Ten years ago, I was all about Google. I would jump on their new products, be the early “beta” adopter for all their projects, and thought that they should take over more stuff. These days it’s different. I’m trying to de-Googlify my life as much as possible. But it isn’t easy – in part because the few products that Google has, work so well together. In fact, I recently moved my contact form solution to Google Forms. Others like Gmail and Drive are also unparalleled. Google Analytics is one of these products. Much as I would like to use an alternative to Google Analytics, I simply can’t find a suitable replacement for my needs.
I’ve raised concerns about Google’s FLOC initiative, and how it actually leads to less privacy than 3rd party cookies. And Google Analytics (GA) is moving on from cookies as well. I thought this would be a good time to check out the different alternatives to GA. But these are the hurdles I came up against.
Analytics is EXPENSIVE at Scale
There are a lot of privacy-respecting analytics software out there. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have a free tier even for a low number of pageviews. Most of these plans cost around as much as the average small website would pay just for ordinary shared hosting! Considering that you might be paying for 3rd party backup solutions and maybe a firewall or other security features, spending an additional amount just for tracking seems a pretty big ask for small websites.
Especially when Google Analytics is looming over these solutions, enticing you with its free product. How do you compete with free? No ordinary business is will go the Google way.
Cloudflare is a Potential Challenger – But Not Yet
I can think of just one company with the necessary chops to challenge Google in this space – Cloudflare. In fact, they already have an analytics product for free, that’s focused on privacy. Unfortunately, it’s too basic at the moment. It doesn’t have nearly enough features to be a decent GA replacement.
This leads to the other major hurdle.
GA Has all the Features – Again for Free!
There are a few 100% free analytics solutions, but these don’t have all the features that GA does – like Cloudflare. Some of these are clearly a bit outdated in their interface as well, but that itself needn’t be a deal-breaker. But some things are important such as:
- Event tracking
- Goals and funnels
For me personally, these are the two biggest features that I absolutely cannot do without. Any analytics solution that tries to dethrone GA needs to have at least this much. And so far, no solution satisfies these two.
What About Self-Hosted Analytics
This is a more promising field. There are quite a few self-hosted analytics solutions such as:
And a few others. However, most of these don’t have the sophisticated event-tracking capabilities of GA. Matomo comes closest in terms of features.
However, you have to consider the impact that self-hosting analytics will have on your shared hosting capabilities. Analytics software takes up CPU time and storage space that might be better used serving pages to your visitors. And are you prepared for a sudden influx of visitors that might overload your server? And you must also consider the ease of maintenance, updates, and the rest. Especially if you’re on a shared hosting server, these factors will have to play a role in your decision-making.
Bottom Line: GA Still Rules for Now
So far, I don’t see any real alternative to GA, despite my best efforts to get away from Google’s tentacles! GA4 now works without any cookies at all, despite it being very confusing to upgrade to. So far, the most promising competitor is Cloudflare. But they’re going to have to step up their game if they want to be a serious competitor!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!