On Jan. 12, 2022, the Datenschutz Behörde (DSB), the privacy authority in Austria, ruled that the use of Google Analytics violated the AVG. Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for understanding your website statistics.
According to the DSB, it is possible to link the information collected with Google Analytics to a natural person. At the same time, Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) introduced by Google cannot protect EU residents’ data from U.S. surveillance.
Earlier in 2018, the Personal Data Authority of the Netherlands released a guide to setting up Google Analytics in a privacy-friendly way, which includes anomizing IP address and using an SSL connection. But even with these adjustments, the DSB concludes that these adjustments still do not make it AVG proof.
So this effectively concludes that organizations collecting analytical data on EU residents should not use Google Analytics.
The ruling was made in Austria and therefore does not (yet) relate to regulations in the Netherlands. However, there is a chance that European countries will take a unified line and ban the use of Google Analytics in its current form.
Whether this actually happens remains to be seen, and besides, if it does affect the use of Google Analytics, it’s going to take some time before it actually gets banned. So you might choose to continue using Google Analytics until then.
However, the most privacy-friendly approach would be to move to an EU-based analytics platform that protects user data and provides secure hosting, ideally in an EU-owned data center. And thereby ensures that you collect, store and process data in accordance with the AVG.
Why choose an alternative to Google Analytics?
You may wonder why you should exchange Google Analytics for another analytics platform. The two main reasons are:
The reason many of Google’s products, including Analytics, are free to use is purely because Google makes money on them. The cost of providing the “free” service will get them more than out of it. They earn their revenue through advertising – advertisers use the statistics Google collects to reach their target audience. These advertisers are laying down hefty sums of money for that.
This is quite a different story with analytics platforms that are based in the EU and also have their servers located in the EU as well, as this makes them obligated to comply with the GDPR (or AVG for Dutch law). In addition, less data is collected and is also anonymous. So one cannot trace this back to a person and therefore it is not interesting for advertisers.
In addition – no tracking ensures that you don’t need a cookie notification! Of course, this remains dependent on what else you have on your website so you may still not be able to get out of it, but the web analytics platforms highlighted below ensure that when used, you do not specifically need a cookie notification for this.
- Ease of use
Have you ever had to explain Google Analytics to someone? Then perhaps you will know that this is not done in a moment. The program is very complex and getting data out of it “just like that” does not work for most entrepreneurs. Also, if you don’t work with it on a daily basis, finding the right information is also and quite a chore.
With other web analytics platforms, less data is collected and therefore it will be less difficult to analyze. So you see that the information on other analysis platforms is displayed more clearly, allowing anyone to analyze this data.
So there are also a lot of advantages to picking an alternative. Got curious? Highlighted below are the top 6 alternatives to Google Analytics.
6 alternatives to Google Analytics
Know that a free Web analytics platform always has a limitation, whether it is reduced performance, lack of privacy features or sampled data. Still, a free web analytics platform can help you successfully execute your projects. So make an informed decision and choose a platform where the constraints will affect your projects as little as possible.
So do you like to create analytics in order to write better content, better analyze your visitors’ journey, track events in ads or after a purchase…. Look at what you like to analyze and choose an appropriate alternative to it.
If you can’t collect and analyze enough data with a free alternative and you don’t have enough with the limits they apply, then a paid alternative may be a better choice. You then also pay for the presentation of the analytics platform, the data protection and the support they provide.
Microanalytics is a lightweight, privacy-oriented alternative to Google Analytics. They do not track IP addresses, are fully compatible with the AVG (as well as PECR and CCPA) and are powered entirely by renewable energy. You get good insight into the visitor without having to analyze all kinds of tricky data. Event recording and tracking is also possible! MicroAnalytics is an alternative that I have used for my clients for some time because it is not a trial version or subscription with stripped-down features. You get their entire system, free of charge, with a limit of 10,000 page views per month.
Another nice benefit of Microanalytics is that you don’t actually have to log in to view your data: you can set it to public, private or behind a password. By choosing public, you get a simple link (microanalytics.io/[je url]) and can access the full dashboard without logging into your account. For me, this is one of the biggest benefits of Microanalytics because it lowers the barrier to entry for my clients. They can add the page to their favorites and visit it at any time to view their data.
You can also choose a password-protected option to somewhat protect your dashboard so that people always have to enter a password to view analytics.
