How To Show Your Site Analytics Inside WordPress (Without Big Tech)
Here’s how to get your site analytics in the WordPress admin panel using an alternative to Google Analytics.
Tracking your site analytics is pretty important. Having them displayed right inside the admin panel of WordPress makes it convenient.
You wouldn’t need to necessarily go and log into some separate application to view your stats. It is right there for you.
Now, if you go and look for WordPress plugins that can show your stats in the admin panel, you’ll find several. But, here’s what you’ll find…
- They all rely on Google Analytics (more on this in a bit)
- They are pretty much all commercial plugins. Even though they have free versions, the upsells are prevalent.
There is a better way. It isn’t completely free, to be clear. However, there’s a reason for that and it’s worth it.
In This Post…
The Problem With The Most Common Analytics Plugins For WordPress
First off, every plugin you’re going to find (almost) relies on Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is about as “big tech” as it gets. Google literally generates all of it’s income by spying on your online activities, data mining everything, and building a massive data profile on you. It then uses that data to serve advertising for you. Plus, they’ve got a big revolving door with government intelligence agencies.
Google provides great services, but the only reason they’re “free” is because they are gobbling up every bit of data you give them for their own purposes.
So, when you’re using Google Analytics, not only is Google able to see all of your web traffic, but it also inserts your site into their web of internet surveillance because they’re able to track people across all the sites that use Analytics.
Frankly, you either care about that or you don’t. But, I prefer to have ownership of my data and I’m not keen on helping to enable Google in their data mining machine.
Google Analytics is also overly complicated and annoying to use, so that’s a factor, too. 🙂 Most people who use it barely ever look at their stats because it is so damn confusing.
Now, in the world of WordPress plugins, you’re going to find some big contenders. The most popular is Monster Insights. Exact Metrics is another one. Both plugins are actually owned by the same company. Both plugins also have very limited free versions, but will have fairly aggressive upsells in place to get you to upgrade to Pro.
If you are using MonsterInsights or ExactMetrics, you’re introducing a fair amount of bloat to your WordPress admin panel. You’re also going to see ads for Pro inside your admin panel and that’s quite intrusive.
There are alternatives to that company. One is Analytify. While it is a different company, it shares some of the same problems. The plugin alone has a file size of over 10MB, so there’s a lot of overhead just for stats. It is also feature limited unless you pony up for the pro version.
JetPack offers some site stats inside of WordPress. JetPack also does a lot of other things, too, which means the plugin can be a little bloated as well. I have definitely seen Jetpack be a resource hog and slow down WordPress sites and I’m generally not a fan of this plugin.
WP Statistics is a plugin that does all of your tracking internally right inside WordPress. There’s no external services involved at all. That’s attractive, to be sure. However, this is not something I recommend you do internally because the amount of data and processing being done can slow down your hosting. It is a TON of data being put into your database. Ideal for privacy, but definitely not ideal for site performance. Some great features, however.
The Google Analytics Alternative I Recommend (And Use)
Well, if you’ve been reading my blog for a little bit, you may know that I’ve already written about my preferred Google Analytics alternative – Fathom Analytics.
You can check out Fathom Analytics directly right here.
What I like about Fathom is:
- It is very fast and streamlined with no bloat.
- They don’t data mine you, your business, or your site’s visitors.
- It is very specifically NOT “big tech”.
- It is not overly engineered and you don’t need to dive through complex, corporate documentation to figure things out. Fathom does what you need and makes it accessible.
- Fathom will send you automated traffic reports via email if you like.
- Fathom includes uptime monitoring.
- They not only offer support, but they’re pretty quick to reply. Try getting help from Google some time to get a feel for what it’s like to use a company that doesn’t give a flying crap about you.
Unlike Google Analytics, Fathom is not free. But, again, Analytics is only free because they’re using your site to spy on everything and everybody. With Fathom, you are their client and they have every interest in the world to provide solid service.
I now use Fathom in my own business. I also provide it as a service (on my own dime) to all of my Concierge clients who want it.
How To Embed Your Site Analytics Into WordPress Admin
Now, I admit that I didn’t know this was possible with Fathom Analytics until just recently. Now that I know this, I plan to reach out to each of my Concierge clients who are using Fathom and set them up this way.
In short, there are two ways to set up your Fathom Analytics tracking:
- Take their embed code and drop it into your site’s code.
- Use the Fathom Analytics plugin.
So far, I have been putting in the code manually. My thought was just to avoid putting in yet another plugin that wasn’t necessary. However…
Come to find out, one of the features of their plugin is the ability to embed your stat dashboard right into WordPress admin. I didn’t know this! How cool!
For one, their plugin keeps with the theme of “lean and mean” without any bloat. While Analytify is over 10MB and Monster Insights is over 5MB, the Fathom Analytics plugin is only 236KB. When you install it, you get a settings screen where you can set things up.
The site ID (from your Fathom account) is all you need to get things tracking. But, then to get your stats showing up inside of WordPress admin, you do the following:
- In your Fathom account, go to your site settings and select to SHARE your stat dashboard. This will open it up to be directly viewable.
- Optionally, you can set a password for your stats. This will ensure nobody can stumble upon your stats and access them. Set any password you want. Then…
- Enter your chosen password into the field for the “Fathom Share Password” in the plugin settings.
- Check off the option to display the Analytics menu item.
- Save changes.
What you’ll then see is something like this:
You’ll have an “Analytics” menu option. Click it and view all of your stats… embedded right into WordPress. It is pretty much just an embed of the web-based dashboard that Fathom already provides. Even though you set a password, the plugin passes right through it so only you can view your stats.
Easily accessible and simple. You can even watch your traffic in real-time if you want.
Site Traffic Analytics Without The Bloat (Or Spyware)
It is a shame that almost every WordPress plugin out there that shows stats inside of WordPress itself is not only over-commercialized, but just assumes you want to use Google Analytics.
That’s a helluva lot of data mining, bloat and money just to get some basic stats.
I find that most blog owners either don’t track their stats at all (because they don’t know how), or they just blindly set up with Google Analytics and then install Monster Insights and therefore have a bloated piece of adware inside their WordPress admin panel.
I know, I’m being hard on Monster Insights. To be clear, it is a very nice plugin if you want all that it does. But, it requires usage of Google Analytics. And those Monster Insights also come with monster code footprint and monster ads to upsell you into the Pro version. I see no reason to bother with it, but so many do because Awesome Motive has done a really good job of cornering almost the entire market for WordPress analytics tracking.
There’s just no need for it.
I prefer Fathom Analytics.
Yes, you pay a bit for it, but having an actual customer relationship makes everything better. Fathom is simpler. It doesn’t data mine. You can actually work with it and USE your stats without being confused by a ton of over-engineered screens.
And apparently, you can embed the whole thing into WordPress admin to make it even easier. 🙂
Again, for my Concierge clients, use of Fathom Analytics is one of the perks of your plan.
Just hit me up and we’ll get you set up (if we haven’t already). As a client, not only will you be able to have easy, usable stats for your site without the spyware, but you’ll also get weekly email reports sent to you and uptime monitoring of your site. Plus a lot more, obviously, so click here to learn about the Concierge service.
How do you track visitors keywords used when using Fathom? I removed everything Google from my site
You can’t. But, if you want to know what keywords are leading to your site from Google, your best bet is to use Google Search Console.