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Alternatives to Google Analytics

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Google Analytics is a free website analytics, or statistics, tool.  It’s provided by Google and offers very powerful and detailed information on visitors to your website.  As the most popular analytics service by quite a large margin, it’s estimated to be used by over half of websites.

This proliferation, however, is also what can lead to a search for alternatives to Google Analytics – and it comes from both sides of the ‘privacy’ argument.  Some users may not trust that their visitor information can be kept private and want an alternative.  Due to these concerns, Google Analytics is now frequently blocked by privacy plugins and even network-wide ad-blockers such as Pi-hole.  This means you end up missing out on a significant amount of your visitors’ data.

Whatever your reason, here is our breakdown of alternatives to Google Analytics that are available to you:

Server Statistics

If you use traditional web hosting (like the frankly amazing packages we sell) they often include visitor statistics with your package.  These are generated from the servers log files meaning they cannot be blocked, but they are also far more restrictive in what you can find out from them.

There are three big packages in this space – Webalizer, AWStats and Analog.  They are usually processed once per day and offer similar information, presented differently.   None look particularly modern but do provide a free and accurate breakdown of visitors and popular pages.  They can be accessed from your control panel.

GoAccess

If you run a server, or virtual server, and want quick and easy access to some usage statistics from your weblogs, this could be the answer.  It can be installed from the EPEL repository on CentOS:

yum install goaccess

You then simply tell it where to see your log files, so for a standard NGINX install it would be:

goaccess /var/log/nginx/access.log

Press ‘space’ to select the log format, then return to analyse the log file.

You can then scroll down to view a variety of information.

GoAccess

More details on GoAccess can be found here.  We use this software to keep an eye on the usage of our mirror server – so we can see which repositories are getting the most traffic.  There’s no need in this case for a detailed breakdown.

Matomo

Matomo is installed in your webspace, it’s a PHP/MySQL application that offers similar features to Google Analytics.  The big difference is that it’s self-hosted and open-source. It can offer far more detail than any of the log analysis methods above but does use up your system resources.  For a busy website, you’ll need quite a lot of server power just to serve your analytics.  If you like the look of Matomo it’s available via our Installatron system in your control panel – we’d advise using a subdomain for it.

You can use one Matomo installation for all of your websites, creating separate analytics for each of them.  There’s a full list of features here.

Matomo

Fathom Analytics

Fathom Analytics was started as a privacy-respecting alternative to Google Analytics.  It does not collect personally identifying information and doesn’t even use cookies – removing the need for the ultra-annoying ‘accept cookies’ pop-ups that we are bombarded with daily.  By providing all the data you need to help grow your website and business without the cost being your users’ privacy we think this is a great option.

Full disclosure here – this is what we use ourselves across all our websites.  It’s been in place since September 2018, 22 months at the time of writing.  We love that we can see how our site is performing, what pages are proving popular and where our traffic is coming from.  We also love that you can visit our site without us, or anyone else, tracking where you’ve been.

Fathom Analytics is a hosted service, all you have to do is install a small piece of code onto your site.  They’re adding new features all the time too.   There’s a 7-day free trial, then prices start at $14/month.

Summary

I hope you’ve found something of interest in this breakdown of alternatives to Google Analytics.  If you know of any other options or have any views on those included here, please comment below.  I’d be pleased to hear your thoughts.

*Links to Fathom Analytics are affiliate links, however, this has not influenced the content of the article.  We have tried all of these options and have settled on Fathom for our use.

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