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Google Analytics versus Matomo: which one to choose?

Google Analytics versus Matomo : lequel choisir ?

Published on: 4 April 2024 - Updated on: 4 April 2024 - Read 68 times - Reading time:  13 minutes


Some time ago, we wrote an article about the reasons to switch from Google Analytics to Matomo and that choice was justified at the time. Since then, the cards have been reshuffled, as Google has revised its approach, and the question arises today. Therefore, we have written a comprehensive article that, we hope, will help you make your choice regarding the web analytics tool you wish to use on your site.

What is a web analytics tool?

A web analytics tool is a software or online platform designed to collect, measure, analyze, and present data related to traffic and visitor behavior on a website. This data helps website owners, marketing managers, and analysts better understand the audience and performance of their site, identify trends, opportunities, and issues, and optimize their online strategy accordingly.

Web analytics tools typically provide information on various aspects of traffic and visitor behavior, such as:

  • The number of unique visitors and sessions (visits) on the site.
  • The geographical origin of visitors and the languages they speak.
  • The sources of traffic (search engines, social networks, referring sites, advertising campaigns, etc.).
  • The devices and browsers used by visitors.
  • The most viewed pages, time spent on the site, and bounce rates.
  • The conversions and goals achieved (sales, registrations, downloads, etc.).
  • The navigation paths taken by visitors on the site.

Web analytics tools typically use cookies and tags to track and record user interactions with the site. The collected data is then presented in the form of reports and dashboards, allowing users to analyze their site's performance and make informed decisions to improve their online presence.

Among the popular web analytics tools are Google Analytics, Matomo (formerly Piwik), Adobe Analytics, and AT Internet. Each of these tools has features, advantages, and disadvantages that may make them more or less suitable for the specific needs of users.

In this document, we will study the two tools that we use and install for our clients: Google Analytics and Matomo.

Detailed description of the two solutions

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free and popular web analytics tool developed by Google. It provides detailed information on the traffic and behavior of visitors to a website, allowing site owners, marketing managers, and analysts to optimize their online strategies and improve their site's performance.

Here is a detailed description of the main features and characteristics of Google Analytics:

  • Customizable dashboard and reports: Google Analytics offers a customizable dashboard with widgets that allow users to quickly view key metrics and trends of their website. Reports can be customized to meet the specific needs of each user, with the ability to add additional dimensions and metrics, create advanced segments, and filter data.
  • Audience: This section provides detailed information about site visitors, such as their geographical origin, languages spoken, devices and browsers used, demographic data (age, gender), and interests. Users can also analyze the behavior of loyal and new visitors, as well as data on the frequency and recency of visits.
  • Acquisition: This section allows the analysis of the site's traffic sources, such as search engines, social networks, referring sites, and advertising campaigns. Google Analytics provides information on the performance of different acquisition channels, helping users to identify the most effective traffic sources and optimize their marketing investments.
  • Behavior: This section focuses on visitor interactions with the site's content, providing information on the most viewed pages, time spent on the site, bounce rates, and the navigation paths taken by visitors. Users can also analyze page load speed and identify potential technical issues affecting site performance.
  • Conversions: Google Analytics allows tracking and analyzing conversions and goals achieved on the site, such as sales, registrations, downloads, and form submissions. Users can create and track conversion funnels to identify stages in the process where visitors drop off and optimize the user journey accordingly.
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence features: Google Analytics incorporates machine learning and artificial intelligence features to help users identify trends, anomalies, and opportunities in their data. For example, Google Analytics offers automated insights, which highlight significant changes in data, as well as predictions on future visitor behavior.
  • Integration with other Google products: Google Analytics seamlessly integrates with other Google products and services, such as Google Ads, Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager, allowing for deeper analysis and optimization of marketing campaigns and SEO.

Matomo

Matomo, formerly known as Piwik, is an open-source and self-hosted web analytics tool, offering an alternative to Google Analytics with a particular emphasis on privacy and data control. Matomo provides detailed information on the traffic and behavior of visitors to a website, helping site owners, marketing managers, and analysts to optimize their online strategies and improve their site's performance.

