Web analytics made simple
3 min read

Web analytics made simple

How I try to ditch Google Analytics for Plausible. Cookie free, simple to use and speedy. And find out why this is harder than you expect.
Web analytics made simple

How to keep a quick but keen eye on your audience and not on the individual visitor. And in the process save yourself the headache to work with overtly complex tools. These tools are got free but come with a  cost.

On this website I started an experiment today. A change with some impact. I used to measure website traffic with Google Analytics but now switched to Plausible. I want to explain the reasoning and show a bit of the direct outcome.

Privacy

Let's start with the heavy stuff first. A topic we all have opions and feelings about but is harder to rationalize: privacy. Google Analytics earmarks your behaviour and browsing on a personal level by placing cookies. Most people authenticate themselfs to Google for checking mail, viewing YouTube or other services. With these options available Google can stitch all your data and devices together and follow your behaviour on an individual level. Next to that they will connect these details to the IP-numbers (addresses) of your devices and store all this data to analyse and sell to advertisers.

The EU law (GDPR) basically tells a website publisher to inform visitors on these policies and give the visitor the option to opt-out from such tracking that involve cookies (earmarks in the browser) or the storing of your IP-numbers.

Plausible does not use cookies, does not store your identifieable data and their servers are based in the EU. As such they are completely GDPR-complient.

Ease of use

Another aspect of moving away from Google Analytics is the complexity of the user interface. The whole environment feels like Bluebeard's Castle and a whole slew of apps has sprung up to try and present data in more simple formats. Plausible is a very simple application that shows me as a publisher the basics I need.

Speed

In order to read all the data that Google needs you have to install a heavy script that takes it's toll in the loading of the actual page. The irony is that Google puts more and more emphasis on page loading speeds for high ranking in their search results. I made some screenshots before and after the removal of the Google Analytics script with the Google measurement tools:

Google Page Speed Insights before and after removing Google Analytics

Transparancy

Another nice option from Plausible is to be transparant and show what you measure and what you can view as a publisher. Check it out for yourself:

https://plausible.io/hoeijmakers.net

One disavantage of being private is that Plausible not even can see it is me who is visiting and so I cannot easily filter out my own visits. And I have to be honest, I tried to leave Google Analytics behind before but came back to ask for forgiveness. Now I have made my motifs transparant as well, I try to be stronger:

"My name is Rob, I am a recovering Google Analytics User, I am Plausible since 29th of September  🤪 ".

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Plausible Analytics
Plausible is a lightweight and open-source Google Analytics alternative. Your website data is 100% yours and the privacy of your visitors is respected.
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