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Why switch from Google Analytics to Visitor Analytics today

Google Analytics is one of the most advanced web analytics tools available right now, but using it, in the current context of internet privacy concerns, has become an issue. The inability of Google (or the inability of websites using their service) to fully comply with privacy regulations has brought their analytics service under the spotlight, in a negative way. Recent events show that talk has already turned into action and it is time to look for alternatives to Google Analytics. 

Why is Visitor Analytics an alternative to Google Analytics?

Because there is no cross-site tracking

Have you ever noticed the same ads following you around the websites you navigate, promoting something you were actively interested in? Most times, immediately after visiting a product page or doing a Google search, you are bombarded with ads for that product or a related one.

How is this possible? Because of companies using cross-site tracking.

Cross-site tracking happens when internet companies literally follow the activity of a user from one site to another, gathering personal information in the process. This personal information is generally used to create so-called user personas and serve advertising based on it. 

If your website uses Google Analytics, when somebody visits your site, this personal data will be fed to their ads services, enabling companies to target advertisements. This is how remarketing is made possible and how they end up knowing what your visitor’s interests and search history are. But this is an unacceptable violation of privacy, unless these visitors agree to the process in advance. 

Visitor Analytics does not engage in any cross-site tracking. Data is not passed on to any other service. So, persons visiting websites that use Visitor Analytics, instead of Google Analytics, can ensure their users that their activity will not be used for potentially intrusive advertising activities.

No selling of data

Even worse, the data being stored by one company is often sold to another, and the user finds him-/herself in the position of being overwhelmed by several services, that he/she may or may not know about.

Under CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), it is now illegal for companies to sell user data without properly informing them in advance.

Visitor Analytics does not engage in selling any data and, as stated in their Data Privacy Agreement, the website owner is the sole owner of the data. He/she can choose to store it, delete it or use it at their own discretion.  

Google Analytics cookies

There are various ways in which companies like Google Analytics can perform cross-site tracking. The most common one is through the use of cookies, small files that are automatically installed on a visitor’s device upon visiting a site. A single website can load tenths of cookies, for various purposes and from different third parties, like, for example, Google Analytics.

Under GDPR and other privacy regulations, website owners are required to hold back all these cookies until they are accepted by the visitor. A simple banner with one button is not enough. People need to be informed about the purpose and particularities of each cookie and give separate, distinct consent for the ones they agree to be loaded.Not doing so is illegal and exposes website owners to fines. In fact, as early as October 2019, we witnessed hundreds of thousands of complaints particularly aimed at websites who did not properly implement the Google Analytics cookies.

In practice, this process can be difficult to implement by website owners, and many of them still do not comply with this rule. But users must be given the option to opt-out of being tracked with cookies, before any of them are loaded.

What if the visitor does not accept the cookie? Then the visits from that IP will not be tracked, resulting in unreliable analytics data for the website owners, who may well see less visits than they actually get.  

Cookieless tracking

What is the alternative? Visitor Analytics has now developed a solution named cookieless tracking. This revolutionary technique does exactly what the name says: web analytics without cookies. The data that is necessary to understand website traffic can be obtained without the invasion of privacy. In an analogy, it uses a sort of fingerprint to identify returning visitors. This is not stored on the device of the user and can only serve statistical purposes.

Do website owners need to obtain consent for apps using cookieless tracking? The beauty of it is that website owners do not need any consent for this, as no cookies are being deployed. So, you still get your traffic stats without any headaches: 

  • no need to opt-in & no cookie banners
  • no risk of fines
  • no risk of getting truncated data
  • privacy of online activities is respected and cross-site tracking is impossible   

Because browsers are actively blocking Google Analytics 

We had seen some initiatives from Firefox Mozilla and from Brave, who aim at removing all third party tracking from their browsers. Others are following this approach, too. Safari has already reportedly blocked Google Analytics on websites

What does this mean? It means that if you are using Google Analytics, you are missing a big batch of data from visitor sessions. You will not be able to see visits from Safari at all and, soon, this will also be the case with most of the other browsers. Your data will be truncated, leaving you in the dark.

What is the alternative? The cookieless approach from Visitor Analytics solves this issue as well. No cookies means there is nothing to block. With Visitor Analytics you will still get to see 100% of your visits in your dashboard, regardless of the browser. 

Anonymizing IPs with one click

Google Analytics has taken some steps to try to be more compliant with the new laws and, in theory, the website owner can try to use it without breaking internet privacy laws. But this can again be very difficult to implement. 

One such difficulty is anonymizing IPs (which are considered private data). You need to manually add code to the Google Analytics tracking script in order to stop it from gathering IPs.

Visitor Analytics lets you anonymize IPs with one click in the settings panel. And therefore, Visitor Analytics will not receive exact IP information if you don’t want it to.

More features

Last but not least, Visitor Analytics offers a greater diversity of features, not limited to website traffic stats. In the same app, you get visitor session recordings, heat maps and conversion funnels. Other features are in development, too. This is what makes it more than a privacy-friendly alternative to Google Analytics.