Author: Brian Clifton
Reviewed by: Dave Cross
I've been running Google Analytics on a number of web sites since it was first released in 2005. I've got a lot of good information out of it, but I've always suspected that I'm not using it to its full potential. Having read this book I now have a much better idea of what I'm missing and, more importantly, how I can put that right.
Brian Clifton has written a really useful guide to getting the most benefit out of Google's free web analytics system. He is, of course, well-placed to do that as he leads the Google Analytics team for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Part one is a good overview of what web analytics is. Chapter one explains what web analytics is and what you can get out of it. Chapter two goes into more detail about the methods that people use to analyse their web site traffic and chapter three introduces Google Analytics and explains where it fits into the web analytics landscape.
Part two gives an introduction to using Google Analytics. Chapter four looks at the interface to Google Analytics. This chapter gives the reader a good feel for the interactivity of the Google Analytics interface. It's this interactivity that makes Google Analytics far easier to use than many of its competitors. Chapter five looks in more depth at ten of the reports that the system generates. By the end of this chapter I was already learning new little tips about the system.
The sections we've discussed so far have all been about generating as much useful data about your web site traffic as possible. But, of course, huge piles of data don't do you any good at all unless you can make some sense of the data and then act on your findings. This is what part four is about. Chapter ten offers some useful hints on how to make sense of all of the data you have collected. Clifton looks at a web site from a number of points of view (sales, marketing, web content creator and webmaster) and for each of them suggests a number of key performance indicators that will be of interest to them. He then shows how to construct these KPIs out of the data that Google Analytics has captured. Chapter eleven moves on to the next stage and looks a number of real-world examples where data from Google Analytics can be used to identify poor performance from areas of a web site and suggests ways to improve matters.
I'm no web analytics expert and, to be honest, some of the stuff in part four made my eyes glaze over a little. But my company doesn't rely on its web site for income so I've never had to worry about the number of visitors I get or how long they spend on the site. Web analytics has really just been a hobby for me. If I was in a company where those kinds of things were important, then I feel confident that this book would be the right one to turn to in order to learn more. This book certainly goes into more depth when talking about both the technical side of Google Analytics and how to interpret the data than any other book I've read on the subject.
This book has taught me a lot of new and interesting things about Google Analytics and I feel sure that I'll be going back to it in the future when I need to know more. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to get the most out of their Google Analytics installation.