January 02, 2007

Book Review: Google Analytics

I recently finished the book, Google Analytics by Mary E. Tyler and Jerri L. Ledford. Like a lot of more web-experienced reviewers have reported, dave.org.uk is one example, I was a little disappointed.  That's not to say that it wasn't a good book or that I didn't learn a few things. I had just hoped that it wouldn't be as much as a beginner's book as it turned out to be.

It was a fairly easy read as I knocked it out in one evening. However I think that a large reason for that was because I quickly browsed through large sections of the text that I already knew - including the second and third chapter that talked about AWStats and web statistics in general. Additionally there was some duplication later in the book where the authors discussed reports multiple times when the same report fell under different sections of the web dashboard.

Though I don't use commerce tracking for my site(s), I have set it up for other sites before for Hitbox and I know how useful it can be. The authors chose not to spend too much time on the subject, though - only offering 4-1/2 pages to describe the reports. A more thorough and detailed section would have been useful for an area that is so confusing to many.  

To be fair to the authors, another area of confusion to many is conversion and goal tracking. The authors did a good job with that area.  

There were a few nuggets of information that were useful to me, though. I did learn about some useful reports that I didn't know existed and I learned about getting more details for some others. In particular, finding the exact referring page from a site had been a big thorn in my side. Now I can easily do so.

For a beginner, someone who is brand new to web statistics and is starting off with Google Analytics, this would be a great book. In fact I think that web shops that set up their clients with Google Analytics might consider buying this book in bulk and offering it to them. It could save them a bunch of "training" time and answering of support questions.

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