What they currently lack is the ability to compare data, for example with that of previous month/year. Hopefully they will implement that again.
Microanalytics is a very fine option for small business owners who are looking for an alternative to Google Analytics and do not want to pay for it.
Fathom is currently considered one of the best alternatives to Google Analytics. It offers sites 100% ownership of data, full privacy compliance and full visitor results through the ability to bypass adblockers. In addition to the nice simplistic data view, it uses an up-to-date spam referral list and the script is lightweight enough to load faster than Google Analytics. You can also track UTMs for campaigns, however, you cannot associate an event with a UTM, meaning there are no target assignments. It also lacks the option to view the navigation path (also called funnel). You may not need these features, but good to know that not everything is implemented (yet).
Also Fathom, in addition to Microanalytics, has a dashboard that can be accessed through a URL. And something I personally really like to see added to Microanalytics is an uptime monitor that looks at whether your website is still online. If it is offline you will receive a notification and may be able to fix the error immediately.
Another feature of Fathom is that it can track multiple domains, for example, I have some clients who have multiple websites but where you want to get a good picture of the customer journey. Something I normally use in Google Analytics as well….
Fathom is $14 a month for 100,000 page views.
* Sidenote: The developer of Fathom is one of my great idols namely Paul Jarvis . If you are in the WordPress world then this name should be familiar to you. 🙂 He is also the author of the book Company of One – a book you must have read if you are self-employed and don’t feel comfortable hiring staff.
Whereas most analytics platforms still load via an external script, Matomo does not. You can fully integrate these on your own website which is beneficial for loading time.
The difference with other analytics platforms is that Matomo also offers the options to add various add-ons for WooCommerce, SEO Web Vitals, Funnels and more for an additional fee. Add-ons that make your analytics even more insightful without violating the AVG. For the average entrepreneur not necessarily necessary because in the basics you can already analyze enough, but perhaps interesting for an online marketer who does this kind of analysis daily. You can create your own package that way.
Matomo’s data is stored on servers in Germany, but if you choose the self-hosted option – which means you upload the script to your own website – it will thus be stored in the country where you purchase hosting. In most cases, this will be through a Dutch party.
Perhaps also of interest, Matomo is usable in Dutch and up to 50,000 page views there is a free option that you can already get very well off with.
Piwik Pro has both a free version and a paid one, and probably the free one will already give you enough options. In fact, they are almost the only analytics platform to have an analytics center, Tag Manager AND Consent Manager integrated into the free version. This enables integration with Google Ads and Search Console.
The Consent Manager helps you categorize data from Analytics and Tag Manager so that data purposes always match the consent received. Fine if you have integrated other scripts such as Facebook Pixel and thus still need permission. The Tag Manager allows you to organize all the data you collect.
With the free version, you have the ability to use 500,000 actions per month. So please note that these are actions. Under actions, pageviews as well as all settings from Tag Manager and Consent Manager are merged. For a small website, this is more than sufficient.
Piwik Pro has a whole bunch of features that will make you as an Online Marketer very comfortable with this and you might not even miss Google Analytics.
On the recommendation of Sharon from Lady Lawyer I have Simple Analytics discovered. Developed in the Netherlands and gives you insight into the number of visitors, how long they are on your website, number of pageviews, the referrals, which browser and device is used. Event tracking is still in beta. All of this is clearly displayed so you can see at a glance what is happening on your website. You can also receive daily and weekly reports by mail, bypass Ad-Blockers and best of all: it does not collect personal data so you do not need a cookie notification if you only use Simple Analytics.
The cheapest rate is €19 per month and gives you insight into up to 100,000 page views, something really sufficient for the average website without a web shop or learning environment.
In addition to the standard statistics you can collect and analyze, Plausible also allows you to segment your audience with each statistic you click on. This gives you clear insight into how certain users visit your Web site. In addition, you can analyze paid campaigns, use UTM parameters and track events to see how they convert. So it’s ideal if you use Facebook Advertising.
The cheapest rate is €9 per month and gives you insight up to 10,000 page views. If you use ads, this may not be enough for you. So keep this in mind. For a small website, this is more than enough.
Am curious to know if you will be switching to another web analytics platform or if you will wait a while until there is more clarity on the future of Google Analytics. If you choose to switch, I recommend you do an analysis beforehand of what you need or currently use within Google Analytics and find a suitable alternative based on that.