Say NO to Google Analytics

no GA

Let’s face it, Google Analytics has become an industry standard in the recent years as a traffic and conversions tracking solution, largely due to it being free and covering most of an online marketer’s analytics needs. But is it REALLY what you need and is it helping you or hurting you?

Let’s look at the facts.

  1. Since Google fully switched to https, you cannot get access to your keyword data any more – unless you tie your Google Analytics to your AdWords account, and then they will be paid keywords, not organic ones. Google Analytics has become Google’s money extraction tool and nothing more.
  2. You can try to apply some complicated scheme to separate your branded traffic at least – but is that what an analytics tool should be for, an exercise in brain twisting?
  3. Google uses Google Analytics for collecting loads of data – which they hardly share with you. Their dream is to have their code installed on every existing site and control the whole internet.
  4. Like most other Google products, Google Analytics’ usability has been historically degrading – yes, recently they have improved the dashboard issue but their development is not dictated by the desire to make their products usable and convenient for you, the user whom they shamelessly exploit for your data – but by their own resource saving considerations and their desire to get your data.
  5. If you are running any sort of a test on your site that can affect the overall site performance (higher bounce rates, lower conversion rates, anything that goes outside the normal patterns) – Google will know about it as well but there is guarantee whatsoever that this data won’t be EVER used to affect your site’s rankings or quality score / cost per click in AdWords in a negative way. They say they don’t use that data but they say a lot of other things. Besides, Google not using the data today is absolutely no guarantee they won’t use it tomorrow or use it indirectly.
  6. Google Analytics code from the same account installed on different sites you own is an enormous footprint letting everyone – from Google to your competitors – identify all sites as belonging to you, even if that’s not what you intended. NO OTHER solution I mention below has this outrageous security issue.
  7. Did you know your Google Analytics data can be easily skewed by anyone installing the code copied off your page on any site they wish so you end up sending any sort of crazy signal to Google?
  8. Google is a business with its own business interests. You are a business with often competing business interests. Would you ever give your competitor direct unlimited access to your data? You use Google as a source of organic and/or paid traffic, doesn’t it seem wrong that you use them as your analytics solution as well?

The list can go on and on!

Google Analytics is not only the only existing or most effective web analytics solution out there, it is not even a wise choice in terms of business security! Ideally, a web analytics solution should be either provided by a third party not affected by your PPC budget or organic rankings, or better yet, be self hosted! OWN your data, stop handing it over to Google, they are NOT there to help you!

There are other analytics solutions out there. My current recommendation most of the time is Piwik – it is FREE, opensource, can be self hosted and yes, you can set up everything up to ecommerce tracking in it. Your support of this project will help it grow and become online marketers’ analytics tool of choice – and you get to keep your data!

If all you need is simple traffic tracking, there is even less reason for you to use Google Analytics. Statcounter is a great tool for tracking your site’s traffic, with free and paid plans available, depending on the amount of traffic you need to track.

Go on now – make the move to safer, friendlier analytics on your sites today! Stop donating your data to Google only to worry what other penalty it will impose on you tomorrow!

  • Gordon Campbell

    I think I’ll be having a play around with Piwik! :)

  • Darren Moloney

    Completely agree but its going to be hard to beat my addiction to Analytics and Google is going to be gambling on that….

  • http://www.whitespark.ca/ Darren Shaw

    The idea of installing someone else’s analytics code is interesting to me. Imagine you took a small business in a non-competitive niche that clearly wasn’t doing any form of online marketing. Then you use their analytics code on a handful of high traffic sites and monitor rankings. If there are significant shifts, it could say something about them using Analytics data in the rankings algo. I would expect that it would have no effect on rankings, but it’d be interesting to test.

    • http://nickpierno.com/ Nick Pierno

      Fancy seeing you here, Darren :p That would be an interesting test. It also could be an evil way to throw off someone’s data and make a bunch of extra work for them (filtering and such).

  • Jim Tootang

    Yes, but as I don’t trust google one iota, part of me honestly believes I will be penalized by google for not including my data in analytics. Paranoid? yes. But not all paranoi is incorrect. Google is no longer the ‘do no evil’ company it pretended to be, it is as cutthroat as everyone else, and are just as likely to push their own interests ahead of others, as you plainly point out, which means help companies that offer them data, and penalize companies (websites) that do not.

    • http://www.irishwonder.com IrishWonder

      There’s nothing wrong with being paranoid – but think of it, how many sites ranking in your niche are actually NOT using Google Analytics? Results may vary by niche of course but still

  • http://www.smartdogdigital.com/ Illiya Vjestica

    I know what you are saying Irish and I totally agree. However, in Piwik you’ll still get plenty of organic keyword data resulting as ‘Keyword not defined’ so is there really much point? I hate Google as much as the next man, but I worry if you don’t comply they’ll wonder why you don’t track your site with their Analytics and someone else’s.

    • http://www.irishwonder.com IrishWonder

      The point of course is not in reversing the [not provided] – that is not possible with any analytics tool. I won’t even suggest the possibility of a class lawsuit if it’s ever proven they force people into using their Analytics by manipulating their rankings. However, when I think of the reasons to use it vs reasons to not use it, the latter wins.

  • http://www.oralseymour.com/ Oral Seymour

    This is interesting but Google is sending the traffic to your site, they already know most of the information that you are trying avoid giving them. Also GA makes it easy, you and I and most people here can use other solutions but for non-technical people this is just not possible.

    • http://www.irishwonder.com IrishWonder

      Actually, some of the other solutions are even easier technically than Analytics – just lesser known. I hope to change that.