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Right Hand Planning is a professional marketing agency that develops marketing strategies that help brands build traffic, leads and sales.


Marketing news and insights from Right Hand Planning.

How Much SEO Effort for Only 27% of Traffic?

Pete Semple

Ever wonder if your Google Analytics Bounce Rate was high compared to other sites, or if your Traffic Sources in line with how other sites get their visitors? Compare Your Google Analytics Data to Other Sites

This month's Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletteroffers data on the stats of the hundreds of thousands of sites worldwide who consented to anonymously share their data with Google (of course, there are more relevant benchmarks to view such as data compared to your industry or competitors, for example but there are other ways to get that.)

The Story in the "Traffic Source" Stats

One of the more interesting stats from  is to see how other sites get their traffic. This information comes from the Traffic Source data in Google Analytics and the numbers compiled in the Benchmark Report are in the tables below:

[Report section] 3. Traffic Sources

% Visits from Sources

11/1/09 - 2/1/10

11/1/10 - 2/1/11


Direct 36.5% 36.8% +0.3%
Referral 21.0% 19.4% -1.6%
Search Engines 27.0% 28.0% +1.0%
Other 15.5% 15.8% +0.

Observations - The data above show that traffic from Search Engines delivers only 27% of traffic to all the sites combined in this study. While Direct traffic to the site's url is ~36% and Referral traffic is ~20% for a total of about 56%.

The fact that only 27% of traffic comes from searches shows that sites in this compiled report tend to move beyond pure SEO (search engine optimization) and into building their brand name (shown by Direct Traffic at 36%) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tactics such as getting links out to other information and non-competing sites that share their topic or target (Referral traffic ~20%).

Key Takeaway - SEO is a step to brand building and inbound link building ("backlinks") and strategic partnerships account for almost as much traffic as SEO.

Ultimately most sites get more than half their traffic from direct use of their url or backlinks from referral sites.