Avinash Kaushik Web Analytics Review – Part 1

I’m still in the middle of the “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day” and thought i will share some thoughts after reading the first part of the Avinash’s book. The overall impression can’t be more positive and although i haven’t finished reading the book yet I would recommend it to everyone interested in Web Analytics or involved in online marketing. Web Analytics: An Hour a Day will help you to understand how to analyse & measure your online activities.

Good points Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

1. The book highlights some important things that are often neglected. I’ve listed some of them below.

“all vendors use similar methods to capture data” – this is an important statement, even if you spend 200k on your sophisticated software the data will be captured in very similar way as in free tools such as Google Analytics. Think before your pay for gathering data.

“Data quality on the Internet absolutely sucks”, here are some most common reasons why: try tracking user activity in Ajax or Flash application, what if you’ve just realised that some of your pages weren’t properly tagged?, what is the definition of a visit? if i wait 30 min and come back to the site is it a new visit? Not many people know how the data is captured and why it rarely ties in with the data captured with another software.

“assume a level of comfort with the data” – don’t dive into the data and look at it with 70-80% confidence. See the point about the data quality above?

“go for free tools first” – when choosing right vendor, try the free tool and only if it has some limitations try buying one with more features

“ensure all pages are tagged” – write a simple software that will do it for you. It is just to ensure that your web analytics software is capturing all information that is available, i.e. you can trust your data more.

“Multiple source links on a page to the same target” – not many people realise that it is not uncommon to have multiple URLs pointing to the same target page, its bad for SEO and causes problems from a tracking perspective.

“Most important cookies should be first-party cookies” – most of the antispyware software will reject third-party cookies.

“Measure the cookie rejection and deletion rates” – how often we are being asked how many people have cookies switched on or off?

2. I personally liked the phrase “complex website ecosystem”

Bad points Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

1. Sometimes I feel that the Web Analytics: An Hour A Day is oversimplifying some business aspects of web analytics. I’ve found a number of instances in the book where a complicated issue was explained in one sentence. There is nothing wrong with it unless you need to investigate the issue and need more details. So a general comment after reading the first part of the book is that it touches a lot of different areas of online but scratches the surface very often.

One of the assumptions is about JavaScript tagging, which Avinash recommends as the best method for tracking. In Poland Internet users value their privacy more or they maybe just don’t trust The Web to the extent as people in other countries and would have their cookies switched off very often. It might skew data if you have a multi language site.

2. Too many “step by step” guides – dilutes the focus of many sections of the book.

3. Lack of clear sections/chapters such as tracking, reporting, analysing. I’m also not convinced that the “An Hour a Day” structure works very well.

Anyway, can’t wait to read the II part of the book.

2 thoughts on “Avinash Kaushik Web Analytics Review – Part 1

  1. Luke: Thanks so much for taking the time to write a review of the book. I am glad that you found the book to be helpful in some ways.

    I very much welcome feedback on the book. Particularly with respect to your point #1 if you might consider sending me a email or a quick note on what concepts were oversimplified that would be great. You can send me a note at your convenience, it would be so helpful to me as a first time author.

    Thanks again,

    PS: As a photography nut I was very impressed with the picture of the lighthouse on the blog header. Is that Poland? Very beautiful.

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