For years, there was no serious competitor besides Google Analytics to analyse websites, track user flow and make actions on the page visible. But Google's slow reaction to adapt to European data protection regulations has strengthened several different tools and turned them into competitors. Matomo, the best-known competitor, has been on the market for years but has only really become relevant in recent months. It's time for a comparison.
The biggest difference between the two tools is the different way they deal with data protection issues. While Google services cannot be used in conformity with the applicable regulations of the DSGVO, Matomo enables integration without data protection concerns through numerous features. MATOMO stores the analysed data on the web space of the site operator, GOOGLE ANALYTICS stores it on the group's servers. The data sovereignty therefore remains with the site operator when using Matomo. With Google, the data thus leaves the German and European area and is processed in the USA. Matomo also offers automatic anonymisation of user data. However, this feature can be changed if necessary - the integration still respects applicable data protection regulations. Nevertheless, especially in Germany, it is currently still sensible to only integrate Matomo together with a functioning cookie consent.
However, data protection-compliant installation is not the only difference between Matomo and Google Analytics. There are also some performance aspects that need to be taken into account. Both tools have to be installed on the website via code snippets and subsequently analyse the behaviour of the users. Google Analytics allows for demographic records to be identified, allowing for an extreme level of detail in the analysis. The user journey on a website can thus be worked out in great depth for individual users. However, this data is not always sufficiently valid, as Google Analytics may collect no or only insufficient data from users of an adblocker. Matomo, on the other hand, provides less in-depth results, but they are more accurate and realistic. Thanks to an open-source application, the blacklist of referrer spam is continuously updated, ensuring a higher quality of analysis. With Analytics, this list must be expanded manually. Analytics is useful for very deep analysis, while Matomo provides more realistic and accurate results. As an added bonus, Matomo provides its own marketplace of plugins to extend the functionality of its own solution or to program and configure your own plugins if necessary. While Analytics has limits at some point despite its extremely high functionality, Matomo can be expanded virtually at will. However, since both tools already provide a lot of important data records in the basic version, the expandability is probably reserved for absolute specialists.
Another difference is also mainly relevant for large websites or agencies. Google Analytics limits the evaluations to ten million actions per month; in addition, no more than 50 different projects can be created in an account. You can get around this by creating several accounts, but this does not change the upper limit of 10 million actions per month. Such restrictions do not exist with Matomo, where all actions are evaluated.
If there were a clear favourite, customers, companies and agencies would clearly decide. However, the fact that Matomo can generate very strong traffic shows that both tools are very sensible and useful in their own way. Google Analytics convinces with its quasi-seamless connection to other services such as Google Ads or Tag Manager as well as with the extreme depth of detail of the analyses. The free use is also a decisive factor. However, the dark cloud of data protection permanently hovers over the use of Google services. Here, the solutions are not sufficiently prepared. It is possible to circumvent this by opting in, so that website visitors have to explicitly agree to the use of the service. However, you lose all users who object to the use of the data. The data obtained may then no longer be representative, but it is still suitable for reading trends.
Matomo's advantages are its conformity with the DSGVO and the more accurate and realistic analysis results. When using Matomo, no opt-in is necessary, which means that more real user data flows into the analysis. However, these analyses do not go into as much detail as those of Google Analytics. In addition, the link with Google Ads is somewhat more complicated.
Website tracking is an essential part of page optimisation. Companies need to know what content is relevant and how visitors behave on their own site. For the majority of companies, there are no relevant differences in data analysis. The most important KPIs are available in both tools. The use of Analytics requires an opt-in, which means that the data is only a sample. Matomo provides more accurate but less in-depth data. Companies are now faced with the decision of integrating one of the two tools or a third-party tool. A combination of Matomo and Analytics including data comparison is certainly also a possibility. The only important thing is that the accesses are tracked in some way.
As a digital agency, we are happy to help you with your website tracking questions!