Moving To Matomo, Google Analytics Biggest Competition

Authored By: James LePage
Published On: May 14, 2020

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Recently, our agency decided to move our website analytics platform from Google Analytics to an open source solution called Matomo. We chose to do this as we wanted to respect our users privacy, and felt that hosting statistics on our own server was better for both us and them. 

We began looking for an open source solution to website analytics, and came across Matomo. We needed something that rivaled the functionality of Google Analytics, or was even better than it. The solution needed to offer real-time analytics, geolocation, advertising campaign tracking, heat Maps, and be open source. 

Initially we were going to provision another server specifically for analytics, and use a JavaScript tracking code to add it to our website. 

We came across Matomo  as a self-hosted open source solution, but quickly discovered that they had a WordPress application/plugin. This plug-in installs directly into your website and offers basic reporting in your dashboard, as well as a fully featured app.

The actual tracking features that you get with this solution are pretty robust, and in some ways maybe better than Google Analytics. Keep in mind that we're discussing the free version of Google Analytics, which about 53% of websites use. 

There's also an Enterprise version of Google analytics which costs money and can be found at https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/

You can find a full comparison at Matomo’s website, but the following are the most relevant to us (and probably most small businesses). 

There are tons of privacy tools, segmentation options, reports configurations, custom dashboards, referral tracking, outbound link tracking, user flow tracking, geolocation, heat maps, and much more. 

All of this is packaged in a modern and well-designed dashboard. You’d figure that something like this costs at least $1,000 a month, but it's free and can be installed into your website in a matter of minutes.

Some pretty impressive companies chose to use them instead of Google analytics, so we decided to give them a try. Seeing as the plug-in was free and easy to install, there wasn't much risk involved in this decision. It was released in late 2019 and is actively developed.

While you make your migration (or test it out), you can even keep the Google analytics tracking code installed on your website, and continue receiving data to both sources. For us the worst case scenario was that we would simply uninstall the plug-in and go right back to Google Analytics.

The plug-in is installed like any other one, by clicking the install button and then activating it.  Upon activation there was a basic configuration wizard that we were presented with, in which we entered some information. When that was done, our new analytics package was installed on the website. 

The plugin has two distinct sections. One shows on the back end of your WordPress website, and one launches in a standalone application dashboard. On the back end of your WordPress website, you can access basic reports and change features. 

The application dashboard is fully featured, and very similar to Google analytics. You can build custom dashboards, get custom reports, and track every metric of data.

The installation automatically installed Matomo Tag Manager, which means we can easily track individual clicks and actions on our websites. In the future, we can opt to install additional add-ons such as heat maps and user flows. 

Another interesting feature, one that we did not experiment with (but probably will in the future), is the fact that you can white label the solution. If you're installing the plugin on a client website, this might be a good idea to brand your agency (Especially if you're installing a customized version of the WordPress backend).

One thing we should know is that the plug-in that we installed is a great solution for smaller websites. But once you start having hundreds of thousands of users on your website month, you may want to upgrade to the Matomo Cloud plan, and connect it to your WordPress website using this plug-in instead: 

We strongly recommend checking this interesting Google Analytics alternative out. If you need any help deciding what the best solution for your business is, schedule an Isotropic Consulting Call.

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James LePage is the founder of Isotropic Design, a digital agency that builds WordPress websites. I read, write and design constantly!

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