Dennis Mortensen has written what could become to be regarded as the definitive hands-on guidebook to entry-level analytics and beyond. Y!WA is a seasoned tool with massive flexibility, and it's fair to say, that the learning process which is assidiously described here for users of Y!WA would contribute to understanding just about every analytics package out there.
Of course, the most important usage of any web analytics package has to be seen as the creation of insights, and the adding of value to the property, whether from a straightforward merchandising perspective, or from a communications standpoint. The end-goal - insights and ideas for tuning content - forms the basis of Dennis' approach throughout. The final chapters of the book, especially concentrating on processing data and applying mathematical models, are particularly relevant to those involved in advanced web analysis - an exciting and evolving discipline, depicted with enthusiasm and clarity in this book.
It's this enthusiasm that makes the book a great start for anyone seriously looking towards using a powerful web analytics tool to its maximum capability. And these days, disregarding web analysis is not a serious option.
Having worked with Yahoo! Web Analytics since its IndexTools days, I would not have thought I could learn as much as I have from this book. This is not just a "How to use Yahoo! Web Analytics" guidebook, detailing the mechanics of how to set up the tool and count pageviews etc. This book will help you install and run YWA, teach you tips and tricks, and most importantly, help you understand what you're tracking - which is the number one grey area for people using analytics packages. Personally, being familiar with this tool, I found the later chapters more interesting - data insights, case studies etc. It's not just about an analytics package vomiting out figures, it's about taking those figures, understanding what they mean and using that knowledge to optimise your landing pages and your website generally. For example - optimising the Thank You page after a sale to re-engage with an already engaged visitor. Great stuff!
This is long awaited for me - the Y!WA has been around for quite awhile (used to be IndexTools) and is, in my opinion, one of the most flexible, lean and mean tools for collecting and analyzing usage data.
This books covers all of that and more - in general the book has the rare quality of being informative for both the novice and the experienced user. It has the guidebook quality for users traveling into Y!WA-land but also holds a great deal of inside knowledge on how to dig deeper down in Your data.
For the experienced user there's a lot to take away from this book also - it is very obvious that the author has spend a great deal of time debating site analytics and getting feedback on how and what to look for and thankfully alot of this has found it's way to this book as tips, tricks and some very insightful observations.
Other than being the ultimate guide to the ultimate analytics tool, the book also touches on the subject on site optimizations, which is very useful for all us who haven't fed our precious traffic-data to (e.g.) Google. There are some sound advice on how to manage optimizations of keywords, search and content - what to look for, how to get better answers and how improve (prolong) Your time with the user.
Everybody interrested in creating and living of their content should buy and read this book - although it helps if You have the Y!WA engine available - people without it will find some good general advice about content and users, also some good pointer on what to wish for in Your local analytics engine...
In a time where the fight for attention is still more furious - this book is a good edge to have.
Dennis Mortensen is a serious player in the web analytics world. After selling Indextools to Yahoo he writes this book which is essential for anyone trying to implement an enterprise web analytics solution. The insight that this book provides puts this book up on the "must have" shelf for anyone aspiring to be a web analyst. When you bringing out the next one?!!