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Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics Paperback – Mar 31 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sybex; 1 edition (March 31 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470253126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470253120
  • Product Dimensions: 18.5 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 581 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #589,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Back Cover

How Does Your Website Measure Up?

Are you getting the most out of your website? Google insider and web metrics expert Brian Clifton reveals the information you need to get a true picture of your site's impact and stay competitive using Google Analytics (GA) and the latest web metrics methodologies.

Which marketing campaigns work best? How do you quantify their success? What indicators should you track? Packed with techniques and insider secrets not documented elsewhere, Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics has the expert guidance you need to enhance your brand and increase your site's ROI. Learn how to:

  • Measure your web traffic and understand its impact on ROI

  • Configure your data collection parameters, then extract and analyze the collected data

  • Drill down to the precise visitor segments or time periods you choose

  • Discover how long it takes for your visitors to convert to customers

  • Follow best practices for page tagging and tracking dynamic web pages, Flash events, banners, and more

  • Optimize checkout systems, pay-per-click campaigns (including AdWords), SEO, and e-mail marketing, and use ad version testing in conjunction with multivariate testing

  • Centralize your data collection and track offline campaigns

This book is a recipe for measuring your success and optimizing your online marketing."
—Jim Sterne, Founding Director and Chairman of the Web Analytics Association

I can confidently recommend this book to anybody serious about turning web analytics into a competitive business advantage."
—Dennis R. Mortensen, COO, IndexTools, Inc.

Brian Clifton does a fantastic job of explaining how to effectively power a web analytics strategy using Google Analytics. Both new and seasoned GA users will benefit from Brian's book and his expertise."
—Justin Cutroni, Director of Analytics and Testing, EpikOne

What Brian Clifton doesn't know about Google Analytics probably hasn't been invented yet. In this book he shares his extensive knowledge in a concise and coherent fashion."
—Neil Mason, Managing Director, Applied Insights

What's fantastic about this book is the practical, detailed help it gives you to get real value out of your web analytics tool."
—Ashley Friedlein, CEO,

About the Author

Brian Clifton, Ph.D., leads the Google Web Analytics team for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. He is a noted web analytics and search engine marketing expert who speaks at industry trade shows (including Search Engine Strategies, Emetrics Summit, and Search Marketing World), maintains a blog on web metrics and Google Analytics (, and has written numerous white papers.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am now 3 quarters of the way through this book and even though I have been using GA for 1 year now, I have learned a tonne. If you are using Google Analytics you absolutely must read this book. Not only does it contain easy to read information on things like top reports and advanced code implementation, it ties implementation and reports in with WHY and HOW you would apply these settings and reports to real world experience, with lots of screen shots to further help understanding.

Clifton produces a gem here that will definately help you increase the value you bring to your company and/or clients.
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Format: Paperback
I had the privilege of reviewing of Brian J. Clifton's book "Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics". Most books either address the broad concepts of web analytics or provide a long list of tips & tricks for a specific product. This is not the case with Brian's book. It's the first one I see that brings the concepts and apply them to a specific tool, namely Google Analytics.

Written in non-technical terms, the 300 pages book also provides plenty of detailed information about the practices and techniques to set up and configure Google Analytics. For those who want to go deeper, it also include a chapter on Google Analytics hacks.

Each section begins with the fundamentals, then gradually bring details and provide real-world examples to demonstrate the concepts.

I see three scenarios where this book is a must:

- You are already using GA: even if you think you know it all, you will be surprised!
- You wonder if GA is the right fit for you: the book gives you enough details to see it in action, understand it's power and see if it will fit your requirements.
- You want to learn the concepts of web analytics and apply them: the best way to learn is to mix concepts and hands on. Using Google Analytics and Advanced Web Metrics is a great way to learn.

Happy reading!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book isn't for those who want a brief overview of Google analytics. However, if you're trying to go a little deeper this book is great. The only problem is Google changes things so rapidly that these books rarely stay totally relevant for that long. The good news is many things do stay the same.
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There appears to be lots of information, however, it's hard to get at because it's a difficult read for someone at my level of understanding (basic). I expect it's quite good of you're computer oriented and/or have knowledge on the subject. Otherwise it's a tough slog with minimal returns.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9f8b5414) out of 5 stars 26 reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f0c1f54) out of 5 stars Phenomenal-- but there is one big caveat. April 22 2008
By Alex B - Published on
Format: 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.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f171edc) out of 5 stars Highly Recommended May 18 2008
By David Cross - Published on
Format: 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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa054bb10) out of 5 stars Helpful book from knowledgable author May 11 2008
By B. J. George - Published on
Format: 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.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa054bf30) out of 5 stars How to find the needle in the haystack Aug. 28 2008
By NoVAReader - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f642438) out of 5 stars THE Complete Guide to Google Analytics Jan. 3 2009
By Vivek V. Chandran - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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: [...]
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If you want to see pics of what some actual Google Analytics Reports look like, you can check them on my website