Now that I’ve migrated from WordPress to Hugo, it’s time for Stage 2 of my website redesign. I’ve been wanting to move away from Google Analytics for a while due to the invasive nature of the data they collect, but I’ve never taken the time to set up an alternative. I’ve looked into Matomo in the past, and while it looks promising, at this stage I’d rather not set up a server to host it myself, nor am I prepared to pay for their hosted option. So, after checking that off the list, what other alternatives are left?
While setting up my Hugo website, I noticed that the theme I’m currently using, Hugo-Coder, includes support for Google Analytics, Fathom Analytics, Plausible Analytics, and GoatCounter. Both Fathom Analytics and Plausible Analytics look amazing, and both are privacy-protecting, but neither have a free tier, only a free trial (unless I choose to self-host, which is again, not a priority for me at this time). At some point I may move to a paid service, but for now, I just want some generic stats about my website: which pages are visited the most, and some generics visitor numbers and stats (browser, etc). And so, hoping to find a simpler and less costly option, I moved on to GoatCounter.
Now let me be the first to say, GoatCounter’s website is not flashy when compared to the other two options, nor do they have especially beautiful graphs to display the collected data (see the preceding image). However, there are a couple of things in their favor: 1) they are very privacy respecting (see their FAQ page), and 2) they have a free tier for non-commercial uses, with up to 100k pageviews per month. At this point, I meet both of those qualifications. I guess it’s time to regiser for the service and try it out!
Signing up for GoatCounter is very simple, and only requires a few pieces of information (email, password, and the domain you intend to use it with). You are asked to verify your email address, and then you’re presented with a code, which needs added to your Hugo config. Once those changes are complete, all that’s left is to commit and push the config changes, and everything is set up.
So, what’s next? At this point, I just sit back and wait. I’ve done some simple testing, and it appears that the analytics are working as expected. Only time will tell how happy I am with this new solution, but for now it provides me general information without being overly heavy-handed, and without being too invasive to my visitor’s privacy.