Google Analytics is No Longer Necessary for Most Websites
Google Analytics (or any alternative) is no longer necessary for most websites. One can argue it was never necessary but some websites need it. They actually use most of the features the analytics service provides.
No, I’m talking about small websites like mine. Believe it or not, there are far more small websites than medium or large. Blogs, small article sites (like mine) and the like have no need for all the crazy statistics you can find in Google Analytics.
So, what to use instead of Google Analytics?
Unless you’re targeting China, Russia, Czechoslovakia or some other specific regions, you only need to track three search engines. You can do it easily with the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, which includes Yahoo.
Basically, if you’re targeting the Western world, you don’t need to worry about Baidu, Seznam or Yandex.
The Google Search Console includes the analytics for Google searches. Bing does the same thing with Bing and Yahoo searches. I rarely look at Bing Webmaster Tools because Google has 10 times the results.
What about non-search Visitors?
You really don’t have to worry about non-search visitors. If you’re not getting any search engine impressions for a particular page, you’re probably not getting any visitors at all for that particular page.
This is something I’ve studied for months. So much so, I’ve deleted articles that haven’t had any Google search impressions in over a month. Most of the ones I’ve deleted are too personal for general consumption anyway.
Good reasons to avoid Google Analytics
I’m sure other people can come up with a lot more reasons than I can, but I’ll mention some off the top of my head.
Third-party tracking is something a lot of website owners find distasteful and all the hosted analytics services do it. It’s how they work. You can install a self-hosted system like Piwik, but I wouldn’t bother.
The Google Analytics tracking code will slow any website down. When Google made it asynchronous, it became faster but… it’s still something that has to load before your website is fully loaded.
Google Analytics gets spammed. I don’t know how it’s done and frankly, I don’t care. The fact that a source can inflate visitor counts without actually visiting is enough to turn me off. With Google Analytics specifically, Google doesn’t seem to care. Filter it out is what they’ll tell you.
I stopped using Google Analytics when WordPress started including statistics through the Jetpack plugin, years ago. I started using it again when I converted my website to a static website.
For me, using it was a big mistake. I rarely looked at it and when I did, I noticed how skewed the counts were. It made it seem like I had nearly twice the visitors I really had.
I no longer pay attention to analytics or visitor counts daily and I’m no longer running any Google Analytics code. I look at the chart on the Google Search Console dashboard, check for 404 errors, save the analytics results to a CSV file (and run a script) and that’s about it – and usually only once a week.