Say Goodbye to Universal Analytics: A Guide to Privacy First Google Analytics Alternatives

| | 6 min read

As you may know, Google has announced that the older version of their popular analytics platform, Universal Analytics, will reach its end of life on July 1st, 2023. This means that Universal Analytics will no longer be functional after this date, and website owners should migrate to the latest version of Google Analytics.

That being said, whether or not it's time to migrate to GA4 depends on several factors, such as your current analytics needs, the size and complexity of your website or application, and your willingness to learn and adapt to a new analytics platform.

While Google Analytics 4 (GA4) offers several benefits over Universal Analytics, including tracking users across multiple devices and platforms, providing more granular data controls, and better integration with Google Ads, privacy-conscious website owners may want to consider alternatives.

If you're looking for Google Analytics alternatives that prioritize privacy, you're in luck. This article will discuss two popular free and open-source analytics options: Matomo and Plausible, for those who want to set up a privacy-first analytics platform for their website. We will explore the features of each option's features and the pros and cons of using them instead of GA4.

Let's dive in and explore the best options for website owners looking to transition away from Universal Analytics.

Privacy-conscious Google Analytics Alternatives

In today's world, data privacy has become a top priority for individuals and businesses alike. Website owners are increasingly concerned about the ownership of their data and their users' privacy. This concern has led to the rise of alternative analytics solutions prioritizing data privacy and ownership. 

One such Google analytics alternative is Matomo. Matomo is a free and open-source analytics platform that offers several benefits over traditional analytics tools. With Matomo, website owners can track user behaviour, monitor performance, and analyze user engagement data. It also provides features like customizable dashboards, heatmaps, and A/B testing.

Another popular privacy-conscious analytics alternative is Plausible. Plausible is a lightweight, free and open-source platform that provides website owners with essential data without compromising user privacy. It is an easy-to-use analytics tool that offers real-time analytics and does not require any cookies or personal data. Plausible also gives website owners complete control over their data and the option to host their analytics data on their servers.



Matomo and its features

Matomo is a free and open-source web analytics platform that offers many features to help website owners track and analyze their traffic. With Matomo, you can track user behaviour in real-time, measure your website's performance, and gain insights into your audience's preferences.

Matamo Analytics Dashboard

Some of the key features of Matomo include:

  1. Real-time analytics: Matomo allows you to track user behaviour in real time, which means you can monitor the impact of your marketing campaigns, content updates, and other website changes in real-time.
  2. Customizable dashboards: With Matomo, you can create customizable dashboards that display the data you care about most, such as traffic sources, page views, and conversion rates.
  3. E-commerce tracking: Matomo allows you to track your e-commerce transactions, such as sales, revenue, and conversion rates.
  4. Privacy-focused: Matomo is designed with privacy in mind and allows you to control your data fully. You can store your data on your servers or the cloud and customize the platform to comply with GDPR and other privacy regulations.

Comparison of Matomo's features with Google Analytics and Plausible

Compared to Google Analytics, Matomo offers many advantages for privacy-conscious website owners. Matomo is a free and open-source platform, meaning you can modify and customize it to suit your needs. Additionally, Matomo allows you to maintain complete control over your data, including where it's stored and who has access to it. Additionally, Matomo is designed to comply with GDPR and other privacy regulations, making it a good choice for businesses operating in Europe.

Plausible is another privacy-focused analytics platform that offers some similar features to Matomo. However, Matomo provides more robust features, including e-commerce tracking and customizable dashboards.

Plausible and its features

Plausible is a privacy-friendly, free, open-source web analytics tool that offers website owners a simple and efficient way to track their website traffic. Here are some of its main features:

Plausible Dashboard
  • Data privacy: Plausible does not collect or store any personal data, making it compliant with regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
  • Real-time tracking: Plausible lets you see your website's traffic in real time and monitor how users interact with your content.
  • Simple and intuitive dashboard: Plausible provides an easy-to-use interface that displays your website's key metrics clearly and concisely.
  • Customizable tracking: Plausible allows you to set up custom events and goals to track specific user actions on your website.
  • Easy integration: Plausible has a lightweight tracking script, less than 1kb, which can be easily integrated with any website.

Comparison of Plausible's features with Google Analytics and Matomo

Compared to Google Analytics, Plausible offers a more streamlined and privacy-focused approach to web analytics. Unlike Google Analytics, Plausible does not collect personal data using cookies, making it a better option for those who prioritize data privacy. Additionally, Plausible's simple and intuitive dashboard makes it easy for website owners to understand their website's traffic without being overwhelmed by unnecessary features.

Compared to Matomo, Plausible offers a more lightweight and straightforward approach to web analytics. Matomo provides many features, including e-commerce tracking and heat maps, which can be helpful for some website owners. However, Plausible's minimalistic approach offers a better user experience for those who do not need all the extra features.

By not collecting any personal data, Plausible allows website owners to ensure the privacy and security of their users' data. Additionally, Plausible's simple and easy-to-use interface makes it a great option for those who want to track their website's traffic without getting bogged down by complicated analytics tools.

Choosing the Right Analytics Tool

Choosing the right analytics tool is critical to achieving your desired outcomes as a website owner. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an analytics tool:

  1. Features: Evaluate the features of each tool and determine which one meets your business needs.
  2. Ease of use: Choose an analytics tool that is easy to use and understand.
  3. Cost: The cost of an analytics tool is an important consideration, especially for small businesses.
  4. Data Ownership and retention: One key concern with the Google Analytics Users is how to retrieve their historical data. When you select your analytics platform, you should look into the data ownership clause and retention/retrieval of your historical data.
  5. Privacy: For those concerned with data privacy, consider free and open-source options like Matomo and Plausible.
  6. Support: Look for a tool that offers reliable and timely customer support.

With the end of Universal Analytics in sight, website owners need to start thinking about their analytics options. Google Analytics 4 is an upgrade from its predecessor, but privacy-conscious website owners may prefer free and open-source tools such as Matomo and Plausible.

Matomo offers data ownership, customizable dashboards, and advanced reporting. Conversely, Plausible provides a simplified approach to web analytics with a focus on user privacy and simplicity.

When choosing an analytics tool, website owners should consider data privacy, cost, features, ease of use, and support. Google Analytics 4 may be the right choice for those who value advanced data analysis and Google Ads integration. At the same time, Matomo and Plausible may be better suited for those who prioritize data ownership and user privacy.

Ultimately, the choice of an analytics tool depends on the specific needs and preferences of the website owner. It's essential to take the time to evaluate the options and choose the tool that best aligns with your goals and values.

If you are looking to implement an alternative platform for your website analytics, we can help. Please get in touch with us to discuss this. 

Looking to migrate to GA4? Our expert team can help. Get in touch with us to learn more and ensure a smooth transition

Thank you, Dave Hall, for pointing me to Plausible. I've used Matomo/Piwik before, and it's good to see this lightweight alternative to Google Analytics. I tried it now, and looks pretty cool.