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A list of privacy-friendly Google Analytics alternatives (creativerly.com)
87 points by philipptemmel 37 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 34 comments

>Google Analytics is free, although it is not. Google Analytics makes money off the personal data they collect from their customers.

This isn't strictly true though. Google Analytics has a free and a paid tier with GA360, which is for larger businesses.

More to the point, half of these aren't suitable for marketing decisions when you have multiple paid entrypoints to your site. The major, but simple, ones for marketing;

* Channel Groups - being able to merge multiple UTM tags or referrers into a single channel for comparison

* User Retention - even privacy first, it's important that you can track user activity onsite via a logged-in user ID.

* Bot Removal & IP removal - Excluding an office from the GA stats is important to track actual users compared to your colleagues checking in on details.

* Channel comparison for conversion rate - i.e. Google Ads vs FB Ads.

Fathom seems like the top one from this, but it still doesn't have any of these features. It has self removal via the console, but that's not quite the same. The dashboard Pirsch shows doesn't show any of these features, and most of them seem to have filters, but no general comparison windows. Same for Umami.

> Bot Removal & IP removal

People who advocate for alternatives to GA I suspect miss this very crucial aspect of the service. When you have a long running site, especially one that has user accounts or conducts ecommerce, it can be dominated by automated traffic. The longer the site has existed and the more popular it is, the more this is the case.

I'm not even referring to legitimate search engine crawlers but the automated exploit bots, the spam bots, the people running site suckers, and who even knows how many other things people get up to for malicious purposes.

Any GA alternatives that rely on server logs is instantly never going to be a viable alternative. Alternatives that don't rely on logs still cannot do a sufficient job of weeding out the automated traffic. I have never, not even once, heard of a solution that can tackle this overwhelmingly critical problem.

This is a big problem and exactly why I had to abandon log-based analytics for my personal blog. Some bots are easy to spot but others seem to be running real browsers, or as good as, which makes it impossible to weed out bad actors from logs alone.

I ended up coding a simple hit tracker (that was all I wanted) with a javascript beacon which worked well for a couple of years. But recently my blog was hit by an ongoing attack[0] that even executed the beacon code - I have no idea why. I am not convinced that any of these services would discount this type of traffic, I ended up having to use Cloudflare and even then needed some custom firewall rules.

[0] https://sheep.horse/2021/6/botnets%2C_or_this_is_why_we_cann...

I can't recommend Cloudflare enough. It has become a critical service to me. It recently helped me out a ton when bot traffic increased dramatically out of nowhere. I was getting hit 5 million times a week by one type of bot alone and Cloudflare's automated bad bot detection completely mitigated it with a single click. It has also been my experience that automated traffic has become so much more sophisticated in recent years.

Cloudflare is a great service but I hate that I have to use it due to factors beyond my control.

I was disappointed that Cloudflare didn't automatically detect the traffic as malicious but feeding the bots a captcha almost completely mopped up the problem.

I totally get your point! The thing is, in my opinion loads of people use GA simply because they do not know of any other alternatives, and among them there might be folks who do not need GA in first place because they simply want to get some insights about the traffic happening on their website, because it would be interesting for them to know.

For those folks, I would recommend to use a GA alternative (for example one from the list).

But you are right, at the top enterprise level, for folks focusing on marketing measures and decisions, most of the GA alternatives might not be suitable simply because they are missing some features.

One that is missing from this list is Pirsch: https://pirsch.io/

There are just so many options out there. I gathered a similar list with a lot of overlap, but also includes info on self-hosting/source-available options: https://til.marcuse.info/webmaster/alt-analytics.html

Wow, Pirsch looks absolutely beautiful. I am going to add it to the list straight away, thank you for mentioning it.

I am also going to link to your list as there are more alternatives that I have not mentioned.

> Pirsch

This looks good and one of the few where you can know your unique and return visitor.

> I gathered a similar list

Such a great list on all the points I am looking for. As I generally look at price / 1M event as well so it was perfect. License as well. My only other interesting is knowing return visitors. Which many of the new "privacy" analytics doesn't support . But thank You.

Edit: And plausible pay plan is no longer $36 /month but $50. Although they significantly lower the higher tier pricing.

Nice list. This topic comes often and is always interesting to see if something new appears, but unfortunately it's very hard to compete with Google Analytics.

Most people in marketing departments just don't care about privacy, and it's hard to beat inertia, especially for a solid product with a lot of documentation which is "free as in beer".

I personally use http://microanalytics.io which is very slick for my needs and free for up to 10k visits per month, but I don't think it's a Google Analytics replacement.

