I've been running a small open-source software project for number of years, and a couple years ago I started saving website statistics. Here is a sample:
Is this a good indicator of actual growth? Or are there too many other factors that could distort these numbers? (e.g., increased access by search engine spiders)
By itself it is not a sufficient indicator. You have to look also at the number of unique visitors (or use the number of average page views per visit).
After that, you also have to separate depending on the sources of the page views (search engines, referring sites and direct access).
Concerning access thanks to search engines, look at the keywords used by the visitors, in order to know if people come "by mystake" or for your actual content (you can also decide on that using the duration of the visit).
Jeff, those raw numbers are just the tip of the iceberg, stats-wise, and leave too many questions unanswered.
--are your numbers page views or hits?
--if pages, what is a page? (more complicated than it looks)
--how many hits are from unique visitors? from return visitors?
See the grey panel halfway down this page for a list of the reports Google Analytics makes available. It gives you an idea of the sorts of metrics you need to be gathering to know what is happening.
Raw page views just don't tell you much.