I had low expectations for this. After all, Google Analytics has very detailed help pages and you can find specific pages for all of the major concepts covered in this book. So what's the point?
Well, maybe there is a point. First of all, someone new to Analytics may prefer the structure of a walk through. But even someone who has been using Analytics from the day they turned it loose in December of 2005 (that's me) can benefit from the specific examples and gotchas detailed here.
For example, I had never thought of tagging links I send out in emails. I don't know why, and it's not that Google's help pages don't mention that. But their page on link tagging is very Adwords oriented, so I missed that you can tag any link. After reading this book, I have even tagged some internal site links so I can easily see if they get used.
I also hadn't thought about tracking outgoing links. Oh, I knew I could, but again I just didn't ever do it. For reasons I can't entirely explain, the section of this book that ytalks about that made me realize that there actually are a few outbound links I would like to track!
The only complaint here is the same complaint I have about far too many books: excruciatingly boring detail in the beginning that far too quickly ramps up to off-hand references without detailed explanation. I do not know why so many technical books exhibit this same pattern, but I suspect it's probably because the basic stuff is easy to detail and the more tech stuff would just get far too complicated. That's fine, I get it, but leave out the detail on the basic stuff. Nobody who is interested in the more complicated subjects needs the detail of the basics!
I do think the book would have a wider audience if it didn't ignore Adsense entirely. The author is probably accustomed to dealing with large sites that don't care much about that, but for many of us little guys, Adsense is an important part of our site income. A bit of attention wouldn't have hurt, I think.
Other than that, this is very good. I picked up some references to tools I did not know about, got some hints that I do not remember noticing in the Analytics Help pages, and have some new ideas percolating in my head.
By the way, this book led me to the author's Analytics Talk blog at [...] I have been enjoying reading that, probably even more than the book.
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About the reviewer
Anthony Lawrence (pcunix)
Owner of http://aplawrence.com Linux andUnixadministration and troubleshooting articles, help and inspiration for freelancers and theself employed, advice onblogging, SEO andearning … more
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Do you know what people do when they visit your website or web app? Or how much the site contributes to your bottom line? Google Analytics keeps track and makes it easy for you to learn precisely what's happening. This hands-on guide shows you how to get the most out of this free and powerful tool -- whether you're new to Google Analytics or have been using it for years.
Google Analytics shows you how to track different market segments and analyze conversion rates, and reveals advanced techniques such as marketing-campaign tracking, a valuable feature that most people overlook. And this practical book not only provides complete code samples for web developers, it also explains the concepts behind the code to marketers, managers, and others on your team.
Discover exactly how the Google Analytics system works
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Track events -- rather than page views -- on sites with features such as maps, embedded video, and widgets
Configure Google Analytics to track enterprise data, including multiple domains
Use advanced techniques such as custom variables and CRM integration