I’m always impressed that O’Reilly’s books drill so deep into a topic they can squeeze out a 200-page book about something mundane like Google Analytics, the analytics engine used by countless websites. Most developers don’t do much more than implement the code and watch the page view statistics, but Google Analytics by Justin Cutroni (a Google Analytics Certified Partner) covers a lot more.
I was really impressed by a couple things in Google Analytics. Firstly, the book explains Google Analytics’ back-end processing far more than any source I’ve seen before. I found it intriguing from a developer’s perspective. Some may not find these details very useful but there are some practical applications for this knowledge. For example, knowing how the analytics engine parses results helps us know how long it will take for recent data to affect the dashboard.
The other aspect of Google Analytics that really impressed me is the chapter on advanced tracking techniques. It’s a large chapter (50 pages) that alone can really extend the usefulness of Google Analytics beyond what most people get out of it. The information on tracking e-commerce alone covers the price of this book. Generally speaking, the advanced information is what makes Google Analytics worth reading.
Google Analytics is also well-written and I like how Justin added some working examples and exercises on implementation, so readers can use techniques right away. Not everything in Google Analytics will pertain to a customer’s needs, but developers who use Google Analytics should at least be aware of all the service’s features—and Google Analytics covers pretty much everything.