I’ve been using Google Analytics for quite some time. I do love it. It’s easy, it’s pretty, it’s addicting to look at the charts and graphs. Lately I’ve been trying out an alternative to Google Analytics, Piwik.
I’m not going to list a bunch of bullet points with features of both compared. I am, however, going to tell you my experiences with both. I started with Google Analytics. The setup and install is so easy, a blind ape could do it. Once tracking, the graphs, maps, numbers are all easy to understand. You can compare your site to others like it, and you can set up different segments of visitors and display the graphs according to your segments.
Google Analytics has been fun and easy. I do have some hangups about it. Although there is no cost, Google owns your data. They are giving you a service, you are selling them your data in return. They know about your visitors and can track them based on their interest in various pages of yours. They can do whatever they want with this information. For some people, this is fine. I personally don’t give much of a rat’s ass what Google thinks they know about me. For others, this is a privacy issue.
I also ran into some limitations with Google Analytics. It doesn’t track downloads very easily, and getting any sort of report that it doesn’t already give you is impossible because you only get what you see.
I decided to try Piwik. It’s open source, they advertise themselves as an alternative to GA, and you own all of your data. I threw up a new site on NearlyFreeSpeech.net, installed Piwik (literally a 5 min. install, just as they say), and started playing with it. A lot of the graphs are the same, the dashboard is completely customizable and is not jenky at all. After tracking some sites with it, I’m convinced it’s actually more accurate than Google. It picks up more visitors and keywords from search engines.
Aside from those two points, Piwik is the winner for me. I really never actually check Google Analytics anymore. Piwik really has stepped up and provided a service that’s comparable in features to GA, but free as free for me to use it without having to give away info about my awesome users. I would definitely urge anyone who likes Google Analytics to check out Piwik. The best part is, they’re actively developing it and there more and more features to look forward to as new releases come out.