Your traffic will depend a lot on the type of business you have (and of course the quality of your site).
I have one client who has less than 1% traffic from the SEs - yet has almost a million visitors per month - almost all of them repeat. Some are from ads and quality links.
I'm striving to get them up to 25-40% per month, since that will all be new visitors and the site is sticky enough that many of them will continue to be repeat clients. Honestly, both me and the client will be thrilled to get to 10%.
On the other hand, I have clients that have far less "sticky" sites, usually due to the product involved (how many times do you need to buy a wheelchair?) and thus their SE traffic is upwards of 70-80%. This is common for sites that only sell a product or service to a client once, or once in a long while, and are e-comm in nature.
Repeat or direct traffic usually represents your site's stability - they are responsible for a steady stream of income and allow you to pay the bills every month. SE traffic is usually "growth" traffic - it represents new visitors that have often never been to your site and don't have it bookmarked. This is where your income and business will grow over time.
An online business needs both repeat traffic and growth traffic to be healthy. If you have nothing but a stream of one time shoppers then your income is precarious at best, and your fortunes tied to the search engines and your advertising budget. It might be a great income, but it's not stable or guaranteed. Basically you are losing visitors as fast as you are adding them, like bailing water out of a boat with a hole in it. Lose your bucket and you are shark food.
Some beginners feel that if they are adding people faster than they are losing them then that's growth and success. Wrong - it's a false sense of security and a good portion of the reason for the dot-com bust.
Direct traffic is usually stable. It also usually represents people who like your site and trust it. They often represent a stable base of clients that will keep you afloat even through the bad times (like another Florida update). But they rarely make your business grow.
The best is to have a consistent group of return visitors combined with a continuing group of incoming new visitors. Stability and growth.
If all of your traffic is from the SE's, you are either starting out or in trouble - either way you have problems that should be solved. If all your traffic is direct, then over time visitors will stop coming and there will be no one to replace them - you will eventually die a slow death. You are also at risk of having a competitor stealing them away.
You need both. There is no perfect percentage, since it will vary depending on the industry, product and stickyness of your website. A good way to measure it will be to find out (if possible) what the percentage is of other successful sites in your niche. If your SE traffic percentage is substantially lower than them, you probably need SEO work. If its substantially higher, you probably have to work on your product, pricing or presentation (website copy, etc).
Just my experience,
Edited by mcanerin, 28 August 2004 - 12:45 AM.