My point is that a lot of folks use GA although they do not need to, but they are using it simply because it is a Google product and the most popular solution out there.

What I mean is, that you do not need to use GA on your portfolio website or blog. I agree with you that some of the alternatives mentioned lack in enterprise features. Also, therefore most of the mentioned alternatives are not competing with GA, but they are a more suitable solution for folks who simply want to get insights about the traffic happening on their website, lightweight, simple, and minimal.

This seems like a good list. But I find analytics services to be quite expensive (considering that the plans are based on page views and the starting tiers are quite low on that count).

If the author of this post is still checking comments here, I’d suggest adding some labels next to each heading that indicate if it’s free, paid, open source, self-hosting option available, etc. That would make it easier to read only those that fit some basic criteria.

Hey, author of the blog post here! Thank you for your suggestion, I really like the idea, I will consider adding it to the post.

If you want you can also check out the Airtable database I have created, which lets you conveniently browse and sort all the services mentioned within the post.

I was very pleased with GoatCounter for my blog.

It's stupid-simple, just like my Hugo-based blog hosted on Github.

All I wanted was a rough idea of how many "hits" my site has, and for that it worked perfectly.

Exactly! GA isn't stupid simple, GoatCounter is indeed, and it gives you all the basic insights you need.

Interesting. I had a simmilar roundup last year that’s utterly out of date and a mush shorter list of tools, but a bit more depth on the analytical capabilities https://lukas.grebe.me/digital-analytics/cookieless%20analyt...

I use plausible.io for a website where analytics actually matter and it's enough. They implemented changes based on tickets I created, and their support has been nothing short of excellent.

It's not Google Analytics. It's missing a ton of features, but if you want to track visitors and events, it's plenty. It's faster and easier to use for this.

Google Analytics is the last 3rd party thing we use on our site after recently ditching Google Fonts.

One thing missing from GA competitors in my opinion is some explanation of what to expect when switching. I would like to switch but am not just going to swap analytics and have stats go up or down in a wild manner because things are calculated differently.

How did Matomo not make this list?


I did indeed think about adding Matomo to the list, but my main focus was to highlight products by Indie hackers, Solopreneurs, and small teams. But you are right, as Matomo is open-source and probably one of the biggest (if not the) competitor to GA I should definitely include in the list.

I think it at least should get a mention since it's one of the largest.

Yeah, I just mentioned exactly that.

I switched to simple analytics a few months ago.

I like that it's privacy friendly but the real reason I switched is because Google analytics is too bloated. Simple analytics just gives me the info I need in a clean interface and improves my websites loading speeds.

What's tough for a website owner, monetization perspective is that a lot of ad management companies are built off of Google analytics and they are the "Gold standard" for advertiser approvals and revenue attribution. Thanks for sharing

I wonder why there aren't more modular analytics systems out there. For example, I'd be interested in a client library that did all the useragent parsing, event batching, etc. and required me to write my own server-side logic.

How does anyone do analytics or tracking across web, mobile, and apps? It seems almost impossible to reliably attribute anything across platforms, leaving avg sign ups etc taken from the backend as the only concrete metric?

What about having Google and also other(s) analytics in your site? I mean, if you have more than one analytics script, is it harmful for speed/SEO? It's supposed to use only one?

Missed from the list is https://redistats.com/ which went live in 2013.

I'm paranoid enough to think Google will, at some point, decide to penalise your website if you're running other analytics

Wouldn't that be like a guaranteed visit from antitrust department?

There are two major challenges with building a robust analytics solution for the privacy era: architecture and privacy operations.

In terms of architecture, things that are cross-site (i.e., a script that sends a data to a service that is not yours) are getting blocked by ad blockers and browsers like Brave. This is because, even with the best of publicly stated intentions, there is no way to know what the third-party will do with the data.

Privacy operations itself is exceptionally challenging, because you need to manage consent and purpose, provide auditability, support DSAR, etc. -- unless you operate at the strict minimum (typically what falls within “legitimate interest” under the GDPR).

My company, Blotout (YC W21), approaches this with a cloud native privacy data engineering platform that lets you ingest event and ETL data into to your own lake, and provides a complete privacy operations suite. Since it’s same-site, you’re not blocked as a tracker. And because it pulls and unifies all of your data in your own infra, it’s vastly more efficient than a third-party stack and it lets you do things with you data that you can’t when it’s spread across providers.

Of course, for your personal blog this might be overkill. :)

I would add to the list:

Volument - A new take on website analytics


Noted, thank you for the suggestion, will add it to the post!

analytics.usa.gov is based on Google Analytics.

Think about that...

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