You'd think I would be a sucker for web metrics, being in the market research business, but I find a lot of metrics to be ultimately not as useful in practice as they are 'interesting.' By useful here, I mean "have a direct correlation to driving sales." One that I love to track, however, is the percentage of site visits (landings/entry pages) that initially land on our home page. Much to my delight, this number continues to decline. Today, less than 15% of our site visits enter initially through our home/index page, and this continues to drop from month to month. The lower this number goes, the better we are doing with creating content, articles, studies and other search-sticky content: i.e., the other stuff people land on when they visit the site. When someone visits our home page, we really don't know much about them, and they probably won't be back--that's the hard truth. When someone visits a page that is about something, however, we know a lot about them--that they are interested in that thing, at least--and when people find something of value on a topic they are interested in, they generally come back. When they keep coming back, they are more likely to regard us as subject matter experts, and that puts us one step closer to having a client relationship than we would have been had they simply stumbled across our home page at random. I don't really know what a 'good' figure is for this, but I am happy that most people come to our site because they are looking for something specifically, and that most people find that specific thing. The more valuable content you can create, the better this stat will be--and watching it continue to go down is a gratifying validation that the quality and quantity of our content is improving, bit by bit, day by day. If you are either new at analyzing web stats, or limit your analysis to a few top-line numbers, I'd encourage you to start tracking this one and use it as a yardstick towards continuous improvement.
Tom Webster, writing and speaking