Sams Teach Yourself Google Analytics in 10 Minutes

**** Dec062010

For some time now, I have been looking for a book on Google Analytics to take me beyond checking my “Unique Visitors” and wondering who is visiting from Yekaterinburg, but not so far as to be overwhelming. I don’t want to be a web stats guru, I just want to dig a little deeper, and help my clients do the same. Sams Teach Yourself Google Analytics in 10 Minutes, while not perfect, is a solid start.

Starts with the basics

This book is arranged in lessons: 25 lessons, each of which is a bite-sized chunk that should take less than 10 minutes to work through. For most web designers, the first few lessons will cover familiar territory — installing Google Tracking, and basic terms such as bounce rate and click-through rate. However, as early as Lesson 5 I learned something new: how to compare stats for two date ranges (p. 43). This is a pretty basic but useful feature that I simply hadn’t discovered.


For such a short manual, an unfortunate amount of space is taken up with repetitious explanations of terms. For example, page 29 lists the various items displayed on the Site Usage table, and Page 53 lists the items on the Visitors Overview. Many of the items are the same, but the definitions are repeated in each place. The same is true for many of the various views and tables. The reader would be better served by having terms defined once, and the inclusion of a comprehensive glossary.


Despite its small size and the repetition, Teach Yourself Google Analytics does cover some advanced and useful techniques, such as how to track full referrer URLs (Lesson 23), and “Creating User-Defined Visitor Types” (Lesson 19). For many website owners and web designers who need to be able to advise clients knowledgeably, this book will be sufficient to get up to speed with Google Analytics. Be aware though: while it covers how to find the information you want in Google Analytics, creative ideas about what to look for are beyond the scope of this book.

N.B. I had to think twice about how to categorize this review. Though “Findability/SEO” was my first inclination, I finally settled on “Software.” This book is about how to use Google Analytics, which is really a piece of online software — a “web app” I think the kids call it.

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Author(s)Michael Miller

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