This week I was able to spend some time with some marketing seniors from a local University and they asked what foundational skills they could work on to be more desirable to employers. I absolutely discussed Google Analytics… mostly because it’s quite a complex tool that I see a growing number of companies make terrible decisions with. Ignoring filters, events, campaigns, goals, etc. will provide data that will almost always lead you down the wrong path.
My go to warning is that Google Analytics is a question engine, not an answer engine. Every time you pull up a chart and read the data… you should be asking what you’re actually looking at and try to figure out why it appears the way it does.
Google Analytics is also somewhat representative as it anonymizes visitors who are logged into a Google Account. This makes reports like keyword searches that led the visitor to your site virtually useless because it’s only showing you anonymous users that aren’t logged in… which is often a very small minority.
Of course, the majority of users – having been logged into a Google account – have rich data that only Google can see and utilize for their advertising. For a company that says, Don’t Be Evil… that’s kind of evil. That said, Google Analytics dominates the industry so we all must become proficient at using it.
Privacy and Cookies
As browsers, mail programs, and mobile applications tighten their privacy restrictions… the ability to read third-party cookies (like a logged-in Google user) are rapidly declining. This is also impacting Google Analytics and it will be interesting to see how big the impact is moving forward. While Android and Chrome also have great market share, there’s no doubt of iOS’s dominance. Apple continues to put more and more tools in its users’ hands to minimize tracking.
Plausible tracks a smaller number of metrics and presents them on an easier to understand dashboard. Rather than tracking every metric imaginable, many of them that you will never find a use for, Plausible focuses on the most essential website stats only.
There is no navigational menu. There are no additional sub-menus. There is no need to create custom reports. Plausible provides you with a simple and useful web analytics dashboard out of the box.
Plausible is easy to use and understand with no training or prior experience. Everything you need to know about your website traffic is on one page:
- Choose the time range that you want to analyze. The visitor numbers are automatically presented on an hourly, daily or monthly graph. The default time frame is set at the last 30 days.
- See the number of unique visitors, total page views, the bounce rate and visit duration. These metrics include a percentage comparison to the previous time period so you understand if the trends are going up or down.
- Right below that you see all the top referral sources of traffic and all the most visited pages on your site. Bounce rates of the individual referrals and pages are included too.
- Underneath the referral sources and the most visited pages, you see the list of countries your traffic is coming from. You can also see the device, browser and operating system your visitors are using.
- Last but not least, you can even track events and goals to identify the number of converted visitors, conversion rate, to understand who is converting and the referral sites that send the traffic that converts the best.
With Plausible, you get all the important web analytics at a glance so you can focus on creating a better site.
As for cookies, you can also set up a proxy to serve the analytics script from your domain name as a first-party connection and get more accurate stats. Best of all, your site data will never be shared with or sold to any third-parties. It will never be monetized, mined and harvested for personal and behavioral trends.
Plausible isn’t free, but it’s quite affordable and based on the number of sites and pageviews that you are getting.