For years I have wondered why the world so blindly got hooked up with Google services and why almost nobody seems to question if that’s a good thing. Nobody I know has any doubts. Reviews everywhere on the internet tell people Google is the best, or at least it’s very good. And if you search for “best way to sync your android phone” or “alternative for iCloud calendars” or something similar, everyone seems to blindly recommend the Google sync stuff – Which also quietly has you use their services afterwards.
Why? It makes no sense… Oh wait, it does. The Google services as a whole work quite well and they work on pretty much every platform and system. Sure, but so do many others. So why choose, and trust, Google?
Like so many others, I recently started to resent companies like Google and Facebook who seemingly just do whatever they want. Dancing around laws and regulations like they don’t exist or matter and the endless lying to their users. I wrote a bit about that in a previous blog post.
Need stats? Get Google Analytics. Need calendars? Get Google Calendar (or whatever they call it). Need email? Get Gmail. And the list goes on. The internet is larger than Google you know… There are alternatives!
Recently I switched my statistics away from Google Analytics. I now use Matomo and I’m a happier guy because of it.
I’ve used both for a week or two to see if Matomo can match Google. This quickly changed from “We’ll see if this works” to “Damn, Google makes even less sense now”.
I now can see stats that I understand.
I now can quickly see what’s going on on my websites.
I now can track links and actually see what’s going on without needing a PhD.
I now can track goals in a way that makes sense to me.
And I get to keep my data! Nobody is looking over my shoulder.
This is of-course because I host my own server with Matomo installed on it. If you get Matomo their cloud service your data is still yours, but it’s stored in the Matomo cloud. So, might as well use Google Analytics then, right? Wrong.
Unlike Google, Matomo is unlikely to spy on you, simply because they have nothing to gain from it. Their mission is to provide accurate stats. Google their mission is to sell adverts. And to know which advert they can show you they need to spy on you so they know what you may want and show you adverts for it.
To me that’s an important difference.
Why I choose Matomo to replace Google Analytics
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t disapprove of the adverts. Hell, I make advertising software myself. But it’s how the advert is chosen that rubs me the wrong way.
So, Matomo it is then. But why Matomo and not something else?
Because Matomo is accessible to most people. You can host your own server for it, like I do, or use their cloud service for a fee. This means that pretty much everyone can use it.
Many of the others, I found, use less mainstream tech like Ruby on Rails or Redis or have strange requirements like NodeJS. Things that often aren’t available on many hosting platforms. Or aren’t as well known.
Matomo uses PHP, MySQL and a bunch of more mainstream technologies that work pretty much everywhere. That and the easier to use dashboard makes it very accessible.
It took me a few days to figure that out and make up my mind about it though. I looked at a bunch of the alternatives, considering where to host my data and such.
Finally I settled on hosting it myself on a VPS I got from Inmotion Hosting and installed Matomo on it, simple as that.
Matomo seems at least as accurate as Google Analytics, but the ease of use of Matomo is far greater, for me at least.
As I mentioned earlier, I now actually understand what’s going on on my site. The terminology is more clear. The dashboard is easier to use – It kinda just works…
Tracking your stats with Matomo
Tracking stats can of-course be done with their Tracking code, this works very similar to Google Analytics. Just stick a piece of code in your websites footer. Nothing all that special. But you need to edit your theme or website to insert that code.
Fortunately if you’re using WordPress you can do this with a plugin. I have developed Matomo Analytics for WordPress to make this super easy. The plugin adds a little dashboard and a few easy to use and understand settings. And you’ll be tracking stats within 5 minutes without editing your theme or adding any code. You can download Matomo Analytics for WordPress for free here – Get Matomo Tracker for WordPress.