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Web Analytics Demystified, by Eric Peterson

Book review by Andreas Ramos

Web Analytics Demystified, by Eric Peterson (Self-published through Celilo Press by Eric Peterson. 2004. 240 pg., bibliography, illustrations, tables, index. $59.95. ISBN 0-9743584-2-8). Available at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc. Companion site at

The Details

Eric Peterson is one of the main people in Web Analytics (WA). He has worked at top analytics companies and uses all of the major tools. He also wrote "The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators" (2004). His book Web Analytics Demystified is a standard text. Eric also manages the Web Analytics Wednesdays meeting, which are held in many cities. His blog is one of the top WA blogs.

Web Analytics Demystified came out in 2004 and was essential reading. Eric laid out the essential definitions of many concepts in analytics.

Eric writes clearly and professionally. He states his purpose on the first page ("The goal of this book is to elucidate which statistics, rations, and comparison are most likely to help you improve the overall quality of your web site for your visitors and customers.") and the book does precisely that.

The book discusses the advantages and disadvantages of log files vs. tagging and the implications for WA. Eric also defines key WA terms: views, visitors, frequency, and so on. These terms are defined differently by each analytics tool vendor, so you have to know what they mean by their terms in order to compare the numbers. He systematically goes through every aspect of analytics and lays out the issues: what it means, how to measure it, how to interpret it, and the benefits and disadvantages in each concept.

The Bottom Line

The book was written in 2004 and is a bit dated now. We've moved on from learning WA. These days, the issue is how to use analytics as part of a business strategy. The book also doesn't cover Web 2.0 issues, such as Ajax, Flash, and Adobe Flex (these weren't widespread at the time of the book). Nevertheless, it is an essential handbook.


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