Should I install Google Analytics?
I admit it that on every web development project I’ve worked since 2010, Google analytics is always there. Should I install Google Analytics? Or should I not? Let’s see.
Either it’s installed through a WordPress plugin, or was called from a shared partial file (for Rails app), or even just hardcoded on the HTML file, it’s always there.
Sometimes, I wonder… is it that important for all the sites? Should I install Google analytics for all of the sites I am working on?
Let’s find out…
Do most of your users use ad-blockers?
According to an article from https://www.quantable.com/analytics/how-many-users-block-google-analytics/, the number of internet users that use ad-blockers are growing significantly.
Not to mention that some popular ad-blockers plugins are now offering the easy way to block the GA script. It is very easy even for users who are not tech-savvy.
Some of the popular ad-blockers like uBlock Origin and Purify even block GA script by default. As for uBlock Origin, I confirmed it myself that it blocks GA script on all of the three browsers I used: Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
If there are significant site users or visitors who are using those ad-blockers, those number of visitors won’t be recorded on your Google analytics dashboard. You won’t even know if there are such visitors on your site.
What’s the solution? Install the analytics back up which runs on your web server like AWStats. Most of the shared hosting providers which gave you cPanel usually provided this AWStats by default.
Because AWStats run on the server’s side, it’s more difficult for your visitors to block it.
If you don’t want AWStats, you can even implement the analytics by yourself.
Every framework or language always provided the way to know the number of requests which hit your server, along with other information like:
HTTP Referrer. Another site or page that refers to the visitor to visit your site.
The IP address of your users ( though this may not be the real IP of them if they are accessing your site behind a proxy or VPN )
As for Ruby on Rails, we usually use this gem to log the number of page views: https://rubygems.org/gems/impressionist/versions/1.5.1
Is your site often visited by unknown bots?
Yes, Google analytics had the option to exclude the known bots from its reports. But for there are just too many bots out there.
Even worse, many spams can mess up your GA report.
Indeed, there are some workarounds for such problems like setting up a custom GA report to filter those unwanted data generated by bots or spammers.
But if it’s too much, Google analytics may not be for you.
When your site had such visitors an insignificant amount, it makes sense to ditch the GA script from your site since most of the time, it won’t be executed.
Another alternative is running an analytics script on your server-side as I’ve mentioned above.
Do most of your traffic come from organic search on Google?
If yes, I bet you’ll see **(not provided) ** at the top of your GA keyword report.
Google had decided to encrypt their organic search keyword so it won’t ever show up on your GA dashboard.
There are indeed some tricks to unlock this, but in my opinion, most of them required you to allocate a significant amount of time.
Additionally, there is no guarantee that a workaround that works to unlock those (not provided) keyword will keep working in the future.
Google will surely catch it and eventually patch it, and in the end, you need to search and try for another workaround to keep up with that. It’s kind of cat and mouse game. Hectic.
Instead of trying to do the unlocking, it’s better if you set up and verify your site on another Google’s tool: Google Search Console to get to know what are the keywords that send you those significant visitors from Google’s organic search result page.
Is your site running an online store (e-commerce site)?
If it is, it’s highly recommended to put on the Google analytics there , to detect which pages that convert better, which pages coverts poorly.
Even better if you added a HotJar script along with GA script to get a video of how your visitors are accessing your site: which part of your site is a “heatmap”, which part is not, what are the links they click, etc.
But if your site is just a personal blog, personal homepage, portfolio, I believe an analytics solution running on the server like AWStats is more than enough.
You should install Google analytics along with other analytics which runs on a server if:
Unknown bots often visit your site.
Most of your traffic is coming from Google’s organic search.
Your site is an online store or any kind of commerce site.
You are working as an SEO staff or an internet marketer.
You are obsessed to make your site had the highest conversion rate ( that is the rate of visitors becoming a buyer )
install Google analytics and use another analytics running the server site if:
Your site is a personal blog, personal homepage or portfolio, or any other kind of site that has rich content for reading.
Personally, as the site’s owner, you can’t compromise with performance. Your site must be blazing fast and you hate to see score less than 100 on tools like Pingdom or GTMetrix.
You had no idea what to do with the data provided on the GA dashboard. Even worse, you’re spending too much of your precious time to check on the GA dashboard to see how’s your site traffic.
Those reporting data from the Google Analytics dashboard overwhelmed you.