Google Analytics Alternative

It’s almost too late. I am sending this newsletter in June 2023 knowing that the most widely used website analytics service, Google Analytics, will cease to function as of July 1. Its obsolete Universal version (abbreviated GA or UA) will cease to function and will be replaced by a new version numbered four (abbreviated GA4).

Well, I realized that there are still many people who have not addressed this issue, so they have no continuity in their analytical data collection. They have no idea how they will be collecting data on their website traffic in a few weeks.

Leaving aside the fact that they may have missed Google’s assertive campaign, which has been quite intense since March, it leads me to one conclusion: many website owners simply don’t need Google Analytics.

Why don’t most website owners work with analytics?

Quite a lot of websites use the old version of Analytics and collect data. But then comes the complications:

  • not everyone understands the terms used and displayed in the GA app,
  • or the information that the owner needs to see is not set up,
  • doesn’t know how to set it up because someone who is no longer available has done it before him/her
  • doesn’t have the time or motivation to do it because it’s one of the many things the owner has to do,
  • doesn’t have the mindset set (as much as I dislike the word mindset, I’ll use it anyway) to make decisions based on data,
  • doesn’t know that good data can have a positive effect on the performance of his/her site,
  • or he/she knows this but can’t get an expert or can’t pay for one.

Motivation to move to GA4 is therefore often low because owners or their responsible employees see no benefit in it and any change is more likely to be for the worse.

What are the complications of switching to GA4

I’m not an expert on GA, so I’m not going to play smart. Rather, I’m one of those who don’t want to cross that barrier, even though I understand that GA4 is beneficial. But

  • you can’t just set up an app by yourself if you want to make sure it’s right,
  • it’s difficult to set everything up in accordance with GDPR even on the website itself, let alone on a brand new service,
  • understanding data correctly and drawing conclusions from it is a hard nut to crack,
  • it is not entirely clear how to interpret the transition between UA and GA4 in the data,
  • we eventually come to the conclusion that we don’t actually need it.

There are also technical circumstances that the average site owner usually doesn’t even know about – embedding should be done through Google Tag Manager, which means mastering the settings of another application, understanding the concept of container, tag, and realize that you need to do a review of all the other code metrics on the site and seriously have your cookie management in order.

Not many people want to do it on their own. How do we get out of this?

Do you really need the GA4?

You can learn it, but that’s not exactly what you want to do. There’s no time or energy.

You can hire someone, but you will be looking for the right person for a while and it is quite possible that after some time he or she will not have time for adjustments and the data collection will not be optimally set up, so it won’t serve its main purpose – to supply data for key decisions. Again, it will be a marginal add-on.

Can you not use GA4?

Yes, you can if:

  • you don’t use Google’s advertising system, which is connected to Analytics,
  • you’re not in a business environment where GA4 data is a key tool for measuring success or planning next steps,
  • you are willing to accept that another tool will give you similar but not the same results, it’s easier anyway.

And I know a lot of sites like that. “We have analytics, but we don’t care much about it” this is roughly a statement of the attitude towards the tool and its outputs. I read the answer as “We are interested in approximately how many people come to our website and where they go on it”. They don’t run any complex campaigns, the core of the business is often not in the online itself and there isn’t the necessary obsession with measuring everything.

This applies to a large number of sites. So what options do they (you) have?

Alternatives to Google Analytic

I have described possible ways to measure website traffic in this article: How to properly measure web traffic. So far, I’m missing a plugin that I use and which I find quite ideal for many small websites: Independent Analytics. I know it has a lot of minor drawbacks, e.g. WooCommerce measurement is already paid, but the benefits for a regular small website are, in my opinion, considerable:

  • there is no need to set up or learn anything,
  • the plugin does not use cookies,
  • data is stored directly on the website,
  • it offers plenty of simple reports for lay users.

I understand that this plugin will only help a certain portion of owners/operators. I believe it’s better than leaving them without any analytics, stats setup or laboriously forcing them into complicated GA4 setups when they only need a few things.

How many people came to which site.