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Why switching to Matomo for website analytics is a good thing

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!

Meet Matomo

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 Analytics for WordPress.

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WooCommerce Plugins updated

Today WooCommerce 3.8 was released. Another immense list of changes and bugfixes that makes you wonder how the plugin worked in the first place. But a lot of good things have changed I guess…

I’ve been testing my WooCommerce plugins today and found them all compatible with both WordPress 5.3 and WooCommerce 3.8.
This includes; Woocommerce Paypal Surcharge, Woocommerce Stripe Surcharge, Woocommerce Single Page Checkout and Woocommerce Gateway Stats.

All 4 plugins are fully compatible with the latest and greatest from Automattic.
You can download the latest version of the plugin from your account if you bought one of them in the last 12 months.

If you don’t have these handy plugins yet. Get your copy here:

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Analytics Spam Blocker version 2.8 – Things actually work now…

Over the last few days I did some troubleshooting for this site in general and came across some issues with the Analytics Spam Blocker API. Which have been resolved today. It took a lot of testing and trial and error. But the new API 2 now actually works.

So, yay!

Sites should now get new blocklists again, and get them reliably. Registration of new users is now also faster and works. For some users the response would be empty or null… Or registration would flat out fail… None of that anymore.

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Analytics Spam Blocker – Fixed Communications

A quick update fixing a communications error that affected a few users. Something went wrong with processing reports and new registrations on the server. This has now been fixed.

Report Referral Spam

Referral spam continues to be a bother for many site owners. Using Analytics Spam Blocker helps you get your stats back and true. Report any suspicious domains via your Analytics Spam Blocker dashboard to make sure they are blocked from your analytics.

Your report is important to make stats better and discourage the use of referral spam domains. The more reports get sent in, the less effective the domains become. Which may cause referral spam to die out.

Changes for v2.7.1

  • [fix] Communication error with the server for some people
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Analytics Spam Blocker 2.6 – New API, Better API!

Welcome to an all new API for Analytics Spam Blocker. Now with faster response times, better handling of requests and you get some insights in the API’s Analytics, too.

Blocklists are updated daily, as before. The reporting routine has been updated and modernised a bit to work better.

Analytics Spam Blocker has been tested to work on the new and fancy WordPress 5.0. If you find any weirdness or bugs, let me know. Thanks!

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The importance of using ‘nofollow’ in affiliate links

Using affiliate links on your website or blog can provide an interesting new revenue stream via a few well-placed links for products you endorse.

Search engines, such as Google, crawl and index your website constantly. But they also monitor if the site contains too many paid links. Most major search engines penalise you where it hurts the most. You show up less in search engine results!

how to promote affiliate products without getting punished?

In this post I’ll provide you with a simple solution to protect your site from getting a bad rating.

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Analytics Spam Blocker 2.4.1 – Available now!

A update re-doing the dashboard a bit. Some tweaks to the internals and a few bug fixes for the dashboard. Let me know what you think about the new dashboard.

On the reports server a few tweaks have been made so that reported domains are included a bit quicker into the blocklist.
Less reports are now needed to have the domain included.

Changes for 2.4.1

  • [new] Added help tabs
  • [fix] Some dashboard notifications not showing up correctly
  • [fix] Removed double html and css classes for errors
  • [change] Improved compatibility with WordPress
  • [change] Api updates
  • [change] Re-arranged the dashboard

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Analytics Spam Blocker now under my wing!

Recently I’ve rewritten en re-released the fairly popular Analytics Spam Blocker. Originally created by Luke Williamson. He didn’t want to continue the project so I asked if I could take over and he agreed ๐Ÿ™‚

Not being updated for a while there was a bunch of stuff to do, I’ve optimised the plugin a bit and rewritten a bunch of stuff to make it work with more modern WordPress versions – Though Lukes code was nice and not much needed to be done there.

More importantly. With the spawning of new bots and referral spam every day, a common complaint was that new domains to block weren’t included in the plugin fast enough. With my new version this is mostly negated by an automatic reporting system.

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