Quantitative data (traffic and engagement) has limitations. For one thing, interpretation can be prickly. There are just so many variables that affect how users on your site behave, there is a lot of margin for error. And it’s not always easy to get statistically meaningful results. For this reason, we recommend a healthy dose of qualitative data: User surveys, comments, user ratings, and other forms of user research.
There are a variety of ways of using social applications to get direct user feedback. We consider it imperative to allow users to rate and comment on your content. You can mine the comments for sentiment and other qualitative user judgments. Social tagging is another must. When users tag your content, you can get a sense of how well you met the mark semantically. Finally, nothing beats usability studies to tease out hidden problems with your pages.
When you use qualitative data to triangulate on your quantitative data, you can eliminate all kinds of variables and come to some pretty solid conclusions. For example, if your highest rated content is buried, you know you can get better engagement rates by making it more prominent.
It isn’t a question of whether to gather and analyze data, it’s a question of how. If you do these four things, it’ll be a good start towards gathering meaningful data, which can help you make better content decisions.