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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal-- but there is one big caveat.
Brian Clifton's Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics should, for all intents and purposes, have the term "Advanced" in bold, possibly in a gigantic type font with fun colours and exclamation marks.

The first 3-5 chapters start innocently enough, and if you have been involved in web analytics or read any other material on the topic you will find it largely...
Published on April 22, 2008 by Alex B

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
started reading this but it was so dry i couldn't finish it
Published 1 month ago by Collin Perry


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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal-- but there is one big caveat., April 22, 2008
By 
This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
Brian Clifton's Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics should, for all intents and purposes, have the term "Advanced" in bold, possibly in a gigantic type font with fun colours and exclamation marks.

The first 3-5 chapters start innocently enough, and if you have been involved in web analytics or read any other material on the topic you will find it largely rehashes what you already know with a few nuggets of gold throughout. For instance, Brian's discussion as it pertains to Google's tracking of data and its privacy implications offers a wonderful metaphor relating to personal identifiable information, though his emphasis curiously seems to be trying to convince the reader, rather than positioning it as a tool that one can use to assuage stakeholders or individuals who are not sold on analytics.

Chapter 4, which aforementioned is innocent enough, gives one a glimpse of what is to come when Brian delves into a discussion on regular expressions (in order to filter data via GA's inline filter). If you are unfamiliar with a command line interface, advanced search expressions or anything of the sort, good luck. Even if you are, this section comes WAY out of left field and perhaps could have been saved for later, but the information itself is useful and I've been utilizing a number of the expressions ever since.

Chapter 7 is where this book really begins, and Brian starts it off by giving an in depth explanation of how Google tracks pages and summarily applies that logic to show how one can track things like dynamic URL's (rewriting them along the way), tracking file downloads, partially completed forms (cool stuff), and E-Commerce settings (with some neat tricks and workarounds for frequent issues and problems), Flash, and a whole host of things. All of this is done very clearly, but if you don't have some technical aptitude/background, you're going to struggle.

After the largely technical Chapter 7, Brian shifts back into a less technically focused discussion on best practices, including a fantastic write up on goals and funnels (including excellent examples for both). His knowledge and ability to write in a clear form is particularly visible when he discusses segmentation, which, while other authors have done a good job championing, Brian, at least to me, easily blows them out of the water. If you're not technically inclined, this is a great section, though you may still be a bit perturbed by the depth of the filter settings.

Chapter 9 is worth the purchase of this book alone, IF you can follow it. For reference, it's prefaced with the words "In this chapter I assume you have a strong understanding of JavaScript" and it holds true. In this chapter you learn a whole whack of cool things, and I literally have a pile of notes sitting on my desk as a result. Brian goes into everything from adding custom search engines to your GA results, tracking error pages and broken links and tracking referral url's from pay-per-click networks to differentiating links to the same page via site overlay. There's just tons of great tricks and tips in this section, and it's clear to anyone with a clue that not only does the author of this section have an understanding of Google that vastly exceeds your own, but that he can write about it in a clear, easy to understand (given the nature of the topic) way.

Chapter's 10 and 11 are also excellent, and one does not need to be overly technical to understand them. The former discusses KPI's in an extremely clear, helpful manner and even discusses creating reports based on specific job roles. In the process, Brian reveals a bunch of custom KPI's that he has created that are fantastic--which is to say, if you are reading this section do not skip a job role just because it's not applicable, there's lots of gold to be mined.

Chapter 11 focuses on real world tasks, such as diagnosing problem pages, delves deeper into funnels and how to use Google optimizer and is a great read that, no matter who you are, I promise you will learn something from.

In summary, if you are technically inclined and can follow some of the more esoteric topics, this book is an absolute must have--buy it right now. If you are not so technically inclined, there is still lots of value in chapters, 8, 10 and 11 which in my opinion still would merit a purchase, but of course, you are not getting the same value. So, as I said to begin this admittedly long review, this book is phenomenal, but there is one big caveat. You need to have some technical knowledge to truly appreciate how much valuable information it provides.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, May 18, 2008
This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
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 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 method 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 free 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.

Part three is about implementing Google Analytics on your web site. chapter six shows you how to tag your web pages so they are included in your reports. This is about as far as my Google Analytics knowledge goes. So chapter seven introduces ways to customise the Google Javascript code in order to have more control over what data is recorded, it was all new (and very interesting). For example, the chapter has techniques for measuring page load time and tracking outgoing links. Chapter eight is all about Google Analytics best practices and is full of the kinds of tips that only an expert in using the tool would be able to share with you. Having read this chapter I configured up some of my sites to track search queries and set up more goals on my sites. Chapter nine is called "Google Analytics Hacks" and is a really useful cookbook of tips and techniques for getting even more out of Google Analytics. Top of my list of things to implement from this chapter is to add tracking to all of my error pages.

