Google Analytics is a free analytics tool offered by Google that helps companies track their web traffic and understand the patterns that such traffic takes, but there are drawbacks to using Google Analytics and with the forced move to GA4 and GA3 being tracking turning off as of July 1st, 2023 with an entirely new tracking model it's nice to know that there are Google Analytics alternatives out there.
Given how websites have become critical to all companies, analyzing user patterns can provide companies with great insights into their online presence. It's little wonder that almost 50 million websites are using Google Analytics to inform their online decisions.
One of the issues that users have struggled with when it comes to Google Analytics is the platform's footprint. The fact that certain countries deem it illegal takes away from the user's experience. In this context, then, Google Analytics 4 should be viewed as Google's way of trying to fix some of these problems.
In this article, we will look at the latest version of Google Analytics - Google Analytics 4, and we are also going to review some Google Analytics alternatives.
If you're curious about GA3 vs GA4 penetration in the market, please be sure to check out the GA4 countdown too.
Top 5 Google Analytics Alternatives
- Fathom Analytics
- Simple Analytics
- A few more product analytics & customer insights analytics...
What is Google Analytics 4?
The latest version of Google Analytics features several innovations that will make reporting and analysis much more manageable. The new system incorporates machine learning, which is undoubtedly the future of analytics. According to Google, the new system is meant to run in the future where there are no cookies or their use is severely limited. This is due to privacy concerns, with consumers wanting more control over how their data is collected and used.
With this in mind, Google has designed an analytics tool that uses artificial intelligence to fill in data gaps where these may exist. Currently, any new sites set up will have to use the new Google Analytics tool, although the old ones will remain operational. In fact, experts advise that if you are setting up the new GA4 system, you should leave the older GA tools in place. This allows you to get the hang of the new analytics system without losing any of the data collected by the older systems.
Why do you need GA4?
One of the main issues that have dogged the online world is privacy. It is no secret that Google Analytics can analyze web traffic precisely because it tracks the visitors who come to your site and what they get up to when they are there. With this in mind, Google created GA4, which tracks users slightly differently. The other key feature of GA4 is analyzing web traffic both on websites and apps. With companies increasingly using apps to improve user experiences, understanding how users engage with such apps is critical.
The other great thing is that GA4 now shifts its focus on the user. In this sense, site owners can track the entire user's journey through the website and associated apps. The fact that you can apply the same metrics on your site and apps means that you can compare both platforms easily and get valuable insights. Unlike the older Universal Analytics, GA4 can track users even if they are accessing different platforms on different devices.
Differences With The Older (Universal Analytics) Analytics System
One of the key differences between the new system and the old one is that users have to opt-in for cookies to track them. The system also uses an 'event-based' approach to analytics. This approach makes analysis much more insightful, and the system can include additional data such as purchase value and even user location. The current system uses 'goals' instead of events, and you can currently set up just four parameters per event. With the new system, users can set up as many as 25 parameters per event, ensuring that you get the precise data you need for decision-making. The GA4 also allows users to define as many as 500 events, giving you more control over the information that you are targeting.
If you are not keen on using the new system, are there Google Analytics alternatives? Here are some other ways to keep tabs on your website users.
Alternatives to GA4
If you find GA4 too complicated for you, there are other options that exist. Although not as popular as Google Analytics, some of these systems are highly effective. They also have particular strengths, as in some handle privacy issues better than others and maybe valuable long-term tracking for your analytics needs.
If you are looking for a privacy-focused website analytics platform that is compliant with privacy laws including GDPR, PECR, CCPA and more (+ employs a Privacy Officer!) then Fathom Analytics is precisely worth the investment. Fathom was the first & is a better Google Analytics alternative that started in 2018 and focuses on privacy. Fathom integrates with many content management systems & platforms such as Webflow, WordPress, Drupal.
They also provide free uptime reporting along with unlimited data retention along with one of the best affiliate programs on the internet that pays you $10.00 US a month.
For companies looking for privacy-focused analytics, Matomo is an option other than Google Analytics like Fathom. The fact that this is an open-source software is bound to give users maximum flexibility as they use Matomo. Matomo makes it easy to implement as they have a function that allows users to import GA data. This makes the switchover to Matomo seamless
Panelbear is a frontend monitoring system that delivers in the same way as analytic systems do. Panelbear looks at the critical parameters of your site. Because it does not have a large footprint, Panelbear is popular with users as it keeps the site quick and easy to load.
Simple Analytics is an analytics system designed to be as easy to use as possible. For example, it collects no cookies about your users. This helps to protect your organization from privacy issues from your users. The other characteristic of Simple Analytics is that it is free. The company also pledges not to sell your data to any third parties. If you are simply interested in your site's stats, Simple Analytics may just be the one for you.
Like Fathom, Plausible is an open-source analytics tool that is lightweight and offers privacy-focused analytics. Plausible Analytics will give users actionable analysis that is highly accurate. The fact that it is lightweight means that websites are not slowed down. This gives your visitors a great user experience.
A few more...
- Beam Analytics
- Independent Analytics (WP Plugin)
- I also have curated a list of Google Analytics Alternatives on ProductHunt!
Product Analytics & Customer Insights
Depending on your analytics needs you may need to be able to collect customer data and work with your product teams too! There is quite the market these days for Google Analytics alternatives for your product analytics so here are a few more options that are more product-focused.
There Are Options Beyond Google Analytics
While GA4 is an excellent system to use for web analytics, it is good to know that Google Analytics alternatives exist. If you are not happy using GA4, or have seen the amount of setup that we suggest that you try out Fathom Analytics as a great Google Analytics alternative.