Switching away from Google Analytics

When I built WPAudit in November, I decided to take the plunge and try out a privacy focussed analytics setup. Fathom Analytics already existed, but they didn’t have a very long trial, and I wasn’t ready to start paying quite that quickly.

I set up Plausible Analytics on WPAudit when I launched in November 2019 and I monitored the analytics every other day. What I discovered was the information I was seeing (page views, users, location, screen size, referrer, top pages) was enough.

This was all the data I needed to be able to make decisions.

In December, I switched to Fathom Analytics from Plausible for a few reasons:

  • I’ve followed Paul Jarvis and bought things from him before. I enjoy his work and wanted to support him.
  • At the time, Plausible didn’t have a way to track goals, however, Fathom did.
  • Fathom was the reason I started considering moving away from Google Analytics and caring more about privacy.

Why switch away from Google Analytics at all?

I can’t say I thought too much about privacy before GDPR got on everyone’s radar. I wasn’t running complicated businesses that relied on ads, tracking people meticulously across the web, or knowing exactly how old they were. So I never thought about the privacy aspect of all these tracking tools, except when an ad about mattresses started to follow me around the web because I searched for it (that has happened to all of us).

Then GDPR happened and I started reading about the rules and thinking about all the information Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc track. I became more wary of how they tracked me and started to get more uncomfortable with the idea that others were being stalked around the web because I’m using Google Analytics.

I believe there are better ways to market to people that is still personalized without being creepy personal and utilizing stalker-ish behaviour (yes, I’m looking at you Facebook).

Google Analytics is “free” because the data you let it collect is so valuable for Google in its other paid services (Google Ads, Google Adsense, etc). It’s not free; when you use Google Analytics, you effectively give up not only a lot of your own privacy but also the privacy of your audience. You pay with your personal information.

I recognize that moving away from Google Analytics is not yet feasible for everyone, regardless of how they feel about protecting privacy. However, I believe for many of us, this is possible. If you can afford to pay for privacy-forward analytics, you should.

This follows the same argument that has popped up in various places: instead of paying with your personal information, start paying with your wallet.

Both analytics tools are cookie-less, don’t collect personal information, and are instantly GDPR friendly. I don’t use Google Ads or have any reason to connect my personal sites to Google Analytics, so it was an easy switch for me.

If you’re a blogger, freelancer, or a service-based business owner, it could be a pretty easy switch for you too. Ask yourself the following question:

Do I need lots of personal information about my audience in order to run my business effectively?

I’m willing to bet for many of you, the answer will be, no.

If you’re ready to try out Fathom Analytics, you can sign up through my affiliate link and get a $10 discount on your first bill!

Another thing: If you are interested in using Fathom Analytics, but the pricing feels a bit out of reach to you, message me. I’d be happy to share my account with you for a more affordable price!