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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful book from knowledgable author, May 11, 2008
By 
This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
I stumbled upon the authors' site while trying to learn more about Google Analytics. After reading a few of his posts and learning that he was (until recently) quite high up on the totem pole in the Web Analytics team at google, I decided to purchase his new book, and I'm very glad I did.

I found it to be very useful and easy to read, despite parts of it being somewhat complex -- as I was hoping for given the title. The use of screen shots was excellent. I often found myself relating pages of the book to my own analytics account and in doing so gaining a better understanding of my own data and a better comprehension of what the book was talking about.

The book also provides some practical solutions to some common (but semi-advanced) issues that are not covered in any official google documentation, however if you have been faced with the specific issues, you would likely have found the answer in analytics blogs online if you searched enough. Having said that, if you had this book, you wouldn't have needed to search in the first place.

At the time I read the book I had been using analytics for about a year. I am very happy with the book -- I only wish I had it earlier when I didn't know quite as much, then I would have gotten even more value from it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to find the needle in the haystack, August 28, 2008
By 
NoVAReader (Northern Virginia, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
This is the long overdue "how to" guide for Google Analytics. You can get started tracking your web traffic without this book, to be sure. But, this book goes beyond the help section provided on the Google Analytics site. If you're trying to understand the web traffic on your site, try using Google Analytics. It's easy and free. This book will help you along. While the title describes the book as Advanced, it's not really that technical. Even the most technical sections are pretty easy to get through.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE Complete Guide to Google Analytics, January 3, 2009
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This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
I've used WebTrends for some time. Used a very early version of Urchin circa 2005. Started with Google Analytics in 2008. Google Analytics has come a long way since Urchin. WebTrends is definitely more potent with a lot more features. But well .. you're paying for it. Google Analytics is free. The only shortfall is that it retains data for the last 25 months, so if you want to compare with the last 4-5 years, that will be difficult. You could pull out data to your local system and workaround this or use Urchin which has a more diluted reporting capability.

All that aside. This is a fantastic book. A deserving 5 starrer.

The flow of this book has been well planned. Clifton starts with what reports can be procured from Google Analytics, giving everyone a quick insight into what kind of information gathering is possible. A really good way to tell you how potent this tool can be. The next section deals with the implementation and how pages can be tracked. Discusses in detail some of the implementation issues like:
Using the same analytics account to monitor diff websites
How to create a local copy of the analytics info

Also includes Advanced Implementation how-to's for E-Commerce websites, online campaign tacking, event tracking. There's also a chapter on hacks. These sections are the most relevant and covers the first 211 pages.

The last section of the books starts with KPI's and discusses the topic in detail with examples related to e-commerce sites, Marketer's KPI's webmaster's KPI's and more. The last chapter also discusses Google Website Optimizer and is a good introduction for newbies.

This book is extremely comprehensive and does a very good job of introducing Google Analytics to both new users as well as experienced one. Javasript code shows up at various places and is definitely helpful as a reference for making quick changes to your website tags.

If you have a website that uses Google Analytics, just go ahead and buy the book. If you're using other analytic tools, this book is a good introduction to what Google Analytics has to offer.

A few standout features of Google Analytics:
Two click integration with Google Adwords. (Two reports : Adwords Campaign, Keyword Positions)
Can be used to track paid search, organic search, links from pdf's, videos, email campaigns etc
Site overlay report (something like a heat map. WebTrends calls this the click density report)
Map overlay report (shows which geographies people are coming in from)
Cross referencing (eg how many visitors from california, which keywords folks from california use)
Site search reporting (From which pages do visitors initiate a search. And which page do they go to. This needs some setting up.)
Event tracking of video files and load times, interactions in the file etc ..

(About Google Urchin: Urchin is a down loadable tool. Its a hybrid tool since it tags as well as processes log files. It can provide bandwidth reports, error page/status code reports, visitor history reports.
Benefits:
Can run behind firewall. Useful for intranets.
Data stored in house, so can be used beyond 25 months.
Google Analytics can analyze a max 5 million pageviews a month. Urchin doesn't have this restriction.

The Disadvantages pertain to the hardware and manpower needed to set up a server, maintain and backup.)

Other References
Companion site for the book: [...]
Scripts are at: [...]
Facebook Group: [...]
Support: [...]
Advanced topics and methodologies: [...]
Blog: [...]