Here is a detailed description of the main features and characteristics of Matomo:

  • Privacy respect and data control: Matomo is self-hosted, which allows users to retain full control over their data and ensure the privacy of collected information. Users can choose where to store their data and ensure it is not shared with third parties or used for advertising purposes. Moreover, Matomo offers features to facilitate compliance with data protection regulations such as GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive.
  • Customizable dashboard and reports: Matomo offers a customizable dashboard with widgets that allow users to quickly view key metrics and trends of their website. Reports can be customized to meet the specific needs of each user, with the ability to add additional dimensions and metrics, create advanced segments, and filter data.
  • Audience: This section provides detailed information about site visitors, such as their geographical origin, languages spoken, devices and browsers used, demographic data, and interests. Users can also analyze the behavior of loyal and new visitors, as well as data on the frequency and recency of visits.
  • Acquisition: This section allows the analysis of the site's traffic sources, such as search engines, social networks, referring sites, and advertising campaigns. Matomo provides information on the performance of different acquisition channels, helping users to identify the most effective traffic sources and optimize their marketing investments.
  • Behavior: This section focuses on visitor interactions with the site's content, providing information on the most viewed pages, time spent on the site, bounce rates, and the navigation paths taken by visitors. Users can also analyze page load speed and identify potential technical issues affecting site performance.
  • Conversions: Matomo allows tracking and analyzing conversions and goals achieved on the site, such as sales, registrations, downloads, and form submissions. Users can create and track conversion funnels to identify stages in the process where visitors drop off and optimize the user journey accordingly.
  • Scalability and customization: Matomo offers a high level of customization and scalability, with many plugins available to extend its functionalities. Users can tailor Matomo to their specific needs by adding additional features, such as event tracking, media tracking, form tracking, and error tracking.
  • No data collection limits: Unlike Google Analytics, Matomo does not impose any data collection limits, which is particularly beneficial for high-traffic websites or businesses needing to analyze large volumes of data.

What are the fundamental differences between Google Analytics and Matomo?

Privacy and data ownership:

Google Analytics is a service provided by Google, which means that the collected data is stored on their servers and governed by their privacy policies.

Matomo, on the other hand, is a self-hosted open-source software, allowing users to retain full control of their data and ensure the privacy of the collected information.

Data control and customization:

Matomo offers a higher level of customization than Google Analytics, as users can modify the source code to meet specific needs. Additionally, since Matomo is self-hosted, users have full control over the configuration and management of their data, including the ability to exclude certain data or set custom retention rules.

Features:

While Google Analytics and Matomo offer similar features such as visitor tracking, audience reports, and custom events, there are some differences. Matomo stands out for its flexibility and scalability, with numerous plugins available to extend its functionalities. Moreover, Matomo does not impose any data collection limits, unlike Google Analytics, which applies data volume limits depending on the plan chosen (free or paid).

Ease of use:

Google Analytics is known for its user-friendly and intuitive interface, making it easy to navigate and understand reports. Matomo also offers an easy-to-use user interface, but it may seem less refined than that of Google Analytics. However, Matomo provides a customizable dashboard, allowing users to tailor the interface to their specific needs.

Cost:

Google Analytics offers a free plan with limited features and a paid plan (Google Analytics 360) for businesses with more advanced needs.

Matomo, on the other hand, is free and open-source, but there is also a premium version (Matomo Cloud) offering managed hosting, automatic updates, and dedicated support.

Advantages and disadvantages of each solution

Advantages and disadvantages of Google Analytics:

Advantages:

1. Popularity and integration: Google Analytics is widely used and integrates seamlessly with other Google products and services, facilitating the analysis and optimization of marketing campaigns and SEO.

2. User-friendly interface and advanced reports: Google Analytics offers an intuitive user interface and customizable reports to help users understand visitor behavior and optimize their marketing strategies.

3. Machine learning and artificial intelligence features: Google Analytics provides automated insights and predictions on future visitor behavior, enabling users to make informed decisions.

