In this amazing (hour long) video Avinash Kaushik explains web analytics, and more. I warn you, it's not a recent video, circa 2007, but, it's still the best explanation I've seen of the basic tools to improve a website.
He poses that the vast majority of websites are based on the... hippo factor, or on the highest paid person opinion in the room at the time a website design decision is made; which I'm sure sounds familiar to many. But, there's definitely a better way: to test the ideas through our visitors opinions, with the optimizer tool, for instance.
In essence, he is telling us that we must better understand our visitors: who they are, why they're there, or what do they want; and that this is possible —the tools are out there.
When thinking about content, he mentions a great tip from Guy Kawasaki: visitors must have learned something useful when leaving your site —which doesn't necessarily include what a good time you had last Saturday night.
by Avinash Kaushik
(explanation at 40:12 mins into the video)
He is saying that it's possible to dig deeper into the numbers, —visits and averages, tell a very poor story; whilst Google and others provide us with wonderful (and free) tools to do so: Google analytics, keyword, sktool and optimizer, as well as compete, are just a few of them.
But, Voice of Customer is the first in his list of priorities, which is asking the visitor directly: why is he at your site, is he leaving satisfied, and if not, why. I've found
Then, he suggests we dig deeper into the so called Multiple Outcome Analysis, or what is (are) the objective (s) of the website, and how to measure it (them). Or, what is it that we want to achieve with our website. For example, if self-promoting, measure book sales, conference appointments... plus a second outcome could be to contribute your subject matter of expertise to fellow bloggers.
A Clickstream Analysis, or studying our website to determine what keywords are bringing our visitors into our website, and what other popular keywords might also bring them in; as well, as those less popular, in the long tail, that might also bring in a substantial amount of visitors to our site.
Again, Avinash's video is a must see for anyone trying to get a grasp on what is going on out there in cyberspace.