Web Analytics Demystified: Revisited

UniqueWeb Analytics is complex, not hard. Read this and make a ton of progress in three hours.

Do five things, find insights, take action, ask for a bonus! High ROI no matter how you compute the outcome.

Not nirvana. Just 35 points of progress out of 100, but why not take those points when you do it in such a straight forward way?

That was the promise of my post Web Analytics Demystified .

Especially to the many, many of you who are getting started with analytics, or have been scared by the constant drumbeat of how hard analytics is. It ain't a walk in the park, it just needs a little time and a little commitment.

Hence I was ecstatic that the post received 39 comments (another 60 emails), by that dimension atleast promised delivered.

Then this past Friday the post received something surprising, a SEMMY. . . .

web analytics semmy 2008

["The SEMMYS are an annual awards event honoring the great content produced across the search and online marketing industry. "]

The nominations by Matt McGee and others. The initial judging (whittling down of the nominations) in the Analytics category was by Vanessa Fox and Brad Geddes. Finally the public got a chance to vote and pick winners.

Perhaps you have not heard of the SEMMY's. They are a first attempt by Matt at helping recognize good content from thousands and thousands of posts in a year.

Web Analytics Demystified was my own homage to a classic book, and I wanted it to be a post that was a worthy homage.

No short cuts, nothing cheesy, something unique of value, something worthy.

It was hours and hours of thinking and writing and creating the perfect images and editing. Then going back and trying again (somewhere between consulting, evangelism, speaking, helping run a startup, writing articles, being on road and the kids!!).

The SEMMY is a nice recognition and I am grateful for it. It caused a minor spasm of happiness.

On that note…

Our dear friend Bryan Eisenberg's post How A Pretty Face Can Push Visitors Away also won in the Online Marketing / General category. I am thrilled for Bryan!!

A tip of the hat also to Lisa Barone! She is a great writer, and the reason for my subscription of the Bruce Clay Blog. Here is Lisa's must read winning post: 9 Ways To Bore The Audience at SES New York. You'll smile through the whole thing, if only because so much of it is true!!!

Continuing the winning train of thought. . . .

Redemption (part two):

[Part one: Indianapolis Colts at Super Bowl XLI]

Talking about things causing spasms of happiness, here's one that caused a major one for me today. . . .

eli manning super bowl XLII

You can anoint yourself winner. You can have the advantage of being the entrenched team. You can be the prima donna.

Its nothing against a group of guys who play like team.

In the end quality and hard work matter, nothing else.

No short cuts. Just a can do spirit.

Congratulations to the New York Giants, a great bunch of guys who played their hearts out!

Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress, David Tyree, Kevin Boss, Steve Smith, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Steve Spagnuolo and Tom Coughlin: You guys rock!!!

Nice guys can win.


  1. 1

    Congrats on winning a SEMMY award…and Go Giants! (you just went up like 1000 more additional points in my book :)

    One thing I try to tell virtually everyone is that Web Analytics isn't "rocket science"…sometimes it can feel like it, but it's not really, especially if I can learn it, so can anyone else.

  2. 2

    Congratulations on the Semmy! You really deserve it for making an often unapproachable subject approachable for the masses :)

  3. 3

    Congrats Avinash on the SEMMY. As to the Giants victory — well, all I can say is that they earned and deserved every ounce of it. Goes to remind you that you cannot take anything for granted but should be prepared for the worst.

    "Success is not measured by what you accomplish but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds."

  4. 4

    Congratulations on the Award, Keep up with the good work.

  5. 5

    Congrats on the SEMMY.

    And FYI: Unless you are still getting Spasms of happiness from the Giants winning the NFC Championship 2 weeks ago, you might want to update that picture of Eli Manning. (it was taken after he won the NFC Championship in freezing cold Green Bay…Not after he won the Super Bowl). But I'm sure your readers get the point.

  6. 6
    Rahul Deshmukh says

    Avinash – Congratulations on your continued success….Keep up the good work and your modesty :–)


  7. 7

    Phil : Good catch! It was intentional though. I think the accomplishment in Lambeau was where Eli truly grew up (not to take away anything from the other games). After two missed field goals!

