Editing is part of Stack Exchange culture. We see a question with a typo – we fix it. Some go further and clarify a question, or add metadata (tags) to a question, or caption an image where one might be lacking.
Some adopt a more spartan editing philosophy: remove what is superfluous,
redundant, or not strictly needed ;-) A tag not likely to be "followed" (by active knowledgeable users of the site)? Nuke it. Title too long? Shorten it. Fifty-dollar word used? Substitute ten-cent word.
I believe most folks undertaking to edit a post intend to make the site better. Yet, how do we know the end result with respect to other metrics we value, such as traffic? Lack of consistent traffic growth is one factor responsible for keeping a site in beta forever — trust me, I know!
What we're lacking when we make changes, sweeping or otherwise, is some detailed feedback from the most prolific users of our site: search engines, and the mostly read-only viewers arriving through them.
I'd like to think I inspired the existing analytics mod tools. But I still believe they're just a good start. As moderators, we have access to high-level analytics tools providing an idea of aggregate traffic and search keywords over time. We can also see view counts on individual question pages (in fact, everybody can.)
However, there's nothing to tie the two together, or relate anything back to a specific edit. If a question has 150K views, when did those occur, and why did those occur? Was the question popular at a particular point in time, or consistently popular? Did a specific edit make it popular? Might a specific edit have ruined the question in the eyes of a search engine? e.g. Day N: edit made, days N+1 etc.: traffic dropped off?
I'm asking to improve analytics functionality. My specific feature requests are these:
Provide a way for moderators or high-rep users to see the keywords that are responsible for the views attributed to a given question page. Give us a link, on a question page*, that lets us "see behind" the question and into detailed traffic and keyword information for the page.
Provide a way for moderators or high-rep users to view a graph of traffic over time for a given question page*, perhaps with annotations indicating when edits were made to the page. (Title changed, tag added, tag removed.) What edit caused a question's traffic to "pop" or "crash"?
Provide a report say, in moderator tools, indicating the top N questions where traffic has significantly risen or dropped over some time period compared to a previous period, or w.r.t. average site traffic growth over the period, enabling moderators to find questions that may have been positively or adversely impacted by recent edits.
These features would inform curators of a site as to which title keywords, tags, or kinds of edits are actually helpful. Else, all we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best.
* Clarification: The link to this additional data need not clutter the existing interface. One could, for moderators only, make a question's existing view count text be the link to such behind-the-scenes analytics data for the question. It all relates to the view count, anyway.