its an ecommerce site direct visits and repeat visits prove that the people are showing interst in the site and are buying again or intend to buy which if delved further can give a much richer insight about the site.
Usually only the traffic from the search engines is kept a track of and monitored as that is how the success of an SEO campaign is usually measured and drilling it down further it is the no. of visits from Google that are focused and chased as a priority as most of the SEO campaigns cease to be search engine optimization campaigns and become Google optimization campaigns. Sometimes due to the client perceptions and some times due to the narrow perceptions of the SEOs themselve.
No doubt an increase in the search engine traffic from varied keywords will tell you volumes about the SEO work done on your site but just giving importance to search engine traffic will isolate your presence only to search engines and if this traffic gets affected due to some reason or other then your site is left stranded and loses web visibility.
If the SEO campaign is just focusing on Google and not considering traffic from Bing and other upcoming search engines then things get more narrowed down and in future if other search engines gain more market share the SEO campaigns will have to be reworked then. Hence over all importance and focus needs to be given to other search engines also, especially Bing, Ask and Blekko.
Referral traffic is the visits your site gets as a result of the clicks on the URLs of your websites on other external sites on the web like the social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Linkden, etc., the sites on which you are running affiliate programs, directory listings, industry portals, online memberships, blogs,etc.
These visits signify the presence of your site on the overall WWW which again should show an increasing trend in the analytics as this spreads the presence of your website on the web beyond search engines and adds a certain element of quality if the referrals are from authority, quality , topical , trustworthy sites as this is directly related to your inbound links too.
Each traffic source has got its own importance and adds to the aura of quality web presence. Hence traffic from all the sources needs to be monitored and measured and necessary steps to be taken improve and increase the traffic from all these sources.
This cannot be done only by the SEO. The website owner or atleast one person from the company needs to take active interest on the visits from the direct and referral source in co-ordination with the SEO .
SEO is becoming more holistic in nature and demands a quality web presence on the world wide. If the website owners want a continued quality web presence they need to adapt to the evolution taking place on the online scenario and act accordingly .I think that the ideal break up for traffic sources percent wise would be
Direct Traffic : 33.33%
Referral Traffic : 33.33%
Search Engines: 33.33%
Which signifies an optimum overall presence and such a site will face less harm from the vagaries of traffic coming from one source in case of any sudden changes due to algorithmic change or whatever the case maybe.