Today about Fathom Analytics, but before that, a few sentences of introduction. I have been using Google analytics for as long as I can remember. Soon after they were made available in 2005 I started to implement them in all my projects being full of appreciation for the fact that I get such a useful tool for free.
For years, I didn't mind at all that I was a product in the hands of Google (and later I also gave myself over to Facebook). The most important thing for me was that I could analyse traffic data on my website and not have to pay for it.
However, after a while it started to dawn on me that by using Google Analytics I am making everyone who comes to my site feed Google with data about their activity. As far as I am concerned, I can accept this, but should I also feed it to people who trust me by visiting How to Make a Website or MeetWP?
Time went by and I started to realise more and more that I didn't need the amount of data Google was collecting. At first I thought it was pure gold, but in my case, reality verified this view, proving to me that I don't need that much "gold".
I will make it clear here. I have nothing against Google or Facebook, I am not at war with them, not even over the level of privacy protection about which I have reservations. I am also not saying that turning away from Google data will be a good move in every case. However, I think it is worth thinking about it and answering the question of what is important to me and what I actually need.
I started to think about a change, but as it happens in life there was always something more urgent 🙂 Until finally I came across Fathom Analytics and decided to act.
My first impression... "poorly". Compared to what Google Analytics offers, you could say that I have no data in Fathom 🙂 I decided to test it and what turned out....? This is exactly the data I need. Look at the interface as it is downright scary simple:
That is really all. There is no other data beyond what we see above. However, it is a strong foundation on the basis of which we can successfully analyse the effectiveness of our actions.
Of course, I was afraid that I would not be able to draw meaningful conclusions based on this range of information, but I quickly changed my mind.
Convenient and fast access to multi-page analytics
I love the fact that I have instant access to the data of many sites. If you also have several of them and use Google Analytics, you probably know all too well the feeling of annoyance when you have to click through to view another page.
It is also convenient to change the time period we are interested in. We can choose predefined periods from the left side or, similarly to Google Analytics, choose a specific period from the calendar.
Activity and sources of movement
The most important data we will find here is the activity on particular subpages of the website and the sources from which this traffic comes. Can we thus draw conclusions about what is popular and which sources generate traffic? Yes, we can.
The information about devices is, in my opinion, unnecessary. Personally, I would prefer it if the screen resolution was given instead and I hope that such data will appear on Fathom in the near future.
We have browsers and geographical locations from which traffic is recorded.
The end! This is all the data we can find on Fathom 🙂 And no... sorry, there is also the possibility to create goals. A simple mechanism, but skilfully used gives quite a lot of additional information and allows for better optimisation of marketing activities.
Why did I choose Fathom?
You may think I am crazy. That may be so, but let's not overdo it either. It's not that I'm offended by Google Analytics. I still use these statistics where I feel it will be difficult for me without their data, e.g. in the case of WooCommerce. However, where I know I don't need all that extensive data I use Fathom for the reasons listed below:
Taking care of the privacy of visitors to my site e.g. JZS
Everyone who comes to JZS can be sure that, thanks to me, he or she is not being invigilated by Google. Fathom does not track you in any way and if the only reason to place cookies was for Google's statistics using Fathom I would not have to add this annoying notification.
Something I loved at first sight. The script we embed on the site is lightweight and loaded from a fast CDN. If anyone cares about details like performance, switching from Google Analytics to Fathom Analytics will probably improve your site's performance metrics. When I find some time I'll put together tests related to this to better illustrate the difference.
Resistant to Ad Blockers
I don't know if you are aware of the fact that some of the traffic that should be recorded by Google statistics is not recorded because more and more people are using AdBlockers, which block Google analytics. In the case of Fathom, this is unlikely to happen especially since we can use our own subdomain to load the script. Consequently, the data collected is, at least in my opinion, more complete and closer to reality than what we collect using Google.
In order to use Google's data in a meaningful way, you need to learn a lot of things, you should get to know Google Tag Manager, soon GA4 will become a standard, etc... The whole environment is constantly changing, often dramatically. This is something that consumes a lot of our time and the question is whether it is worth it.
Fathom does not require any complex knowledge or skills to interpret complex metrics. Everything important is given on a platter. See sample statistics:
Is Fathom free
Unfortunately or perhaps unfortunately not. On their website we find a popular saying operating in the world of marketing and sales.
If you use a free product you become a product yourself.
Fathom and other systems like it cannot be free, otherwise they would have to go the way of Google and use their free profiling tool to monetise the sale of this data in various forms.
Google gives us its tools not because it cares about us, I think there are not so naive people who would think that way. Am I wrong? We get the tools for free from Google, Facebook and the like in order to provide these companies with huge amounts of data which is then heat-treated and turned into money.
Fathom is a paid statistic. The cost of the pleasure (I am not exaggerating) of interacting with this tool starts at $14 per month for 100,000 page views.
Is it a lot? When we compare Fathom with most analogous tools, the above prices are at a very decent level. The only limit influencing the cost is the number of page views. Everything else, i.e. the number of pages, own domains, etc... is unlimited.
There is also a plug-in for WordPress, which allows you to conveniently link the statistics to your website and view the collected data from its cockpit.
If you decide, as I do, that it's time for a change, then at least test in practice how these statistics perform on your sites.
You can start the statistics for free for 7 days, and if you do it using the button below (referral link), you will get $10 extra on the day. So if after 7 days you want to test the statistics for longer, the first month will cost only 4 dollars. After such a period of time you will certainly have your own opinion on "yes" or "no".
I use Fathom on several of my projects and, to be honest, I'm very happy that I can provide better privacy for my visitors. Yes, I am aware that the overwhelming majority of my readers, students and clients don't feel any difference (they don't know about it at all), but for me personally, just knowing that I am less a part of the ubiquitous surveillance than I used to be is quite a pleasant experience 🙂 .
Fathom Analytics is a company focused on privacy, and it tracks better than competitors while maintaining a clear and simple interface for its app.
Is Fathom Analytics for everyone?
Probably not. And I believe the people behind Fathom Analytics understand this perfectly. The question remains, however, is this the right statistics system for you?
My answer is simple. I don't know. However, if you don't mind using paid stats, plus you want to take better care of your clients' privacy and you prefer a simple analytics solution that doesn't burden your site by lowering performance metrics, then you'll probably be happy with Fathom Analytics. For now, I don't plan on returning to Google anytime soon and I'm comfortable with it 🙂 I'm not.
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