Sams Teach Yourself Google Analytics
Author: Michael Miller
Publisher: Sams
Pages: 240
ISBN: 978-0672333200
Aimed at: Beginners to web analytics
Rating: 5
Pros: Clear explanations and logical presentation
Cons: The 10-minute lesson format leads to some repetition
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

There's more to Google Analytics than a cursory encounter might suggest. This title for beginners merits being Best Book of 2010 on the topic.


This book is aimed at the complete beginner so Lesson 1 explains web analytics - the collection and analysis of data relating to website visitors. Michael Miller states, "the goal of web analytics is to better understand how a website is being used - and apply that information to optimize the site's usage." He goes on to outline what information you can expect to obtain using web analytics and how it can help discern trends and the effectiveness of advertising.

The lesson includes a table that gives the definitions of "key metrics", the various statistics that can be gathered and interpreted - bounce rate, click-through-rate,hit, pageview, unique visitor etc. and concludes with a screendump of the main Google Analytics dashboard.

From the outset the motivation is clear, ideas are presented in a straightforward way and are well explained.

Lesson 2 guides you through the process of creating a Google Analytics account with appropriate screendumps where necessary.This lesson is likely to take fewer than ten minutes but, as it concludes with you copying the tracking code you need to paste into your website's underlying HTML, you need to continue straight away to Lesson 3 which accomplishes this. In fact Lesson 3 repeats the preliminary steps which points up the fact that the 10-minute lesson format can be a troublesome restriction.

Lesson 3 is more confusing than others as it tackles alternative options. It may seem daunting in that it lists the two chunks of generated JavaScript that you need to copy and paste as instructed into every page of your site that you want to track, or, as pointed out in a prominent note, onto the index.php page of a database driven website.   

Lesson 4 is a basic introduction to Google Analytics Dashboard and understanding the information presented in its various charts and statistics. It also covers exporting data in PDF or XML format and sharing the data via email. The following lesson goes further, showing how to display different metrics or different time frames and how to compare two metrics or data ranges. It also covers filtering results to show only information about certain types of visitors.

More advanced visitor tracking is covered in the next lesson, allowing you to analyse visitor loyalty and to uncover browser and network properties. Where traffic originates is the topic of Lesson 7 - does it come directly or by referral from another site - and importantly from which other sites, or via search engine - and if so which search engine? Lesson 8 is devoted to analyzing content - the top pages, top landing pages and top exit pages.        
Much of the motivation for using Google Analytics is to increase revenue and we arrive at this topic in Lesson 9, Tracking AdSense performance. This short chapter refer the reader to a complete book by the same author on using Google AdSense and AdWords, which are the topic of lesson 11. The intervening Lesson 10, Viewing the Site Overlay Report, is devoted to an alternative, and very immediate way, to get information about web pages.

Next we arrive at more advanced topics including situations in which you might need to modify the JavaScript generated for you by Google Analytics such as tracking e-commerce (Lesson 12), event tracking (Lesson 14) and customising Google Analytics tracking code (Lesson 18). We also learn about tracking visitors' use of the search facilities provided within your website (Lesson 13), creating custom reports (Lesson 16) and filters (Lesson 17) creating user-defined visitor types (Lesson 19) and how to filter out internal traffic - including a workaround to cope with dynamic IP addresses.

Some of the final lessons are devoted to improving website performance. Lesson 21 is on finding error pages and broken links and involves modifying generated tracking code. Lesson 24, Identifying Poorly Performing Pages goes hand in hand with the a lesson on using the Google Website Optimizer to test the changes you make in an effort to improve performance. Although short this lesson alerts you to a useful facility and gives a link to finding more detailed instructions.

This book's clear structure, including a detailed table of contents and comprehensive index, ensures that users are able to quickly find information they require and take advantage of clear step-by-step guidance well illustrated with screen dumps and examples. Recommended for anyone who has never used Google Analytics or has only encountered its top-level features and facilities.


Testing JavaScript Applications

Author: Lucas da Costa
Publisher: Manning
Date: April 2021
Pages: 512
ISBN: 978-1617297915
Print: 1617297917
Audience: JavaScript developers
Level: Intermediate
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Ian Elliot
Testing the most web's fundamental language is clearly important...

The Big Book of Small Python Projects

Author: Al Sweigart
Publisher: No Starch Press
Date: June 2021
Pages: 432
ISBN: 978-1718501249
Print: 1718501242
Kindle: B08FH9FV7M
Audience: Novice Python developers
Rating: 4
Reviewer: Lucy Black
A project book? A good way to learn Python?

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 April 2011 )