I work as a professional in digital marketing, so Google Analytics is inescapable. Whether you love it or loathe it, it is the industry standard for measurement.
I personally loathe it, but my clients, advertisers, and buyers all demand the data to assign any value to my work or my websites, so I play the game.
But this website is different. It’s my personal project. Most of the content is private and for my own use. But a lot of the content is public and meant to share what I’ve learned and help readers solve very specific problems.
I removed Google Analytics a few years ago to try to have a tiny bit less surveillance on the Web. I didn’t need Google hanging around, loading scripts on my website, to collect data on my readers in exchange for telling me what posts were popular. However, when I’m creating public content, it’s good to know if anyone is actually reading it and if it’s worthwhile. It makes for positive feedback.
And so, I started the intermittent hunt for a Google Analytics alternative
First Stop – JetPack Stats
I’m a huge fan of WordPress and have contributed to the WordPress.org community over the years. It’s an incredible project, and I’m happy to promote it.
I’ve also been a general fan of the for-profit, commercial version – WordPress.com. I’ve used their JetPack plugin for various tasks over the past 13 years and have generally been happy with it.
When I switched off Google Analytics, WordPress Stats (aka JetPack Stats) was a natural replacement. It was free, generally accurate, and came bundled with my (already installed) JetPack plugin. I used JetPack Stats for a while.
And then…JetPack got weird. Actually, JetPack has always been weird. It’s owned by the for-profit WordPress but makes its money from users of non-profit WordPress. On paper, it’s seamless and nice.
But JetPack in real life seems to be constantly pushing for more revenue from existing users while violating WordPress’ own guidelines and providing a not-quite-top-tier product.
So when JetPack decided to auto-insert advertising links to their new native advertising in my posts section while also losing 29 videos that I had entrusted to their VideoPress and Backup products…I was done. No more JetPack.
Also – their Site Stats was only ok and slowed my site more than was necessary. I uninstalled JetPack from this site.
Second Stop – Open Source Google Analytics Alternatives
Over the past 10 years, lots of innovative and idealistic developers (mostly in Europe) have come up with privacy-first, open-source analytics products. There are dozens out there.
I checked them all out. Plausible, GoatCounter, and Matomo were all interesting.
But here’s the thing – I have no budget (right now) and zero need for a cloud database to store my visits. They were all ridiculously overbuilt for my little personal site. And they were all way out of my personal blog’s budget.
Enter Independent Analytics
I don’t know how or where I found it, but right when I was about to go back to JetPack, I discovered Independent Analytics.
I love it. It does everything I need and nothing that I don’t. They have a simple and familiar business model. Basic functionality is free and premium features are paid. It’s a native WordPress plugin. It’s lightweight. It provides full data ownership with easy export.
It’s simple and easy to use. There’s no account setup or cloud synchronization. It just works.
I emailed the developer to thank him for creating this plugin. And once I get my newsletter set up, I plan on upgrading. It’s fabulous and is moving the Web a bit more in the direction of first-party data, security, and a bit less surveillance. Go check them out for a Google Analytics Alternative for WordPress.