    But of course I'll be happy to oblige my readers. . . . :)

    eli manning michael strahan - super bowl XLII

    Everyone : Thanks for your kind words about the SEMMY.

    It is such a cliché to say this but, your participation in this blog and your encouragement is the juice that powers the blog. Thank you.


  8. 8
    Jeff Duncan says

    Congrats Avinash! I have been reading your for a long time and I am never disappointed with any of your posts. You consinstently have great quality and deserve the award!


  9. 9


    Congratulations on the SEMMY award. Your minor spasm of happiness was well deserved! Following your blog over the past 18 months has been both entertaining and enlightening.

    I think the Giants' Super Bowl win was timed perfectly with your receiving this award. Guys like Eli Manning, Justin Tuck, Steve Spagnuolo, and Tom Coughlin symbolize simple, modest, and conscientious dedication to their craft. Knowing you well, I think you'd fit in just fine in that locker room.

    Job well done!

  10. 10

    Congratulations on winning the Semmy!

  11. 11


    Congratulations on your award. I’ve never heard of the award but I don’t work nearly has hard on SEM/SEO as you do. Regardless I’m sure winning this award is quite an important accomplishment for you.

    I also wanted to thank you. As the author of “Web Analytics Demystified” — the classic work you say your post pays homage to — it was interesting to hear your take on the subject. More interesting was how your post positively impacted sales of the book — direct sales were up nearly 40% from the month previous!

    Perhaps your post reminded people that some of us have been around “demystifying” web analytics for a long time.

    Either way, despite some people’s complaints that you were inconsiderate in your attempt to game my brand and copyright, I can assure you that I do appreciate your willingness to continue to bring awareness to my work, both as an author and as a consultant. And I sincerely hope you didn’t mind my tongue-in-cheek title for my AMA presentation …

    Still, I wanted to ask you one question: Do you think the Giant’s thought that winning the Super Bowl was complex? Or do you think they thought it was hard?

    I ask because you seem hung-up on my assertion that “web analytics is hard”, going out of your way to try and convince people that it is “easy but complex, not hard” and that somehow complex is preferred.

    And while I’m not sure why you’re so violently opposed to my assertion, I do disagree with you — web analytics is hard, and that is fantastically good news! Web analytics is hard just like an underdog with a young quarterback winning the Super Bowl is hard. Nothing good is easy, but anyone, anywhere can do something difficult simply by being dedicated to the end product.

    * Sacking Tom Brady is hard (hell, very hard) but the Giants defense did it again and again and again

    * Converting on third down is hard, but Eli Manning and his receivers did it when it counted the most

    There is nothing particularly complex about football, perhaps save contract negotiations, and there is nothing overly-complex about web analytics. In my experience the complexity that does come up in web analytics usually comes from “over-promise, under-deliver” and end-user needs for basic tools like segmentation and data integration that are lacking in some of the most popular applications, not from the practice of web analytics itself.

    * Web analytics is hard, but anyone with enough motivation can overcome this obstacle and, in your own words, create amazing, magnificent, and wonderful success!

    * Web analytics is hard, but simply by recognizing this and moving beyond the “web analytics is easy” hyperbole companies are able to create the right expectation about the effort required to be successful.

    * Web analytics is hard, and that is excellent, excellent news. Because if web analytics were impossible there would be no need for Google Analytics or any of the other great applications available today, but if web analytics was easy, most of us would be massively under-performing.

    * Web analytics is hard, but just like the Giants and every other Cinderella team in the history of sports, hard can be overcome through sheer determination, effort, and a well-formed plan for success: often the result is greatness.

    I hope you’ll print this comment, and I know my thoughts will do nothing to dissuade you from your “web analytics is easy” mantra, but I had some time (ironically waiting to fly to New York where I hope to catch a Giant ticker-tape parade this week) and wanted to comment.

    Again, congrats on the prestigious award! I’m sure that Stephan Spencer and Tamar Weinberg were quite bummed to have been nominated against you — I know I would be!


  12. 12

    Eric : I am sorry you had trouble interpreting this post. Here is a relevant excerpt that might be helpful:

    Web Analytics is complex, not hard. Read this and make a ton of progress in three hours.

