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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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AdRotate Professional 5.6.4 – Fixed end-dates, more reliable update routine!

This update again focuses on streamlining the AdRotate Professional experience and improves a number of things in the dashboard. But more importantly it fixes the date pickers end dates and localization. We’re reversing to the old system that uses dd-mm-yyyy instead of named months. Another important change is the update routine going forward. More below.

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AdRotate Professional 5.6.2 – Fixing license woes!

This update focuses on streamlining the license and geo targeting experience and includes a number of bugfixes and tweaks related to those 2 functions. License notifications should now work more clear and reliable.
Geo Targeting has recently moved from using Cookies to Sessions. A number of fixes makes that more reliable and robust.

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Don’t let PayPal fees bring you down with PayPal Surcharge for WooCommerce

Recently Paypal once again announced they will raise transaction fees. They also changed their Terms of Service in a way that you as a merchant are more liable for your customers antics, making it easier for them to charge you when trouble arrises (which should occur rarely, if ever. But still, not cool!).
By my calculations many transactions will end up costing almost double compared to earlier this year.

If you use WordPress with WooCommerce as your sales platform not all is lost though. You can easily lessen this costly burden and keep your business afloat more easy. With a simple plugin I’ve created. Read on for more information!

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AdRotate Pro 5.4 – Fixing all the things!

This started as a quick patch for deleting Adverts, but once I got going and dove into the code a bit deeper to fix the renaming mistake I made in an earlier update I found a bunch more quirks. AdRotate Geo was acting up again and generally what was going to be a small patch turned into a full update with many tweaks and improvements.

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Overcoming dongles on modern laptops

dongles-on-laptops

With the dawn of USB Type-C and the removal of traditional USB-A ports. A lot of people are stuck trying to use dongles for everything. While many people perceive dongles for laptops such as the MacBook Pro or certain thin laptops from Asus, Hewlett Packard among some others as something stupid or annoying. Others give in to it thinking that’s how things are now.

I see people using dongles for everything while others simply gave up and don’t connect anything. When I got my new MacBook Pro I too had a brief struggle with the concept. But then it hit me…

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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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AdRotate Pro version 5.1 – Fixes, new Advert Generator and more…

A number of fixes are included in AdRotate Pro 5.1, most notably that graphs now render correctly. Another improvement is that CSS for the header is no longer generated on pageload, but when you save your group. This should speed things up a little.

The transition for rotating adverts in Dynamic Groups has been changed to a fading effect. Please let me know what you think of that and if it’s too slow or fast.

The Advert Generator got overhauled and expanded upon. Image sizes are now detected by AdRotate which lets the Advert Generator create smarter and more complete code. At the same time, the useless HTML5/Flash option has been removed from the Advert Generator. You can just paste your code in the advert instead. Which is faster.

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AdRotate Geo service updates

The AdRotate Geo Service got updated again. This time we try to tackle sites who slow down the server too much by just being slow. This kind of slowness is usually caused by crap hosting packages. You know, all those $1 hosting setups. Or people who have outgrown their shared hosting but won’t admit it…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been flooded with monitoring messages that the overall state of AdRotate Geo is deteriorating quickly. Some investigation turns out that (currently) 14 websites can not respond quick enough to handle the AdRotate Geo response.

This basically means that those websites process the AdRotate Geo response too slow, causing other sites to slow down as well. As a result of the slowdowns I’ve put the following rule in place.
If your site is slower than 750ms you’ll be denied access to AdRotate Geo for 2 days. If this happens you’ll receive a email notification.

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