Google Analytics is a free program which was based on the $500 per month Urchin Live web statistics program. None of our customers could afford this program. But when Google purchased Urchin, they offered their premium service to the world…for free.
While it does take some time to properly set up analytics, with basic HTML skills you could do it yourself. If not, it will take your web people about an hour to set it up right.
What analytics provides you as the site owner is insight into how web surfers are finding your site, what pages they are looking at, how long they spend on the site, what countries they are from, what screen resolution they are using, what internet speed they are using, what internet browser they are using, etc.
The question becomes how can you use Analytics to direct your SEO efforts. Today, we did exactly that for a real estate company. Using their analytics, we discovered that 2 out of their 6 top level navigation points accounted for less than 1/10th of 1% of all of their traffic. What they thought was their primary place to rpovide information to web visitors turned out to be the least visited. And after Property Search (which accounted for over 60% of the traffic), mortgage information was next most popular. And amazingly, all the mortgage information was buried in the 2nd level.
So we are using this information to move the mortgage information pages to the 1st level of navigation and burying the 2 very unused sections of the website. We will then optimize heavily for popular regional mortgage information keywords to capture additional traffic.