If you want to see pics of what some actual Google Analytics Reports look like, you can check them on my website Pune360.com:
[...]
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent documenation of Google Analytics, April 14, 2008
By 
Andreas Ramos (Palo Alto, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
Very good documentation of Google Analytics. It's the manual we've all be waiting for. Excellent details on advanced filters and configuration. I recommend it as a must-have book if you're working with Google Analytics. Business/marketing people won't get much out of this. It's a bit too technical for them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Manual on GA, June 23, 2008
By 
Jackson Stephen (Helsinki, Finland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
This book could be titled the Manual for Google Analytics that should've been released when it was launched.

It has a lot of tips to help you get the most out of GA and has Brians own insight and knowledge on how to use the data in an actionable manner.

I was very impressed with Brians technical knowledge of the tool and some of the things he explains in detail such as how to track outgoing links, page load times and how to customize the javascript will be useful to anyone using GA seriously.

Brian also explains the importance of KPIs and how to make sense of the data from different business perspectives which is key to making website improvements.

Overall, it's technical (it needs to be) and very comprehensive, a great one to keep as a reference when you're stuck with something about implementing or using Google Analytics.

Steve Jackson
International Co-Chair
Web Analytics Association
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great writer, expert knowledge, September 25, 2008
By 
Ted Rheingold (San Francisco, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
Like some of the other reviews I considered myself to be quite familiar with Google Analytics, and I was very impressed with Brian's book. I learned A LOT that will be very valuable to our company, many items I've already put into action. (ere's a list of what I learned [...])

Brian also does a really good job of building up the what the tools are, why you want to use them and then how. It's a very modular book that doesn't force you to constantly refer to other sections. It builds well and give good examples w/o digressing into obscurities.

If you are using Google Analytics at all for your business, you'll want this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Breakdown by a marketing newbie, November 29, 2009
This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
The author Brian Clifton, an expert in search engine optimization and web analytics, had never written a book before, but published his first piece of work this last year titled `Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics'. His organization throughout the book is phenomenal and he has written a useful guide to turn to again and again for help regarding Google Analytics issues as well as several other useful tips. The book is broken down into four main parts:

Part 1: Measuring Success
Part 2: Using Google Analytics Reports
Part 3: Implementing Google Analytics
Part 4: Using Visitor Data to Drive Website Improvement

Part one provides a good introduction to what web analytics is and why understanding web traffic is vital to your business. He explains in detail the available methods for tracking and comparing data by describing how Google Analytics works and how you can make it work for your particular business.

Part two dives right in on how to properly navigate your way through the Google Analytics interface, and examples are provided of report layouts and how to effectively organize your web traffic information. There are over 80 default reports Google Analytics has that can be used, but Clifton does a great job at highlighting the top 10 reports and explaining their functions and usability.

Part three explains how to get started on your journey towards making Google Analytics work for your website. This section shows how to make an account if you didn't already have one, how to start tagging pages so nothing is left out of your reports, and takes a deeper look at advanced implementation methods for tracking E-commerce, online campaigns, events, and customizing GATC (Google Analytics Tracking Code). Clifton provides several techniques for measuring visitor behavior and the best practices and tools you can use to get the most out of your website.

Part four is all about using the visitor data collected to help your website improve. This sections talks about KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) and what they are, how to prepare them, how to present them, and gives tips for benchmark considerations. He finishes the book with real world tasks that can be performed to start effectively measuring the success of your website on, and offline.

This book was well thought out and has a plethora of information showing exactly what you can do, through detailed instructions, on how you can track your websites traffic correctly, present it effectively, and implement your findings properly.

I have little experience in the web analytics field and some of the reading was well over my head and a better background of JavaScript and HTML would have helped greatly. However, this book taught me interesting and useful facts about the technical tools of Google Analytics and also how to interpret the results. I give this book five stars for its excellent organization, and I would recommend it highly for marketers and web masters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference on Google Analytics, June 23, 2008
By 
Feras Alhlou (Santa Clara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics (Paperback)
Brian did a fantastic job in his book "Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics". The material was very easy to follow and was very well structured.

Web Analysts who are involved in Google Analytics configuration and implementation will find the book very useful. The book covered basic setup and implementation tips as well as best practices and advanced techniques that will allow you to get the most out of Google Analytics.

If you are on the marketing/analytics consulting side, you'll find the book extremely useful as well. I liked the way Brian "segmented" the stakeholders into categories such as webmaster, marketing manager, etc. and recommended metrics and KPIs to address the concerns and needs for each of the stakeholders.

Whether you are on the marketing side or on the technical you'd definitely have an appreciation for the chapter on "Real-World Tasks".

If you are thinking of using Google Analytics, I highly recommend you read this book prior to any implementation work. Or, if you are using Google Analytics already, you definitely want read this book to get the most bang out of what the tool offers.

In our agency, we have added this book to our "must read" list for our Google Analytics technical Specialists and Analytics Consultants!
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Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics
Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton (Paperback - March 31, 2008)
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