SEO can seem a vast and mysterious discipline for businesses, so any tool that makes sense of it is welcome. Kathryn Aragon of Crazy Egg recently took our questions about SEO, misconceptions, and how to really get the most out of your SEO analytics.

Hi, Kathryn! Tell us a bit about Crazy Egg. What does it do in the SEO space?

Crazy Egg is a heatmap software that shows you where people are clicking on your site. It gives you the visual data you need to know what people are connecting with on your site, so you can optimize it for better conversions.

What are some of the data points any website should collect and analyze?

The data you need depends on your goals. On the Crazy Egg blog, the goal is traffic and engagement, so we collect data that tells us which content draws the most traffic. That includes the daily email open rate, traffic on each blog post in its first 24 hours vs. total blog traffic for that day, social shares and number of comments.

What are some common misconceptions you see around analytics and SEO?

The most common misconception I see in SEO is the continued belief that you can manipulate your ranking in the SERPs. I’m amazed at the number of people who ask other websites to give them backlinks rather than creating content that’s worth linking to. Focus on sharing useful, sharable information, and your rank will reflect that.

As for analytics, too many websites are collecting data they don’t really need. They know they’re supposed to track data, but they don’t know which numbers are relevant or how to use them. They would save time and get better results by focusing on the numbers that are most relevant to their goals.

What’s the one thing you wish every webmaster knew about SEO?

SEO isn’t a goal. It’s a measure of how well your website is meeting the needs of your ideal customers. Rather than trying to manipulate a higher ranking in the SERPs, focus on your customers. Answer their questions. Provide useful information. Help them achieve their goals. Not only will you attract more customers, the search engines will love you.

It can sometimes be hard to read the data collected from a website. How do you recommend teasing out useful information from a confusing set of SEO data?

Data gets confusing when you’re trying to look at everything at once. Set your goals first, then focus on the data that measures your progress toward those goals.

Where do you see SEO heading in the next few years?

The last several years, there has been a slow, steady dismantling of SEO’s ability to game the system. I see this trend continuing.

Search engines want to be able to provide high-quality pages that answer people’s search queries. They will continue to refine their algorithms to weed out sites that can’t do that. And, of course, the sites that consistently provide good information will be rewarded.

If you want more insight into where SEO is heading, follow Crazy Egg on Twitter.