Recently, I’ve began the laborious process of migrating away from Google Analytics on most of my sites. Why? Because it is frankly starting to scare the hell out of me.
- Bounce rate is believed to be a factor used in determining your Google search rankings. This is a measure of the percentage of visitors the leave your site after only viewing the initial first page. It would be silly and very unfair for Google to penalize sites that don’t use Analytics, however, for sites that do use Analytics, Google can easily access your bounce rate. Without Analytics, I can’t think of an easy way Google engineers could figure this out, unless they’re using data from the Chrome browser, in which case we’re all fucked. I know some people will say “well, just create quality websites with unique content that engage your visitors, and your bounce rate will go down”. I’ve said the same thing myself. It’s good advice. But I still don’t want Google having such easy access to data that they’ll use in determining my rankings.
- Lately, Google has been on a real witch hunt for private blog networks and other SEO services. There’s been reports by many companies about their domains being deindexed by Google, which essentially destroys their business. Being in the SEO biz, I don’t want to share any data with Google if they’re coming after people like me.
- I’m worried about the whole footprint issue, with all my sites using Analytics, I’m assuming that somehow this makes it easy for Google to calculate similarities in traffic between my sites and negatively impact my rankings. I also think Bing/Yahoo can notice this footprint. Maybe this is over-the-top paranoid, but it worries me nonetheless.
Here’s a few of the alternative web analytics tools/services that I’ve been evaluating:
- Their Free account seems decent, suitable for sites that you don’t care about Goals or Actions or anything super comprehensive
- Another popular hosted service.
- They specialize in real-time data and have a tool that allows you to popup a chat window with visitors
- Their Free account doesn’t seem very good, so there’s a fair bit of pressure to upgrade to a Paid account.
- Probably the most popular open-source, self-hosted solution. This means you need to download the software, unzip it, FTP it to your server, create a MySQL database, then go through the installation process. It’s a PITA initially but…
- The functionality is much better than StatCounter, at least from what I’ve seen
- I’ve been running Piwik on a few sites for over a year, the only problem being some larger reports have trouble loading due to PHP memory issues. This could be resolved by moving away from shared hosting to something with more horsepower like a VPS or dedicated server.
- Another self-hosted app, so you’re running it on your own server.
- Clean and comprehensive interface.
- It looks like Piwik is the more popular self-hosted tool, but OWA has an impressive list of features.
- Comparison to Google Analytics: http://www.openwebanalytics.com/?page_id=158
What about you? Have you left Google Analytics for similar reasons? I’d love to hear your thoughts.