    Do five things, find insights, take action, ask for a bonus! High ROI no matter how you compute the outcome.

    Not nirvana.

    Just 35 points of progress out of 100, but why not take those points when you do it in such a straight forward way?

    . . . .

    Especially to the many, many of you who are getting started with analytics, or have been scared by the constant drumbeat of how hard analytics is.

    It ain’t a walk in the park, it just needs a little time and a little commitment.

    Happy to help with the book sales, after all I am a Analytics Evangelist! : )

    Our tiny industry needs, nay deserves (!!), a lot more promotion and I'll happily do my small part.

    Here's a direct link to Amazon to your, now classic, 2004 book.

    Let the higher sales ring!

    It is always a pleasure and a delight to have the leader of the industry take time to respond personally, I am grateful for that.


  13. 13



    Whoa! Web Analytics is complex, hard or whatever!

    But what matters is how you make it look simple! and i am sure many readers have learnt that from your posts and all the knowledge you share here.

    Keep them coming!



  14. 14
    Justin Paek says

    Avinash is probably too polite to reply but I'll bite Eric. If working hard was all that was required in the NFL then the biggest sized teams would win. That is rarely the case.

    American Football is a complex game with numerous arcane rules and some insane ones. Bill Belichick is a master of strategy and outfoxing his opponents with his well timed and complicated plays (did you see the reverse draw dropped pass that was the first call of this super bowl?). Steve Spagnuolo's smarts read the complexity and answered them with even better plays.

    American Football is a complex game that is played hard. You are manipulating something that is not true to make your point and you failed at both.

    Justin Paek
    (Disappointed Patriots fan in the UK)

  15. 15
    Simon Chin says

    Congratulations on the well deserved award Avinash. I had voted for your Blog Metrics post but this one was very good as well.

    Your posts are truly inspiring. Thanks.

  16. 16

    Avinash: Thank you for your feedback. I suppose we agree to disagree but that is great! I'm not sure about you, but I relish the opportunity to compare perspectives and continue to learn from my readers, my clients, and my friends.

    And thanks for the continued support for both my book, my consulting practice, and the entire Web Analytics Demystified brand! I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco later this year.

    Justin: Sorry to rub you the wrong way but I don't think I mis-represent the truth when I say "web analytics is hard". Maybe it's just my experience in this industry. Sorry about your Pats.

  17. 17
    Robert Benjamin says

    Avinash – you are a classy and humble guy. Well done.

    Congrats on the award as well.


  18. 18

    Many congratulations for your Semmy award!

    I believe that usability, search engine marketing and web analytics go hand in hand, and you are the prove that anything can be made simple (even if "complex")! :)

    Thank you for your kindness and insightful tips.

  19. 19

    Congrats Avinash & job well done!

    It was real thrill to meet you and attend your talk a week or so ago in Atlanta, GA. Please let me know the next time you'll be in town. The information you provided was great and I even blogged about your talk on my blog at the URL above. :)

    When you were in Atlanta, GA, you mentioned the increase in keywords per query (from 3 to 4) seen by Google in Q4 2007. I think it's pretty important information and hope you'll blog more on those findings when you have time? By the way, how does Google calculate figures? Does Google round up from 3.?? or is the actual value equal to or greater than 4?

    Again CONGRATS, thanks for your time and have a great day!


  20. 20

    I guess I'm going to have to go read Eric's book after-all. Somehow I thought I may get by without it, but thanks to all the commotion the classic is now more than a classic: it's a "geez what did I miss" read.

    Seriously, congrats Avinash. Maybe I'll read your book now … (right after Eric's of course)…

  21. 21

    @CP: Email me a reminder and I'll gladly bring you a free signed copy to Ft. Worth later this month. Since you're an old-timer I doubt you'll need it but I'm happy to spread the good word …

    And seriously, if you haven't read Avinash's book, you should. It's a fun read and full of good stuff.

  22. 22

    @eric: I have a copy, but I'll take a signed copy and pass my copy along to a deserving Coremetrics CE. And I promise: I'll read the rest of yours AND get Avinash's as well.

  23. 23

    We thought this is great stuff, so we referenced the blog here:

    2 sensible metrics – a framework for measuring blog success

    Thanks for writing such great stuff



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