Hi Andy, sorry been a bit quiet recently, busy as a mad man!
Cannot imagine life with Google Analytics, used it ever since it was launched and has to be one of the best products ever, plus it's free!
Gives you buckets of data which can be overwhelming. So focus on what you need, but it will paint a picture of your site, activity, bottlenecks, show problems etc.
Sales are simply conversions which you set up as goals, eg:
If you want to see how to set up conversions, goals etc, then go to the help option. Select help and choose your topic.
Their help topics are much better these days.
There are tons of resources out there to better interpret the data and identify the issues. A GA master is www.kaushik.net/avinash/ learned loads from him, particularly setting up filters and disregarding irrelevant data.
But in a nut shell, high bounce rate is bad, which will point to either low page speed (users bored) or poor UX (low quality page or irrelevant to their query). Pages per session needs to be around the 3+ mark and average session duration wants to be over the minute mark. If people bounce away after a few seconds then your pages don't do it for people, or you have untargeted unwanted traffic.
Sales are obvious, track the checkout process. But once set up analyse abandonment, then look to see why. If you have a high abandon rate once they are in your sales funnel, ask yourself why? Try and look with a visitors eyes, or ask someone else to look for you. Be critical and fix the issues.
The average conversion rate for an eCommerce site is 2-3% which is shockingly low, but if you are lower then you have problems that need addressing. Analytics tells you all this and more, making it probably the most powerful tool in your armoury.
I genuinely don't understand anyone who runs a revenue generating website but doesn't utilise analytics. There is endless free advice and courses out there, hoover it up and use it to your advantage An increase by 1% in conversions can see a very healthy return.
SEO is good, but make sure your SEO guys have clear objectives. All traffic isn't made equal. You want targeted traffic, the stuff that stands a chance of converting. Anything else is vanity traffic and doesn't pay the bills.
It may well be that a targeted Facebook campaign for example will send a fraction of the traffic you get via search, but converts 500% more because it is highly targeted. Again analytics will tell you this and track social traffic and conversions, including assisted conversions, ie visited your site, didn't buy, went to your FB page, saw what they liked, then went back to your site and completed a sale.
Keep your options open and respond to your data