As someone who can fritter away hours on Google analytics looking at web traffic patterns and trying to understand them, I was over the moon when the opportunity arose to review a book for the Mini Book Expo for Bloggers about just that.

Click – Unexpected Insights For Business and Life by Bill Tancer takes a very close look at online patterns: specifically what millions of people search for online and turns up a number of unexpected and interesting parallels.

Bill is the general manager of global research at Hitwise, a company specializing in online competitive intelligence and as such has vast amounts of data available at his disposal on how and where people click. He loves finding patterns and predicting outcomes, some of which he shares in the book and, as I found out, he has an uncanny knack at uncovering search habits one wouldn’t expect.

Did you know, for example, that searches for “Prom Dresses” peak early in the year or that on-line sports gamblers like to play poker in the close season. These are some of the first discoveries Tancer discusses in the book. He goes on to analyze celebrity addiction and what we really fear as opposed to what we say we fear. Tancer makes the valuable point that people are more transparent and honest when they search online. They see it as a forum providing anonymity and are therefore more comfortable using online search to find out about touchy subjects than they would be face to face or in “real life”. By tracking who searches for what, where they click and when, patterns emerge that tell us a lot about the habits of our society and the way we use both traditional and new technology.

As a fan of the Arctic Monkeys, it was interesting to find out that Bill was able to track their meteoric rise to fame through as small number of “super connectors” spreading the word in MySpace and that TV also plays a major role in driving online traffic patterns.

This book is full of case studies and interesting anecdotes and has many gems of information such as the fact that Pareto’s 80/20 rules doesn’t apply online where 1-9-90 one does: 90 percent of people online are lurkers, 9 percent are intermittent contributers and 1 percent active collaborators. A kick in the teeth to the web 2.0 ideal of everyone participating.

As an Internet marketer, this book is invaluable and effectively displays the value of data mining online to hone in on your target audience but its not simply a book for the internet or marketing professional. It provides an entertaining analysis of online habits written in laymen terms that would be applicable and valuable to anyone interested in the habits of our society.

Thanks to Hyperion and the Mini Book Expo for the advanced reading copy of this book and especially to Bill for sharing his insights. I look forward to more in the Hitwise blog.

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