4. Free plan: Google Analytics offers a free plan with advanced features, making it accessible to small businesses and individuals.

Disadvantages:

1. Privacy and data ownership: The data collected by Google Analytics is stored on Google's servers and governed by their privacy policies, which can raise concerns about privacy and data control.

2. Data collection limits: Google Analytics applies data volume limits based on the chosen plan (free or paid), which can limit analysis for high-traffic websites or businesses needing to analyze large volumes of data.

3. Complexity: Although Google Analytics' user interface is user-friendly, some users may find the tool complex and challenging to master, particularly for advanced features.

Advantages and disadvantages of Matomo:

Advantages:

1. Privacy respect and data control: Matomo allows users to retain full control of their data and ensure the privacy of collected information by being self-hosted.

2. Customization and scalability: Matomo offers a high level of customization and scalability, with many plugins available to extend its functionalities.

3. No data collection limits: Matomo does not impose any data collection limits, which is particularly beneficial for high-traffic websites or businesses needing to analyze large volumes of data.

Disadvantages:

1. Need for hosting and maintenance: Since Matomo is self-hosted, users must manage their own hosting and maintenance, which can require technical skills and additional resources.

2. Less refined user interface: Although Matomo offers an easy-to-use user interface, it may seem less refined than that of Google Analytics.

3. Lesser resources and support: Matomo has a smaller user community and online resources compared to Google Analytics, which can make learning and troubleshooting more challenging.

Are the data from each of these solutions altered by the cookie management policy?

The data collected by Google Analytics and Matomo can be affected by the cookie management policy, although this depends on how users manage their cookie settings and the regulations in force in their region.

Cookies are small text files stored on visitors' devices when they access a website. They allow web analytics tools to track and record user interactions with the site. However, growing privacy concerns have led to the adoption of regulations such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive, which impose strict requirements for cookie consent.

Google Analytics uses cookies to collect data on website visitors. Users can configure their cookie settings in Google Analytics, but they must also ensure compliance with local cookie consent regulations. This may involve implementing a cookie consent mechanism on their website, which can potentially affect the quantity and quality of collected data if visitors refuse certain cookies.

Matomo also uses cookies to track website visitors. However, since Matomo is self-hosted, users have full control over cookie management and can adapt their practices according to local regulations. Matomo also offers features to facilitate compliance with GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive, such as the ability to anonymize IP addresses and request user consent before tracking their activities.

Therefore, the cookie management policy can affect the data collected by Google Analytics and Matomo, particularly if users must obtain visitor consent before tracking their activities. However, Matomo users benefit from greater control over cookie management and can adapt their practices according to local regulations to minimize the impact on their data.

Is there a more suitable solution depending on the site traffic? Depending on the budget?

The choice between Google Analytics and Matomo may indeed depend on the site's traffic and budget. Here are some considerations to determine the most suitable solution for your situation:

Site traffic:

  • Google Analytics: The free plan of Google Analytics is suitable for websites with moderate traffic (up to 10 million interactions per month). However, high-traffic websites may exceed data collection limits and need to upgrade to the paid plan, Google Analytics 360, which offers higher limits and additional features.
  • Matomo: Matomo does not impose any data collection limits, making it a particularly suitable solution for high-traffic websites. However, it is important to note that hosting and maintaining a self-hosted Matomo instance may require additional resources to manage large volumes of data.

Budget:

  • Google Analytics: The free plan of Google Analytics offers advanced features at no additional cost, making it accessible to small businesses and individuals with a limited budget. The paid plan, Google Analytics 360, is intended for large businesses and offers additional features, but at a high cost.
  • Matomo: Matomo is free and open-source, making it an economical solution for users with technical skills to manage hosting and maintenance. However, for those who prefer a turnkey solution, Matomo also offers a premium version (Matomo Cloud) with managed hosting, automatic updates, and dedicated support, for a monthly fee.

