Darren Azzopardi SEO & Usability Lover

Web Analytics Demystified - Book Review

Eric T Peterson's front cover of Web Analytics demystified

Web Analytics Demystified by Eric T Peterson covers a topic that I adore. He explains what analytical data to use to help understand your companies website performance.

So really, this book is for anyone who owns a website and wants to see where all their time and money has gone.

Make sense of your websites current situation

The next time your Boss asks you how the companies website is doing, you can happily show figures they will understand, figures that matter; How much a visitor is worth, the average spend of a customer, how many new customers you attract..there's too many to list but you get what I mean. Figures that will make your Boss's ears pay attention.

The great thing about this book is it provides you with the tools, well the equations to help you get the answers you should be searching for. It's all good looking at how many visitors you get but what you want to know is how many of them do something on your website and by 'do something' I mean make a purchase or download a document.

Measure, measure, measure - but set goals first

Knowing what to measure is crucial and not so difficult either but still, websites are launched with no real Ooomp! Translated that simply means, 'no real goals'. Think about what you want your users to do and look at how you can measure it, it's that simple.

A real word example - publishing articles

Let's say you write a blog post, what actions would you like a user to do?

  • To read your article
  • and to share it on the interwerb

Can we find out if the article has been read?

Blogging is all about the reach and good content. So we need a rough percentage of how many of visitors actually read your article. A quick metric would be finding out the Percent of visits under 90 seconds. Visits under 90 seconds are those that visited the page and then popped off (compare this along side page views too).

Percent of visits under 90 seconds

So lets work out how many on that given day read your article, below is the formula we would use.

percent of visits under 90 seconds

Was the article flop? Remember we're looking a low percentage here, a high percentage does mean you have a problem on your hands but now you know, you can do something about it.

This metric is dependant on wether your analytical package can give 90 seconds increment reporting.

Analytics sounds like math-I'm rubbish at math!

This book does deal with equations but you don't need Rachel Riley at your side to help you, just apply logical thinking and you'll do well. I guarantee that this book will be by your side the next time you look at your sites analytical data.

Analytics isn't complicated, knowing what the measure is or it could be. First you do have to make sense of what you're seeing and what you're not. It's too easy to be sucked in and think the data you're seeing when you login into Google Analytics for example is all true and all so very good. This Author doesn't recommend an analytical package to use because rightly so, software changes but the formulas don't.

What metric is important?

There's no rule to this. You could have as many or as little but the idea is to measure what could change. It could be your traffic, attracting new customers or the average purchase order. Eric goes through so many that you will have metric waiting for you to dig out.

A metric is measurement of data that you feel is important to monitor to ensure the success of your website

The first rule of analytical fight club

Find out how many real people use your website, by choosing the correct metric. This is important because a lot of your calculations need this figure to be accurate and within the same time scale.

Summary of Web Analytics Demystified by Eric T Peterson

I haven't done this book justice in explaining how good it is. I've missed the part where he discuss the early pitfalls of analytical data, using log files on the server and explaining the meaning behind the jargon you hear and even if it's worth understanding.

If I began showing equations and percentages it might have put you off but it's explained so well that you'll grasp it. The metrics that Eric discusses in this book will 100'#37; help you understand your users, if your effort is rewarded and how to improve your website if it isn't.

Websites owners who truly want to find out what the hell their website is doing for them will need this book.


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