In summary, for websites with moderate traffic and a limited budget, Google Analytics (free plan) may be a suitable solution. For high-traffic websites or those with specific customization and privacy needs, Matomo can be an interesting alternative, especially if one has the technical skills necessary for hosting and maintenance. For large businesses with advanced needs and a larger budget, Google Analytics 360 or Matomo Cloud could be options to consider.

How to choose one solution over the other?

As you can see, there are pros and cons to each of these solutions, making it difficult to choose. Let us help you by proposing a way to analyze your needs, which will allow you to make this choice.

The first thing to do is to take into account several factors based on your needs and priorities. Here are some elements to consider to help you make the best choice:

1. Privacy and data ownership: If privacy and data control are major concerns for your business, Matomo may be a better choice, as it allows you to retain full control of your data and ensure the privacy of the collected information. Google Analytics, on the other hand, stores data on Google's servers and governs them by their privacy policies.

2. Ease of use and integration: Google Analytics is known for its user-friendly and intuitive interface, as well as its seamless integration with other Google products and services. If you are looking for an easy-to-use solution that integrates with your existing Google ecosystem, Google Analytics may be a better choice. Matomo may require a bit more time to get used to and set up hosting and maintenance.

3. Customization and scalability: Matomo offers a higher level of customization and scalability than Google Analytics, with many plugins available to extend its functionalities. If you have specific web analytics needs and want to tailor the tool to your needs, Matomo may be a better choice.

4. Data collection limits: Google Analytics applies data volume limits based on the chosen plan (free or paid), which can limit analysis for high-traffic websites or businesses needing to analyze large volumes of data. Matomo does not impose any data collection limits, making it a particularly suitable solution for high-traffic websites.

5. Budget: Google Analytics offers a free plan with advanced features, making it accessible to small businesses and individuals with a limited budget. Matomo is free and open-source, but may require additional resources for hosting and maintenance. For those who prefer a turnkey solution, Matomo also offers a premium version (Matomo Cloud) for a monthly fee.

As you can see, to choose between Google Analytics and Matomo, you need to evaluate your needs and priorities in terms of privacy, ease of use, customization, data collection limits, and budget. Based on these factors, you will be able to determine the solution that best suits your situation.

What if I installed both?

This question has often been asked, which is why we end this white paper with it. Indeed, installing both web analytics tools on your website can have certain advantages, as well as some disadvantages.

Although most of the time choosing a single web analytics tool suited to your needs may be sufficient and more effective, we list below the advantages and disadvantages you might encounter, leaving it up to you to consider these elements to determine if this approach is suitable for your situation:

Advantages:

Data comparison

By using both tools, you can compare the data collected by Google Analytics and Matomo, which can help you identify any disparities and better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each tool.

Privacy and data control

Using Matomo alongside Google Analytics, you can benefit from the advanced features of Google Analytics while retaining full control of your data and ensuring the privacy of the information collected with Matomo.

Redundancy and reliability

Using two web analytics tools can offer some redundancy and reliability, as if one of the tools experiences problems or interruptions, you still have the other tool to collect and analyze your website's data.

Disadvantages:

Complexity and maintenance

Using two web analytics tools can make managing and maintaining your web analysis more complex, as you need to configure and manage two different systems. This may also require more time and resources to analyze data and generate reports.

Impact on site performance

Installing two web analytics tools can impact your website's performance, as they may slow down page loading due to additional tracking and data collection.

Cost

If you are using the premium version of Matomo (Matomo Cloud) in addition to Google Analytics, this may result in additional costs for your business.

Article updated on April 4, 2024

Eric Lamy
Bio rapide : Après avoir passé plus de 20 ans dans le marketing et l'optimisation de Système d'Information, j'ai créé l'agence Agerix en 2009 afin d'avoir une approche des projets tout aussi commerciale que technique. Fouiller, creuser, réfléchir et amener le projet au plus haut niveau qualité, c'est le Leitmotiv de notre bureau d'études et l'ADN que nous insufflons chaque jour dans nos projets. Que ce soit pour nos développements, nos projets d'intégration, ou même l'article que vous venez de lire, notre but est de livrer le meilleur.